By Scott Dieckgraefe, President and Founder of Studio/D
Experts agree that artificial intelligence (AI) will continue exponential growth in B2B marketing communications during 2021 and beyond. Yet for all of the good AI can do in marketing, there is still a lot of misinformation about what AI is, as well as concern over future implications.
Much of the apprehension about AI is simply because it represents “disruptive change,” thus some people are reluctant to embrace it. Let’s break down how AI is used by B2B marketing professionals to see if we can dispel concerns for its use.
What is AI?
We’ve all heard of predictive analytics, which essentially uses data points to discern probable outcomes to situations. If you conduct an internet search for “birthing classes” you will see more online baby-related content and advertising due to predictive analytics. Predictive algorithms have captured your expressed interest and is attempting to serve you with content that you’ll find appropriate, engaging and actionable.
AI goes several steps farther than predictive analytics, learning more data points about customers and actively testing their responsiveness to various inputs. In this example, AI may know that the person searching for birthing classes is beyond their childbearing years, and could provide more “grandparent” content to them. AI learns that people in a given situation will typically respond in predictable ways to set stimuli, and the additional data points provide more context. Responses (or lack thereof) can be analyzed to determine the best approaches to take in different situations for different audiences and marketing goals.
Essentially, AI builds massive neural data pathways that can be mined nearly instantly to provide relevant content. This learning goes far beyond the straight-line learning approach of predictive analytics.
AI Applications in Marketing
Below are four areas where Studio/D believes AI will most impact marketing in the coming years:
1. More Leads and More Personalization. Sales and marketing teams constantly look for more leads. Through AI, hyper segmentation and personalization of leads can be addressed at scale by adding personalization with names, mentioning keywords used, sites trafficked, purchases made, etc. Social media and programmatic ads are visible examples of this work.
2. Better Quality Leads. As soon as more leads and personalization are provided, attention turns to their quality. AI can assist with lead prioritization that not only mirror your current (profitable) customer base, but perhaps also identify where the prospect is on their buyer’s journey. AI can assist with this, based on some identified data points being accessed.
AI excels at providing a better understanding of customers, which should lead to better and more efficient servicing of them.
3. Relevant Content Delivery. This area is multi-fold in application, relying on AI to identify and capitalize on forward-looking intent from consumers.
- AI is adept at short-form content generation to help with pre-and post-sale relationships. You’ve probably experienced this through the wealth of website chat bots that clearly answer most questions.
- Programmatic ad targeting uses AI to match specific customers with known needs to marketing content that applies to them. The ability to personalize dynamically on scale allows for the ad placements to be highly relevant and actionable to prospects.
- Matched content for your specific needs can easily be addressed through AI. Back in 2006 (the dark ages of AI), Netflix created the “Netflix Prize,” a contest that awarded a $1 Million prize for an analytical program that improved Netflix’ ability to recommend movies with 10% greater accuracy. Fifteen years ago, this algorithm crunched 100 million ratings of nearly 20,000 movies from a half million customers for Netflix to determine what other movies their individual viewers would enjoy. Now think of the exponential growth of data available today for Google and others to provide search engine results pages (SERP) based on AI coupled with traditional SEO and SEM, and you begin to see the potential of AI to deliver relevant content to site visitors.
4. Early Identification of Trends. This is a particular strength of AI – mining millions of datapoints to detect trends well before they become visible to humans. You’ve likely experienced this AI application in use through things like Uber surge pricing. AI can predict demand and automate pricing updates without human interaction.
At its core, artificial intelligence can provide more relevant content to internet users, enhancing their experience by personalizing content for their needs, which becomes a win-win for the consumer and the marketer.
Several years ago, Studio/D conducted research for an automotive client regarding self-driving cars (which use a form of AI). We learned that drivers loved the concept, but weren’t ready to rely on it – rather, they wanted cars to help them become better drivers (hence the popularity of today’s lane departure warnings). We feel the marketing industry is in a similar position today with AI, with many professionals figuratively not ready to release their grip on the steering wheel, rather they’d like AI to help them become better marketers. Like with all disruptive technology, early adopters will embrace some benefits and will help direct its future use. It’s up to us as responsible and proactive marketers to use AI for good.
Give Studio/D a call with any AI questions, or if you’re ready to put AI to use for your company’s marketing efforts.
Studio/D is a full-service marketing communications firm working with mid-market industrial and manufacturing clients, together with companies in their supporting ecosystem. We’re an adept team of “makers” who simplify complex communication challenges with messaging that engages and drives results. Learn more about us at StudioD.agency, or reach us at 314-200-2630.