But marketing is a less understood and less explored domain where AI offers great potential. Given the surging demand for personalized marketing experiences (which drive sales increases of up to 80 percent), as well as the complexity of modern marketing operations that take place across multiple channels and involve numerous touchpoints before prospects make a purchase, AI has quickly become a critical part of effective marketing operations.
AI helps marketers make sense of data in real time so that they can continuously improve the efficiency and results of marketing operations. Here, we'll discuss the benefits and challenges associated with AI in marketing, and look at some ways to integrate AI into marketing channels.
What is artificial intelligence marketing?
Artificial intelligence marketing refers to the use of customer data from online and offline sources, coupled with concepts such as machine learning, to predict what users will do on websites or apps. Then, businesses can target specific users with specific content in the right channel at the right time.
The increasing role of AI in marketing reflects the tremendous growth of AI as a whole. According to IDC, spending on AI systems will reach $97.9 billion in 2023. IDC predicts retail and banking industries will lead this growth, but it will extend to many other sectors as well.
The expansion of AI marketing offers the potential for double-digit improvements in outcomes: 41 percent of marketers say that AI leads to higher revenue-generation from email campaigns, as well as a 13 percent improvement in click-through rates.
Challenges associated with AI marketing
Artificial intelligence also poses some new challenges for marketers. Before integrating AI tools into your marketing operations, it’s important to identify which challenges you'll need to address.
No matter the industry or domain, it’s critical to identify any problems associated with the data that powers AI tools. For instance, you may not have enough data for AI tools to produce meaningful insights for marketing campaigns. Or, your data may be incomplete or inconsistent; for example, you may have rich data for some prospects but minimal data for others. Likewise, your data may contain duplicate entries or missing information; if so, your AI tools will analyze erroneous data.
When you rely heavily on data collection and analysis to guide marketing, you must remain compliant with laws like the GDPR, which impose certain rules regarding how data associated with individuals is stored, processed and managed. In some cases, efforts to comply with those laws can hamper your ability to use AI tools. For example, if you must store data locally in order to avoid storing it in the cloud, where it may be more difficult to maintain the privacy protections required by the GDPR, it will also be more difficult for cloud-based AI tools to ingest that data.
Lack of budget or buy-in
Artificial intelligence marketing solutions require specialized software (and in some cases, hardware) that is expensive to acquire, deploy, and maintain. This is often a substantial obstacle for small marketing budgets. You might also face difficulties obtaining buy-in from stakeholders who will be responsible for approving and managing AI marketing solutions.
Lack of talent
Companies need skilled, trained employees to deploy, manage and interpret AI marketing results correctly. You'll likely need someone with a data science background to take this on, and your whole marketing team must take the time to learn to use the tools effectively.
All of these challenges can be met by a typical marketing organization that sees the value of AI-powered solutions. Nonetheless, it’s important to be aware of the roadblocks you may face in deploying AI marketing tools, as well as the challenges associated with managing them over the long term.
How to get started with artificial intelligence marketing
Every marketing organization is different, but there are common steps all marketers can take to ensure the effectiveness of an AI-powered strategy.
Set goals and KPIs
First, clearly identify what you hope to get out of AI marketing. Define metrics and KPIs that you will measure in order to assess the effectiveness of your AI-powered strategy. For example, you might set a goal of increasing conversion rates by a certain percentage over the next quarter, or reducing your marketing costs by a certain amount in the same timeframe.
Set data privacy standards
Create a data privacy strategy for your AI operations from the start. The best way to do this is to program data privacy rules into your AI solutions themselves. For example, you can make sure that the AI tools anonymize personal data received, and that data is stored by default in ways that implement the access controls, encryption and other privacy protections required by regulatory frameworks.
Establish data sources
Artificial intelligence tools require a tremendous amount of data in order to deliver accurate, meaningful insights. That data can come from a variety of sources, such as your CRM system, your automated marketing tools, your email delivery platform, your automated workflow system, website logs, and metrics generated by social media channels. You can also collect data about the geographic location of prospects, and how different buyer personas correlate with buying patterns.
In addition to determining where you’ll obtain data, be sure to address data quality risks. Verify that your data sources are able to provide error-free data consistently. In addition, coordinate with other data management teams within your organization, such as sales, to establish data quality standards that govern how data is created and stored.
Obtain the necessary skills
Expect to invest some time and effort in learning how to make the most of your AI systems. If you can’t acquire the necessary talent in-house, prepare to hire outside talent to do the job. Plan for how you will retain the necessary talent, and avoid situations where only one employee has the essential knowledge required to work with AI tools.
Select an AI platform
Choosing the AI tools that will power your marketing operations is one of the most difficult, but also most important, steps in the process of getting started with AI in marketing. When evaluating tools, consider your main marketing goals, and whether the tools excel in addressing those goals. Common goals include:
Increase the speed of marketing operations
Reduce costs of marketing operations
Drive higher conversion rates
Improve lead qualification
Some AI tools are better aligned with certain goals than others.
Also, consider the gaps you hope to fill with the AI tools. Are you hoping to achieve greater visibility into the performance of marketing initiatives, or is your goal to streamline the hand-off of leads from marketing to your sales team?
A third feature to evaluate is how open the AI tool is. Do you want a tool with an open-source algorithm that provides visibility into how the tool makes analytical decisions? Or are you concerned only with the results?
Benefits of AI marketing
Once you’ve completed the steps described above to get started with AI in marketing, you’ll be in a position to enjoy a range of benefits. Key advantages of AI for marketers include:
AI can help you achieve higher returns on your investment by allowing you to extract valuable insights and act on them faster. For example, AI tools might alert you in real time to a new social media marketing opportunity associated with a trending hashtag. By acting fast, you can obtain better results with a lower investment of resources.
More precise measurement
AI helps marketers understand which campaigns and marketing tactics are most effective —right now—so they can immediately replicate those tactics across different campaigns or channels. For instance, you may discover from AI tools that a marketing hook you are using in your email campaigns is generating a high volume of leads. You’ll know you should expand that hook into social media campaigns.
Better customer experience
According to an Oracle report, 34 percent of marketing leaders believe AI will lead to the biggest improvement in customer experience, because it enables hyper-personalized content. Customer satisfaction rates increase by 36 percent when marketers personalize content.
Faster, more effective business decisions
With the help of AI, marketers don't have to wait until the “end” of a campaign to make decisions, or depend on quarterly reviews to shape the next phase of their marketing strategies. Real-time analytics mean they can make the right decision, right now.
In short, artificial intelligence puts marketers in a position to make informed and cost-effective decisions faster.
7 examples of AI marketing
There are a variety of ways to go about integrating AI tools into marketing campaigns. Following are seven common examples.
Personalized website experiences
Artificial intelligence enables marketers to tailor the content that each website visitor sees. A common example of this is product recommendations based on a user’s browsing history. A more advanced application might involve using AI to configure the navigation of your website in order to ensure that each visitor can find and view content that is most relevant to him.
AI-powered content creation
Artificial intelligence tools can help automate many types of content creation, such as automatic posts on social media when your company announces a new product. AI tools could also help you craft responses to prospect emails or social media messages based on the content of the queries that prospects send.
Chatbots, which use AI to conduct real-time conversations with users, offer a great way to personalize the customer experience and ensure that customers can get fast answers to common questions without having to call customer support. Chatbots can help guide customers’ purchasing decisions by making personalized recommendations, or responding to common sales objections associated with a product.
Email content curation
Creating the content for email campaigns can be very time-consuming, especially if there are multiple versions of your emails, each one tailored to a different buyer persona. AI can help with this process by automatically generating email text, as well as suggesting images and layouts for marketing emails. What’s more, AI tools can analyze the results of past marketing emails in order to assess which language, images and layout work best for different target audiences.
Not only can AI help take the guesswork out of determining what to charge for products or services, but it can also adjust prices in real time. Based on competitive data, as well as customer interest in a product, AI tools can ensure that you never charge more than your competitors, and that your prices align effectively with customer demand. For example, you can lower prices if demand is declining in order to encourage more business.
AI excels at assessing large volumes of data in order to recognize trends that you would otherwise not be able to identify ahead of time. Instead of making an educated guess about how your customers’ priorities will evolve over time, AI tools provide automated, systematic insights based on predictive analytics.
Determining what your customers want can be difficult. Many marketers rely on surveys or manual, after-the-fact assessments of purchasing trends to gain some insights. Artificial intelligence takes a systematic approach by analyzing information from across a variety of data sources to understand customer behavior. And it does it in real time, so marketers can respond immediately.
What's next for artificial intelligence marketing?
Marketers should expect to see increased use of advanced AI solutions, such as chatbots, which create a more positive experience for 90 percent of millennial-age customers. And, AI-powered content marketing is also on the rise, as marketers turn to AI tools to help identify the best keywords for marketing content and customize content for different types of buyers.
By providing greater clarity into buyer behavior and marketing performance, AI allows marketers to make more informed decisions in real time. Ultimately, it leads to better marketing results at a lower cost.
Adobe can help fill some of the most critical gaps in your AI marketing strategy. By collecting data from across multiple marketing channels and helping marketers to tailor operations to different target audiences, Adobe ensures you have the information you need to integrate AI effectively into marketing, no matter which approach you take or which AI tools you choose to use.
Keep an eye out for more info about Marketo Engage’s newest AI-enabled feature, Predictive Audiences, coming out in June. In the meantime, learn more from these customer use cases — then be sure to check out the Adobe Experience Platform Data Science Workspace to better unleash insights from your data, and unlock incredible experiences for your customers.