When technologists first developed the concept of artificial intelligence decades ago, they wanted to create a technology that could mimic human intelligence. But what artificial intelligence (AI) has been able to do in the wake of big data and analytics has far outpaced any human ability. Indeed, big data would be completely useless if we relied on human brains to process it. One of the largest groups to benefit from AI’s superhuman powers are marketers using AI and machine learning to better grow their audiences. Whether they work B2B or B2C, marketers are using AI and machine learning to reach and engage customers in increasingly personal ways. The following are just a few.
Marketers are Using AI and Machine Learning for Social Listening
What’s that, you say? You feel like someone’s been listening to your private conversations? That’s because they are. Today’s marketers are using AI and machine learning to “listen” on your social channels, making note of conversations surrounding certain phrases, keywords, and brands. Why? It helps them better understand you, and the types of products or services you’re most interested in learning about. I’ve said it before: digital transformation is all about personalization. Customers today want to be seen, known, and understood. Social listening allows marketers to give them that sense of being known without having to spend thousands of man-hours actually getting to know them. Like I said: AI is superhuman.
Marketers are Using AI and Machine Learning for Competitor Analysis
The very same tools marketers are using to get to know you can also be used to get to know their competitors. By tracking conversations around competitor customers’ experiences, they can better understand the pain points that may allow their own company to lure a new customer in. In digital transformation, data is all about gaining a competitive advantage, and AI and machine learning allow marketers to process those mounds and mounds of data to do just that.
Marketers are Using AI and Machine Learning for Content Creation
As a writer, this part worries me—a little. But the truth is, AI is now smart enough to create the types of content that provides customers with peace of mind, be it an auto-response to a product inquiry, a supportive reply to a comment on social media, or an earnings report that just can’t wait. This type of repetitive, ongoing communication is perfect for AI because it saves the marketing team thousands of man hours that are better used on other, more meaningful efforts. Some of us are smart enough to realize bots are behind the rapid responses. Others are just happy to have their comments, posts, and concerns seen and instantly recognized.
Marketers are Using AI and Machine Learning for Content Optimization
Not a fan of video posts on social media? Using AI and machine learning, marketers can tailor the types of content they show you, be it text, photos, videos, or the perfect ratio of each. AI can even help determine which specific words customers respond to best and tailor the tone of their messages, as well. You probably had no idea how much was going on behind the scenes of the latest email marketed to you, but marketers using AI and machine learning aren’t sending those messages by accident. Incredibly complex algorithms are guiding every communication decision.
Marketers are Using AI and Machine Learning for Content Deployment
It’s no longer enough to know an email campaign’s “open rate.” That’s because there are so many factors that impact open rate, and using AI and machine learning, those factors are now in marketers’ control. In addition to knowing what kinds of content you want to see, AI and machine learning can tell marketers when you want to receive it, via what channel (email, social, text, etc.), and how often. That’s because there is no one-size-fits-all to content marketing. Your customers are all individuals with very personal tastes for when they like to communicate, shop, and buy, and it’s imperative in today’s marketplace that marketers learn those preferences and tweak accordingly.
Marketers are Using AI and Machine Learning for Promotion Optimization
Back in the day, marketers purchased an ad in the local paper or on the city billboard based on data about how many people were likely to see that ad. Today, big data offers so many more variables to help marketers ensure that their ad campaigns are successful. It can even help them understand which social posts are worth boosting (and which aren’t) based on timing, content, audience, etc. AI and machine learning aren’t just helping you make money through effective marketing, they’re helping you save money by avoiding campaigns that likely won’t work for you.
If it’s starting to feel like your mind is no longer your own (from a customer perspective), it’s for good reason. Today’s marketers are using AI and machine learning to get into the deepest areas of your brain to pull out and process data so that they understand you in ways you may not even understand yourself. Some may feel like this is an invasion of privacy. Others, preferring that sense of personalization, may welcome it. The challenge for today’s companies is not just to latch on to these new AI and machine capabilities, which are readily available, but to do so in ways that are transparent and offer customers the option for privacy whenever possible. That’s the use of AI and machine learning that impresses me the most.
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The original version of this article was first published on Forbes.