Artificial Intelligence (AI) has trickled its way into our everyday lives (on a daily basis, Gmail routes suspicious emails to my spam folder) and continues to surprise us with new uses (did you know that you can take a photo of something you want to buy, and Amazon will use visual recognition software to recommend similar products?).
Not surprisingly, AI is also revolutionizing our work lives — especially in the world of digital marketing.
From writing content to analyzing customer behavior, I’ve seen AI developed for a host of digital marketing applications. It’s an advancement marketing teams (my team included) are eagerly keeping their eyes on. Before you dive into the possibilities for how your marketing team can use AI, it’s important to first ask yourself: are you ready for the technology transformation it requires?
Just because Artificial Intelligence is trending doesn’t mean it’s right for your organization.
3 Questions to Assess Your AI Readiness
When you see other companies using AI in their digital marketing strategies, you may feel pressured to keep up. Perhaps your competitor is producing more content than your brand because they’ve turned to AI-written blogs. Or maybe your main competitor is using AI-analyzed data to craft their website’s customer journey. Can you compete without employing AI?
Just because other companies in your industry are using AI doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for you. Before you pull the trigger on transitioning to AI, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Does My Content Lend Itself to AI?
Some content types and topics are better candidates for AI than others. If your team is manually writing technical quarterly reports, AI can likely handle this for you. If your content requires more nuance and humor — not so much. AI is generally not successful, for instance, in producing idioms and proverbs, or clever new names for paint.
If your content relies on meaningful human-to-human communication and subtleties that only an actual person would understand, investing in AI to write that content might not be the right idea, at least for now.
2. Is AI in My Budget?
As with any new technology, it’s critical to evaluate the potential return on investment before making the leap to implementation. If you’d pay more for AI than you would for an employee to complete the same work, take a moment to consider the costs.
If AI will save time for your team members or will enable you to complete important tasks more precisely, it can certainly be worth the investment. But small companies with little cash to waste might want to put AI on a wishlist, rather than rushing into the commitment.
It’s also worth noting that many of the platforms you’re already using are releasing AI features and enhancements; it could be that you need to spend time researching what’s right for your business and then decide what to enable in an existing tool.
3. Do I Have Enough Customers to Justify Using AI?
As a very general rule (and one that continues to change), the benefits of AI make the most impact for companies with a large customer base. Using AI to produce content makes the most sense when you need to implement communication at scale. Similarly, predictive customer AI is most useful for companies who can’t easily talk to their customers to gain similar insights.
If you run a startup or small business, you may not have enough customers to warrant the investment just yet, but there is no hard and fast rule or equation to assess whether you’re in the right place to use AI. Only you can decide whether an AI tool will bring you value, depending on its application.
If you’ve assessed these three questions and determined that your organization is ready to embrace AI to enhance your digital marketing efforts, consider the following uses to make an initial impact.
How AI is Changing Marketing and How to Get Started
First of all, if you’re worried that AI will replace marketers, don’t fret. AI will be used to aid marketers, not replace them — taking some routine tasks off your hands and expediting manual processes. Used properly, AI will allow you to get to know your customers better and market to them in more personalized, deeper ways.
To date, I have seen AI most commonly implemented in digital marketing in the following ways:
Personalizing the Customer Experience
Your next website visitor is more likely to be converted into a buyer when it seems like your brand was built just for them.
Using information like geographic location and historical data, you can offer up the most relevant products, content, and/or images to a potential customer. Companies like Netflix and Spotify have used AI to track a customer’s past behavior and predict what they’ll be interested in next. You can leverage this application of AI to recommend products, services, or article to your website users.
As another example, Salesforce Marketing Cloud just released a feature relating to send time optimization that allows you to send emails at optimal times for each individual recipient. This level of specific, targeted communication is what customers have come to expect.
How to get started: Before you’re ready to implement AI for personalization, you need to make sure you’re able to track customers’ past behavior on your site and allow visitors to opt-in to location tracking.
Offering Customer Support
Chatbots are one of the more popular uses for AI. Rather than making a customer wait on hold over the phone or sit in a 10-minute queue to get help online, a chatbot is always available with no wait.
AI chatbots can easily handle the most commonly asked questions, such as queries around a customer’s shipping status or your company’s return policy. They may not be able to manage more complicated questions and complaints. The good news is because AI can handle low-priority questions with ease, your human customer service reps will have more time to handle complex customer issues.
How to get started: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here; adding a chatbot widget to your website is less complicated than it may sound. Many companies offer fully automated, ready-to-be-personalized bots. Just make sure that you use a bot that is compatible with your website platform; some bots, for example, work better with WordPress sites than others.
Writing Content from Scratch
Writing new content that resonates with your audience is time consuming. If you have 2,000 pages that need similar — but not identical — content, AI will have a much faster turnaround time than hiring a person to slightly adjust each page.
On the other hand, as I mentioned above, AI-written content has its limitations. While this function of AI is ever growing, a machine may never be able to reproduce nuanced touches like sarcasm the way a talented copywriter can. If you need content to present high-quality expertise, educate or entertain your readers, or offer unique insights in your industry, stick to real human writers.
If you need repetitive copy that changes based on locations, products or similar factors, AI may be able to take that burden off of your writing and editing team — freeing up more of their time for those insight-heavy content pieces.
How to get started: Programs like Wordsmith provide a template for your AI content. You can either pay the company to create the AI content, or have a staff member on your own team enter in the conditions and a list of synonyms to provide variety.
To get started, you’ll need to have an idea of which parts of your content you want to be varied (product names, city names, sizes, etc.) and strategize your word count and style. Start small with content that is more informational than persuasive in nature.
Optimizing Your Content for SEO
Google’s algorithm is always changing, which can make managing your business’s SEO a true full-time job.
Some aspects of SEO, such as finding backlinks and analyzing competing websites, can be handled effectively by AI. For instance, a robot can scan the top 10 websites that rank for a given keyword and tell you about the most common topics covered and the number of backlinks. AI can also track your traffic progress and help you rank for Siri searches.
How to get started: In order to effectively use AI for SEO, you need to have a strong strategy in place. Programming AI to search for irrelevant data doesn’t give you an advantage, so you need to start with the right information. You may also need to have some quality control because it’s quite possible for AI to choose a link that looks good on paper, but that you wouldn’t want to cite for subjective reasons (such as a conflict of interest).
The Future of AI in Marketing
Digital marketing and AI can be just the equation your company needs, but you’ll need to do some honest evaluating to make that call. As AI evolves, it may become a strong asset to your digital marketing team. Data-driven approaches to marketing decisions are the new norm. When used correctly, AI can definitely help your team get more done efficiently.
For guidance on digital marketing and technology solutions that can support your efforts or advice on implementing AI effectively, reach out to RelationEdge. As a full-service Salesforce Platinum Consulting Partner and digital agency, we understand both your creative and technical needs. Contact us today to start a discussion.