Artificial intelligence is expected to change the way we market. And AI applications in customer acquisition and customer experience are already under way. However, effectively leveraging AI to expand strategic thinking will be the most difficult and rewarding challenge.
AI use in customer acquisition is probably the most advanced. Aside from programmatic buying, there are additional applications that will help marketers better target the right prospects and allocate spend to the proper channels.
The eventual goal is to better understand which campaigns work and which ones drive overall engagement. One critical development area is Virtual Assistant Optimization. This is an analog to SEO and follows similar principles. As consumers rely on virtual assistants, such as Alexa, to do what they used to do on search (find recommendations, find a business, etc.), the ability to set up information in a way that can be easily accessed and ranked by virtual assistants will transform the craft of SEO.
The application of AI as a driver of better customer experiences is also well under way. Today’s AI applications are primarily driven by historical customer behavior, such as product recommendation engines or algorithms that predict preferences.
However, the future of AI-driven experiences also involves the inclusion of current and future context. This means understanding the customer’s location, weather, time, activity and immediate objective to understand the need better. This means understanding that a customer who bought milk a week ago and is headed on vacation today may not need milk for another week.
To achieve high contextual awareness, eventually, IOT generated data will be critical.
Using AI to drive a better market strategy will provide the most significant differential advantage. This is because AI-driven solutions for customer acquisition and customer experience will be developed by solution providers and will be within reach of most companies.
The use of AI to drive strategic decisions, however, will be more bespoke. For example:
- Can you use AI to help you make sense of the comments you receive on social media, call centers, customer surveys and other VOC platforms?
- Can you also use it to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors?
- Can you then identify universal pain points not currently addressed by the industry?
- How about recognizing innovative and unintended uses of your product that can lead to new markets?
The ability to answer these qualitative and situationally relevant questions is unlikely to come in a prepackaged solution. Rather, insight mining teams, conversant with AI tools and hungry for data-driven insights will be critical to generating strategic advantages. That means a growing need for talent who can understand how algorithms “think” and still step away to see the big picture.