While eye-popping inventions like humanoid robots, self-driving cars and smart drones tend to get a lot of consumer-facing press these days, the real technology story for marketers this year may be the availability of highly valuable consumer data.
Thanks to much-heralded improvements in AI and machine learning, marketers are able to extrapolate much more specific pictures of our target audiences, allowing them to waste less time and money on pointless marketing campaigns that are unlikely to result in conversions.
Here's how data will help push the boundaries of possibilities in 2018:
With the availability of handy tools that can collate consumer data from a variety of online and offline sources, marketers can now drill down into their wants, needs and everyday spending habits — often making individualized messaging possible for each consumer.
“When a new visitor lands on your website they may see one of 15 different versions of your homepage,” predicts marketing exec Ashley Walsh on Blastmedia.com. “I also envision the ability to personalize 1:1 ad messaging based on CRM data, without leveraging designers to create multiple iterations of the same design.”
In turn, consumers are also increasingly expecting and appreciating that kind of individual attention; Salesforce points to studies showing 72 percent of consumers and 89 percent of business buyers now expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, while 66 percent of consumers may switch brands if they feel treated like a number, not an individual.
In many cases, personalization will make customers’ buying journeys more efficient and enjoyable as vendors start with a better idea of who they are, what they’re trying to achieve and what they can afford. For example, VentureBeat recently pointed to an online car vendor called AutoGravity that uses an app to draw conclusions about each shopper’s lifestyle, models of interest, probable budget and probable loan terms based on their online activity and their credit application.
“The longer you’re on the application, the better we understand you as a person and what you need, and what you’re looking for,” explains AutoGravity CTO Martin Prescher. “(We) use AI to then develop models to understand your profile ... to predict very, very precisely what your rate and monthly payment are going to be.”
Not only can AI allow for strategic messaging aimed at specific consumers, but it can also inform on best practices for countless other elements of your campaign. For example, it can tell you:
- When emails should be sent to maximize open rates and click-throughs, and what subject lines will be most effective. “By analyzing a customer’s reading patterns and topics of interest to recommend specific content most relevant to that person, AI-assisted emails could become even more engaging for every single subscriber,” writes Karola Karlson on Contentmarketinginstitute.com.
- How and when to engage those visiting your website, and what kinds of content and calls to action should work best.
- How your target markets are behaving and what they’re discussing, based on social media platforms, chatrooms and similar online sources.
- How to get the most bang from your ad buck through autonomous media buying.
- How to identify disengaged customer segments that are about to leave for a competitor.
If you have yet to start reaping the marketing benefits of AI, say prognosticators, it’s time to step up or risk falling behind.
“Look for opportunities, from automated content curation to personalization, where AI can make the biggest impact and result in the highest ROI,” advises Karlson. “You’ve been affected by AI in your content marketing for years; now it’s time to intentionally apply additional AI products to deliver personalized experiences and beat your competition.”