AI: The next frontier of marketing

GONE are the days when marketing used to only involve traditional channels like TV and radio advertising, or printing brochures and flyers. The paradigm shift has seen marketing evolve by leaps and bounds, and some of the more obvious changes involve:

  • Social media and influencers: People no longer get their news via traditional forms of media offline. Sponsorships don't just involve celebrities, but have expanded to involve social media influencers such as bloggers and the YouTube elite.
  • Digital campaigns: The internet offers a lot of real estate to capture audiences. Because people have moved online, the consumer experience has changed as well, bringing us to the next point.
  • Data analytics: The dawn of the digital age and new technologies allow marketers and brands alike to delve deeper and better understand the 'hows' and 'whys' of audience behaviours. This starts from the moment they click on an ad to their decision to buy a product or share branded content, and marketers can now go beyond just demographics

So, what's next?

Artificial Intelligence and the modern marketer

It is an accepted truth that the data deluge faced by marketers is not going to stop. As more emerging technologies become mainstream, marketers can either choose to identify and embrace those tools, or remain adamant about adapting to modern technologies and get left behind. The modern marketer is not expected to have the capability or capacity to study and digest all the data that is available to them, but to adequately identify tools that can help them with gathering insights. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can help.

Here are the key areas where technology has helped to improve the lives of marketers vying to win the RACE:

Reach: Hit the right audience through inbound techniques

One of the biggest ways machine learning has affected marketers' lives is with programmatic media buying, where algorithms are used for ad targeting, pushing personalised content that is most relevant to customers, increasing reach.

Attract: Draw the right crowds in

Predictive analytics also helps marketers analyse data to predict consumer behaviour, making it easier to identify the right target audience amidst the noise; These data-driven insights are able to showcase where a consumer is more likely to click, to what price or promotion is more enticing to them.

Convert: Nudge interested consumers in the right direction; yours

Through programmatic media buying, marketers can influence an informed consumer's decision-making process, via customised and personalised touch points where they are more likely to be converted as a customer.

Engage: Keep them coming back for more

In this digital age, the buyer's journey does not end once a product or service has been bought. In order to create and retain customer loyalty, brands need to value add by providing quality after-care service. Handy AI tools such as chatbots and automated emails help maintain engagement both during and long after a purchase has been made.

Levelling the playing field

Perhaps the most collective way AI helps marketers is by levelling the playing field for small players. Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are often under the fallacy that big budgets are required to leverage new technologies, while ensuring that there is sufficient marketing spend left. However, some of the most agile tech companies are also small or even start-ups themselves, offering services that are on par with their enterprise competitors.

SMEs also have the misconception that they require in depth technical knowledge to utilise these tools. However, technology companies have simplified their solutions, and SMEs should not hesitate to take advantage of this. For example, with the business intelligence tools available today, brands do not need a data scientist to be able to make sense of their data. They can employ a reporting tool that collates data, delivers actionable insights, and build a strategy that drives change.

In March 2016, the Department of Statistics reported that 4,771 companies were formed in December last year, but 7,237 closed down. SMEs still account for 99 per cent of businesses in Singapore, yet contribute to less than half of its GDP despite government grants and tools available. Brands and marketers simply have to clearly identify their needs, budget and end goals, before heading out to get the solution that best matches their criteria and capabilities. Technology is agile and businesses would do well to remember to apply that same agility to themselves in order to stay relevant.

  • The writer is CEO of Nugit.