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Artificial Intelligence – Will It Replace Marketers?

Jul 17 2017

A lot of people have built great careers around digital marketing – either as entrepreneurs with their own consulting enterprises or as career employees with companies. They have their degrees and their expertise, and have been successful in developing digital marketing campaigns and strategies.

But things are changing fast. Marketers see AI moving in quickly and performing functions that they used to perform. Naturally, they are a bit nervous. Will their positions disappear? And what about the current college students, enrolled in marketing programs? What does their future look like?

Embracing and Adjusting to Automation – The Beginnings of AI

In its broader definition, AI began quite some time ago. And the tools and technologies that marketers are currently using, according to a report by Marketing Charts, include the following:

             2/3 of marketers are currently using such things as social listening tools, automated email campaigns, and a host of other automated platforms.

             Marketers are using an average of 10 tools

             The most commonly used tools relate to analytics and measurement, followed by customer relationships management, email campaign management, social publishing tools, and content management.

In its narrower definition, the same report indicated that about half of current marketers state they are using some form of AI, and there are some real benefits.

             Target audiences are at many stages in conversions. AI can categorize these consumers based upon their behaviors, so that marketers can differentiate, segment, and personalize strategies and tactics.

             Automation software can segment even further, by addressing customers/potential customers by name and using geo-location to deliver personalized marketing content at the right place and time. If a target is in the Home Depot, for example, based upon what they have looked at online, a push text message can be sent with special pricing or a discount.

             Some copywriting departments of writing services, such as Essay Supply, are even incorporating analytics and experimenting with AI technology in developing marketing materials for their clients

AI is taking on a lot of work that has traditionally been difficult, tedious, and inefficient when done manually by marketers. What marketers find, in fact, is that when AI can perform the analyses, they are free to focus on strategy development based upon those analyses.

How AI Performs in a Marketing Environment

“Big data” is already becoming a major factor in giving businesses a competitive edge. The problem has been gathering it, analyzing and synthesizing it, and then understanding the implications for marketing strategies and campaigns. It is just tough to do manually. But here is what AI can do:

             It gathers the data from many sources and analyses it very quickly, using algorithms that have been pre-programmed.

             As it continues to analyze data, it actually “learns” more and its analyses become far more accurate

             It can develop far more accurate customer “personas” because they are based on actual behavioral data rather than “best guess” or “intuition.”

             It can generate recommendations for products and services, based upon segmented and even individual behaviors. Marketers can then use this information to develop far more targeted marketing.

 

 An obvious and very simple example is Amazon. If a consumer searches for certain products but does not buy, when that consumer returns and actually makes a purchase, Amazon will prompt that consumer to “re-look” at those specific products he has considered in the past. It will also suggest other products based upon a customer’s past behaviors.

 

             AI is also being used to seek and identify new targets – all based on their online behaviors and their consumption histories. Compare this streamlined process with the traditional methods of trying to find leads.

The Human Marketer Still Has a Job to Do

Marketing is an art and a science. AI can contribute exceptional data analyses, can learn as it continues to analyze data, and can provide marketers with great advantages. That is the science, and it is becoming more and more critical. Marketers, though, still provide the “art,” with creative campaigns and content. Here is how AI and marketers can actually collaborate.

             AI determines who needs what types of content consumers should receive. It is still up to the marketer to develop or contract for content that will engage and compel consumers. While there has been some work done experimenting with AI-generated content, the results have been disappointing so far. There are just too many “unpredictables” when dealing with human emotions.

             AI can be used to generate topics for content and for identifying optimal keywords/phrases. Marketers can then take those recommendations as the plan their content.

             Speed. Who doesn’t love it? AI can generate analyses and recommendations quickly. It can also be used to send out those personalized messages and notifications as soon as a user behavior triggers them.  And it can select the devices and platforms to which they are delivered.

             By analyzing individual behavior, AI can recommend the most effective “touch points” for individuals and segments, and the best types of messages for them. The marketer crafts the creative and engaging message.

Can a Machine Ultimately Replace a Marketer Altogether?

Since the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, machines have been replacing humans, completing repetitive and rather mindless tasks. When we think about AI and machine learning, however, it is suddenly different somehow. Consider this:

             There is an ad agency in Japan that has an AI creative director

             Google has an AI program that can read lips better than a human

             In the U.S., the Associated Press news agency produces thousands of articles a year using AI algorithms. Granted, these are factual and rather “cold,” but still they are published and read.

Marketers, journalists, and others are a bit worried.

The field of marketing is being disrupted by AI, that’s for certain. And it may contract a bit because of the work that AI can assume. Other careers are contracting as well. But in the case of marketing, there will always be a need for the human who understands the subtleties of emotion; who “gets” the various types of humor, sarcasm, and irony; and who adds the creativity to the data that will appeal to and persuade other humans to buy.

Auteur: Courtesy of Samantha Snow