Is Artificial Intelligence Marketing Gold?
No matter where you turn, artificial intelligence is all the rage. Nearly every industry proclaims success in using the latest technological advancement, and marketing tech is no different. Salesforce, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), and Adobe, among others, all tout AI-enabled marketing solutions that can utilize machine learning from data and analytics to make automatic decisions, continuously learn, and predict future behaviors on a dime .
So what does this mean for marketers searching for the silver bullet to attract leads and grow consumer engagement through increased personalization? Ultimately, and as with most of the hyped new technologies of the past, there is no silver bullet.
Major corporations with huge multimillion-dollar marketing budgets are still grappling with the challenges of successfully navigating social, mobile, omnichannel, and the other seemingly limitless number of technologies that promise actionable intelligence to personalize customer interactions. And while it’s important to keep a the pulse of the latest trends and investigate the benefits of new technologies such as AI, marketers should take a step back and examine what issues they are trying to solve. In essence, how can this technology enable greater personalization?
For any successful, technology-driven marketing initiative, it starts with knowing who your customer is. Consumer identity data ensures that your customers and prospects are who they say they are but also gives meaningful insight into who they are by linking to rich attribute data, including customer demographics and psychographics, online and mobile behaviors, and propensity-to-buy scores and purchase histories. This data is the foundation of all inbound and outbound targeted, personalized marketing, whether or not it is driven by AI.
The speed and velocity of consumer identity and lifestyle information changes is increasing exponentially. One or many of these core identifiers such as name, physical addresses, social media IDs, landline and VoIP phones, mobile device and ad IDs, IP addresses, and more change at rapid rates. According to Accenture, nearly 20 percent of consumers change email addresses every six months, and nearly one in three people change them annually.
If you—or your AI solution—don’t keep up with these identities in between interactions with customers or prospects, chances are you’ll miss critical opportunities to reach them on the right channels with the most relevant messages .
Compounding the marketing challenge is the dynamic nature of lifestyle attribute data. People get married, divorced, have children, and get older, and thus their needs and interests change based on where they are in their life journey. If attribute data and critical demographic, psychographic, and lifestyle indicators are not accurate, up to date, and properly linked to identity information, any marketing initiative based on this data—whether its AI, omnichannel, or social—will suffer.
As brands look to retain customers, predict future actions, project lifetime value, and acquire more consumer-attribution-driven “look-alikes,” AI requires specific analytics that highlight customers’ current needs but also predict how they and their life journey might change in the future. Linking consumer identifiers to historical lifestyle data including cars purchased and homes bought helps set a baseline for where consumers are and where they will go next in their life journeys.
While it is clear that AI is still in its infancy, it is here to stay. The potential for AI to deliver meaningful marketing benefits across a customer’s life cycle journey—from prospect identification through targeted acquisition, engagement, and retention—is marketing gold. Why? Because there is a need. Marketers should be able to better understand who their customers are today so they can deliver products, content, and offers that address the individual customer’s current life-stage needs. And as important, marketers need to better understand and forecast what that same customer’s future life journey needs will be in order to keep them for the long haul.
Michelle Tilton serves as director of marketing for Infutor, a consumer identity management expert. Her unique marketing and consumer data insight comes from more than 15 years of experience, including 10-plus years of B2B technology, data, and media marketing expertise. Previously, she served as director of corporate marketing and communications for Source Interlink Companies (now part of TEN, The Enthusiast Network). She holds communications and psychology degrees from American International College.