As digital marketing becomes increasingly important for businesses, we need to start thinking beyond conventional techniques. With the ability to collect, analyse and learn from data, AI has the potential to transform digital strategy
As digital marketing becomes increasingly important for businesses, they need to start thinking about stepping up their strategies by going beyond conventional Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), holds the key to the future of digital marketing. When Google unveiled RankBrain in 2015, users noticed that the results to their queries in the search engine became more useful and relevant. The algorithm, which uses AI to analyse and respond to user queries like a human being would, also returns identical questions asked by other users. With the ability to collect, analyse and learn from data, AI has the potential to transform your digital strategy.
So what exactly is AI? A simplistic explanation is that AI is a branch of computer science that deals with building intelligent machines that can think and respond like a human being. The trailblazing English mathematician, Alan Turing, proposed the Turing test in 1950 to determine the intelligence of computers and identify if a computer can achieve human-level performance in cognitive tasks that are sophisticated enough to fool an interrogator.
Although no AI programme has come close to passing the undiluted Turing test, cognitive and computer scientist John McCarthy observed that Turing’s philosophy of AI is unlikely to have an effect on the practice of AI research, which has grown by leaps and bounds in the last two decades.
This brings us to the question of how an enterprise can use AI to market its business. The fact remains that a fifth of all the searches done using Google are voice based. It’s a big number, and digital marketers should understand its significance and start planning their marketing strategies to optimise websites to make the most use of voice search, along with traditional text search.
Some of the ways in which digital marketing can be pumped up using AI are predicting customer behavior, using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) to reduce load time and AI chatbots to enhance user experience.
Let’s look at how AI helps in predicting customer behaviour. Advancements in predictive analytics allow marketers to extract more information from data, and use it to predict the behavior of customers. They can then apply cluster models to group them and predict purchase trends. Predictive analysis also helps the sales and marketing divisions with lead scoring, making it possible to score leads based on their readiness to purchase. Businesses can upsell and cross-sell based on existing data.
If your website’s mobile browser pages are not loading quickly, it can spoil the user experience. That’s where AMPs come in. The AMP plugin takes web pages and makes them load faster by stripping them down to the basics. RankBrain has enabled Google to understand better what its users are looking for, and AMP content automatically shows up in the top stories carousel. If you are a business with an AMP page, then you have better chances of showing up in the top three search results in Google.
A lot of businesses already use chatbots, making it possible for the user to interact with the bot via instant messaging.
The time is ripe for companies to start using AI-based chatbots, which are significantly better. They can retain customer data, and customers do not have to repeat themselves every time. They can handle multiple customer requests at the same time, eliminating the wait time. They can also track the purchase patterns of customers, allowing businesses to revamp their marketing strategy and boost sales.
Last, but not the least, companies need to scale up content marketing. Content marketing refers to the practice of marketing a brand or a business by sharing educational, insightful, or entertaining articles that add value to the lives of readers. Research has shown that the strategy is more effective in attracting and retaining customers as it isn’t purely promotional. The Natural Language Generation (NLG) engine, Wordsmith, was able to create more than a billion human sounding articles in 2016. Although AI is still not advanced enough to write natural sounding articles on every topic, it is still useful for data driven content such as quarterly reports, market data, and sport matches. Once the content is ready, you can scale it up with an influencer marketing platform to ensure that it reaches the target audience.
Embracing AI technologies will benefit your digital marketing strategy in many ways. AI will not replace the jobs of advertisers and marketers, but help them unleash their creative and strategic potential. Business owners need to identify the roadblocks faced by their marketing campaign or company and use insights derived from AI-based marketing to solve the issues.
(The writer is founder, CEO and search scientist at a leading AI-powered digital marketing firm)