By Lucy Bradley
‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI) has increasingly become a little bit of a buzz word in the marketing world, but its importance should not be underestimated. 2017 was the year where many of us became aware of what artificial intelligence is, and what it involves, and 2018 will really see it hit its peak. It’s estimated, that by 2025 the artificial intelligence market will surpass $100 billion – so it’s definitely worth doing your research into it.
Artificial intelligence is a form of intelligence that is displayed by machines, differing from natural intelligence, which is displayed by humans and a range of other animals on the planet. More information on artificial intelligence can be read here. The nature of artificial intelligence is based on a system that looks to encode, sort and present data in a way that is most likely to meet a user’s query at that time, based on a variety of needs and variables that go beyond simply keywords in their search query.
You may be thinking AI is a thing of the future, but in fact it is something you most likely come into contact with every single day, and appears across a wide range of applications and platforms.
You’re looking for some new music to listen to on Spotify, and you decide to take a look at what’s been recommended to you – have you ever thought about how the music that appears actually got there? Well, earlier last year Spotify purchased an AI startup company called Niland to develop its music personalisation features further. This software monitors the types of music you listen to, by looking at levels of bass, tempo and genre combined with a range of other factors, which are then put into a learning algorithm and works to help provide you with personalised recommendations. A similar system is applied on platforms like YouTube and Netflix, showing the right type of content to the user, at the time they want it.
This isn’t simply limited to the types of television you watch and the music you listen to, the algorithm here learns about your customers by analysing their behaviour. This involves looking at the products they buy, at the times they bought it and whether it was in response to any promotions. This enables you to adjust your marketing efforts going forwards, so that you can use these patterns and looked to optimise conversions.
Search engines are naturally one of the most notable examples to consider when it comes to AI. Google’s own AI system ‘RankBrain’ has actaully been called their third most important ranking signal (behind content and links). This works by processing a range of unknown search queries with the aim to best match a query when Google isn’t sure exactly what that query means. A user’s query will greatly differ depending on whether they use voice or text search, in terms of the language and dialect they use, however the answer they hope to receive would be the same – and Google is working to recognise this. RankBrain looks to really improve the way Google meets users’ needs, rather than using a formula simply based on keywords and phrases, it takes into account a range of data and user experience.
Using customer segmentation enables you to divide your customer base into more specific groups that are based on demographics, geographics or perhaps on their behaviours and interests. In doing so, you can more successfully target individual groups with messages suited to them and at the right time to best meet their needs. Using a CRM system and marketing automation is a great way to do this – and the rise of AI only helps to accelerate this further. AI based systems are continually learning from user behaviour, by collecting data and monitoring what actions your customers are taking – and when. This allows you to optimise email marketing campaigns and website communications, to most effectively target your customers at the time they are most likely to convert.
Artificial intelligence isn’t limited to the methods mentioned above, AI software is now being used in image recognition software applied across a range of applications. Many of you have used a filter on Snapchat, but there is much more behind that dog ears filter than you might have first thought. The software has been trained to detect a face, then locate facial features, with the final outcome of creating a 3D mask on top of your face – all done through machine learning with hundreds of examples. Image recognition is also an important tool from an accessibility point of view – it has the ability to mimic the observational and understanding capability of humans. This means that for the visually impaired, the content of videos and photographs can be described in great detail, which was previously very limited.
AI tools such as chatbots are great when it comes to customer experience, and working as part of your customer service process. Using a chatbot ensures you are there at a click of a button for your customers 24/7, meaning you can meet their needs whenever they need it. Previously, chatbots or ‘scripted bots’ were very limited in their capability, and struggled in fully meeting users needs, especially when it came to more unique queries. The modern day chatbot is a well developed AI tool, with the ability to deal with a range of open ended questions using natural language processing and generation. You may have noticed it’s difficult to tell whether you’re speaking to a bot, or a real human – that’s the power of AI!
Producing content is a key part in any marketing strategy, and AI tools can really help to support you in your efforts here. It’s not uncommon for content for be created by computer algorithms rather than content writers – and we’re not necessarily suggesting this is what you do, but AI is great in offering you a helping hand. It can help you to find trending topics, that is of interest to your audience when you post it, which really helps you maximise on the engagement you can gain from it – which is key to a successful content piece.
This post should give you some insight into the world of AI in marketing – but of course it applies in many more areas in ways you may not thought about. It’ll be exciting to see how the use of AI advances over the course of 2018.