How Artificial Intelligence will Change Online Marketing
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence has a variety of definitions, but the best general understanding of AI is: machines capable of mimicking cognitive functions like learning and problem-solving. Learning and problem-solving help the AI improve the chances of achieving its programmed goal — whatever that might be. AI can be incredibly simple — even a thermostat is a type of intelligence agency (the basis of AI in computer science), but it is the ability to change itself is what makes AI for online marketing truly powerful.
Artificial intelligence is a broad category, and both machine learning and deep learning fall within its purview. Machine learning is already in broad use and enables machines to learn and adapt, and improve itself based on its experiences.
AI is already a major part of our daily lives, used by everyday brands like Google, Netflix, Amazon, Uber, Apple, and more. Now, AI technology is driving some of the most exciting changes in the world of online marketing. Here’s how:
Programmatic advertising is one of the most immediate examples of how AI is changing the online marketing and advertising landscape, and so naturally, it is dominating the advertising world. In 2017, programmatic advertising made up 79.8% of US display ads — nearly 80%. Online marketing professionals should only expect that number to rise.
Originally developed to make effective use of leftover inventory, programmatic has developed to one of the most important tools advertisers have. Programmatic advertising uses automation and machine learning to determine when and how much to bid on ads — meaning ads are delivered more intelligently and efficiently.
As AI improves, audience targeting will become more accurate and bidding will increase efficiency. As a result, ROI on digital advertising (and online marketing in general) should experience a noticeable boost.
SEO has honestly already been forever changed by AI, but not all marketers have taken note. Search results delivered in response to your queries are generated by RankBrain, Google’s machine learning algorithm. RankBrain constantly updates and refines the algorithm based on user behavior. The implications of this are vast and reaching, but for online marketing professionals, the most important impact of AI on SEO is the emphasis on CX.
An emphasis on CX lessens the importance of traditionally dominant SEO elements, like keywords and meta tags. More important metrics to drive your SEO will be user-behavior metrics, like bounce rate and time on page. The implementation of AI in SEO means that content relevance and quality are (although we would argue, always have been) the essential focus of a successful SEO strategy.
Increased Customer Communication
Shoppers have certain expectations of their digital experiences, and one of the most daunting emerging expectations is the desire for access to your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Chatbots, online messaging services powered by AI, are the answer to this growing demand. Chatbots mean, in some respects, an automation of relationship-building. Acting as an extension of both your website and your business, chatbots can help build fruitful relationships with shoppers before they do business with you.
Chatbots are primarily thought of as a way to provide customer service or support without requiring a human. While this is an excellent use of AI, and one that is increasingly both disrupting and redefining customer service, by no means is this the only way to use chatbots. Chatbots can be leveraged to help your user as they move through the shopping journey — including answering product questions, scheduling appointments, or recommending next steps.
Streamline Marketing Decisions
One of the most exciting aspects of AI for online marketing professionals is its power to help extract more and better insights from data. The automation of analysis means that marketers will be able to perfect campaigns much faster and more efficiently.
AI integration with marketing will soon provide even better insights than we currently have. Analysis, recommendation, and optimization account for a significant portion of time spent in online marketing. As AI technology becomes more advanced, some of the guesswork will be removed from marketing, meaning more efficient systems, higher ROI, and, likely, a better experience for users.
The growth of AI also heralds a change in daily marketing activities. Smaller, menial tasks that require time but no necessarily inspiration will be taken on by AI, freeing up marketers and advertisers to spend more time creating powerful, effective strategies and campaigns.
The Power of Personalization
AI will increasingly be implemented throughout online marketing to personalize content for users on an individual level. Segmentation is exceptionally useful, but eventually AI will improve data to the point at which users may be individually targeted for hyper-relevant marketing.
With high conversion rates and opportunity for superior customer experience, email marketing is particularly well-suited for AI-powered personalization. Email marketing will be able to directly respond to user behavior, both in terms of the actions that trigger an email, and in the content of the email itself. For example, if a user always clicks on a certain type of content, but ignores everything else, your email marketing communications could update to contain the best you have to offer on that subject — as well as attractive offers in line with the user’s identified goals.
This type of messaging can extend to on-site push notifications, Being able to automate this level of personalization means building personal relationships with individual shoppers, even when you have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of customers.
AI Voice Assistants
Voice search is growing. The huge popularity of Amazon’s Echo Dot, and Google Home Button, as well as the growing use of smartphone voice commands, indicates that consumers are comfortable with AI in their homes and as an everyday part of their lives. This will bring on a new level of communication with customers. Chatbots may be replaced or supplemented by interactions with AI voice assistants, further extending the business-consumer relationship by literally starting a conversation.
AI-powered voice assistants are an element of online marketing to watch carefully. There are potential opportunities to begin offering hyper-relevant ads to individual shoppers (ex: asking Google Home to add detergent to your shopping list, and getting served an ad with a coupon for Tide detergent when browsing on your phone inside the store).
AI has been around for a long time, but now it is taking off. Online marketers are going to have to work hard to keep up, or better yet, stay on top of this technology. The rewards of that effort, however, in addition to increased engagement, sales, brand recognition, customer loyalty, and overall ROI, mean this technology will help online marketers provide the consumer with products and solutions to fit their specific needs. In the Age of the Consumer, investing in CX is always an excellent decision, and if there is any marketing technique that supports the customer experience, it is artificial intelligence.