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Getting Started with A.I. in Content Marketing

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AI in marketing is nothing new. Anyone who has ever purchased an item on Amazon has been the "victim" of content marketing via artificial intelligence (with machine learning thrown in, of course). As soon as your purchase is made, you are automatically presented with other products, along with the phrase, "Others who have purchased this product have also purchased these."

How does Amazon know this? Because it has used AI to gather reams of data on others like you and knows that it can market additional items on a more personalized level, because of that data it has gathered.

The same holds true for many other businesses you patronize and from whom you buy products or services.

The concept is personalization because marketers know that this is the way to "connect" with customers and potential customers. 

​The Continuing Evolution of AI, ML, and Big Data

Collecting demographic information about customers to develop personas and then to find those demographics is a marketing strategy that is rapidly becoming an activity for "dinosaurs" in the business.Most of this is accomplished through manual research, it's time-consuming, and oftentimes, it is not very scientific.

Enter artificial intelligence and big data – the science that is transforming the way that companies find, attract, and develop relationships with potential and current customers. And marketers that expect to enhance their companies' successful outreach to consumers will embrace these newer sophisticated approaches. It's really all about the customer now, and personalizing every touchpoint will be the winning strategy.

​Taking a Look at Use Cases for AI and ML

Financial Industries

Banks are now using big data and artificial intelligence to analyze consumer loan behaviors, based upon specific demographics and the types of loans that these demographics find popular. Once that data is analyzed, they can review their loan products, compare with customer preferences, and devise new products. They are then able to reach out to customers/potential customers with those new more preferred products.

Customers who use online banking are seeing far more personalization when they access their accounts – spending is broken down into categories for personal budgeting activity; push notifications of potential savings, specific loans, and rewards points are made on an individualized basis. These same customers will also receive email notifications of new programs, products, and benefits based upon their personal banking behaviors.


Retail

Most of us have already experienced the impact of AI and ML in retail. When we purchase an item from a retailer, that behavior is "recorded." And it is analyzed against all other customers that have purchased that or similar items. The retailer now knows what we like or find valuable and what others like us like and find valuable. It can then push out personalized messages about other products we might be interested in.

Even in offline purchasing, ai is at work. Starbucks, for example, knows what you have purchased in the past. Through geolocation, when you are in close proximity to a Starbucks location, it will send a mobile push notification for a discount on your favorite brew.

These things all personalize the customer experience, something that is paramount to any marketing strategy today.

Using AI and ML to Personalize 

As marketers develop strategies for personalization, they must first understand the basics. Here are two definitions that will be key:

  • 1.Artificial Intelligence: This is a term that explains how computer programs can emulate types of human behaviors, including movement and speech, and then perform actions based upon those behaviors. Once in place, human intervention is only minimal. It can gather oceans of data and analyze it based upon specific human questions.
  • 2.Machine Learning: This is the technology that will recognize and learn from data patterns. The simplest example would be an FAQ section on a company's website. As customers continue to ask the same questions, ML will recognize the language patterns and learn how to answer these questions. The same goes for live chat features. Bill Bowers, Director of Marketing for Is Accurate, a translation services review site, puts it this way: "When we began to use AI and ML for both our FAQ and live chat features, we found that user questions could be answered far more rapidly and with better accuracy, than through human responders. It has streamlined many of our functions and has been a huge cost saving – a win-win for both users and us."

In terms of personalization of marketing, a recent study showed that 60% of content marketers still struggle with personalization. And another study by Gartner reports that companies that have made investments in personalizing their marketing content are already beating their competition by at least 20%. Why? Because consumers today will not patronize companies with whom they do not feel a personal connection. 

Manual vs. AI Personalization 

Think about the manual methods involved in personalizing customer experiences for your company. Every time a purchase is made, someone has to input that information into an in-house database. Then, customers (even potential customers) must be segmented out. This can be somewhat achieved via an in-house program, but humans must be involved all along the way. A marketer can then look at those segments and develop differentiated content marketing for them. This entire process involves lots of staff, the cost of which many small to medium-sized businesses cannot afford.

AI tools and solutions can serve a marketing department by analyzing the needs of customers, identifying the types of content that will work best, and then even automating the channels, the timing, and the types of messages that go out to these various segments. And ML integration will allow the collections and analysis of oceans of data, to identify key patterns that will let marketers personalize even further. Thus, a business of any size can now utilize this technology to their benefit. Already, organizations to provide these services are quite numerous, and this can be contracted out rather than employing in-house staff with all of those incurred costs.

Susan McCabe, Marketing Director for the writing service, Supreme Dissertations, has found that contracting out such a service has proved profitable: "We are a relatively small company. We understand the importance of using AI to reach out to our audiences, but we don't have the staff to do all of this. We contracted with an outside service and realized a spike in purchases within the first month. This solution can work for small business."

How AI Can Work to Personalize Content - The Benefits 

Here is a stat that should serve to motivate: According to a study by Forrester, businesses that implement AI and ML will have the potential to steal 1.2 trillion from competitors who do not do so. Where do you want to be?

Content can be highly personalized and automatically generated and delivered with this new technology. And the benefits are hard to ignore:

  • 1.Personal Interactions with Customers

This is the only way to meet consumer demands today. In fact, studies show that 52% of customers will switch to brands that personalize their approaches, rather than stick with one that is "cold" and impersonal. Content marketers can do this if they use the tools and solutions (or contractors) to get this done. It's no longer a laborious manual process, and multi-channel marketing can also be far more automated.

  • 2.Pushing the Right Content to the Right Audiences

Using AI tools, marketers will be able to predict what will be the most relevant and engaging content for each of their audiences and even for individuals within those audiences. All of the factors that can personalize content can be identified and used:

  • Age and income brackets
  • Personal interests
  • Geo-locations
  • Which devices are most used when shopping
  • Days, times, and even seasons for shopping online

Think about this example: You can use manual research to find a millennial audience for your urban real estate business – purchases and/or rentals. You can provide manually-crafted more generic content marketing about such properties in a specific geographic location, or you can separate out this audience into those who prefer to rent rather than buy, who are looking at specific neighborhoods, who are seeking specific price ranges, etc. How much better it is to target your audience segments via this data. 

 What's In Your Future?

There is no doubt that AI will impact the future of content marketing. If you intend to remain competitive, the content you produce must be based upon scientific data, so that, even when automated, your content will reach individuals who want both value and a connection with you.

You can continue to use manual processes, cumbersome, expensive, and time-consuming, and certainly not as scientific. Or you can take advantage of all that new technology has to offer.

Look no further than Netflix. Based upon the data science collection solutions of AI, the company presents customers with recommendations, based upon the user behavior, as well as the behaviors of all others that are a match for that user. You can use the same scientific approach in your own content marketing efforts.

AI is already disrupting the entire content marketing industry. And it continues to evolve, making its use a critical factor in a more scientific approach to customization and personalization of marketing strategies and activities.

The plus side of all of this is that the technology and access to it are becoming far more cost effective. The smart marketer will explore the tools and solutions that are now available and that will continue to improve and evolve. And, you don't need the technical talent in-house which is a big plus.

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Monday, 19 August 2019
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