There has been much hand-wringing in recent years over how – and to what extent – artificial intelligence (AI) is going to take over our lives. This phenomenon has been specifically apparent in concerns about the economy, as fears circulate that robots will be doing most of the manual labor by 2040 (if not sooner). Could warehouse workers, factory workers and even truck drivers be robotically replaced, we wonder, leaving thousands or even millions of Americans out of work? The cheekily named website WillRobotsTakeMyJob.com promises to answer the question for you with just a few keystrokes.
But is it all so very apocalyptic? Beyond the impression of a cinematic, “Terminator”-style hostile takeover, a wide range of industries – including our personal favorite, marketing – are finding that AI can help humans do better work, rather than taking over the task entirely. In digital marketing, for example, AI-augmented programs can improve advertising, content marketing and audience targeting strategies, usually through data collection and analysis.
Here are a few AI-assisted marketing trends that have piqued our (very human) interest:
Recommendations and Personalization
If you’ve ever shopped on Amazon, you’ve probably noticed the “recommended for you” section that includes products of interest based on a multitude of factors:
- Your buying history
- Items frequently purchased together
- Items purchased by other customers who bought your item
- Your viewing history
- Products related to items you’ve viewed
- Your browsing history
How can Amazon do this? How can it reach into your mind (or cache) and recommend exactly what you want before you even know you want it? In short, Amazon’s hattrick is based on millions and millions of data points which form the basis of an algorithm. Of course, it can get a bit creepy, with recommendations stepping over the line from time to time, but according to Fortune Magazine, these recommendations work. Whether they’re showing up on the screen at check-out or sent in an email at a later date, product recommendations drive purchases.
AI powers these predictive recommendations through the ability to comb through and sort visitor data much faster than human data analysts. Although flesh-and-blood oversight can help keep algorithms from running off the rails, allowing robots to recommend additional items to purchase – or articles to read or accounts to follow – can provide a new level of personalization to almost any online experience.
Chatting and Customer Service
It’s a well-known trope that just about everyone hates automated call centers. People are even willing to drop a few four-letter words to get to talk to an actual human being. But, as AI and natural language processing improve the ability of these systems to understand what callers really need, chatbots and automated phone systems are becoming – dare we say it? – less annoying. In fact, as these technologies improve, it’s becoming hard to tell when you’ve stopped talking to a bot and started talking to a real, helpful human, especially in a customer service setting.
The best use of a robot in customer service is to help direct a complainant to the person who can solve their problem. Chatbots are excellent at this particular task, because written words are easier to parse than spoken words. With the help of AI, an automated system can either search a list of answers to common problems or find the department within the call center where a human being can solve the issue. As long as the caller or visitor doesn’t have to wait too long, or better yet, can go do something else while they’re waiting, the customer experience improves significantly by using a chatbot.
2009 called, and it wants its email marketing strategy back. But seriously, if you’re not sending automated emails, you are living in the past. Whether you choose an easy-to-use free option like MailChimp and Constant Contact, or a robust system like Salesforce, you have no excuse not to make your email marketing life a lot easier – starting now. Gone are the days of basic form emails, with automated messages having evolved significantly in the past decade, from simple newsletters to highly personalized emails, all with the ability to be deployed to segmented lists. And how are these tailored email targets identified? Artificial intelligence, of course!
AI can now effectively identify key customer details such as geographic location, demographics and behaviors. In turn, a properly configured modern email marketing program can offer a custom discount code, recommend products, entice a birthday or anniversary purchase and more. Beware of creepy capitalism, however – you won’t get anywhere good by stalking your shoppers. Make absolutely sure you are transparent with your data collection tools and intentions. Most people are happy to sacrifice a little privacy, however, if it means a more targeted, personalized experience.
Proposals and Contracts
As a digital marketing agency, we have prepared more than our fair share of proposals and contracts, and it’s often a tedious task. This is just part of the industry; everyone from individual freelancers to Fortune 500 companies has a selection of proposal and contract templates to help speed up the paperwork process. The challenge? Even the best boilerplate still needs a bit of personalization added on a case-by-case basis – and that takes man hours. According to the Harvard Business Review, in fact, inefficient contracting causes firms to lose up to 40 percent of value on any given deal. Adding AI to the process, however, can streamline it immensely.
In the past, automated document systems were limited to storage and organization. New software that utilizes AI can identify contract types through pattern recognition, parse the data in those contracts, and even review them. This could be good news for lawyers (and those of us who pay them by the billable hour) who can now save time previously devoted to paperwork, or use it for more important tasks. Hardly limited to legal applications, though, AI can help any organization keep its contracts more consistent, by analyzing everything from dollar amounts to compliance criteria to termination dates.
Learn New Skills to Manage Your Robots
What does all this AI-augmented magic mean for marketing professionals? It means that, instead of fearing that our jobs will be taken by robots, we need to learn how to make robots work for us. The biggest winners in the new economy will be those who are well-informed about AI and can put it to use to improve efficiency, customer service, communication and, ultimately, revenue.
If you’d like to work with LuckyTamm Digital Marketing to help automate some of your marketing systems with AI, get in touch.