Emerging TechnologyAI & AutomationCan we rely on AI to make marketing more human?

Can we rely on AI to make marketing more human?

Norman Guadagno, CMO of Acoustic, addresses why marketers must prioritize tech solutions that allow them to tap into the power of AI to provide specifically tailored content and highly relevant information to prospective buyers in a virtual world, and in an instant.

30-second summary:

  • By prioritizing technology solutions that allow them to tap into the power of AI, marketers can provide prospective buyers specifically tailored content and highly relevant information to prospective buyers in a virtual world, and in an instant.
  • Personalization is critical for securing new and fair-weather buyers but must be approached with caution. Too much personalization may lead to consumers feeling uneasy or “watched.” Too little personalization and consumers are on the receiving end of unappealing suggestions.
  • Starting a personalization strategy can be challenging if you don’t lay the right foundation. A good foundation requires your specific definition of “personalization” and a wealth of data about your customer base.
  • The right data is key as you work to identify and define your audience segments and personalize your communications. Everything from buying habits to social media habits can serve as data points for AI learning.
  • The right tools will allow marketing users to test and deliver content that is tailored for each visitor across multiple channels and based on a real-time understanding of the customer’s behavior. AI allows teams to better understand marketing elements in a fraction of the time.
  • Many people think of content and A/B testing first and foremost. While that absolutely does need to be tested, there are also several other elements to be considered.

In the abstract, Artificial Intelligence (AI) may seem impersonal—devoid of the human “touch” and nuanced observations required for meeting customers’ unique needs.

It seems absurd that smart machines could help consumers along a complex buyer’s journey, particularly when we’re making purchases for personal use and it’s our hard-earned cash that’s at stake.

That notion feels especially true given the realities we are confronting at this moment in time as a society: we’re craving 1:1 interaction more than ever as we’ve been forced into a digital-first, virtual world in so many aspects of our lives. With no clearly identifiable light at the end of the tunnel.

Luckily, in reality, AI can help marketers to personalize their efforts, ensuring a real-world customer service experience in a digital world.

When making a high-value purchase, consumers often opt to investigate their options in-person, eager to speak to, and meet with, an expert who can answer all their questions.

But high-touch customer service will remain unavailable in many instances as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to engulf the world. Even when retailers reopen, typical “try before you buy” measures may be impossible.

Beyond retail, consumers will simply expect better online buying experiences. What will enable that? AI-powered personalization.

By prioritizing technology solutions that allow them to tap into the power of AI, marketers can provide prospective buyers specifically tailored content and highly relevant information to prospective buyers in a virtual world, and in an instant.

How?

Define personalization

Simply put, personalization helps to meet online visitors’ needs more effectively and efficiently, making customer interactions faster, improving customer satisfaction, and in turn helping repeat user visits and sales conversion.

When done right, personalization will increase customer engagement and conversions through effective content and product recommendations.

Personalization is critical for securing new and fair-weather buyers but must be approached with caution. Too much personalization may lead to consumers feeling uneasy or “watched.” Too little personalization and consumers are on the receiving end of unappealing suggestions.

Figuring out this perfect recipe takes a lot of patience – and a lot more testing. Each brand will land on a different working concept on what personalization means to them.

For some categories, getting hyper personalized will make more sense; a sporting goods store may choose to show more basketball equipment to a dedicated player.

For other categories, less personalization is better. A pharmacy wouldn’t want to get too specific with customers buying products for personal needs.

Create a personalization strategy

Starting a personalization strategy can be challenging if you don’t lay the right foundation. A good foundation requires your specific definition of “personalization” and a wealth of data about your customer base.

As a supplement to this foundation, businesses must have the right tools and personnel to drive their new strategy, and the bandwidth to test, analyze, optimize, and test again.

Keep iterating based upon behaviors

The right data is key as you work to identify and define your audience segments and personalize your communications. Everything from buying habits to social media habits can serve as data points for AI learning.

Once the data elements are identified, validate that they’re accurate, remediate, and cleanse if needed.

Don’t forget how humanity and AI intersect

While having the right data and the right definition of personalization are strong starts, there will be no progress without the right tools and the right team.

Having a strong team in place that can measure program effectiveness will allow a company to better understand performance and decide where to invest future marketing dollars.

The right tools will allow marketing users to test and deliver content that is tailored for each visitor across multiple channels and based on a real-time understanding of the customer’s behavior.

Without the right tools, this process can become extremely time-intensive and require a tremendous amount of manual effort from a business team. AI allows teams to better understand marketing elements in a fraction of the time.

Test, test, and test again

The hardest thing about personalization is that it’s never truly finished. Successful campaigns rely heavily on testing content, the frequency of contacts, and the intervals between contacts.

Many people think of content and A/B testing first and foremost. While that absolutely does need to be tested, there are also several other elements to be considered. For example, the order of a three-step journey could make or break response rates.

Of course, none of these tests would lead to anything without analysis and optimization. Planning for continuous improvement allows for periodic review and improvements on campaigns.

Start your journey

Remember: it’s all about a strong foundation. The right data, the right people, and the right tools can launch a successful personalization marketing journey.

Through continuous testing and improvements, personalized campaigns will soon become a proven—and integral—element of your marketing strategy.

Norman Guadagno is a Chief Marketing Officer of Acoustic. He leads the strategic global marketing agenda to support the growth of the company. Norman has over 20 years of experience as a marketing leader for preeminent brands and agencies such as Microsoft, Wire Stone, and Carbonite.

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