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AI offers to augment, not automate, the marketing team

  • Posted on July 26, 2017
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
AI to augment, not automate, marketing

This blog originally published on CMO.com.

A marketer’s job today is as much about science as art. With the emergence of data and analytics, and technologies like marketing automation systems, it’s no longer sufficient to focus only on the creative side. As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more prevalent in marketing, what further shifts might we see in a marketer’s role?

Augment your workforce
The role of AI is growing as it begins to add value to businesses, and becomes more affordable and accessible. AI encompasses a broad collection of technologies and processes across intelligent automation, robotic process automation, and physical automation, including machine learning, bots, digital assistants, natural-language processing, and virtual reality/artificial reality/mixed reality.

AI can give marketing teams more “arms and legs”—think of it as augmentation—enabling marketers to get better insights, improve the customer experience, and focus on the creative aspects of their role. With AI, algorithms may be used to parse useful data, extract insights from it, and provide those insights to marketers, creating knowledge and the potential to improve predictability. So the science side of a marketer’s job won’t go away. If anything, it will be more important than ever, as marketers need to be able to use the insights to make better decisions and help customers achieve better outcomes.

AI technologies are likely to take over routine, repeatable activities, with applications such as AI-driven translation capabilities, “copybots” for certain types of content creation, and opportunities for increased A/B testing. This can free marketers’ time for the more meaningful aspects of their jobs.

Deliver more meaningful experiences
AI has the potential to enable marketers to provide more relevant customer experiences, which are at the heart of everything we do in marketing. AI-driven interfaces will lead to ever-deeper, more meaningful interactions, sharply tailored to the individual and his or her situation. One example is the personalisation of content management systems beyond just a few personas. AI has the capability to customise the web experience for every visitor to your site.

Chatbots offer marketers the opportunity to bring conversational user interfaces to the customer experience. The more “human-like” connection—a feeling of actually chatting with someone—is providing a new way for consumers to interact with brands. Early applications are focused around sales and service. For example, consider a chatbot that could respond to common questions about a recently released thought leadership study, helping to deliver content in a new way. And a bot could provide responses to frequently asked questions on your website and thank users for their inquiries with a customised reply.

Prepare for unintended consequences
With the rise of artificial intelligence and automation, and the related trends of big data and the digitisation of everything, the potential exists for unintended consequences, potentially breaking trust and reputations. Which is why businesses must adopt digital ethics and act with responsibility. That applies to marketers as well, who will need to remain vigilant around data privacy issues. Customers—whether businesses or consumers—don’t always understand what they’re giving up and what they’re getting in return.

Questions will also arise around technologies like bots. If you’re using a chatbot on your website, for example, do you need to make it clear to visitors that they’re interacting with a bot and not a person?

Get ready for the AI-first world
What can marketers do to ensure they are ready for a world where AI is everywhere? Consider these three strategic actions:

  1. Augment your workforce: AI can help marketers reach much-needed levels of modern efficiency and effectiveness at the speed required. It may also help attract and retain new generations of AI-native workers.
  2. Embrace AI to improve the customer experience: Increasingly, customers will expect AI-powered assistants and new user interfaces such as voice. Start exploring their applications for your business now.
  3. Plan for secondary consequences: To help make decisions in a grey world, develop a digital ethics framework and become a custodian of data.

One thing is certain: AI will impact the marketing business in the coming years. And, in the process, it will make it possible for marketers to focus on those things AI can’t do: the art—the creative and conceptual elements—where the human touch still counts for a lot.

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