Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology are rapidly transforming the global technological landscape. Whether it be self-driving cars, intelligent digital assistants, or advanced image-recognition, AI is moving out of the realm of science fiction and becoming a reality.
For marketing and advertising executives, the integration of AI promises to enhance customer engagement through targeted, personalised, and contextual marketing. The addition of AI to customer relationship tools, such as Dynamics 365, means that sales and marketing teams have better tools at their disposal to drive marketing spend, generate ROI, and improve future decision-making.
“Customer Centricity platforms, like Dynamics 365, have progressed from basic list management to a holistic collection point for data,” says Peter Reid, Mint Management Technologies Practice Head of Artificial Intelligence. “They’ve become a one-stop-shop for all the information that marketers need to target specific personas and devise effective marketing strategies.”
Understanding and targeting individuals
Dynamics 365 offers useful new features such as social listening functionality that gathers information from Facebook and Twitter. This richer customer understanding, coupled with AI integration, enables companies to better understand their customers, which empower marketers to leverage cognitive computing to create highly-targeted campaigns.
AI insights also enable marketers to target consumers with the right content at the right time, based on what they liked and engaged with in the past. Companies like Amazon are examples of how effective these insights can be, using segmentation, targeting, and positioning to determine specific groups of people and recommend products and services attractive to these groups.
“You need to understand each of your customers very well and have detailed information on how they interact with you – as well as how they want to interact with you,” Reid says. “But a lot of data and complex analytics are required to find patterns and predict responses, which is time-consuming for humans to process. The Dynamics 365 platform, integrated with Artificial Intelligence tools, simplifies this information, revealing patterns and offering the predictions you need to accurately target people on an individual level.”
The new normal
The influence of AI in marketing has already changed consumer expectations, and individualised marketing has become the new standard. According to research by Adlucent, an Internet marketing company, 71% of respondents polled said they prefer ads tailored to their interests and shopping habits. According to the research, people are almost twice as likely to click through for an advertisement featuring an unknown brand if the ad was tailored to their preferences.
“10 years ago, people expected to get generalised marketing emails from companies that didn’t really understand who they were or what they did, but today, advertising is extremely targeted and focuses on things they find interesting and useful, so they get irritated by broad-based, generic marketing,” says Reid.
Rather than annoying consumers, targeted advertising reduces irrelevant ads, highlights new products, and makes online shopping easier. Relevant advertising is also a validation of the idea that the consumer is in charge of their marketing experience.
Will robots take over?
As AI becomes increasingly sophisticated, Reid believes the role of marketers is going to change markedly – with human intervention no longer needed in many instances.
“Chatbots still have a way to go, but ultimately it is possible that they will be able to fully understand the needs of a specific consumer and turn leads into sales without any human intervention” he says. “AI systems are also becoming increasingly good at writing copy or responding to emails, automating social scheduling, and drafting responses.”
Yet rather than threatening the role of the marketer, Reid argues that marketing jobs are going to adapt to accommodate these new technologies.
“We don’t see jobs coming under the threat of being replaced by robots – rather, we see AI enhancing the roles marketers currently have,” he says. “A classic example of this is the changing role of secretaries over time. Fifty years ago, when technology wasn’t very sophisticated and copiers didn’t exist, secretaries would have to type out individual memos. Nowadays, we don’t see fewer secretaries – every company still employs them – but their roles have become more sophisticated as they manage Outlook calendars, Excel spreadsheets, and so forth.”
The role of AI is to drive efficiencies, freeing up valuable time for marketers to design better, more effective marketing strategies rather than spending time trawling through data to try and understand and categorise customers. AI can also take on repetitive tasks, allowing marketers to focus on more impactful work.
Taking advantage of new tech
To thrive in the future that AI is creating, marketers will need to evolve their roles and skillsets, and learn how to leverage new technologies. AI is ideally suited to handle various marketing tasks, such as consolidating multi-channel campaigns, sending out perfectly-timed messages, and automating the nurturing and handoff of leads. Great systems, like Dynamics 365, are already effectively taking on these tasks.
“Like any function of a business that goes through a maturity curve, marketing is becoming more sophisticated. Businesses need to understand what AI-enabled technology such as Dynamics 365 can offer and how it can move them along the maturity curve. Then, businesses need to consider how this new technology can integrate at the core of their marketing strategies,” Reid concludes.
For more information, visit the Mint Group website.
AI is an important component of digital transformation. According to a Microsoft study, 48% of South African organisations have already begun a digital transformation journey and 44% are planning to do so within the next 12 months.
For companies interested in digital transformation, the video below reveals how a local SME disrupted an industry with Microsoft Azure.
This article was published in partnership with Mint Group.