10 Things Marketers Need to Know About AI

April 11, 2017

by Carla Johnson

Artificial intelligence (AI) is seeping into more and more industries, including marketing. While brands aren’t ready to hand over the reins of responsibility to AI quite yet, smart marketers are getting a handle on what it means to them and the future of their profession. A recent article in CIO points out that AI-enabled marketing isn’t just about cute chatbots. There’s much more to the equations and there are the top things to know to make AI part of marketing initiatives.

1. AI in marketing must deliver highly personalized and relevant messages

Customers want – and have reason to expect – highly personalized content. A VentureBeat study found that 77.5 percent of digital natives want marketers to give them “a truly personalized experience, both on your website and within message.

2. AI will help eliminate ‘marketing waste’

Marketing creates a great deal of noise that audiences tune out. John Marshall, chief strategy and innovation officer for Lippencott, a global creative agency says, “What takes waste out of the system is a deeper understanding of who the human is on the other end of the marketing pitch, and what that person wants. AI will accelerate that level of insight, so that waste is dramatically reduced from the marketing mix.”

3. Chatbots and virtual assistants – ‘the face’ of AI marketing

How did we ever live without Siri and Alexa? When it comes to popularity, these two certainly earn their share of it from the public and marketers.

“Bots generate a lot of excitement because they’re very science-fiction-like, and virtual assistants attract attention because of their human interactions,” says Ed See, a principal with Deloitte Digital’s Digital Marketing and Customer Analytics group.

They’re also generating a fair amount of spending. A Gartner report estimates that in 2017, marketers will collectively spend more than $250 million on these types of virtual agents and other “conversational technologies.”

4. A glut of AI marketing technology, but integration lags

Although there are a few exceptions, AI-assisted marketing technology involves software with machine learning models designed to automate, target, and personalize marketing initiatives.

A recent Forrester report highlighted the efforts of companies such as Adobe, Google, IBM, Persado, Salesforce and Squirro for “embedding cognitive computing capabilities into their solutions.”

“This isn’t just technology for technology’s sake,” Forrester wrote. “AI will drive faster business decisions in marketing, ecommerce, product management and other areas of the business by helping close the gap from insights to action.”

Salesforce notes that its Einstein AI technology is “built into the core of the Salesforce platform.” And, IBM’s Watson AI technology is being put to work in various marketing campaigns and products.

5. Marketers have mixed feelings about AI

AI adoption isn’t a cut-and-dried thing for marketers. Eighty percent of marketing executives believe AI will revolutionize marketing by 2020, according to a Demandbase and Wakefield Research survey of 500 B2B marketers. But just 26 percent are highly confident they understand how AI is actually used in marketing, and only 10 percent say they are using AI in their marketing programs.

6. Chatbots don’t always click with customers

Despite all the excitement, customers can be less enthralled. A study from Boxever points out that 79 percent of marketer said they believe customers are ready for AI and are either “excited or very excited” about chatbots. Half of customers, however, say they’re “very unexcited or somewhat unexcited about chatbots.”

7. CMOs face challenges in adopting AI

In the Demandbase/Wakefield Research study, 60 percent of marketers said they worry about integrating AI into their existing tech stack. There’s also pain around training employees (54 percent) and how hard it is to interpret results (46 percent).

A Gartner analyst hints that the automated technology could be seen as a threat to well-established roles within an organization. “I think the biggest challenges CMOs and CIOs will face in adopting AI in their digital marketing efforts is grappling with a loss of control.”

8. CIOs will face their own challenges with AI

CIOs have been going through their own sea change in the last few years – more sophisticated mobile devices the world of apps, cloud computing and the internet of things have made the IT world toss and turn at night.

Not only have marketers become more tech savvy, but that’s forced Tech professionals to have to become more marketing knowledgeable as well. Now AI gets thrown into the mix.

9. AI could change the nature of marketing

Some people believe AI will fundamentally change marketing, which will change the job of the marketers. As AI delivers greater personalization, customers won’t need to make brand-based decisions – the AI platform will do it for them based on what it knows about the customer. Lippencott’s Marshall says, “It gets harder and harder to build a brand through marketing.” Therefore, marketing will be less about promises and claims and more about outcome and performance.

10. AI is about truly knowing your customers and making them fans

As CMOs and CIOs come to agreement on the impact of AI, they’ll also see the true value of the technology. Deloitte’s See says the outcome will be a more personalized approach to customer service that helps the companies that do it right stand out in the crowd.

Read the full article here

Photo credit: Flickr user GLAS-8.

About Carla

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author

Carla Johnson helps leaders who are often paralyzed by traditional thinking. They suffer from slow growth, an eroding competitive advantage, low employee engagement, and depleted investor confidence. Their teams lack purpose and progress and constantly battle a resistance to change and new ideas.

As the world’s leading innovation architect, Carla’s spent 20 years helping leaders shatter limits and discover undiscovered possibilities. Through years of research, she’s developed a simple, scalable 5-step process that teaches people how to consistently produce inspired ideas that lead to uncommon outcomes.

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author