Self-driving cars … Siri personal assistant … chess master IBM Watson. These are just a few of the things that come to mind when we think about artificial intelligence (AI). AI is the buzzword that seems to be on everyone’s lips.
There’s virtually no business or industry, or consumer for that matter, that isn’t confronting the impact of AI today. To some, AI signals a utopian future, while others foresee a dystopian nightmare coming to control us all.
But before you try to ignore AI or run for the hills for fear your job is on the line, let’s dig a little deeper.
Fact: AI is transforming business operations and increasingly becoming our interface with technology. At the same time, we’re a long way from it taking over our lives. As IBM software engineer Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. wrote, “There is no single development, in either technology or management technique, which by itself promises even one order of magnitude improvement within a decade in productivity, in reliability, in simplicity.”
What we are seeing, however, is a new generation of technology that is bringing greater insight and productivity to marketing and sales and a heightened experience for customers.
If you’re sitting on the fence, consider that Salesforce’s State of Marketing reports that marketers—your competition—are embracing AI-based applications and technologies.
Gartner confirms this, projecting that 30% of companies around the world will be using at least one AI-based sales application by 2020. And if you need more inspiration to act, Forrester Research estimates that data-driven insights will enable businesses to attract $1.2 trillion AWAY from companies not yet using AI.
AI can revolutionize your marketing efforts…you just need to know how to use it. This guide to marketing AI for dummies can help.
How AI Works
Quite simply, AI is a set of algorithms designed to mimic some level of human function and intelligence. What elevates AI above a typical computer program is that, like us, AI is adaptive and capable of learning by storing millions of associations, patterns and concepts.
AI’s ability to process the variety and volume of data that swamps companies has the potential to free the human mind to focus on the big picture.
By using neural networks for dynamic pattern matching and to perform intelligent searches, AI processes data quickly and makes sophisticated associations. Natural language processing opens the door to systems being able to work with more complex data. And machine-learning algorithms are the predictive power behind AI, enabling systems to make decisions without being programmed to do a specific task.
For marketers and sales reps, AI is like having a virtual assistant that can take on routine processes, performing them quickly, reliably and indefinitely. These algorithms enable AI to learn by doing, problem solve and reason the best way to complete a task.
How AI Is Changing Marketing
Even as AI-based technologies continue to grow, the tools and applications are already streamlining sales and marketing. Here are just a few of the ways departments are using AI.
Social Media: AI systems are helping companies get the most out of their social media efforts by identifying the types of graphics that grab the attention of their target audience. Systems screen tens of millions of images posted on social media and analyze what people are watching most.
Marketing Automation: While most marketers are using some level of automation, they’ve had problems tying different tools and platforms together into a seamless system. AI is helping to provide the connections and transitions necessary to create a cohesive solution that moves critical information through the sales cycle.
Personalization: It’s one thing to send a personalized email; it’s quite another to deliver automatically exactly the right information to the right person at the right time throughout the sales cycle. AI-based chatbots are one way that companies are upping their customer and prospect relationships 24/7. Programmatic media buying is another. It automates media buys for marketers while delivering to customers the content they want to see.
Predictive Lead Scoring and Account Prioritization: Working with massive amounts of data on past sales and existing customers, AI-based lead scoring can identify the criteria that best define a high-priority lead. Similarly, AI can prioritize accounts based on a company’s ideal customer profile and a prospect’s propensity to buy.
Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics: It’s one thing to have lots of data; it’s another to be able to process it and know what it’s telling you. While companies have had tools that help the decipher what people did, they’re only beginning to use that same data to predict what customers will do. And now, with AI-based analytics, they have the potential to act on the predictions and find the best course of action to achieve the desired outcome.
As sales and marketing departments rush to embrace AI, don’t be left behind. Don’t let the competition get the edge on your business. Take the lead by becoming not merely more predictive in your decision making but also more prescriptive in reaching your desired outcomes. At the same time, free up your best sales and marketing people to do the work only they can do best.
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