October 22, 2018
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The two separate makes sense. But the two together have produced quite a bit of controversy, confusion, and downright pushback in recent times. A survey by Adgorithms found that 35% of marketers said they worried that they didn’t know enough about AI in marketing, while another 40% were confused over what it really means or is capable of. One of the biggest worries? That AI takes away the “human element” from marketing, disabling brands from developing “real” relationships with consumers. With solid brand-consumer relationships being the cornerstone of a business’ ability to engage, acquire, and retain customers, of course every brand should fear that…were it true.
The truth is that AI makes marketing more human, not less. Here are 3 reasons why:
AI enables marketers to understand consumers at the individual level. This is a far cry from only “knowing” them based on their segment. Demographic segmentation is a commonly used method of pinpointing the presumed preferences, likes, and dislikes of a group of people based on pieces of information such as their gender, age, and location. But the reality is that demographic-based segments tell the marketer pretty much nothing about the personal behaviors and preferences of each consumer. Obviously, generalizations don’t apply to every last person. So when marketers message everyone in the segment with the same message, it only resonates with a certain number of them. With the others, the message feels inhuman and is therefore unwanted, creating a more distant relationship between the brand and the consumer.
But if the marketer can leverage AI to understand the consumer at the individual level, then they can communicate with them at the individual level, too. AI-powered tools integrate into existing marketing automation and email service provider (ESP) platforms, helping marketers collect and process data on each person to understand their behaviors and what this says about their preferences—what they like and dislike and how they want to be communicated with.
Stemming from reason #1, AI helps marketers to craft extremely personalized messages for consumers, sending them only the message with the content they want to hear and sending it only on the channel and on the device they prefer and at the time they prefer to receive it. Here, when marketers consider both the content and the context of messages and ensure that the message speaks to the preferences they’ve inferred about an individual consumer, marketing becomes a whole lot more human. Why? When this many variables of a message can differ (content, channel, device, and timing), one single message that’s sent to only one single person becomes that much more perceivably unique and thus human. Much more human, in fact, than what marketers used to rely on as a means for messaging—generic, templated messages with little concern for how or when they were sent. Templated messages feel like the work of a computer, not a person.
AI helps take the decision-making out of marketing, producing more accurate communications more often than not. Instead of relying on manual guesswork to craft messaging, marketers can instead leverage AI to automate this decision-making process—deciding how and when to message consumers and with which content, everything from the subject line to the offer to the call-to-action. By removing guesswork out of the equation, marketers will send the “wrong” message less often and send the “right” message more often, making the recipient become more and more attached to the brand as they see the brand “getting them” time and time again. Here, the brand becomes humanlike as it intuitively understands a person’s wants and needs.
AI doesn’t take the human out of marketing; it actually helps to put more human into it. The interesting thing is that the original worry assumes that there was a human element in marketing to begin with. But let’s go out on a limb here and say that marketing, with its former standard of mass communications and impersonal segmentation, was perhaps never really “human.” That is, until AI came into the picture. AI makes real, authentic 1-to-1 personal conversations between the brand and consumer possible.
That said, as more time goes by, let’s hope to see the AI in marketing discussion shift in organizations from “if” to “when.” Those brands that want to stick around for the long-haul will do just that.
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