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Digital Marketing

Artificial Intelligence in Marketing: The Basics

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
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Many companies are rapidly adopting technology based on artificial intelligence (AI) to increase operational efficiency, improve the customer experience, enhance marketing efforts, attract new business, and bolster their bottom lines. Large companies lead the way when it comes to using artificial intelligence-based marketing solutions. However, small businesses are rapidly catching up

This guide explains what you need to know about artificial intelligence to use it for more effective marketing.

What to Know About Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

Artificial Intelligence Marketing: The Basics

AI marketing leverages artificial intelligence to make automated decisions based on data analysis, observations of targeted audiences, and economic trends that may impact marketing efforts. AI is often used in digital marketing because fast decision-making is essential to keep up with online consumer behavior.

AI marketing technology uses data and customer personas to figure out how to communicate with prospective buyers effectively. AI then serves up tailored messages at the right time without human intervention. It then learns lessons based on data reflecting the actions taken by consumers. Not only does AI improve marketing and sales results – it frees up employee time from doing rote tasks so they can take on more valuable things. It can also make recommendations based on data about what your next marketing efforts should be.

That’s some powerful stuff!

How Businesses Can Use Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

Here are some everyday use cases of AI:

  • Automated decision-making. AI marketing technology helps businesses decide which marketing and sales strategies to pursue based on historical data and outside data inputs.

  • Data analysis. AI collects and analyzes large amounts of data across all marketing efforts instead of doing it one-off or manually.

  • Media buying. AI predicts the most effective ad and media placements for a business to reach its target audience and maximize marketing ROI.

  • Natural language processing (NLP). This function of AI interprets and mimics human language to develop content, respond to chatbot queries, personalize customer experiences, and more.

  • Real-time personalization. AI can change a buyer’s experience with marketing assets – including web pages, social posts, and emails – based on their past preferences and current activity, or to encourage taking defined actions (clicking links, scheduling appointments, or buying products and services).

  • Content generation. We place this AI marketing capability last because of its current limitations. As of now, top-tier AI can write short and long content for video captions, email subject lines, web copy, blogs, and more. But be careful about using AI-generated content in your marketing and communications. Artificially-produced content can often read unnaturally and deliver a poor customer experience.

AI Marketing Solutions

AI can play a vital role in helping marketers connect with consumers and drive sales. Here are common ways AI is used to support marketing and sales.

  • Machine learning. Machine learning uses computer algorithms to analyze information and improve digital marketing campaigns automatically by monitoring and responding to visitor activity. It also analyzes new information and relates it to historical data. The analysis can inform digital marketing campaigns based on what has or has not worked in the past.

  • Big data and analytics. Digital media has resulted in an influx of data which has given marketers the numbers they need to understand the success of their marketing efforts. In many cases, this has led to data over-saturation. AI can help parse all that data at light speed, not only analyzing it but also recommending the best opportunities for all types of marketing campaigns.

AI Marketing Challenges

AI is a powerful way to improve your marketing results and make things more efficient. However, there are some issues and setbacks to consider:

  • System training time and data quality. AI marketing tools don’t automatically know what things to recommend to achieve marketing objectives. These tools require time and training, similar to people. AI must be “taught” to understand organizational objectives, consumer preferences, historical trends, and overall context to establish expertise. This learning process also requires you to ensure your data is clean. The point we’re trying to make: AI isn’t out of the box. It takes time to get it up and running.

  • Privacy. Consumers and regulating bodies alike are cracking down on how organizations use data, especially when it comes to filtering it through artificial intelligence and leveraging its insights. Business owners and marketers must ensure they are using consumer data ethically and in compliance with all applicable standards. If not, they face the risk of significant penalties and damage to their reputation. Unless you ensure your AI marketing tools are programmed to observe all applicable legal guidelines and consumer sensibilities, your business could face significant issues.

  • Getting buy-in. It can be difficult to make a case for AI. Every business will have its doubters. Proving how AI marketing can improve the buyer experience or the reputation of the brand can be almost impossible to do. With this in mind, digital marketing teams must ensure they have the correct measurement tools to attribute these qualitative gains to AI investments.

How to Use AI in Marketing

You can’t implement AI randomly and without thought. You must determine how you will gain the most value from this evolving technology while avoiding getting into legal trouble or harming your brand.

Before implementing any AI marketing solutions, there are some key things to consider:

  • Establish goals. Similar to any other marketing initiative, you need to set clearly defined goals for your AI marketing efforts before you launch them. Start by identifying marketing campaigns, strategies, or operations that could be improved by using artificial intelligence. Assign specific numbers-based goals to the improvements you expect to enjoy by deploying artificial intelligence-based solutions, such as percentage of increased sales, number of new clicks, or amount of time saved on marketing activities. Leverage experts to confirm the goals are realistic, then track progress toward them to ensure you’re on track to achieving them. This will help ensure your investment in AI is paying off.

  • Develop and implement privacy standards. Before using AI, ensure it won’t cross the line of acceptable personal data use. Work with your legal counsel to establish privacy standards and program them into your AI marketing platforms to ensure you never break the law or do anything to harm your partners, customers, or brand reputation.

  • Ensure your data is sound. The old sentiment of garbage in, garbage out is especially true when it comes to leveraging AI in your marketing. Your data explains customer preferences, industry trends, and other factors to your AI marketing tools. It will significantly impact the success of the marketing campaigns influenced by your AI efforts. Make certain your launch data is sound to ensure your AI marketing results won’t be garbage.

  • Partner with the right talent. Most smaller organizations don’t have AI marketing experts on staff. Leverage the talent available through your AI marketing solution providers to ensure you use their capabilities to their fullest. Also, consider bringing on an AI marketing advisor (even a part-time one), which you can find online through a freelance network like Upwork, to help you navigate the complex AI marketing universe.

  • Maintain data quality. It’s critical to launch your AI marketing activities using clean data. Keeping that data pure over time is equally — or even more — important. Again, the intelligence gained through AI is only as good as the intel fed into it.

  • Develop an integrated AI marketing strategy. AI shouldn’t exist in isolation. AI marketing tools are only effective when integrated with an existing or emerging marketing strategy. They create opportunities to optimize marketing efforts that might currently be labor-intensive, ineffective, or not optimized. AI helps identify and solve problems. It isn’t a replacement for other marketing strategies and tactics.

Once you do these things, you can leverage AI marketing platforms to:

  • Improve marketing campaign return on investment

  • Foster better and more personal customer relationships

  • Get better metrics and leverage them to make more informed marketing decisions

  • Improve your speed to market

  • Get more out of the talent on your team

  • Up your sales results

  • Beat the competition

  • And more!

AI Marketing: The Bottom Line

No matter the size of your operation, AI marketing tools and machine learning programs can help increase productivity, ROI, and efficiency. This technology also helps you comprehend the vast amount of data you and your team might otherwise have never been able to understand.

Even if your first foray into AI marketing is something as simple as using a machine learning program to serve up the right products and services to buyers, every little step towards an AI-powered future can help keep your brand ahead of the competition and earn more revenue over time.


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