Marketers take note: the future of your organisation is in your hands
How do you feel about Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Confused? Threatened? Excited? Relieved? Bored with the hype?
They’re all reactions we’ve heard from marketers we’ve talked to about the potential for AI to support their marketing activities.
Notice we said “support.” You can relax, AI’s not going to put you out of a marketing job. But it does have the potential to make your role a whole lot more interesting. Getting AI on your team opens up a whole world of potential for creative, innovative, hyper-targeted and — above all — effective campaigns and customer engagement activities.
AI has arrived in the mainstream of marketing technologies. If you’re not already figuring out how to use it, you can be sure your competitors are. The hype around it is justified in many ways: we’re not alone in believing that it is already becoming a critical differentiator for marketing-driven performance and growth in both B2B and B2C.
So no pressure then. Your organisation’s future success could depend on your ability to harness marketing AI to maximum effect. Here are eight specific use cases you should consider now.
1. Make sense of your web traffic
Your website is your 24/7 shop window. Customer engagement and CRM platforms have evolved to catalogue and store the increasing stream of data, charting every move your online visitors make. But what do you do with all that data?
Intelligent insight is crucial to improving the customer experience, a critical factor of any marketing strategy. Now, AI in marketing is helping broaden and deepen that insight, identifying trends in consumer activity, spotting repeat behaviours and observing responses and reactions. AI can collate all this information to give marketers intelligent predictions and observations across the data set.
With this insight, digital marketers can explore and develop more targeted and personalised customer journeys that lead to a better return on marketing efforts.
2. Make social listening into social action
With 3.2 billion users worldwide spending an average of well over 2 hours on it every day, social media is arguably the main online activity of our times. There’s no dismissing it as a fad. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most important channels for consumers and businesses alike.
But with so many users and the vast array of social media platforms and channels out there, how can you cut through the noise and turn it into actionable knowledge?
Leading-edge social tools such as AI for Market Insights from Microsoft provide AI-powered insights that give you a competitive advantage through learning about and responding to relevant conversations.
With AI-enriched recommendations and trends, marketers can create news feeds that fit in and around specific search terms. You can tailor the methods of sharing and set up notifications that alert you to changes in sentiment, trends and topics of discussion. Social tools can provide you and your colleagues with daily or weekly digest emails tailored to meet your organisation’s needs and keep everyone’s finger on the pulse, providing live context for every decision and action.
3. Zero in on purchase intent
AI social media tools don’t just keep your marketing messages on point and provide a context for your communications activities. They also give you the ability to use sentiment analysis to understand specific attitudes towards your brand, product and services as well as those of your competitors.
It doesn’t stop here though.
You can harness the built-in AI technology within the latest marketing tools to spot purchase intent. AI for Market Insights does this by analysing consumer behaviours and the language they use to talk about a product. It identifies spikes in consumer interests and detects issues derived from Microsoft’s proprietary web search data. Customise the analysis to flag customers who are close to a purchasing decision and you can influence them with information and offers that pick up on their priorities and allay their doubts at the crucial moment.
4. Make conversations hassle-free
Think chatbots are just for customer service? Think again. In recent years there’s been a massive change in the way consumers research and purchase products and services. A native understanding of the internet means prospects can browse, review, critique and research products — whether for business or personal use — to their hearts’ content. They expect to find information online and to be able to embark on their own journey of discovery.
Organisations are seeing a significant reduction in the number of lead capture forms completed, either to get their hands on gated content or to make an enquiry. Prospects are less and less willing to disclose contact information to obtain content. Research shows that 81% of technology buyers now refuse to complete gated content forms to access online content.
Chatbots offer a way to respond to online interest and interaction without intrusion. Primed with accurate context and information and enabled through AI to continually improve their relevance, chatbots improve the online experience without turning prospects away by demanding their contact details.
5. Answer fast and honestly
Despite anecdotal evidence that bad chatbot experiences deter customers from purchase and undermine brand affinity, recent research has found that 69% of consumers prefer this style of communication. They value the chatbot experience for the speed of response and resolution, the 24/7 availability and the ease of communication — on-screen, in their own time. This demand for real-time availability means we’re seeing an increase in the presence of AI chatbots in conversational marketing.
With machine learning at their core, bots are continuously improving themselves, getting more accurate the more they’re used. They can handle natural language queries and respond to common questions quickly and clearly. AI’s continuous learning mode means bots are agile enough to adjust responses during a conversation. For example, if they detect a change in the buyer’s interest they will modify their responses to meet it.
Of course, chatbots do have their limits. Where speed of response is critical, they have the edge over humans. But overall, they should complement and enhance the customer experience. Some of the most effective bot examples are happily transparent, introducing themselves as a robot, not a person. They make it clear that they can help guide conversation and provide prompts on the journey, but they’ll hand-off to a human as soon as it’s more helpful.
6. Find the most engaged buyers
Are your audience segments static or dynamic? If they’re static, you very likely need to update your methodology to dynamic segmentation as it’s far more effective.
The Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing application lets you build powerful segments from a variety of data sources — not just your contact or company records. Extra parameters like behavioural metrics and lead scoring models focus segmentation to highlight customers and actions with a high chance of success. You can initiate highly targeted and personalised customer journeys at the point when recipients are most engaged.
Microsoft’s Dynamics for Marketing application has another cracking AI-powered marketing feature up its sleeve: the segment boost. It interrogates your data to identify contacts who are “most likely to yield business returns” because they share characteristics with proven, engaged contacts among your live customers. You can modify or augment the chosen characteristics and repeat the exercise until you’ve reached your campaign’s target size or end date.
7. Get your sales teams on the case
Good news for your to-do list: timely delivery of content to your segments isn’t just your responsibility. Salespeople are in the frame too. With AI marketing tools, you can enhance the direct one-to-one contact between salesperson and prospect.
AI-driven intelligence can provide your sales team with a wealth of smart recommendations and insight within your organisation. It examines data about the individual, their company and their interactions with you. It collates it from a variety of different channels including website traffic, telephone conversations and social media interactions.
The AI marketing tech pinpoints the next best actions and predicts close dates. It doesn’t even have to land on your desk: the system can push it directly to the right — or next available — salesperson, to action immediately.
8. Get your customers hooked on your brand experience
The online retail market is growing so rapidly that successful retailers simply can’t manage without predictive analytics for e-commerce to provide a deeper understanding of online customer behaviour in actionable timeframes. Each customer is unique, and so is their journey, making human analysis of this volume and intricacy of data an impossible process.
Marketing AI-driven predictive analytics continually analyse client and customer purchase behaviour, alerting you to purchase timeframes, habits and behavioural patterns. Using this information, marketers can optimise the customer journey and refine it extremely responsively and quickly, developing and evolving highly personalised and engaging experiences that drive increased conversion.
By Kayleigh Lewis, Head of Marketing, Xpedition
Discover more insights from Xpedition and learn how Microsoft Dynamics 365 can enhance your marketing campaigns at Xpedition.co.uk