In today’s digital age, marketing has become an ever evolving and complex field. With the abundance of data available and the need to personalize messaging, businesses are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to help them make sense of it all. AI can be used to analyse vast amounts of customer data, identify patterns, and provide insights that can inform marketing strategies. From predictive modelling to chatbots and recommendation engines, AI is transforming the way businesses approach marketing, and its impact is only set to increase in the coming years.
Believe it or not, the paragraph above was written by Chat GPT, an artificial intelligence tool created by Open.ai. You’ve probably heard of it; it’s hard to avoid AI these days. Prolific as it is, do you think it’s worth the hype? Well, we’re here to help you work that out…
While AI can offer many benefits in marketing – as Chat GPT kindly pointed out above (a biased source?!) – it is important to be aware of, and prepared for, its potential downsides and challenges.
The Advantages of AI in Marketing
1. Increased Customer Relevance
A well-defined target market is critical to informing a business’s marketing strategy. Only by knowing who you need to target can you effectively determine the tactics used to connect with, persuade, and convert your audience into customers.
Marketeers have an abundance of data available from first, second and third-party sources (e.g. CRM, sales performance, social marketing platforms, and website analytics). This data can be input to AI to form a more comprehensive picture of your audience. Insights AI can draw from audience data includes identifying changes in behaviours, refinement of audience groups, demographic data, and campaign successes.
Instead of creating generic campaigns targeting a huge demographic, you can better understand who sees and interacts with your brand, and act from there – made easy by AI. So, not only can you understand your customers, craft tailored campaigns, and improve customer journeys, but you can free up your team to act and develop customer loyalty and retention with a human touch.
2. Increased Efficiency
Crawling data and drawing conclusions manually is time consuming. In fact, it is a whole 9-to-5 job for some. But doing it with AI is near instantaneous.
AI is good at automating repetitive or tedious admin tasks such as sending email campaigns, quantifying leads, or even social media scheduling. For example, AI chatbots can handle routine customer service inquiries, so, instead of your customer service team scrambling for answers or spending their time answering questions customers could find on your website, they can instead tackle more complex customer queries.
The usefulness of AI in efficiency doesn’t stop at ‘mundane’ tasks. Another way AI can help to improve efficiency is through the use of predictive analytics. By analysing customer data and trends, AI has the ability to provide insights into future customer behaviour, enabling businesses to be able to anticipate and prepare for upcoming demands with greater effectiveness.
With AI by your side handling the efficiency side of business – scheduling meetings or organising tracking codes for emails sent out – you free up you and your team’s time for the aspects AI cannot cover, like creative thinking.
You’ve probably seen ads on TV or social media that feel a bit…personal. Whether they say your city, town or even own name, big brand ads sometimes seem like they speak to you, and only you. But this trick, of geo-targeting, simply uses data easily collectable about you and applies it to an algorithm.
It’s also likely you’ve had the thought “is my phone listening to me?!”. It’s an unnerving experience when you talk to your friend about a fancy dress costume for an upcoming party or the new gadget your neighbour has, or you only think of something you need to add to your shopping list, and all of a sudden your phone is showing you ads about it. Though the jury is out on exactly how your phone listens to you, one thing is clear – advertisers know everything they need to know about you.
This data, paired with AI, means advertisers can calculate and track what their customers want and when. The opportunity then presents to hyper-personalise marketing tactics for each individual customer based on factors like geographic location, previous purchases and browsing history. The result? Highly relevant messages sent at exactly the right moment, perfectly tailored to the intended recipient.
Disadvantages of Using AI Tools in Marketing
There’s no doubt AI has its place in marketing, but what about the concerns? It’s not all data, efficiency and personalisation – here are some things to be aware of.
1. Privacy Hindering Innovation
Privacy is significant factor to consider when discussing AI and cannot be overlooked. Users have a right to know what companies know about them, where and how their data is being used, as well as how it is being monetised. Customers can’t necessarily stop data being gathered about them, but they do have some control over how it is used. The mission for marketeers and AI alike is finding where to draw the line.
While there are measures in place to afford consumer protection of their online data, most of the current legal framework such as the United Kingdom’s and European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) focus on private data such as names, contact details, date of birth and addresses. Despite this, it’s still up for debate as to whether this is enough to protect consumers, and with the laws constantly being reviewed and AI adapting each day, it’s an ever-changing concept.
Data privacy does impact the effectiveness for AI marketeers, understandably. Balancing the needs of customers and business is a continuous struggle when it comes to ensuring the relevant rules and regulations benefit companies, customers and innovation in AI. It’s hard to see how all three will be satisfied, so if you are going to dabble in AI for marketing, be sure to read up on the rules and stay ahead of compliance.
2. Necessary Human Intervention
AI is not (yet!) self-evolved or known to be self-aware. This may change, but for now, human programmers are still key to the understanding, function and application of AI. So, for any business looking to take AI seriously will also need to invest in the people to manage it. There is already an emerging job market for AI consultants, which you may need to consider to fully leverage the technology. Alternatively, you could look to train up your existing staff, especially if new automation efficiency from AI gives them some free time in which to learn. Either way, you will be spending money.
Another area for human intervention is not in the set up, but in the review of output. Content writing, for example, is a huge area of growth in the use of AI. Through natural language processing, AI can write about practically anything from a love song, to a sonnet in the style of Shakespeare, to an essay on the solar system – so it’s no wonder busy businesses are turning to AI to churn out copy. But this should not be taken for granted; while these can be helpful tools to get a rough draft of a simple, product driven blog, they will not match up to the capabilities of a human. The more nuanced your topic is, the more you’ll need human sensibilities to ensure high-quality writing, clear messaging, and easy readability.
AI may be able to replicate a style, but it will never get the intricacies of you, your business, your offering, and your people. That’s where tone of voice specialists come in – like our talented human tone of voice writers at Squarebird!
See more: Where is Brand Tone of Voice Important?
Plus, when you consider the time it would take to proofread and amend an AI article, is it really saving you all that much time and effort?
3. Additional flaws in AI and Algorithms
Sure, AI can help humankind, specifically marketeers, but nothing is perfect.
Take for example, the reliance on quantitative metrics and analytics that happens when an AI algorithm is deployed to make decisions on a marketing campaign. Measurable results like clicks and conversions are certainly useful, but qualitative factors are what truly make or break the success of a campaign. A campaign with 1,000 clicks may be deemed successful, but not if those clicks are the wrong audience, asking about the wrong product, or led to believe something you don’t offer. Just because KPIs are being met, does not mean a campaign reviewed by AI is effective.
This kind of tunnel vision can potentially lead you down unproductive paths that might not benefit you overall; testing ineffective campaigns, looking deep into campaign stats, and ensuring human analysis are all key elements of learning how to achieve marketing success, taken away from an AI quantitively approach. Overreliance on quantitative metrics and virtuosic technical execution comes at the expense of qualitative variables like creativity, novelty, and strategic risk-taking. This results in formulaic brand identities and campaigns that lack market differentiation. Hence the notion “nothing is perfect”.
Speaking of clones, with the domination of AI content creation tools like ChatGPT, we’re seeing marketeers moving at an even more rapid pace. But content marketeers must be wary of the flaws in algorithms that can cause repetitive content, factual errors, and even include bias. As always, human intervention will always be the bottom line.
The Future of AI in Marketing
There are some significant upsides to using AI in your marketing—but it’s not a remedy to the problems marketeers have faced over the years. It’s definitely a helpful tool to have in your arsenal that can give you an edge over competitors who don’t use it (or don’t use it effectively), but, for now, it can’t stand in place of your talented creatives. Whether it’s creative copy, bespoke graphics or strategy ideation behind a campaign, there are some things the human mind simply wins out on. We know it can make mistakes, so we rely on our knowledge and judgment in the end.
The key takeaway here? The future is bright for AI-assisted marketing—and the present is already pretty good! There’s always trends in marketing as we continue to move with technology and adapt to the changing consumers, but AI is one that’s going to stick around.
Whether you use AI is up to you. But, if you believe in developing creative and effective marketing strategies that only people can do – by humans, for humans – then Squarebird is for you.
Get in touch with us today – we promise a bespoke response. Can AI?