That dream gets a little closer to reality every day, with companies like Grid and WIX ADI leading the way. While website designers won’t have to worry about their jobs for quite awhile, the notion of a machine creating an effective and attractive website on its own is pretty awesome.
AI, or artificial intelligence, holds a world of promise for a pressure-packed business like digital marketing that depends on perpetual growth. Yet savvy digital marketers know the future is now. Embracing AI is their best chance to succeed.
Applications of AI and machine learning are exploding around the world as businesses and governments buy into the fast-developing technology to cut costs, improve security and better serve their customers and citizens.
Research by Accenture, a leader in artificial intelligence research and development, sees economic growth rates of many developed countries doubling by 2035 due to AI, with labor productivity increasing as much as 40 percent.
Analyst firm IDC predicts the global market for content analytics, discovery and cognitive systems software will more than double to $9.2 billion by 2019.
Accenture’s Institute of High Performance and Frontier Economics analyzed the impact of AI on 12 developed economies that together represent more than half of the world’s economic output and predicts the United States will be the biggest beneficiary, increasing annual growth by 2 percentage points by 2035. AI start-ups skyrocketed 20-fold in the U.S. alone in the past four years.
A Tata Consultancy survey of 850 companies reported in the Harvard Business Review assesses how businesses use AI today. IT companies are AI leaders, with 44 percent relying on artificial intelligence to recognize and combat security intrusions. Other significant uses of AI are resolving users’ technical problems and monitoring internal compliance.
The survey identifies AI followers as marketing companies, which primarily use AI to gauge future customer purchases, improve media buying, monitor social media and tailor promotions.
While the future of AI seems limitless, the technology is revolutionizing the way marketers do business today in the following ways.
NLP (natural language processing). This rapidly developing technology involves the capability of a computer to learn human language, deduce meaning and arrive at appropriate responses. Semantic analysis is a vital part of NLP that deals with how machines recognize basic types of sentences.
Segmentation. AI is transforming the way businesses separate their customers into cohorts, or segments. Segments today are based on a lot more than just age or gender. Thanks to AI, segments can be defined by location, interests, activities, browser and operating system used, type of mobile device, engagement with a particular product, etc. San Francisco-based digital marketing firm Boomtrain says the main industry trend is the “segment of one and how products and services are marketed to an individual or small group with the most specific interests and goals in mind.”
Searches and filtering. Major browsers are incorporating AI into how searches are conducted and what results are returned. Google’s AI search engine RankBrain is one example. Human influence in the search process is waning. Marketers who have a solid understanding of how AI-based search processes work have a huge advantage.
Website design and optimization. Widespread use of self-designing websites may be ways off, but AI already helps marketers get the most from their own sites and those of their clients. AI-based testing goes beyond AB tools. Marketers can quickly assess multiple individual elements and versions using a much smaller traffic sample.
Personalization of websites, online channels. Machine learning makes it possible for marketers to easily engage with users through realtime chat channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or website applications.
So how do you maximize AI in your digital marketing business?
Look for ways AI will have an immediate positive impact. Ask yourself how AI tools can cut costs and boost revenue. You will be more likely to be an enthusiastic AI early adopter if you see quick, tangible benefits.
Try producing some automated content for short items that are produced regularly. The Associate Press uses AI to generate thousands of short quarterly earnings stories each year for more than 5,000 publicly held companies. Does your business produce routine content that could be automated? It could save you hundreds of work hours.
Use AI to speed up decision making. In a constantly changing field like digital marketing, the ability to act fast is essential. Maria Marinina on CustomerThink.com recommends trying Quill Engage to quickly produce useful reports based on Google Analytics data. KNIME and others offer more thorough data analysis tools.
Make sure your ads are working as hard as they can. Take advantage of assessment tools to make refinements based on preferences and user sentiment. Zalster and similar services help marketers quickly and efficiently select the best ads for social media. Marinina notes that top social media — most recently Snapchat —are rolling out machine-learning features.
Finally, remember that with all the technological developments, digital marketing will always need HI (Human Intelligence).
As Accenture CTO Paul Daugherty told the World Economic Forum: “Rather than undermining people, we believe that AI will reinforce their role in driving business growth.”
Bertil Peterson, Digital Marketing Stream