Artificial intelligence makes intelligent marketers

The marketing industry is agog at the potential ramifications of artificial intelligence (AI). At this stage, it’s tough to know whether to be excited or fretful. Let’s explore what CMOs are equipped to use AI for today, and sneak a peek at the future along the way. 

The impact of AI on marketing will mostly be positive. Many of the tasks marketers perform are highly repetitive and require very little creativity, such as creating reports, deploying campaigns, even writing content. By using AI, we will be able to verify the best types of communications products to produce and the best ways to distribute them, rather than wasting time and resources relying on our gut instincts.  

Let’s say you’re in charge of a $100 million promotional budget. That’s a lot of money. It’s a big responsibility. So you have a team of 25 analysts cross-checking your strategy and results on-the-go against data streaming into web analytics, CRM and ERP systems. Then you learn that IBM’s Watson Analytics service can — within seconds — identify patterns that take your 25 analysts weeks to accomplish. This is exactly how AI can help modern CMOs scale their work in more productive, profitable ways. Artificial intelligence moves us from “I’m drowning in data” to delivering immediate insights; from “Hmm...we are down-trending in search results” to, “We are down-trending in search results because we’ve been neglecting these sets of emerging keywords.”

When most marketers think of content marketing, they think, “What types of content will motivate brand loyalty and purchase intent among prospective and current customers?” At this point, most marketers look to their “key benefits” messaging and devise creative ways to broadcast those points. It’s a hit or miss process; nailing it depends on the experience and good luck of the individual marketers driving the process. But is that always the right way to go? Flip the AI switch on your content marketing and the concept immediately becomes more nuanced.

Quick example? Using AI techniques, including predictive analytics, a nuclear waste management company was finally convinced its customers unequivocally used the word “dump” in their related searches, and that — though it was originally considered an unappealing turn of phrase by the in-house marketers — embracing the “dump” across their messaging platforms would boost their SEO results and create fresh business opportunities. 

We can also use AI to test our results. We can teach machine learning software to recognize top performing content such as social media posts, images, etc. and build a corpus of knowledge about what things work best. Based on the resulting best practices library, we can then assess the new content we create to determine whether our fresh stuff is akin to “winning content” from past efforts, and adjust accordingly. (Maybe that’ll lengthen the typical 18-month CMO tenure. Rather than allow their new approaches to cause collateral damage to programs proven to work, AI can help newly-hired CMOs to identify better places to focus their efforts!) 

The goal is to create a virtuous cycle in which the right content is being created at the right time for the right people in the right places, which powers ever-greater SEO value and revenue impact. AI-driven marketing represents the single biggest game changer we’ve seen, in that regard. 

Got your attention?

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