How Artificial Intelligence is changing the way marketing departments maneuver in a highly competitive marketplace
In our last post, Can Artificial Intelligence help you become a more effective marketer, we discussed how real-world Artificial Intelligence (AI) is far more helpful than the malicious computers found in sci-fi fantasy stories. As AI assistants become more commonly integrated within marketing automation software, marketing departments are having to adapt their workflows to best use this dynamic tool.
Take a look at a fairly typical workflow for creating a summer promotion campaign:
- The Marketing Director creates the goal for a summer promotion and the channels they would like to use for the messaging (email, social media, Sunday circulars, etc.).
- The Marketing Specialists pour over data from the company’s most recent campaigns as well as last year’s promotion to determine the right type of assets to create, what the content should say and how to effectively send out promotion. This requires the use of several tools, such as Google Analytics, reporting in email software, and Customer Relationship Management systems.
- The team then separates their audience into various targeted segments to personalize the promotion to these unique groups (i.e. advertisements of toys being sent to parents, men’s clothing being sent to male customers, etc.).
- Once the time-consuming task of data mining is complete, the Marketing Coordinators and Specialists begin creating the various assets for the campaign.
- After the content is created, the team sets up a series of tests to fine tune the materials. These tests include: A/B split testing, Email Inbox previewing, SPAM analysis, and many others.
- Finally, the campaign is deployed and the team focuses on gathering data to fine tune the messaging as the campaign progresses.
Now imagine the same team has an AI assistant connected to all of their various systems. How would the process look different? The first major difference would relate to the automation of large data mining tasks. AI assistants would automatically segment the audience list and could suggest content for each of the targeted groups. The assistant would also automatically establish testing procedures and give recommendations for improving campaign performance. Essentially, an AI assistant would be able to rapidly complete tasks that are time-consuming for humans, allowing for the marketing to focus on building new creative ideas for communicating with their customers.
Industry leaders are predicting that in the coming years, many of the tasks currently related to marketing campaigns will be effectively automated. While on the surface this might sound alarming, it actually frees the team up to concur new challenges and be more productive. Each generation of marketers have embraced new forms of technology. From computer assisted drawing in 1980’s to online advertisements in the 1990’s, our industry has grown and come up with evermore creative and thought provoking ways to communicate. Now with the advent of AI assistants, we truly are facing a new frontier in communications.
From Alexa to Watson we’ll discuss how AI is going to enable marketers to be more powerful than ever.
AI assistants are everywhere it seems. When many people hear the phrase Artificial Intelligence (AI), their minds immediately conjure up images of Hal from 2001 a Space Odyssey or some malevolent gadget from Netflix’s Black Mirror. In real life, however, AI isn’t a sci-fi villain, but a powerful tool to make your life more efficient and organized. These new assistants wake you up in the morning by turning on the lights, reading the news and reminding you about your day’s appointments. In the evening they lock your doors, order your groceries and turn off the lights.
As our days become easier and more efficient, technology companies are using the successes in the home to develop new ways for AI to help improve the efficiency of business. Companies, like Net Atlantic, are leveraging new machine learning algorithms to enhance business workflows and improve a company’s bottom line. But what do we mean when we say “machine learning algorithms?”
To put it simply, technology companies have written complex search query and data analysis codes, called algorithms, to look for and interpret massive amounts of data based on select rules. The computer extracts information from the data to determine trends and patterns in a process known as predictive analytics. Machine learning occurs when a computer combines the use of algorithms and predictive analytics to determine probable outcomes.
So how can AI with machine learning help you become more effective? Imagine that you want to run a summer promotion for your business. AI assistants can look at every communication you have ever made to your customer base and can determine the words or phrases that are best for you to use for the campaign. AI can also recommend the individuals in your audience most likely to engage with your messages and even tell you the optimum time to send out your messages. How much more effective could you be if an AI assistant, integrated into your marketing automation software, told you: who is most likely to respond, when the best time to contact those customers, and what messaging is the most attractive to your audience?
As AI revolutionizes the way in which we, as marketers, communicate with our customers, the workflow of marketing departments will adapt. AI has the potential to save countless hours of marketers studying data and spending more time creating engaging content for their audience. In our next post, we’ll dive deeper to explore how AI is already changing the way marketers approach communicating with their customers.
A properly implemented email marketing campaign works much like a well-oiled machine. It’s effective, only requires a moderate amount of supervision and it produces results. And with little actual effort from its operators beyond its initial setup, no less. When you send out an individual mailing, it’s not this long, drawn out experience. You set things up the one time and it just hits the ground running, pretty much on its own.
Make email truly work for you through the power of automation. With it, you can set up and deploy a multitude of microcampaigns comprised of one-off messages sent in response to predetermined triggers like purchases being made, anniversary dates being reached, or sign ups getting generated. No more hovering over the SEND button and waiting for such events to turn up. Nope. The campaigns just run themselves and they hit SEND for you.
Not too long ago, one of our clients was asking about the best way to roll out a lifecycle marketing campaign (LCM or drip). For those of you who are not aware of what an LCM campaign is – it is an email marketing technique for sending multiple messages to a group of subscribers in an automated fashion. This client’s goal was to increase qualified leads in order to boost sales.
When creating your lead nurturing campaign it’s important that you carefully plan the flow of your emails to ensure that your overall campaign guides your leads through the funnel. Implement automatically triggered campaigns (a series of automated emails called a “drip” campaign) that deliver consistent brand messages at specified time intervals and when leads reach certain milestones. In a long sales cycle, messages need to be more informative and not a sales pitch. Offer them something of value (webinars, eBooks, white papers, articles, free reports, blog posts, etc.).
Here are five essential elements of an effective lead nurturing campaign:
As a marketer, you understand the importance of generating a steady stream of prospects so your sales funnel doesn’t dry up. Finding resources to generate high quality leads is a never-ending challenge, so it’s important to keep those newly acquired prospects interested and engaged with your product or service, so they don’t leak out of the funnel. Every sales funnel leaks at some point or another. For example, it’s easy for trade show leads to leak out of the sales funnel simply because there are too many leads to follow up in a timely manner. Plugging leaks in your sales funnel can prevent you from losing leads to your competitors and significantly impact your bottom line.
Lead nurturing is the process an inquiry goes through once it is received by your company. This process has the goal of converting as many of your leads into qualified prospects as possible. Depending on your business model this process could also result in immediate sales. With an intelligent and automated lead nurturing program in place companies can see a huge return on investment.
An effective lead nurturing campaign can increase the number of qualified prospects in your pipeline and decrease the time a possible client spends in a sales cycle. But even more important than this, a great nurture program can demonstrate to your potential customer base that you are trusted source of information. Once a prospect views you as a valuable source of information you have deepened your relationship with that potential customer. If you have a deeper relationship with your customer from the beginning, a solid foundation has been set and you will likely be able to retain that client for a longer period of time.
Successfully integrating a nurture campaign into your email marketing efforts takes some planning. You don’t want to just start pushing material out to your leads. You want to serve them timely information. Each email should be seen as a way to provide your prospects with valuable insight, not just as an opportunity to influence their buying decision. In return this train of thought could result in lasting relationship with your buyers. Reports have shown that acquiring a new customer is 6 to 7 times more expensive then retaining an existing customer.
Just because you are a small business doesn’t mean you lack the resources to integrate email campaign tactics that are deployed by large organizations into your marketing strategy. Email service providers are now making it easier for companies to automate their emails and implement nurturing campaigns, despite having a one person marketing team. All it takes is a little time and patience to outline a strategy, set your campaigns and analyze your results.
It is understandable that small businesses are overwhelmed with the amount of features that are now available to email marketers. It is easy to feel like you don’t have the time to log into your system and build out a lifecycle campaign that will engage your audience for the next 6 months to a year. Heck, you can hardly find time to pay your vendors and follow up with your customers. But think of the extra staff you can hire after your email campaigns get a 600% lift in performance.
It is time to stop making excuses and dedicate time to your email marketing campaigns. Implement these steps into your email marketing and it will start to reach its potential ROI.
Improve your relationship with your audience by showing them you are aware of the connections you have already established with them. Send very timely, targeted and relevant emails to your recipients whether they’ve just made a purchase or they’ve been a long-time customer.
Sound overwhelming? These types of campaigns are referred to as Lifecycle Marketing and are built around the simple concept of trigger-based events. Events that trigger an email marketing campaign can be anything from a new signup to a purchase on your website.
Lifecycle emails are an ideal way to show subscribers that you’re aware of the connections you’ve established with them. Best of all they work; in fact, they work really well. Gartner reports that marketers can expect a 600% lift in performance over outbound campaigns by leveraging event-triggered marketing tactics.