Visit any online seller and you will find the ubiquitous chat box popping up offering assistance.
This chatbox, called chatbot, is an automated tool that gives the impression of talking to an actual customer service person in real time.
This is an example of a successful customer interface use case of AI in digital marketing. There are several more Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications in digital marketing and their adoption is increasing.
According to a survey by Salesforce, 51% of marketers are already using AI, and 27% more are planning on incorporating this technology in the next three years.
Role of AI in digital marketing
AI helps to collate, analyse, apply data and learn from it. With sci-fi movies like ‘The Matrix’ to Google AI, from Apple’s Siri to Tesla’s self-driving car, an increasing number of enterprises are looking to use AI in their businesses.
Earlier, marketers were hesitant to apply AI to their marketing strategies, but with several brands like Amazon and Spotify, tasting success; others are now more than willing to follow suit. For example, Amazon uses AI to show only relevant products to shoppers, based on previous searches, purchases and views. This personalised experience is more likely to make shoppers return to the platform.
What digital marketing experts have to say
According to Varun Duggirala, Co-founder & Chief Content Officer, The Glitch, “AI is often misunderstood and I personally feel we focus too much on what science fiction has always scared us about ( machines taking over , etc). But, what AI actually delivers is a way to enhance human productivity and ability.
So when we talk about digital marketing experts, AI helps automate the tasks that are menial and also helps sift through data to derive points to focus on at speeds far faster than if done manually. However while all this is the machine doing the job, the end result insight is built on human understanding and qualitative analysis. And that’s why AI is actually a booster rather than a competitor for digital marketing experts.”
Sunil Kamath, Chief Business Officer, ShareChat, adds, “As we are living in an era of digital marketing, artificial intelligence is taking center stage with an aim to bridge the gap between analytics and the execution of the final strategy.
For a platform like ShareChat that has mostly grown organically, AI has been a great catalyst to the growth. We have been using multiple layers of AI and machine learning to understand our users’ content inclination on the platform.”
Applications of AI in digital marketing
Content generation and curation
While AI still can’t write opinion pieces for a newspaper or give the most practical industry-specific advice, there are areas where AI has been helpful in content creation. Sophisticated tools like Wordsmith, Articoolo and Quill are already being used by the Associated Press and Forbes to create news, and this has also helped them to get more clicks.
By using templates and mentioning certain data and keywords, AI can be made to write content. In fact, big news publications like BBC, CBS, New York Times and Reuters are also using this technology. Several articles in the Washington Post are already credited with artificial intelligence technology, Heliograf.
AI can also be used to curate content. For example, YouTube’s recommendation system provides suggestions for videos that users might be interested in based on their previous behaviour.
Use cases by digital experts
Jaspreet Bindra, Former Digital Transformation Advisor, Mahindra Rise and Author of the book ‘The Tech Whisperer’ has already used AI to write a chapter on ‘AI’. He shares, “It was a global publishing first – AI has not written anything in any book by any publisher. And it is also a little different because AI has written about itself. Third is the treatment – there’s a green outline, the font is different from the rest of the book, and it is also unedited. So, it is completely AI-driven.”
Sunil adds, “We are dealing with immense complexities while understanding what each wants to engage in, due to the sheer diversity of content that trends on the platform across tens of thousands of topics and across 15 languages.
All cues are summed up to drive the most relevant content targeted to the user to ensure best possible engagement for the users on the platform. Moreover, this enables us to deliver unique behavioural insights around our regional language users to the brands which remain as the unique proposition of the platform.”
Communication through chatbots
This is a more popular use case of AI and has become quite common in the last few years. Customer service using AI is simple and delivers an enhanced experience. Additionally, chatbots also have several advantages, as compared to manual customer service.
To begin with, AI chatbots focus on ‘one to many’ approach; this means they provide support to several customers at the same time, and across different time zones. Secondly, AI chatbots don’t need to rest, so they can be available round-the-clock in real time. Lastly, customers can also choose their language of choice, for a personalised experience.
Today, several brands communicate with their customers through messenger applications like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Slack, all of which can benefit from AI chatbots in order to streamline the process.
Some use cases
An interesting example is that of cosmetics brand Sephora that uses a chatbot on its website to give beauty advice to its users, and offers them the best products based on their needs. Sephora Visual Artist lets its potential clients “test” cosmetic products like lipsticks, eyeshadows, and highlighters, and gives them advice according to their facial features. Here, chatbots combine with AR to deliver this experience!
Coca-Cola too decided to combine AI and AR by overlaying computer graphics over a user’s real-world view using glasses or a headset within a number of its bottling plants (Forbes). This allowed technicians to receive information about the equipment being serviced, even in remote locations, and helped them perform repairs and diagnose issues.
Brands can use AI to send out personalised emails based on user behaviour. That’s not all – AI also enables marketers to optimise their email campaigns, and maximise their results.
Marketers can use tools like Phrasee to dynamically analyse and optimise campaigns quickly., rather than having to A/B test different messages and designs, which can take a number of weeks. According to Phrasee, its generation of email subject lines surpasses those of a human by over 95%.
Digital advertising enabled by AI is being promoted across platforms like Facebook, Google and Instagram in order to provide the best possible experience. These platforms analyse the users information, including gender, age, interests, demographics, and accordingly show them the most relevant advertisements.
According to eMarketer, digital ad spend worldwide was estimated to be USD 273.29 billion in 2018 and this is expected to increase further. With AI technology, it is easier than ever to spot trends and then take strategic decisions around it, such as the budget and target audience. In this manner, brands can reduce overspending on digital advertising and ensure that they get bang for their buck.
For example, 40% of millennials trust video content the most, meaning it is the second most effective form of content marketing next to blogs. This means that a brand targeting this audience will be better able to create relevant content using insights gathered from AI.
Today, the way we perform online search has drastically changed. There have been two big advances in artificial intelligence that revolutionized Internet searches and search engine optimization (SEO): voice search and Google’s algorithm, RankBrain.
Voice-search devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana have made it simpler to perform searches, only using voice commands. In fact, according to a blog by Google, the tech giant informed that around 70% of the searches Google Assistant receives are in natural, conversational language, and are very different from what someone would manually type on a Google search.
Google’s machine learning algorithm, RankBrain, was created to get much more relevant search results. It interprets the user’s voice searches and, using the power of AI, provides the user with the best results according to what it interpreted from the user’s language and context (Forbes).
By definition, predictive analysis is the use of data, statistical algorithms, and machine learning techniques to identify the probability of future conclusions based on data history.
These models can be used across several areas, including marketing. For instance, it can help to predict the probability if a prospect can turn into a client; it can also suggest the right price to be quoted to make a conversion.
Marketing & Agency Stakeholders will have to be agile, willing to experiment and learn fast with an increased focus on data collection.
This technology will no longer be restricted to big brands but will become mainstream, accessible and affordable to all leading towards becoming a norm for all marketers on how they look at their marketing funnel.”
Striking the right balance
As mentioned above, AI offers several benefits when it comes to strengthening a company’s digital marketing strategy. The decision to embark in this new journey is personal, but it will surely be critical when it comes to deciding a brand’s success.
AI isn’t here to replace the jobs of marketers or advertisers; it’s here to unleash their true strategic and creative potential. For this to happen, professionals must be open to the idea of working alongside AI.
The idea is to use automation to your advantage, and learn new skills to become more competitive in the marketplace.
“What has changed because of AI, is that efficiency has gone up. Sometime back for a particular task or an activity if it required 4-5 people, Now One Person can do it, So AI is reducing redundancies.
Various automation tools are taking less time to perform an action with more accuracy. With AI coming to the mainstream, informed decisions can be taken at a much faster rate.
Change is the rule of nature and how one can evolve is by keeping yourself armed with a great knowledge base of what is happening.
Being aware of the problem and coming up with a solution that can impact the business. Upgrading yourself is also the best way to ride this wave,” says Gopa.