We live in innovative times where we do not attribute creativity only to the artist. In today’s times, every profession demands creative people and methods. What is trendy today goes out of style tomorrow. So forward-looking technologies are fashionable! The times are even more exciting for businesses - both B2B and B2C - because the entire world is now their trading ground, thanks to technological advances that constantly adapt to the size and location of the playground and the skills of the players.
Even so, only large businesses budget for technology. Small and medium-sized enterprises remain unconvinced about investing in new technologies due to budgetary constraints. What they are uninformed about is that technology need not be a burden. It is a viable investment and time-friendly provided they deploy the right technology and strategy for their business.
I just watched a recording of Sunder Pichai’s keynote address at Google I/O 2018 where he demonstrated how Google Duplex made a haircut appointment by calling a salon. The audience went ecstatic. I was stunned! Made me wonder what else is there for us to discover. Honestly, the future is bright - individually definitely, but more so for businesses.
One technology that is in vogue is Artificial Intelligence and it promises to hold its ground in the near future too. Investing in the technology, therefore, will definitely be rewarding. Let’s dig deeper into AI and learn how it could be useful for digital marketing and commerce.
The first order of business: Understanding AI
Google Duplex is a perfect example of AI implementation. In simple terms, AI is a technology that is capable of making decisions about data. Sometimes it makes decisions, or predictions, based on rules written by humans, and other times it makes decisions based on a bunch of parameters.
AI, therefore, is a branch of computer science that helps in building machines that can think and respond like humans.
Independent of the industry, these intelligent machines/technologies are now making waves in three areas: digital marketing, digital commerce, and operations.
The second order of business: Do you need AI?
A few years ago, the status quo would have been inconceivable. Technology is not purely need-based but rather a tool by which a person can perform his tasks more efficiently. Wouldn’t it be nice to save time and effort and reduce errors by passing on your manual donkeywork to a machine who would never bore or err? People would take years to infer things that AI can do in minutes.
I believe you would agree with me when I assert that running a business is mired in complexities. How about if I tell you that there is a way to simplify it? Yes, technology does just that and more. Therefore, while you can run your business without investing in the latest technology, you might as well bid goodbye to your time. Not to mention the frustration of performing a task repeatedly. Didn’t you wish you could outsource this work to another human or a robot? Well, AI can grant that wish! Of course, it comes with a price tag, but you could create more opportunities elsewhere where human interaction is irreplaceable and let the machine handle the mundane.
The most important order of business: Making your Digital Marketing intelligent
Albeit artificial, you’ll be surprised at how intelligent the machine can be programmed to be. You are already rolling your eyes when you read that headline about AI becoming the new trend. “I just invested in technology X and now you are telling me to pay to bring in AI?” Your reservations are valid, but can you ignore the benefits?
As stated earlier in this article, you can employ AI across several industries and functionalities. Considering that I work in the Marketing function at my company, I was very keen on exploring how my team could incorporate AI into our digital marketing efforts.
Here’s the information I was able to get my hands on:
Text to Voice
20% of all search queries on smartphones were conducted using the voice command. This is quite a significant number to avoid. So if you are planning keywords, you would need to make your marketing efforts speech friendly. AI has the capability to handle voice recognition.
Chat with AI-powered bots
The chatbot is a salient adaptation of AI. It a technology that conducts a conversation on the behalf of a human. It can be accessed via virtual assistants such as Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, via social media or via individual organizations' apps and websites. They are a perfect addition to your website, blog, social media or digital commerce platform. Many websites now have incorporated chatbots into their platforms so they don’t miss a beat when a human cannot be around to respond to customer inquiries.
Streamline tons of Data
Can you imagine how long it would take a digital marketer to go through pages of data to pick clients you can target for a particular campaign for instance? And how can we ensure that we don’t skip anyone? AI applications can be applied to ad targeting as it can process large amounts of data to direct certain information.
Not that the machine is eyeing your position as a content writer. Think of the AI technology as a companion who would help make your work simpler. It can’t write a political column or a blog, but there are certain areas where AI generated content can be useful and help draw visitors to your site. Heard of Content writing applications Wordsmith or Quill? Well, that is AI at work. The writing pieces are data specific. Examples include quarterly earnings reports, sports matches, and market data. If you are fond of statistics, the Associated Press uses AI to write about 4400 financial reports each quarter (https://edgylabs.com/3-content-creation-ai-that-can-write-a-story-for-you).
AI can automate several of your marketing efforts from the moment the customer first interacts with your platform to when you contact them. AI, therefore, can be trained to boost the effectiveness of your marketing automation efforts. We already do that when we schedule posts on social media. It is just that now we will do this consciously thanking our AI developers for the help!
Moreover, do not be surprised if you come across a new technology in which AI can be used for digital marketing, because I predict that by the time this blog is published there would be something new on the table already! That is the nature of technology though.
The final order of business: Adopting AI
This is the easiest bit. Once you have everything spelled out, all you need to do is act! Now as a digital marketer, you do not need to have a solid grasp of the technology. Neither does your company. What you do need, however, is to know the forms in which you would like to use the technology and then either your company creates a job for an AI developer or joins hands with a technology partner who can help the company manage these technologies.
The artist now is learning to use the graphics pen instead of the traditional paintbrush. This is not to say that traditional paintbrush and canvas will vanish altogether. There will always be those paintings that will not have the same value if created digitally. In the same way, while AI will not completely take over our jobs, it will leave us to attend to those jobs that machines cannot handle, pouring dividends into your treasury!