Stiff competition from online giants, such as Amazon, are pressuring retailers to amp up their physical and digital offerings. At the same time, increasingly selective consumers are compelling brands to go the extra mile with more aggressive pricing, promotions and service offerings.
We’re in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, where online information empowers every consumer to be more discerning with buying decisions. It’s no longer enough to have an occasional promo or ad trumpeting a great value. Marketers need to adopt an “always on” approach to customer engagement. Which is why artificial intelligence is dominating marketing conversations now more than ever.
Yet many companies still haven’t made the leap toward investing in AI. According to the fourth annual “State of Marketing” report, about half of marketing leaders currently use AI in their organizations. Moreover, 27% say they plan to implement AI over the next two years, and year-over-year growth is anticipated to grow at 53%.
When revolutionary change like AI — or the internet or social media — barrels through the marketing industry, it’s easy to be left behind.
Here are four ways you can take to implement AI at your company.
Recognize that now is the time.
We’ve been hearing (and talking) about big data for a long time. It’s only been in recent years, though, that we’ve been able to combine the massive amounts of data needed with sophisticated machine learning to develop AI that is scalable to companies of all sizes.
Of marketing leaders who currently use AI, 64% report that it substantially or greatly increases their overall marketing efficiency. Mike Kaput of the Marketing AI Institute offers this warning: “The biggest losers in the coming machine age will be businesses that face AI-armed competitors, but lack AI themselves.” Don’t fall behind.
Identify barriers to AI.
According to marketing leaders, the top barriers to implementing AI are:
- Budgetary constraints
- Customer privacy concerns
- Lack of an appropriate internal skill set
There are also marketing departments that resist AI for fear it will replace jobs. While it’s true that AI will be able to take over some aspects of marketing, the result is more likely a shift in responsibilities rather than a total replacement. AI has the potential to free up marketers to focus on the more creative aspects of their jobs rather than the data crunching.
Once you’ve identified the particular barriers your organization faces to implementing AI, you can come up with a plan to overcome them, whether that means shifting budgets, hiring new team members, or educating hesitant colleagues.
Have the right team in place.
There is a persistent perception that marketers using AI technology need to have technical expertise. This, fortunately, is no longer the case. The beauty and benefit of today’s AI for marketing is that anyone with the know-how to recognize trends and build strategies and campaigns around them can use AI. In other words, you don’t have to know how it works on the back end to understand how to put AI to use.
That said, AI is sure to bring a wealth of previously unknown data to your team. If your company has the resources to add data science and technical skill sets to your team, either through hiring or training (like this Trailhead course on AI), they are sure to prove beneficial.
Have a plan for reporting.
Have a plan for being able to demonstrate the ROI of implementing AI into your marketing efforts. When drafting your strategy for how you’ll use AI, set goals for what you will measure and report.
In addition to showing the audience insights you’ve gained and personalized customer experiences you’ve created because of AI, your reporting should demonstrate how these advances have impacted your company’s broader marketing and business goals.
Like any business decision, if you want to your company to continue investing in AI, be prepared to continue making a case for it.
AI is revolutionizing the way companies do business, from facilitating personalized customer experiences to better aligning internal departments.