Artificial Intelligence (AI) is once again attracting attention across numerous industries, with many wondering how it can be used to their benefit, and others worrying if it will affect them negatively. There is good reason for this speculation, as the global market for AI-based solutions is expected to grow significantly in the next decade, forecasted to reach almost $2 trillion by 2030.
Marketers, in particular, have noticed how adept AI and automation can be at optimizing processes and improving productivity. Chatbots and other AI-based tools have been used by marketing teams for years.
As a tool, AI has great potential to improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns online and offline. To use artificial intelligence effectively, businesses must understand the limitations of the technology and apply it in areas where it can deliver maximum utility.
What Is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation means using software to simplify the management of marketing processes across campaigns, platforms, and channels. Examples of marketing automation can be seen across the internet and include automated chatbots, regular email marketing campaigns, social media posts, and more.
Such automations help marketing teams offload highly repetitive tasks to technology while they focus on more complex, high-value activities like relationship building. Growing marketing teams can use automation to maximize their output without excessive hiring or high costs. Marketing automation systems have allowed businesses to increase revenue and reduce costs without compromising on outreach quality or quantity.
Trends in Marketing Automation
As artificial intelligence has become more capable and accessible over the years, an increasing number of organizations have introduced it in their marketing operations. Recent research shows that more than 61% of businesses have used AI in some capacity to improve their processes. This shows that many businesses have a willingness to adopt new technologies shown to help them achieve their goals more effectively.
AI-based solutions are already available for a wide variety of use cases—and as the technology evolves further, more specialized applications will be developed. As adoption grows, AI will be less of a competitive advantage and instead become an essential tool for modern businesses.
Pro tip: Take a look at this list of AI tools recently introduced to the market that can save you time in various types of tasks.
Despite its widespread availability and use, there is still some confusion about the role that AI is expected to play in the future of work. In a recent survey, 35.6% of marketers said they fear AI might jeopardize their job security, while another 35.6% believe their job is safe from artificial intelligence. A further 28.8% were not sure how AI will affect job security. It’s clear that many marketers are still unsure of how this technology is being used and how it will affect them and their job prospects moving forward.
While many Americans have concerns about artificial intelligence and its ability to replace marketing jobs, the technology has proven to significantly improve employee experiences so far. With AI, companies can automate the most tedious, repetitive, and unrewarding tasks and free up time and resources for employees to focus on discovery and execution instead. AI is not used to plan and strategize campaigns, but it helps marketers direct their efforts more effectively. The most common use cases for AI in marketing today involve targeting ads more accurately (47%) and personalizing content for customers in real time (42%).
How AI Is Used in Marketing Today
Personalize Marketing Efforts
Search and social media advertising have become essential parts of modern business marketing strategies. As a result, customers are exposed to a staggering number of advertisements daily, which has made it increasingly difficult for marketers to capture the attention and interest of overwhelmed audiences. In an effort to improve the effectiveness of paid marketing campaigns, businesses have begun to personalize their outreach to each customer’s needs and preferences.
Personalization in marketing can be extremely effective in improving the results achieved by an advertising campaign. It also often pays for itself. A study showed that companies that invested in advanced personalization received a return on investment of $20 for every dollar spent.
However, personalizing advertising manually is obviously virtually impossible, as each potential customer has vastly different preferences. To effectively personalize ad delivery, each message has to be delivered at the right time, on the right platform, through the right channel, and using the right language…which can realistically only be achieved with the assistance of automation. AI can help businesses automatically direct different types of advertisements to the customers most likely to resonate with that particular content, thus making conversions more likely.
Lead Identification and Generation
Lead generation is incredibly important for growth-based businesses and highly valued by executives because it is the marketing activity that most directly generates revenue. Effective lead generation empowers businesses by using a solid foundation built on reliable data to identify patterns that can help them close deals faster.
When done poorly, this process can resemble a “spray and pray” approach to advertising, referring to an untargeted dissemination of information or marketing messages. In an increasingly saturated online advertising space, this approach is unlikely to yield favorable results. However, effective lead generation and identification can help marketers focus their efforts on customers who are genuinely interested in the brand and are more likely to make a purchase.
In recent years, AI has helped this process evolve significantly. Businesses that have used AI to automate marketing processes and nurture leads experienced a 451% increase in qualified leads.
In the past, marketers had to spend hours scoring leads, analyzing data, and identifying patterns. With AI, these processes can be automated and can empower marketers to spend more time interacting with leads that are of high value to the brand.
Pro tip: Leverage AI like ChatGPT for B2B lead generation by finding accounts that align with your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) for targeted digital campaigns. Below are some strategic applications:
- For account-based marketing, prompts such as "Find [X] companies like [Company Name]" or "Gather a list of companies similar to [Company Name]" can identify potential high-value customers.
- Refine your prospects by asking ChatGPT to analyze if these companies meet additional criteria.
- Directly ask ChatGPT to find companies meeting your listed attributes. Keep in mind, its data is updated up to September 2021, so cross-checking the relevancy of the information is advised.
Forecasting with AI Analytics
In today’s highly competitive business environment, even the most reactive businesses can find themselves losing ground to their competitors if a marketing campaign fails to hit the ground running. Marketers must predict how an advertising campaign will perform even before the first ad is posted online. This might have seemed impossible a decade ago, but AI-based predictive analytics engines and advanced data analytics have made this capability accessible to all marketers.
Predictive analytics can be applied in a variety of ways, such as helping marketers model how a campaign will perform at a certain time, on a certain social media platform, or with a particular target audience. Businesses today collect a staggering amount of customer and market data. This data can help marketers strategize and execute their next move much more effectively than using manual analysis, which can be highly resource intensive and is very prone to human error.
With fast data analysis and aggregate capabilities, AI analytics can help marketers predict customer churn and even highlight the reasons why it might occur. Marketers can use this information to get ahead of the churn and plan outreach campaigns that help retain customers who might otherwise have left the business.
Pro tip: Utilize a tool like Microsoft Dataverse's AI Builder to create your own customer predictions model. Follow the steps below to execute this idea today.
Creating a Power Apps prediction AI model involves three main steps.
- First, select the historical outcome to be predicted (for example, customer churn). This involves choosing the table and column containing relevant data. Using the provided sample data, such as customer revenue, can assist in prediction.
- Next, choose the data columns to train your model. The selections impact model accuracy, so avoid columns leading to data leakage. AI Builder also supports using related table data to enhance predictions.
- Finally, filter your data to concentrate on relevant rows for training and prediction. For example, focusing on the US region would require filtering data accordingly. This process enables targeted, effective AI predictions.
Customer engagement is a crucial part of delivering a stellar customer experience to everyone that reaches out to the brand. A survey conducted in 2021 found that almost half of all businesses are already using AI to improve customer experiences across their owned channels and platforms. This can be done using chatbots or by simply making self-service menus more helpful and personal.
Pro tip: True customer engagement demands three critical components: the dedication and participation of your product team, the practice of active listening across the company, and a pervasive sense of accountability throughout all levels. The significance of the first component is frequently underestimated, but it is just as vital as the other two. If you find that despite seemingly effective listening and corporate accountability, customer engagement remains low, the issue often lies in an absence of product feedback and enhancement.
The past few years have presented many businesses with significant challenges. Marketers have found budgets stretched and have been under pressure to deliver results with increasingly limited resources—38% of marketers stated that inflation was a major driver for changes in marketing budgets in 2022, with economic recession and the lingering effects of the pandemic driving further change.
AI can help marketers evaluate whether a campaign is generating the appropriate results to justify the associated cost. This allows marketers to more effectively showcase how marketing spend is helping the business generate more revenue. If a campaign is shown to be ineffective, AI can also alert marketers, automatically direct investment to a more effective platform, or suggest new strategies that could be more rewarding.
Pro tip: Create a Resource Allocation Matrix: This tool provides a comprehensive snapshot of the resources required for a project. It proactively spots potential constraints or unevenness in resource distribution. Generally, it consists of the names and roles of team members, their availability, and their assigned tasks and skills related to the project. Essentially, it visually plots your resources against the tasks and activities of the project.
The Benefits of AI-Powered Automation
Reduce Marketing Cost
Inflation, lingering effects of the pandemic, and economic uncertainty have made it extremely important for marketers to limit their expenditures while making the most of every dollar they do spend. Marketing activities that involve long hours and significant manual work can become very expensive if not managed properly.
Marketers often have very limited free time in their workday and teams can find themselves stretched. This can lead to overtime costs skyrocketing and in some cases, make further hiring necessary. AI can help businesses maintain or increase output without putting excessive strain on already overworked employees.
Optimize Outreach on the Most Productive Marketing Channels
Modern customers spread their time across multiple social media platforms and the proportion of time spent on each platform can vary greatly across customer segments. Many companies take an omnichannel approach to marketing and often have advertisements running on multiple platforms at the same time. When running advertising on multiple channels at once, marketers need to collect large amounts of performance data from each of these advertisements, analyze them quickly, and direct ad spend effectively. AI can help marketing teams automate this process and ensure that each ad campaign generates the best results possible.
Understand How Customer Views Evolve Over Time
The modern customer is highly opinionated and expects brands to understand how their views change over time. Businesses that fail to adapt can find themselves losing out to competitors that can appeal to these customers’ sensibilities more effectively. These changes often start out as subtle shifts in behavior and can ultimately change the way customers perceive brands and make purchase decisions.
Social media has made it easier than ever for marketers to know what their customers are saying about their brand and its competitors online. However, the vast nature of social media and the subtlety of these changes can be overwhelming for many marketers.
AI-based tools make it easy for marketers to scan mentions of relevant keywords related to their business across multiple social media platforms and plan marketing campaigns accordingly. This comprehensive data set can help marketers build a clear understanding of how customers perceive the brand, the messages that seem to resonate best with them, and how this behavior changes over time.
Provide Consistent Support to Customers
Customer support is an important part of running a successful business in the digital age. Customers expect to be able to receive help whenever and wherever they need it. If customers are unable to find answers, they are more likely to leave for a competitor. Recent research indicated that 61% of consumers say they’d switch to a competitor after a single poor customer service experience, so marketers have to understand the channels that customers prefer to communicate through and ensure that help is available to them on those channels.
It’s unrealistic to expect businesses to hire enough customer service agents to engage with customers 24/7. However, that is often what customers expect. AI can help businesses close this gap by using advanced natural language processing models to understand what customers are asking for and provide them with useful responses that can reduce the load on customer service agents. This also frees up customer service agents to deal with more complex problems and issues that do require human intervention.
Increase Conversion Rates by Predicting Customer Behavior
Data analysis can be extremely effective at predicting customer behaviors such as search frequency, social media behavior, web visits, and more. This can give businesses a clear indication of where a customer is in the buying decision process.
With predetermined messages, marketers can automate the outreach process to different customers depending on their online behavior. As marketers spend more time planning campaigns and organizing more complex marketing activities, AI-based software can take over the responsibility of sending promotional emails, personalized messages, and more at the most optimal time to encourage more conversions.
Pro tip: After leveraging predictive marketing to refine your customer segments, your next step involves utilizing behavioral data to construct customer identification models. These models boost conversion rates by pinpointing prospects that mirror your top-tier customers. Tools like CyberArk Identity, Okta, and FusionAuth have features that can support this process.
Fine-Tune Marketing Based on Real-Time Campaign Performance Data
In the past, marketers had to rely on after-campaign reviews to accurately evaluate how an advertisement or social media post performed. Today, paid media managers have to be able to extract maximum insight from campaign analysis and respond quickly.
AI allows marketers to improve their operations by automating responses to many different performance scenarios. For example, software can automatically redirect funding to a social media ad that is performing well by channeling budget away from an ad that isn’t resonating with its intended audience. Marin's tool "Budget Optimizer" does just that. There are many other automations available that make your campaign management more efficient. Reach out to one of our advertising experts to put together an custom package of AI tools that suit your business needs.
Support Better Work-Life Balance for Marketers
Marketing and communications professionals are used to working long hours and dealing with intense workloads. However, this often leads to burnout and poor job satisfaction. A study conducted in 2020 found that almost three quarters of marketing and communications professionals felt burned out. This level of burnout was higher than that experienced by professionals working in notoriously challenging professions such as finance, sales, engineering, and others.
Automation allows marketers to spread out their workload more effectively. Repetitive and time-consuming tasks are often unrewarding and can be extremely tedious to manage. AI-based solutions empower marketers to spend less time on such unrewarding tasks and focus on work they enjoy more. Offloading these tasks also makes it easier for marketers to achieve a better work-life balance since they no longer have to work extended hours as they use their planned workday more effectively.
Enhance Human Creativity by Eliminating Distracting and Time-Consuming Workflows
Apart from enabling better work-life balance, removing distracting and time-consuming workflows can also enable marketers to spend more time on creative projects. And AI can support in producing unique or diverse ideation. There is much more that can be said about how AI can assist human beings in creativity overall, but for now we'll leave you with an excerpt from the Harvard Business Review.
The entire piece is worth a read as the writers highlighted some profound ways that AI can make us more creative thinkers, but this section really gave us goosebumps:
"During the early stages of new-product development, atypical designs created by generative AI can inspire designers to think beyond their preconceptions of what is possible or desirable in a product in terms of both form and function. This approach can lead to solutions that humans might never have imagined using a traditional approach, where the functions are determined first and the form is then designed to accommodate them. These inputs can help overcome biases such as design fixation (an overreliance on standard design forms), functional fixedness (a lack of ability to imagine a use beyond the traditional one), and the Einstellung effect, where individuals’ previous experiences impede them from considering new ways to solve problems."
The Best Way to Introduce AI in Marketing Processes
Business leaders are often aware of the benefits that AI and automation can bring to their organizations, but they may not be able to communicate these benefits to their marketing teams. Here are some tips that business leaders should keep in mind when they are introducing AI to a team that might not have much experience with it.
Gain Buy-in From Marketers by Explaining the Benefits of AI to Them Early
Whenever a business attempts to change the way employees work, it’s critical to manage that change with care and intentionality. Employees should understand why the change is necessary, how the change will affect them, and how they will benefit from the change. This communication should happen as early as possible to allow time for managers to allay any concerns that employees may have.
AI solutions, in particular, are often misunderstood and discounted as a result. A survey showed that 41.9% of businesses choose not to use AI because they don’t fully understand it. When capable solutions are introduced, marketers might feel that their jobs are not safe. However, as with any change, consistent and respectful communication can often help manage these feelings and lead to a greater understanding of the role of AI within the organization.
Identify Repetitive or Time-Consuming Tasks That Are Ripe for Automation
While AI-based solutions can be very capable, it is unrealistic to expect these solutions to completely take over all marketing operations from the first day. The first step business leaders should take is to identify repetitive and time-consuming tasks that are most ready for automation. Once these tasks have been automated, team members are more likely to understand how AI can help them do their jobs better. These steps can also help business leaders choose the right solutions for their needs. As AI becomes more ubiquitous, more solutions will be built for specific workflows and use cases.
Have Both Short- and Long-Term Plans for Implementing AI Projects
AI, like any other technology, evolves over time. It is, therefore, important for businesses to determine what their short- and long-term goals and objectives are. These goals can help marketers retain some flexibility while still following an overarching strategy. Reliable and accurate data is crucial for AI projects and businesses must consider data preparation, modeling, and execution to ensure the success of an AI project.
Pro tip: Don't rule out custom AI solutions built in-house when you have a very specific need to fulfill. It is possible to create something completely unique that will serve your particular business for many years to come. If you don't have any internal resources with machine learning-based development knowledge, consider outsourcing your AI dev work to a specialized agency. These agencies have the necessary expertise in AI and big data, coupled with proven processes that help prevent mistakes during planning and production stages.
Embed AI Into Existing Systems and Workflows
Some business leaders can be overeager when introducing new technologies and end up replacing entire workflows with new systems. This can create significant confusion within the team and lead to wasted resources. Before an AI project is executed, marketers must analyze their workflows and learn how AI will help enhance these processes and integrate with existing systems.
Even when certain tasks and procedures are completely automated, information from these workflows still has to be shared with marketers who might use different systems to manage other workflows. Marketers should always ensure that the AI solution they choose can natively integrate with software that they consider essential for their work.
Take a Progressive Approach to Introducing AI to Non-technical Team Members
Marketers might not be intimately familiar with how AI works and how they can best use solutions that run on AI. This can make them reluctant to implement new solutions that are made available to them. It’s important that change managers ensure that the transition to using AI is a manageable and progressive one, so be sure to offer training on how marketers can use AI solutions effectively. Microsoft offers a series of trainings, for example, on how to implement artificial intelligence into your workplace and become more adept.
Managers should also keep communication lines open throughout the transition to ensure that employees who have questions about the change have easy access to answers. Teams can start with basic training, move on to automating specific workflows, and give marketers time to get used to the new systems before making their use more widespread. This progressive approach allows businesses to modernize without overwhelming employees who might not be as comfortable with change as others. Watch a playback of our webinar with Microsoft on how AI with affect advertising over the coming months.
How Marin Can Help Your Business Reach Your Target Audience More Effectively
Paid search, social media, and ecommerce advertising are increasingly important avenues for businesses to reach out to both new and existing audiences. In an increasingly saturated online marketplace, businesses must make the most of the data available to them and respond to customer and market trends quickly to get ahead of the competition. AI and automation allow the modern marketer to do this easily and efficiently.
Marin empowers businesses to make the most of their marketing efforts, increase revenue, improve web traffic, and outperform the competition. Marin helps organizations do all this with three main capabilities: analyze, automate, and optimize.
Data can help marketers understand their customers better and reach them more effectively. However, this information is often stored across multiple platforms and in various silos. In order to receive a comprehensive overview of their customers’ needs and preferences, all this information must be brought together on one unified platform.
Marin helps marketers integrate data from multiple sources including web analytics, social media platforms, CRM tools, and more. It brings information from all these sources together and presents the most important insights in a graphical dashboard that is easy to understand. The software also encourages collaboration between different departments by making information easy to share. This also results in simplified reporting of marketing performance.
Consistency and volume are crucial for the success of any marketing campaign. Marketers must analyze how each post is performing and adjust ad spend or keyword processing quickly. Social media is highly saturated with ads and posts, and it is the marketer’s task to amplify the content that works while improving that which does not.
Marin makes this process extremely easy by automating marketing campaigns. Advertisements and posts can be uploaded in bulk and the software will monitor the performance of each item and amplify those that are performing well. Campaigns can also be automatically paused and resumed based on inventory levels in real time.
Marketers use numerous social media platforms and search engines to reach their audiences more effectively. However, the data that is provided by these platforms are often limited and can fail to share the information necessary for marketers to truly understand how each post or advertisement is performing.
Marin uses AI to predict customer behavior based on a wide variety of metrics and signals across geographies, devices, demographics, and more. This allows marketers to maximize the results generated by every dollar spent on an advertisement. The software empowers marketers to specify their budget and automates spending within those parameters.