You’ve probably heard people like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg debating whether AI is a bigger threat than nuclear weapons, or if it’s the means to having a smart home that will basically make you Iron Man.
With some of the best brains in the world falling into one of two polarized camps, the whole thing can start to feel a bit overwhelming.
Who’s right? And is AI even a practical option for marketers at this point?
Well, here’s some insider info: While AI isn’t the magical solution to every marketing challenge you’ve ever encountered, it can help you make significantly more informed decisions and save you a ton of time.
Lucky for you, I’m here to demystify AI and show you what it can actually do for you as a marketer, right now. With a little knowledge about AI and machine learning (ML), as well as some research into which AI solutions could meet your particular needs, your data could quickly be turned into actionable insight.
How are AI and ML going to help you as a marketer?
As businesses fight an increasingly competitive battle for consumers’ attention, creative marketing personalization and a deep, comprehensive understanding of buyer personas could transform your business.
In many cases, however, there is one major barrier to earning a customer’s attention or understanding who your buyers are: A mountain of data that’s severely lacking in context.
This is where AI comes in. It’s meant to do all of the things that are most difficult and complex for humans. Moravec’s Paradox tells us exactly that: Complex tasks such as processing data and doing calculations will always be easier for computers than for humans. (And fortunately for us, high-level reasoning will always be much more difficult for computers to learn.)
Simply put, artificially intelligent technology is any innovation that enables machines to solve problems similarly to the way humans do. Artificial intelligence uses machine learning to identify areas for improvements in existing processes and adapt current workflows without the need for human intervention.
For you as a marketer, technology that employs machine learning can mean the automation of repetitive tasks, faster and more accurate calculations and data analysis, and an investment that will ultimately pay for itself.
The best tools out there today are often quietly employing complex AI to simplify your marketing tasks. Currently, this tech looks mostly looks like a variety of helpful ways to better understand your data.
Here’s a handy cheat sheet of AI terms that are often thrown around, and what they actually mean for you:
When evaluating your data and potential AI tools to analyze it, carefully consider the task at hand. For example, if your biggest issue is a lack of social media engagement, consider a tool that uses NLP to analyze the social media accounts of your biggest competitors to find areas for potential improvement.
Don’t just measure the past—inform future campaigns with AI
Using data as a directional lead for your entire marketing team’s direction and focus, rather as a confirmation of a guess you may be looking to prove, can take the efficiency of your current marketing strategy to the next level.
Scott Lange, creative lead at Google’s innovative think tank, The Zoo, emphasizes the need to apply data in an artful way, pointing out that we typically view data “through two lenses.”
The first, which Lange points out is used all too often, is using data to validate a particular campaign. The second, which Lange says we should strive for, is “data as inspiration,” in other words, using data to learn about your audience and then to inspire future campaigns.
My personal favorite examples of this are:
- This delightful and quirky data insight that Spotify provides for its users—and uses as inspiration for yet another curated playlist. It then shows users how they could use Spotify to market to their own customers.
- This impressive North Face jacket-finding AI that’s backed by IBM Watson:
AI Tools for virtually every facet of marketing
As the amount of data that marketers often interact with on a daily basis shifts dramatically, a perfect opportunity for an AI workflow revolution has emerged.
Thomas Mathew, CPO of Zoomph points out, “Data-driven marketing is the future, while ‘spray-and-pray’ strategies are rapidly failing and dying. Consider a world where focus group outcomes and quarterly market research reports are now available on demand … would you as a marketer not give it a try?”
To ease you into the search, I’ve collected as many marketing-specific tools as I could find that offer artificially intelligent technology as the core of their value proposition. The tools are grouped by the tasks that they support and listed alphabetically within their respective categories.
Automate your tedious tasks with a virtual personal assistant
1. Astro – Intelligent email management
2. Clara – Assistant for scheduling, rescheduling, and following up on meetings
3. Open Topic: Sia – Cognitive bot (powered by IBM Watson) that provides actionable insights on personalization at scale and predictive analytics
4. Smart Kai – Intelligent optimized social media posting
5. X.ai : Amy – Intelligent email management and meeting scheduling
Make better data-driven decisions
6. ActionIQ – Cross-channel data management for centralized insight
7. Adobe Audience Manager – Data management platform for identifying segments and understanding your audience to better target ad campaigns
8. Adobe Media Optimizer – Forecasts the optimal ad-buying mix; provides intelligent suggestions based on budget and previous campaign performance
9. Agilone – Manage omni-channel data to understand trends and customers
10. Atomic Reach – Real-time content marketing recommendations based on machine learning insights
11. Cortex – Optimize scheduling, photo, video, and text based on machine learning recommendations
12. Crimson Hexagon – Social media analytics platform that uses sentiment and image analysis to identify new segments to target
13. Oracle BlueKai – Cross-channel data management for central insight (offers 200+ integrations)
14. Sysomos – Advises you on the best way to search, discover, listen, publish, engage, and analyze across media
15. Velocidi – Optimizes your processes by collecting and managing all marketing spend and performance data then recommending improvements
16. Zoomph – Predicts and captures evolving social media trends in relation to specific audience groups
Organize and analyze visual assets intelligently
17. Clarifai – Automatically tags user uploaded photo and video for easier search and use by brands
18. Cloudsight – Image classification for better understanding of digital media context
19. Gumgum – Optimizes ad imagery based on your data and scours social media for photos related to your brand
Create more targeted content
20. Acrolinx – Word processing platform that uses natural language processing (NLP) to continually provide intelligent suggestions for your content
21. Automated Insights – Produces human-sounding and actionable narratives (SEO optimized) from data, building anything from video game narratives to client communications with natural language generation (NLG)
22. CaliberMind – Analyzes human language from customer relationship management and marketing automation software, as well as social networks, to build data-driven buyer personas and recommend communication
23. Conversica – Automated email campaigns and conversations with potential buyers
24. Phrasee – Intelligent email marketing that tests and optimizes your copy
25. Persado – Generates language and keywords optimized to connect emotionally with your ideal buyers
26. Scripted– Generates and manages content intelligently by connecting you with writers that match your needs and vision based on your provided reference materials
27. Lexalytics – Sentiment analysis for any text: surveys, social media, and more
28. Lucy – Interactive NLP (powered by IBM Watson) that understands your data and delivers information in a conversational setting
29. Quil of Narrative Science – Humanizes data into a personal narrative and actionable assets for improving customer interactions
30. Vestorly – Creates intelligent, automatic email, social media, and website updates
Multipurpose AI marketing tools
31. Albert – Comprehensive platform that performs automated and autonomous targeting and optimization, media buying, cross-channel distribution, and analytics.
32. Boomtrain – Data processing, predictive intelligence, and omni-channel marketing automation
33. Kenshoo – Cross-channel audience targeting
34. Indico – Machine learning for image and text analysis. Evaluate brand equity, social media, and customer insights
35. Motiva AI – Prediction, engagement, and optimization of campaign strategies
36. Onespot – Personalize branded content across websites, email, paid media, and more. Provides suggestions for improving editorial strategy based on machine learning
37. Rocketfuel – Predictive capabilities across media, direct-response advertising
38. Salesforce Einstein – Predictive analytics and machine learning for improved customer communication
39. Scoop.it – Curates content for immediate publication or ideation based on keywords and past performance. Measures content ROI
40. Stackla – Social media and geotargeting search, image recognition, sentiment and language analysis, data insight, and optimization assistance
41. Torch– Offers email marketing, personalization, and deep analytics
Strengthen your brand identity
42. Ascend – AI-powered conversion testing and optimization
43. ReFUEL4 – Ad ROI analysis and predictive scoring
44. Reputation.com – Online reputation management that turns customers into brand champions by enlisting their voice to improve ratings and reviews across the web
45. Strikesocial – YouTube advertising management with multivariate testing, media plans, and deep insight
What to watch out for when introducing AI
A guide to becoming a super-marketer and user of AI wouldn’t be complete without a few warnings. Introducing any automated processes to sensitive customer data can be dangerous.
It’s important to implement new artificially intelligent processes only once the opportunity cost has been considered. Ray Wang, the founder of Constellation Research wisely remarked, “Just enabling AI for AI’s sake will result in a waste of time.”
With the rapid evolution of AI, marketers should also be sensitive to their users’ data privacy. Clearly informing customers when their personal data will be collected and how it will be used is essential to a good customer experience and maintaining trust.
Because the intelligent algorithms powering these tools are often new and imperfect, giving customers the chance to opt out of data collection, as well as cautiously testing and implementing any new strategies, can make the difference between a PR nightmare and a happy customer.
Conclusions and next steps
Artificially intelligent technology most definitely has the ability to revolutionize marketing and put you worlds ahead of those who haven’t taken advantage of emerging products. However, AI is also the shiny new toy of the marketing world that could leave you blind to meaningless data analysis and waste your time and money, or worse—put your customer’s data and trust at risk.
So hop on that research! Go pour yourself a mug of coffee (or maybe even have Jarvis pour you one) and dive right into our master directory of AI software. You’re well on your way to becoming the AI-implementing hero we all know you were born to be.
Are there any tools that I missed or that are just being released? Drop a comment below and let’s discuss!
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