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Consider the plight of today’s marketers: They must cater to consumers who prefer self-service, expect timely communications, and demand personalized content.

As keeping pace with consumers becomes increasingly more difficult and important, it’s no wonder marketers are looking to artificial intelligence (AI) as an answer.

As part of the Salesforce “State of Marketing” report, we asked marketers where they expect to see AI make an impact. Respondents identified two distinct areas where they see this happening — their business processes and the customer experience.

Applying Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

 

This is the allure of AI —  to help marketers make smarter decisions about their audience, channels, content, and timing of messaging across the lifecycle so they can create a compelling, connected consumer experience while driving efficiency.

The good news from that same study? Of marketers using AI, 64% saw substantial increases in their overall marketing efficiency. These results bode well for the future as IDC predicts that by 2019, 75% of workers whose daily tasks involve the use of enterprise applications will have access to intelligent personal assistants to augment their skills and expertise. (IDC, FutureScape: Worldwide Analytics, Cognitive/AI, and Big Data 2017 Predictions, November 2016)

The challenge left for marketers is to distinguish between what is real, actionable AI versus what is hype (and there is a lot of it).

Let’s consider some real applications across the consumer lifecycle:

 

1. Smarter awareness and acquisition: AI helps marketers attract new audiences.

 

Gone are the days when to find new customers, you’d sit in a room, maybe with some data analysts, and define some baseline criteria for what a valuable or ideal customer looked like.

Find your best customers. Without having to resort to painstaking manual effort and analysis, marketing AI helps you to comb through consumer attributes and actions seamlessly and determine who is engaged and, more importantly, who is likely to continue patronizing your business.

Target individuals who look like your best customer. You can take that list of your best customers and run them through some AI-powered lookalike modeling, and voilà, you’ve extended your addressable audience manyfold.

Increase offer relevance. Do you feel valued when you get that “Dear Valued Customer” greeting? It’s much the same feeling that prospective customers have when they receive a generic ad meant for your entire customer base — not specifically for them. Now, using AI and rich segment analysis, marketers can discover new sub-segments or personas within any audience (even if they aren’t known yet) and use this information to inform creative and personalize content, so a glamper sees something different than the Bear Grylls survivalist in your outdoor audience.

 

2. Smarter onboarding and engagement: AI helps marketers make interactions personal from day one.

 

There used to be this idea of the corner store where the shopkeeper knew your name, order history, and preferences and could essentially predict what you’d need the next time you walked into the store. While that experience may seem like a thing of the past, AI in marketing brings that personal touch to the 21st century.

Personalize content and offers. Remember when you used to merchandise and curate products and content manually? — No more. Artificial intelligence enables marketers to automate personalized recommendations of content or products across channels that continuously update as browsing behavior and consumer preferences change. Today you can convert anonymous browsers to buyers, add a personal touch to your welcome series, and tailor every campaign to the individual, at scale.

Adapt to consumer behavior and preferences. Here AI helps marketers do two important things:

  • Understand the optimal path(s) to purchase or conversion that consumers take with their brand. No more starting from scratch and testing into oblivion to determine the right channels, the right number of touches, and so on.

  • Respond to changing consumer behavior and preferences —  before they happen. AI can predict what actions consumers are likely to take (such as making a purchase) and where that engagement might happen (that is, their channel preference).

 

3. Smarter retention and advocacy: AI helps marketers actively engage with your brand community.

 

Social media and brand communities give consumers new ways to engage with the brands they love. The engagement numbers are staggering: Facebook has over 2 billion active monthly users, there are over 500 million tweets per minute, and according to Deloitte, 2.5 trillion photos are estimated to have been shared or stored online in 2016. In this environment, AI is critical to streamline work and meet consumer demands.

Understand consumer sentiment and influence. Marketers can turn to AI-driven sentiment insights to understand the intent of a post (whether positive or negative) and prioritize the ones that need the most attention. Models can also predict strong advocates or detractors of the brand for marketers to target with special programs.

Facilitate a connected community. For brands with their own online communities, where consumers connect with peers and experts, AI empowers self-service by triggering knowledge-base suggestions to solve questions or cases alongside personalized recommendations on trending content or products.

Uncover new opportunities through text and image recognition. While in the past our software models could recognize keywords in social posts, newer innovation has enabled these models to recognize important imagery such as brand logos, products, or relevant scenes. The implications are exciting. AI can:

  • Recognize keywords or product mentions in the text or image of a post and automatically flag them for sales follow-up to grow pipeline

  • Detect brand mentions and shares around event sponsorships to measure marketing effectiveness

  • Combine sentiment, text, and image recognition to identify negative posts about your products, service, or brand overall and provide social customer care

Read more about image recognition and innovations in this space on the Salesforce blog.

 

Salesforce Einstein: Ready-made AI for Marketing

 

Much has already been written about the democratization of AI and the unique approach Salesforce Einstein takes as compared to the traditional AI tools built for data scientists (check out this blog post or this Wired article, for those who are more technically inclined).

Einstein for Marketing is how that philosophy is put to practice for marketers throughout the Intelligent Customer Success Platform. It’s placing the power of AI solutions in the hands of marketers to gain insight about their audiences and drive smarter content, channel, and timing decisions across the consumer lifecycle.

Interested in getting started with AI and Einstein? Head over to the webinar recording of How Top Marketers Use Artificial Intelligence to learn from their experiences and then watch this short demo video to see how Einstein can help you become a marketing trailblazer.

Ready to learn more about what AI is and how it will transform the customer experience? Tackle Artificial Intelligence Basics on Trailhead to get started