After being heralded as “the next big thing” for years, AI has arrived, bringing with it the power to add game-changing leverage, focus and control to your marketing efforts. Of course, as with any new technology, the move to AI entails a learning curve, and its perception as a “black box” has left many unsure how to begin applying AI to their marketing strategies.
For those ready to embrace this truly transformational approach, AI puts the tools in marketers’ hands to harness a complete and constantly updating customer profile to engage with customers with incredible precision, relevance, effectiveness and speed. At the same time, it helps marketers be more efficient, productive and effective by simplifying, automating, and accelerating marketing workflows. In previous posts we explored how AI helps determine the right marketing actions for each individual customer at every step by continuously optimizing:
- WHO are the right customers to target at any moment by using Predictive Audiences to determine customers who are ready to purchase, at risk of churning, ripe for upsell and more.
- WHAT content will most likely influence each customer by using Predictive Recommendations to surface the most relevant offers, products or articles for each individual customer based on what they seek at that moment.
- WHEN each customer will be most responsive by using Predictive Engage Time to optimize send times for when each customer is most likely to actually engage with your brand, not simply open a message.
- WHERE is the channel they’ll be most receptive by using Predictive Channel-of-Choice to adapt which channel to deliver the message based on their preferred channel in the current context.
And the numbers don’t lie; as our recent benchmark study found, compared with traditional marketing efforts AI-powered campaigns:
- Drive up to 7X greater customer engagement and 3X revenue
- Deliver 2X greater impact on engagement for mobile push compared to email
- Achieve 50% lift as AI continues to accelerate engagement and impact and learning from customer interactions
PUTTING AI INTO ACTION: CONSIDERATIONS FOR SUCCESS
So how do we put AI into action? Like any successful initiative, getting results with AI begins with being clear about what you aim to accomplish and making sure you have the right people, processes, platform and implementation plan in place. Accept that there will be a learning curve, and begin by laying the foundation before you begin to scale.
- Be Clear About Your Desired Outcomes
It seems obvious in hindsight, but to succeed you need to be clear about what “success” actually means. AI doesn’t determine your strategy for you, but it can applied to any variety of marketing strategies. The end goal will determine how to incorporate AI across marketing activities, and which of the many metrics it delivers you’ll optimize to meet your desired outcome.
- Assess How AI Will Integrate With Existing Technologies and Workflows
AI can only accelerate your marketing efforts when it fits seamlessly into your existing technologies and processes. Look for AI partners that tightly integrate into your tech stack and ecosystem. Then, ensure AI is core of your efforts, not simply added at the margins. Many marketers treat AI as an “add-on” to their existing workflow, but that’s a recipe for mediocre ROI.
AI also needs to integrate into existing workflows. Begin by determining how AI will fit into your business processes, and identify the organizational gaps that must be addressed.
- Approach AI as a Cross-Channel Strategy
AI isn’t limited to a single channel or platform. Because AI connects data across channels, it allows you to turn your focus to delivering a holistic and highly focused cross-channel customer experience. Use AI as an opportunity to unify your cross-channel strategies and multiply their impact.
- Ensure AI and People Are a Partnership
AI’s purpose is to accelerate and amplify marketing activities. To do that, AI requires human guidance to make the right decisions; people bring context and that essential human touch. Outline the interplay required between your team members and AI, detailing the direction and input they’ll need to provide, and you’ll be on a much stronger footing to make the most of this transformational tool.
- Understand AI Is a Process
Every new tool and approach has a learning curve, and AI is a long-term play in which you must first crawl, then walk, before you are ready to run. If you begin with initially applying AI to a single, more basic marketing program and then ramp up gradually, you’ll have a solid groundwork to build upon. Because of AI’s self-learning, continuously improving capabilities, the sooner you start, the quicker you’ll reap the benefits of AI.
- Think Big: AI Can Help Achieve Transformational Impact
AI enables you to orchestrate customer experiences with nuance and scale not possible with existing tools. While AI has the potential to truly revolutionize your marketing, it demands that you scale your imagination and your ambition accordingly. It’s an invitation to think outside of the bounds of your comfort zone, and to search out partners that can scale with your needs and help guide your own AI evolution.
AI-powered marketing is the only way today’s marketers can effectively engage their large, diverse, and rapidly evolving customer bases. And now is the time to embrace it, as AI will quickly move from being a competitive advantage to being an essential, table-stakes tool. While the process of fully integrating AI into your strategy and workflow can seem daunting, the longer you put off AI, the longer it will take you to catch up with your competitors adopting AI today.
And know that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for AI. Start small with a single-use case, and then scale up. You’ll quickly see that AI will not only cut down your manual tasks, infuse customer insights across your marketing activities and help you launch faster, but it will free you up to get back to the heart of marketing: Employing your creativity and your strategic intuition to craft next-level customer experiences.
For the full set of findings as well as real examples of marketers who have used AI to drive revenue by making better, faster decisions around the “Who, What, When & Where” of cross-channel marketing, download The ROI of AI in Marketing: 4 Levers for Cross-Channel Success.