AI and predictive intelligence aren’t just the future of marketing – they’re here now. These tips will help your marketing team make the most of them.
“Let’s see how this goes” – in traditional marketing, this wasn’t exactly a sophisticated marketing strategy (even if it was in the back of many marketers’ minds when planning campaigns). Now, though, testing and adjusting a campaign along the way is mandatory.
SMBs might advertise online, roll out email blasts, or share their wares on social media before sitting back and waiting for the results. Sometimes the results are disappointing, with no data to help point marketers in the right direction. This is where predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) come in.
AI is transformative. Think of AI as a new member of the team. AI offers the kind of input and insight that was once gleaned from customer focus groups and other (let’s be honest) laborious exercises.
Marketing tends to be project- or campaign-based, nudging customers to take action when a new product or exciting offer launches. Campaigns can span weeks, months or an entire year, and they usually have a finite end. At which point the data (finally) becomes available.
With AI, marketing will be less campaign-focused. It’ll be as though you’re working alongside customers every day, helping as needed – AI will track the customers’ behaviour, and suggest a next course of action or point of interaction to you.
Because it’s nearly impossible to offer customers that ‘high touch’ service consistently without technology, this will require a different way of organising the team and using resources efficiently. For example:
Think about what you will do to keep the conversation going when your current campaign has lead to sale, so that the next time your company interacts with the customer, it isn’t just about another offer. What content will you serve through AI? What signals will you monitor at the customers’ end, to maintain this dialogue without bugging them? A survey is one typical signal, but a less intrusive method is to look at how the customer navigates your website, social channels and live events.
Consider how the marketing-to-sales handover will work in an AI-driven environment. Most marketing teams gather leads and pass them to sales to follow up via phone or email. AI, on the other hand, allows marketers to target customers more narrowly and to reach out at the optimal time. Imagine this new process of communicating to sales. Map out likely scenarios as you bring AI into the organisation.
Brainstorm ways of providing value, rather than simply ticking off campaign objectives. How can marketing use AI to deliver info that helps customers do their jobs, even if it has nothing to do with selling your product or service? As a key player in your SMB, you may not have the time to do this today. But AI has all the time in the world.
Whether it’s video, eBooks, blog posts or white papers, most content marketing is generic — designed to appeal to every customer. The reality is that a marketing asset can look very different to people in different industries and roles. Its value depends on what challenges the customer is facing at any given moment, as well as the other products and services they have in place, the size of their company, and so on.
Imagine if instead of firing an email blast to all your customers, you had the time and resources to create a personalised message for each one, based on who they are, where they work, and the specific problems they’re trying to overcome. Enter, AI – you no longer need to have time to segment your customers and track their behaviour. You’ll just need a mix of content that can be curated:
Pull key quotes from customer case studies to create testimonials that can be popped into blog posts, social media posts, and other assets.
Edit webinars into specific steps — a library of clips — that can be woven into a specific form of outreach, for different points along the customer journey.
Refresh white papers by drawing on CRM data on customer location, vertical market, and other variables. Have multiple versions ready to go.
While it brings more automation and analytics to a company, AI is not about making customers feel like they’re dealing with robots. In fact, predictive analytics is about showing how an SMB is not a faceless organisation, but a team of real people who share many of the same concerns and goals as their customers. This is where it gets really exciting:
Find out where humans are performing tasks that aren’t drawing on their expertise or talent. Could chatbots provide faster responses? Could algorithms replace some of the low-level decision-making that your marketing team does today? Consider using AI in these areas.
Review the subject matter experts in your company – the people who should be on the front lines of talking to customers, answering questions, and helping build the business case for a purchase. Ask yourself, ‘What triggers AI to bring subject matter experts quickly and effectively into a customer interaction?’. Start building those triggers into what you’re monitoring and how you’re reacting.
Marketing should connect to customer service as seamlessly as it does to sales. What insights, if any, are coming from contact centres or other touchpoints that could inspire the marketing team? Plan an AI-enabled strategy that could galvanise this feedback loop.
Customer expectations have changed – even if they don’t know what ‘mass marketing’ is, they still expect personalisation instead. To find out more about customer expectations and how to exceed them, download our ebook State of the Connected Customer.