Will Smith hates robots. At least his character, Del Spooner, hated robots in the prescient 2004 movie iRobot. His antipathy was largely based on a lack of trust in the notion that the hyper intelligent machines were always right; their cold logic frustratingly timely and accurate. More than mere disdain, it seemed Spooner was afraid robots were removing humanness from humanity. This paints a somewhat bleak picture of the future. But artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to open new doors and unlock incredible potential for all walks of life. For marketers, AI will free up resources; lead to closer, more meaningful connections; and help develop a more well-rounded understanding of customers to deliver what they want, when they want it. Here now are three ways AI will impact (and improve) marketing.
Nearly every branch of marketing — be it direct, email, mobile, social, search, SEO, a combination of these or something else entirely — requires a series of actions, some of which can become mundane. For example, email marketing requires identification of a product or service to be sold, an audience of potential buyers, development of a list of those potential buyers, creative work for the body of the email, some amount of HTML and CSS coding, scheduling, and post-send analysis. Some companies are already employing AI-type principles to simplify these tasks.
On the cutting edge is Amazon, which employs a series of algorithms to determine what customers are likely to buy or “need” next and email suggestions. Emails are pre-formatted and creative is pulled from a massive database. Little or no human touch is required. This type of automation frees marketers to spend time thinking critically about customer needs and wants.
Integral to the development of AI and eminently important to marketers is social network analysis. Facebook is perhaps the quintessential example of a social network. But really, it is only a visualization of connections that have always existed across humanity. From personal interactions — which can be measured in terms of strength and frequency — to media and brand preferences, social media platforms like Facebook have rapidly introduced new means of understanding consumers. For marketers, social network analysis will dramatically improve audience identification and segmentation.
The email marketer who once only had the option to filter a list of one million customers by previous purchases and certain high-level demographic information (e.g., age or location) can now assess the likelihood an individual will make a purchase because social network analysis shows 10 of their closest friends made the same purchase. This sounds complex because it is complex. However, AI and the scientists developing it are well on their way to making the process accessible and actionable.