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3 Ways to Prepare for the Future of Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

3 Ways to Prepare for the Future of Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

With AI, marketing will become less campaign-focused and more about behaving as though you’re working alongside customers every day and helping as needed.

“Let’s see how this does” is not a phrase you’d associate with a sophisticated strategy, but it’s something that probably runs through a lot of marketer’s minds when they’re planning campaigns today.

Whether it’s advertising online, rolling out email blasts, or promoting products and services via social media, there has traditionally been that little small and medium-sized businesses could do other than sit back and wait to see the results. In some cases, those results could be hugely disappointing, but there wasn’t necessarily any data to help point them to a better approach. If there’s one thing that artificial intelligence (AI) could bring to marketing, it’s a vast improvement in that situation.

SMBs who have only gotten their feet wet with analytics may not realize how transformative AI can be to the work they do. Think of AI as a new member of the team, offering the kind of advice and insight that might have taken a customer focus group or some other laborious exercise to obtain.

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Rewrite Your Campaign Workback

Marketing tends to be project or campaign-based. For example, when a new product is introduced or a particular offer becomes available, there are a set of activities to make customers aware and nudge them to take action. Marketing campaigns can span weeks and months to an entire year, but they usually have a finite end data.

With AI, marketing will become less campaign-focused and more about behaving as though you’re working alongside customers every day and helping as needed. That will require a different way or organizing the team and making effective use of resources, because it’s nearly impossible to serve customers with that level of “high touch” consistency without such technology. For example:

  • Jump one step ahead, past the point where your current campaign has lead to sale. What kind of content will be necessary to keep the conversation going so that the next time you interact isn’t just another offer or ask? Think about what content you’ll need to serve through AI, but also what kind of signals you’ll need to monitor on the customer’s end to know how to maintain the dialogue without bothering them. Some of those signals could come via surveys or other traditional tactics, but much could come through looking at where they navigate through your web site, social channels, or even live events.
  • Establish the marketing and sales handoff in an AI-driven environment. Right now, most marketing teams collect leads and pass them on for sales to follow up via phone or email. As AI allows marketers to not only target customers more narrowly but to reach out at the optimal time for conversation, what will the process of communicating to sales and closing the deal look like? Map out the likely scenarios as you bring AI into the organization.
  • Brainstorm some interactions based purely on providing value rather than meeting a campaign objective. For instance, how can marketing use AI to deliver information that helps customers do their jobs, even if it has nothing to do with selling your product or service? SMBs may not feel they have the time to do this today, but AI will not only make it possible—it will become an essential characteristic of companies that customers trust and to which they will remain loyal.

Make Content Marketing Assets More Modular

Too much of what many companies offer today by way of eBooks, blog posts, white papers, and the like are broad based or intended to be relevant for every customer. The reality is that deploying any product or service can look a lot different depending on your particular industry, role, other products and services you have in place, the size of your company, and so on.

AI offers a way to become more granular in the way you approach customers. Imagine if instead of setting up an e-mail blast to all your customers, you had the time and resources to create a personalized message for each customer based on who they are, where they work, and what specific problems they’re trying to overcome. This is possible through AI, but the key will be having a mix of content that can be used for curation purposes.

  • Break up customer case studies into key testimonial quotes that can be popped into blog posts, social media posts, or other assets.
  • Edit Webinars into specific steps that will be taken along customer journeys, and create a library of clips that can be woven into a particular form of outreach.
  • Draw on CRM data for insights based on customer location, vertical market or other variables in order to refresh white papers. Have multiple versions ready for use.

Perfect the Personal Touches

Even if it brings more automation and analytics to the company, AI is emphatically not about making customers feel like they’re dealing with robots. In fact, AI should really be about giving SMBs greater opportunity to show they’re not a faceless organization but a set of real people who share many of the same concerns and goals as their customers. This is where it gets really exciting.

  • Audit your marketing processes where humans are performing tasks that aren’t drawing on their expertise or talent. Where could things like chatbots provide faster responses? How could algorithms do some of the low-level decision-making that takes place today? Prioritize your use of AI in these areas.
  • Review the subject matter experts (SMEs) in your company. These are the people who should be on the front lines of talking to customers, answering questions, and helping build the business case for a purchase. What are the triggers for AI to bring SMEs more quickly into a customer interaction? Start building those triggers into what you’re monitoring and how you’re reacting.
  • Marketing should connect to customer service functions as seamlessly as it does to sales. What insights, if any, are coming from contact centres or other touchpoints to fuel or inspire the marketing team? Begin planning an AI-enabled strategy to make that feedback loop more robust.

The most important point is that AI is no longer theoretical. It’s here. To lean more, download AI for CRM: A Field Guide to Everything You Need to Know, a Salesforce eBook.

Everything you need to know about AI for CRM. Get the ebook.

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