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Strategy

This isn’t Sci-Fi: AI is Changing Customer Marketing

AI and machine learning continue to push the limits, giving companies nearly endless ways they can interact with and market to customers

Lauren Dowdle
August 28 2017

Before you start imagining Terminators or Mecha on a mission to destroy mankind, it’s safe to say artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t evil. (Although, two chatbots recently created their own language to communicate, before researchers shut them down).

We’ve passed AI’s concept stage and are beginning to see the reality of its capabilities. From voice assistants like Siri and Alexa to pop-up chatbots, AI has come a long way in just the past few years.

And the number of companies using that technology is only going to amp up, considering AI bots will power 85 percent of customer service interactions by 2020.

AI and machine learning are ideal tools to collect data, provide support and immediately answer questions — making them the perfect addition to a customer marketing strategy. There are plenty of big name brands already implementing the technology with their customers, including L.L. Bean, Quaker Oats, Spotify, Facebook and Google, to name a few.

Not only is this technology becoming an important part of customer marketing, but it’s also affecting the way companies approach their marketing altogether. Let’s take a look at some examples of how other brands are using AI and machine learning — and what it means for your customer marketing efforts.

Provide a Personalized Customer Experience

Think you have a good memory? It’s nothing compared to what AI can offer your clients. The technology can store customer’s behavioral data, preferences, demographics and general information that will help personalize their experience and give them what they want.

Here are a few ways AI can better market to customers:

  • Suggest products or services they would like based off their past purchases
  • Predict when they will make another purchase and market to them right before
  • Understand when and why customers reach out to a company and then provide an answer before they initiate contact

Anytime you can delight your customer by seemingly “reading their minds” is a win for your marketing efforts and their overall experience with your brand.

Mask Marketing Objective with Customer Service

We’ve all seen how helpful AI can be when it comes to online chats. Want to know what that annoying flashing light on your TV means at 3 a.m.? No problem. Just talk to the company’s chatbot, and it will point you in the right direction.

But there’s so much more you can be doing with AI than just boosting your customer service offerings. Think about all of the information the chats collect. Customers are sharing things like what they’re interested in, possible pain points, what’s important to them and how they prefer to interact with a company.

In turn, these chatbots are gathering all this valuable information that can be used for marketing. You can never have too much information on a customer, and this is one way you can get it without them really knowing — as opposed to just sending surveys or asking for feedback.

Think Outside of the (Chat) Box

AI and machine learning continue to push the limits, giving companies nearly endless ways they can interact with and market to customers. Not only can you offer a chatbot that answers questions and collects information like we just mentioned, but you can also humanize the AI to get an even better idea about what your customers want and need.

One prime example of a company knowing its customers and getting creative with its AI marketing is Casper. This mattress company launched a chatbot for insomniacs — because who knows sleep better than a mattress brand.

Customers can text the bot when they can’t sleep and talk to it about a variety of subjects, and the company can then use that information in its marketing efforts. They aren’t turning to the bot for customer service matters: They want to interact with the brand and their customers.

As machine learning progresses, customer’s conversations with these chatbots is only going to improve, yielding even better marketing data results.

Generate Marketing Content

Us writers have enough competition out there already, but it looks like AI is going to be another formidable foe to watch out for. By 2018, it’s predicted 20 percent of all business content will be machine-generated.

You’d think the average person would be able to tell the difference between a human’s thoughts and AI content, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least with basic content. This tool helps personalize the content and distribute it to the right customers.

This technology has the power to curate ideas based off of its wealth of data knowledge and automate the process. I wouldn’t hand over a long-form blog to your AI system to tackle — and that’s not just my pride as a writer talking — but it can handle smaller tasks.

Provide Dynamic Pricing

Everyone loves a good sale, except for maybe the company offering the sale. So wouldn’t it be nice if you could only offer sales prices to customers you’re trying to convert — and not others who would pay the full price? That’s where dynamic pricing comes into play.

A capability of machine learning, dynamic pricing only targets customers who need a discount to make another purchase. This tool tracks data and customer traits to show whether they need some sort of offer to convert again — and also to see which ones don’t. This way, you’re not losing out on profits from those who will make a purchase without a discount.

Machines Can’t Do It All

While AI and machine learning are great tools to have in your marketing arsenal, they can’t replace the personal, human touch you can bring to the customer experience. People want to do business with other people, so be sure to put a face to your brand.

That can be as easy as including your name in a social media response to a customer, putting your name and email address in the “from” field for a newsletter, personally calling to resolve a customer issue or sending a handwritten letter on their customer anniversary.

Those are things no machine can do but will go a long way with your customer marketing and retention efforts.

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Lauren Dowdle

Lauren Dowdle is an award-winning writer and magazine editor based in Nashville, Tenn. Her nearly decade-long writing career has covered everything from landscaping to marketing — plus being interviewed by Jay Leno and winning a backhoe-operating contest. When she’s not behind the keyboard, you’ll find her spoiling her four furry babies and exploring the city with her husband.

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