Artificial intelligence has been revolutionizing how businesses operate in new and exciting ways, yet marketers are still grappling with its applicability in the marketing sphere. To many, marketing is a creative process with human intuition driving valuable insights, and it is something that AI does not yet have the capacity to take on. Marketers want to preserve the creative and empathetic nature of marketing, and it’s important to recognize how AI still allows for that.
Like other technologies hyperbolized in the media, AI is subject to plenty of misrepresentation and false expectations regarding what it can actually do. This has sparked a case of AI impostor syndrome among those in the marketing industry. However, any sense of inadequate technical acumen can be overcome by understanding the cardinal rules of AI.
AI is a tool, but not a silver bullet
To start, it’s important to note that implementing artificial intelligence into one’s tech stack is never an end-all, be-all solution. It is a strategy with the ability to augment current processes integral to one’s business. AI is great at enabling optimization of an outcome, seeing the forest for the trees and automating tasks at scale. If you’re not trying to do any of these, AI may not be right for the job.
Before implementing anything, marketers must have a data strategy, knowing what will be fed into the machine learning algorithms and what kind of outcomes they desire. When creating your data strategy, make big data small so it’s easier to move around in real-time and, ideally, oriented around your end user. AI can take in countless pieces of data to help understand consumers—real people—like never before. Using this feedback, marketers can continue to build their brands, but with more effective data-driven insights. AI cannot answer human questions, but it can lend clarity to them.
There are no one-size-fits-all or perfect algorithms with AI. Finding the right algorithms and tweaking them for specific applications is where creativity comes in. Ensure you have an experimentation framework available that lets you test different approaches in unison as well as tooling in place that tells you if your solutions are benefiting users and business or hurting them. This must be applied where the communication is happening, with access to all the raw data coming into the stack in order to yield the best results.
With access to rich data, machine learning algorithms will continue to improve with each iteration. What’s important, though, is that this progress can be measured with metrics relevant to those who use it. If it can’t be measured, it can’t be improved upon. For this reason, using the right tools in conjunction with AI helps bring into focus what marketers care about and which strategies are most effective, as well as what needs continued development.
How do we shift?
The value in using AI lies with its data-driven, quantitative analysis and predictive capabilities. In the world of marketing, where companies try to anticipate consumer intents and optimize targeting, technology that can drive accurate predictions is extremely valuable.
In the early days of data-driven marketing, people were tasked with breaking down troves of raw data and providing a recommended course of action that could be broadly applied to segments. Today, we aim to have models in place that can synthesize data automatically. The difference in this approach is that humans will be dealing with model derivatives rather than raw data. In this case, AI brings clarity and focus to the marketers’ roles, allowing them to perform tasks more effectively with well-informed insights. In addition to augmenting marketers’ decision processes, AI can also help automate connections among disparate systems, leaving more time for marketers to focus on strategy and insights instead of data ingestion and processing.
In an industry rooted in creative content, human preferences and fast-paced cultural trends, it’s easy for marketers to fail to see exactly how artificial intelligence can help where they believe a human touch is necessary. However, AI may be but one facet in your marketing strategy. If successful, your customers should feel better heard, better understood and better served by your brand, resulting in higher loyalty and larger share of wallet.