How Artificial Intelligence will impact Digital B2B Marketing
Marketers today are already embracing artificial intelligence, although most don’t even know it. The global pandemic resulted in even more companies shifting resources to all things digital, such as AI & machine learning (ML) technologies. But what does it mean, exactly?
The results of this year’s McKinsey Global Survey on artificial intelligence suggest that most organisations today use AI as a tool for generating value, and BBC is no exception. AI plays a crucial role in the way we connect with customers and BBC’s performance team deals with these technologies daily.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
AI is the development of computer systems that perform tasks without human interference, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making and translation. The possibilities are endless and marketers have been eagerly using these techniques to make their life easier and improve the customer journey.
In the past, we had limited insights into user behaviour and buying patterns. With the development of AI technologies, we can gather and exploit that data to create automated messages or to make the best marketing decisions for you. Your customers could be getting tailored messages exactly when and where they need them, and you don’t even have to spend more time or money on it.
The time we save by automating a big part of our work allows us to focus on the strategic and creative aspects of our marketing job. Not only does this make our own lives easier, but we also create more value for our customers. Talk about a win-win!
How to implement AI in your marketing
Every marketer deals with AI nowadays. All the social media platforms, including Google, use AI in their bidding system through programmatic buying. Not that long ago, marketers had to send physical letters in order to buy media space. Considering Google’s DV360 is directly linked to OOH billboards today, we’ve come a long way.
AI can both curate and generate content. On top of that, it can deliver this content at the right time, at the right place, for the right audience, using real-time personalised algorithms. AI bots are being used to create entire articles, screenplays and books. A great example of this is the Washington Post Robot Reporter, creating 850+ articles per year.
The number of websites and companies that use chatbots is exploding, as the technology gets better by the day. The cost-effectiveness is the main driver, but the 24/7 availability is an important factor as well.
Targeted timing & lead qualification
Machine learning algorithms are already quite good at analysing and predicting the content preferences of consumers. The next step is to identify the most valuable leads by checking how users have interacted with content in the past and analysing their behaviour afterward.
Email marketing optimisation
Most of the emails that companies send out are already automatically sent. However, AI & ML check the behavioural patterns and ensure that the email gets sent to hyper-segmented audiences, at the right time. Marketers can even send multiple versions and let the AI decide which audience gets to see a different version. In a way, it takes away the guesswork.
What if you could find a brand or product, without knowing its name? Visual search permits users to take real-world pictures, feed them to the AI, and get online search results back. There’s still a long way to go, but we’re sure this type of search is only going to grow in the future thanks to technologies such as the Google Lens. It also means marketers will have to think differently in terms of SEO.
Another innovative tool – albeit to the extent of its visual counterpart – is voice search. Smart speakers are beginning to find their way into European households and their natural language processing gets better every day. It’s no surprise that many people search the Web by speaking to their phone. SEO marketers are adapting slowly but will have to keep an eye out for this one as well.
And what about Machine Learning?
Machine learning is an aspect of AI, but it’s not the same thing. It is driven by artificial intelligence, and it involves computer algorithms that can analyse information and get better through experience. Machine learning permits computers to analyse new information in the context of historical data and make predictions/decisions accordingly. In other words, the computer program teaches itself. Scary, right?
Here’s a fun video explaining machine learning in 5 levels, from beginner to expert.
Nowadays, machine learning algorithms enable us to make predictions about the future behaviour of customers by using data. At BBC, the performance team uses this technology to get a better understanding of what’s going on and how to anticipate customers’ behaviour. For instance, we know if our marketing campaigns are on the right track by automatically comparing our results to historical data, in real-time. This results in less guesswork, lower costs and better ROI.
The importance of privacy
The increase of companies collecting, hosting and using reams of customer data has led to a growing focus on privacy legislation. Marketing teams need to ensure they are using consumer data ethically and in compliance with standards such as GDPR, or risk heavy penalties. Using AI is a risk: you may break the rules of using consumer data without knowing it!
At BBC, each of our AI tools is thoroughly analysed by a technology audit and multiple tests before we implement it, ensuring our compliance with GDPR and guaranteeing the anonymity of our customers.
Impact of AI on Digital Marketers’ way of working
Although automation has replaced a lot of marketing processes, there still is, of course, benefit to working manually. First of all, business is done by people, which means a human touch is extremely important when dealing with customers. Some people act like B2B marketers are robots. We are not. We are people, just like you, and we enjoy human interaction as much as you do.
Many tools exist today to automatically insert SEO into a website. In our experience, there’s still no foolproof way to do that. Our team of SEO specialists takes time to reflect and understand the needs of the customer, then implement the right keywords accordingly. That doesn’t mean we aren’t always looking out for developments in software, because the SaaS world today isn’t the one we’ll have tomorrow.
Each technology has its benefits and disadvantages but you should choose the right approach according to your business goals and use case. At BBC, the benefits of AI & ML are very obvious, but we don’t even consider replacing our team with robots. The creativity we need in order to handle complex business problems is something computers lack, and we’re quite sure they’re never going to be on the same level as our team.