Artificial Intelligence (AI) has come a long way since Skynet first terrorized moviegoers back in the 80’s. No longer just a work of science fiction, modern AI can beat world-class chess players at their own game, take home a million-dollar prize in Jeopardy, or just interface with your house in the form of Amazon’s Alexa. The usefulness of a expansive AI can be limitless if applied properly, especially in the realm of enterprise tech.
Though it may still seem like an intensely futuristic concept to some, an intrepid entrepreneur should make no mistake: the age of AI solutions is already upon us. Research Vice President Milind Govekar of analyst house Gartner Inc. predicts that as early as 2020, 30% of all data centers that fail to apply AI will cease to be operationally or economically viable. In another postulation submitted this year, they also claim that in two years, 85% of CIOs will be piloting an AI through a variety of measures.
So with the business paradigm evolving to incorporate more and more artificial intelligence in the years to come, what does this mean for the modern marketer? How can the average marketing team utilize this new technology to the best of their ability?
An AI based product can be used to the same end as a more legacy marketing automation service. The operative difference between the two is that the more classic software will operate based on what a user inputs, whereas an AI will make human-like, adaptive decisions on its own based on a mixture of data sources it’s been given and its basic programming.
Amazon, for a example, uses its AI to take note of what a user has already purchased so that it can show them similar products that may be of interest to them. By using that data surrounding a user’s purchase history, the AI is able to continue to market to that user in a more personal way, thus ensuring a higher success probability.
But AI in marketing isn’t limited to simply securing an additional sale or two. Select vendors are pushing the limits of how AI can be applied to help run and maintain successful campaigns. In this year’s edition of Gartner’s CRM Lead Management Magic Quadrant, all four of the vendors listed as Leaders in the market make use of some sort of AI to supplement the efforts of their in-house marketing team. And though the capabilities of those AI vary from vendor to vendor, the most invaluable functions of AI marketing solutions invariably benefit marketers. When the program collects more data faster than any human could, as well as carrying out the grunt work of marketing, the team has more time to focus on the finer points of the job.
One of the more common functionalities of marketing based AI is providing Customer Insights. Through documented interaction with a lead, or through data otherwise fed to it, an AI would be able to assess a score to individual leads and segment them according to those scores, providing sales teams valuable consumer insights faster than what would otherwise be possible.
What’s more is that AI can be utilized to directly interact with the end-user through programs called chatbots, which is essentially an AI that will engage a customer in online text-based conversations in such a way that would mimic human-to-human conversation. And while this can be a particularly tricky type of program to get just right, (making an AI advanced enough to pass for a human being is sometimes easier said than done) the result could be a high yield outbound marketing blossom. Chatbots’ ability to quickly interact with customers facilitates a faster turnaround time for feedback, which in turn allows for more immediate reaction to any customer concerns. At the end of the day a chatbot AI is an extremely powerful customer engagement tool; it gives your organization the ability to reach out to every individual customer without having to sink those valuable work hours into a lengthy communication process.
Certain AIs can go even further by offering more versatile functionalities. IBM’s marketing solutions, powered by their famous Watson AI, offer the old standby lead management applications as well as creating multi channel hubs, offering detailed customer experience analytics and even having certain elements of your campaigns completely automated by the machine.
Obviously, there is a balance to strike when it comes to working with AI. There’s a fine line to walk between sending out personalized emails and becoming an unwanted spamming bot. And, of course, no AI that we currently have will ever be able to trump the intuition and experience of a seasoned marketing professional. Like any power tool at a carpenter’s workbench, a poorly made and incorrectly used AI will be more of harm to its user than anything. But a well crafted AI that’s used properly and in conjunction with skilled individuals will see your marketing team through to great places.