A Comprehensive Guide to Marketing Automation and AI 2023
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a predominating force in the last few years. With more and more companies opting for automation and digital transformation every month, marketing automation platforms with AI integration is the next logical step.
Marketing automation has been popular across industries, helping businesses to improve client interaction and enhance multichannel promotional campaigns. According to statistics by HubSpot, marketing is the largest sector using automation, with 79% of companies familiar with marketing automation and AI.
However, out of the majority of businesses using marketing automation, 72% of them are more successful companies. A decent chunk of startups needs help to implement AI and machine learning (ML) to optimize their marketing strategies.
To explain in simple terms, marketing automation uses machine learning algorithms and data to analyze as well as automate your marketing habits. As marketing professionals or entrepreneurs, you are pretty familiar with several marketing automation solutions.
A lot of you may also use marketing tools for lead generation, social media posting, and communicating with customers. But, traditional marketing automation and AI are different in many ways. Let’s dive into the details to find these differentiation points.
At the end of this blog, you will find a comprehensive guide on how to implement marketing automation with AI in your business.
What is Marketing Automation?
Staying true to Julie Andrews, “Let’s start from the beginning, a very good place to start…”
Marketing automation (MA) refers to automating your marketing activities using technology and software. These technologies help effective workflow and efficient use of resources.
Some of the most popular marketing automation platforms include SEMrush, HubSpot, Uber Suggest, Mailchimp, etc. These platforms are usually used by marketers to deliver emails, schedule posts on social media platforms, and SMS. Marketing automation also helps track customer journeys, allowing marketers to plan a strategic sequence of campaigns catering to specific customer behaviors.
Some of these tools have added automation aspects like social media listening, automatic alerts, etc. Dashboards and analytics are also part of these automation tools, where experts can view the results of their promotional efforts..
How AI Fits into Marketing Automation Solutions?
AI, at its core, is the process of programming machines to think and act like humans. AI assists machines in making decisions, following up on orders, or analyzing a situation to provide insights. Hence, subfields of AI, such as machine learning, are designed to learn from data and adapt behavior patterns.
In marketing automation, AI helps to analyze a massive amount of data to identify patterns like customer shopping behavior and preferences to make decisions in real time.
Marketing automation doesn’t deliver deep consumer insights. At best, marketing automation solutions can only deliver sub-categories that help personalize marketing campaigns.
However, with AI, marketers can learn deep insights into target audiences’ behavior, preferences, faith, values, and lifestyle. This allows them to create a more personalized campaign apt to match individual needs. Take the music platform Spotify for instance. They create individual playlists for their listeners based on their music taste, current trends, and favorite artists. If you download the app, you will get at least 3 to 4 playlists every day catered to your preferences.
Reasons Businesses Are Slow to Adopt AI In Marketing
Despite AI making waves in the marketing world, some organizations are slow in integrating AI for several reasons:
Lack Of Understanding
According to a survey, 41.7% of companies aren’t adopting AI in marketing automation due to a lack of knowledge. Acquiring skills and knowledge regarding AI requires training, which a lot of corporations don’t provide for their employees.
AI requires a steep learning curve. While companies use AI for content production, many employees get stuck at the beginning of AI integration in marketing automation platforms.
While it’s true that advanced technologies have become quite accessible in the past few years, there is a cost of implementation. Software and machines increase production speed while reducing human errors.
This can bear a challenge for senior executives who are motivated by the share of profits. Moreover, the collateral damage of layoffs is also a fear that often outweighs the adoption of AI in marketing.
Giving Up Control
Humans control the brain and its muscles. If we take execution tasks as the muscles, those have been automated by software development a long time back. With AI, the brain, also the most important one in the system, gets controlled by machines. This means autonomy in decision-making and analysis. Many businesses fear the prospect of giving up control and relying on marketing automation and AI to form customer experience strategies.
Why are Applications of AI in Marketing Automation Essential?
When software automation began to take over the world, there were reluctance and paranoia. Once you get past that, you can see how AI can be beneficial to businesses with a broad scope of applications.
The primary focus of businesses is to increase sales and profit margins.
Marketing automation and AI tools can help businesses increase productivity by automating repetitive tasks. Integration of AI helps businesses save money and time. For instance, AI tools can help marketers identify the promotional channels that would be most effective, reducing money spent on ads.
Personalizing Customer Experience
Nowadays, apart from product quality, customers also look for a satisfactory experience right from the onboarding process.
With AI marketing, professionals can deliver customization at the most intimate level by analyzing patterns and making tailored recommendations. Netflix uses viewing history and other forms of data to recommend people content that improves customer retention rates.
Predictive Data Analysis
Everyone knows the ability of AI to analyze big data. Customer behavior and data analysis are, in fact, one of the primary reasons companies use AI tools for marketing strategies. AI can even help marketers to anticipate customer moves and needs based on data analysis.
Because of this, you don’t need to wait for the end of a particular campaign to make decisions. AI would provide real-time data, and then machine learning could use the data to improve the decisions at the moment.
Reduction Of Human Error
While humans have a touch of emotions that are quite challenging for AI tools to achieve, they help with fewer errors. For instance, while copywriting, AI tools can assist writers in getting the spelling and other grammatical errors. AI tools like Grammarly help writers improve their tone to make it more efficient.
As we mentioned before, AI helps with pattern recognition. Along with marketing automation platforms, AI tools can create personalized content, optimize posting time on social media, target your audiences better, and give precise results.
In short, each penny of yours would be fully utilized, thus reducing loss.
Now, the question is how to implement AI in marketing automation. Let’s talk about that.
Converging AI Into Marketing Automation
When implementing marketing automation and AI into your internal process or other marketing needs, it is essential to have a roadmap. However, apart from a roadmap, you must identify the right platforms and AI tools that suit your marketing necessities.
Here are some steps that would make the process easier.
Select The Tools and Platforms
Each business has its requirements. For instance, if you own a B2B SaaS development company, integrating AI would involve machine learning, AR/VR, etc.
Though, we can’t say the same for a fashion and lifestyle brand that wants to apply AI to its marketing. Their integration might include natural language generation and machine learning tools that focus on content personalization.
Creating A Roadmap for The Application
Once you select the AI tools and marketing automation platforms, it is essential to have a plan. Remember, the more comprehensive your plan is, the more seamless your implementation process will be
It is always better to stress a detailed marketing strategy that includes automation and AI. Your existing marketing process would indicate the next step of training and up-scaling your workforce.
Training Your Team For AI-Backed Automation
Your team might be well-versed in marketing automation platforms that schedule and post promotional materials.
But, working with AI-powered marketing tools and integrating them with the existing automation tools can get tricky. Training your marketing team should involve how to use AI tools and platforms. For instance, give a workshop on email marketing automation and AI.
Consider Hiring Fresh Talents
While it’s important to foster learning and training your employees, in some cases, it becomes crucial to have fresh perspectives.
Identify knowledge gaps in your existing team and look for candidates who are experts in AI tools. The younger generation is quite competent in automation systems and AI. Building a team with existing trained employees who holds marketing experience and fresh talents who are tech-savvy can only uphold your success in the current market.
Types of Marketing AI Technologies
With AI making its mark in the marketing industry, job roles are getting redefined as well. While some are getting automated, most of them require emerging skills like data analysis, AI integration, machine learning, etc.
The future isn’t replacing the workforce with automation. It is leveraging the potential of AI to help marketers focus more on strategic planning, content innovation, and creative processes.
There are several AI automation tools in marketing. Some of the key areas include:
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
AR/ VR technologies are not only becoming popular in education but also the marketing sector. With AI-based data and algorithms, marketers are creating a more immersive customer experience for buyers.
For instance, companies like Sephora and Nike are using AR/VR technology to create multi-sensory shopping experiences for buyers. It can help to drive more sales and create better consumer engagement.
Integrated ML Applications
One of the most popular integrated ML apps has to be Netflix’s recommendation feature. ML applications allow businesses to learn from consumer behavior and create a pattern around it.
Using this user behavior, these AI-based can offer better recommendations to create personalized experiences.
Natural Language Processing (NLP)
NLP is a field of AI that helps machines to interpret and react to human languages. In marketing automation, the use of NLP helps businesses understand customer feedback, and social media comments, identify issues, improve customer interactions, and so on.
At present, ChatGPT is one of the most common tools to provide marketing automation services with AI integration.
Conversation AI marketing includes AI-based chatbots that help customers navigate through an app or website. These chatbots help consumers find a solution to an issue and deliver valuable insights to marketers.
A relatively new field of AI, computer vision helps businesses to interpret visual data. This can be done by analyzing images and videos to identify a pattern of consumer behavior.
For marketing experts, using automation tools and AI should move beyond basic needs. One way is by creating a multi-step customer acquisition model through AI, or they can leverage data for additional campaigns.
This sub-field of AI involves data analysis to predict future customer behavior. The most predictive analysis involves some form of pattern recognition that helps experts to anticipate marketing trends that will emerge and adjust their strategies.
However, predictive analysis plays a big part in consumer services as well. For example, Starbucks collects data from its loyalty card users and mobile app to deliver personalized recommendations to customers. Based on Starbucks’ AI software, customers get product recommendations as soon as they approach a store location!
Some Final Thoughts
As we approach more high-end technology like the metaverse, the future of marketing automation and AI will revolutionize customer experience and sales. While the impact of AI in job roles is significant, fear must triumph over innovation.
While emerging AI trends can get quite exciting, sometimes marketing automation for small businesses, it can get difficult to obtain. For them, the best solution is to outsource from reputed digital marketing agencies who are experts in providing automated solutions like us.
After all, working with these emerging AI trends would help your business increase sales by eliminating human errors and helping marketers to form more calculative decisions.