Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a buzzword that has been dominating the business world increasingly, and its impact on digital marketing cannot be overlooked. It has the potential to revolutionise the way businesses operate and interact with their customers, through predictive analytics, advanced targeting methods, content generation and more.
However, with its many benefits come several challenges such as data privacy concerns and the risk of over-reliance on AI without human oversight.
This article will review the pros and cons of AI in marketing so that businesses can make informed decisions about leveraging this technology to achieve their goals.
How is AI Used in Marketing?
There is a growing number of applications of AI in marketing – below are several examples of how this technology is automating operations and making marketing activities more effective.
Customer Segmentation, Targeting & Personalisation
AI-powered algorithms can quickly analyse vast amounts of data to identify patterns that help segment customers based on their demographics, behaviours, preferences, purchase history, and other factors, enabling marketers to target specific customer groups with relevant and personalised content, messaging and offers.
Predictive analytics uses historical data and machine learning algorithms to forecast future outcomes, such as customer behaviour, demand patterns, or campaign performance, helping marketers make data-driven decisions, optimise their strategies, and allocate resources effectively.
Chatbots and Virtual Assistants
AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants provide automated customer support and engagement. They can handle customer inquiries, provide product recommendations, and assist with purchasing decisions, offering a seamless and personalised customer experience. In fact, it has been predicted that by 2025, 95% of customer interactions will be powered by AI.
Content Creation and Curation
AI can generate or curate content, saving marketers time, effort and budget. This includes generating written articles, product descriptions, social media posts, ad copy, or selecting relevant content for content marketing strategies.
AI can analyse customer sentiment by processing large volumes of data from social media, customer reviews, surveys, and other resources. This is important for brand marketing as it helps in understanding customer opinions, attitudes, and overall feeling towards a brand, enabling companies to tailor their strategies and address customer concerns effectively.
Advertising campaigns can be automatically optimised thanks to AI, with factors such as bidding strategies, targeting parameters, and ad placements being adjusted based on real-time data, delivering targeted ads to the right audience at the right time.
Customer Relationship Management
AI enhances CRM systems by analysing customer data, identifying customer lifecycle stages, and providing insights for effective customer relationship management. They also assist in lead scoring and facilitating personalised communication.
Voice Search and Voice Assistants
AI-enabled voice search technology and voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant are transforming the way consumers interact with brands. (As a result, marketers need to optimise their content and advertising strategies to align with voice-based queries and interactions.)
Standard marketing automation platforms and those powered by AI differ significantly in terms of functionality and capabilities. Standard software typically focuses on automating repetitive tasks, such as email marketing, lead nurturing, and campaign management. It streamlines workflows, provides basic segmentation and personalisation features, and offers reporting and analytics to track marketing performance. While this type of software can save time and improve efficiency, its functionalities are limited to predefined rules and predefined data sets.
On the other hand, AI-enabled marketing automation software goes beyond basic automation and has the ability to analyse vast amounts of data and make data-driven predictions and recommendations. It can also optimise marketing campaigns more effectively over time by continuously learning and adapting.
Another key differentiator is its ability to process and understand unstructured data, such as social media posts, customer reviews, and multimedia content, extracting valuable insights from these diverse sources.
The Pros of AI in Marketing
Enhanced Efficiency and Cost Reduction
AI automates repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as data analysis, content creation, and customer segmentation, freeing up time for marketers to focus on strategy and creative initiatives. This improves overall efficiency and productivity, potentially increasing revenues significantly.
In fact, one survey indicated that 41% of marketers worldwide found that the use of AI accelerated revenue growth, 34% saw increased ROI, 33% saw reduced costs, 32% agreed it unlocked greater value from marketing technologies, and 21% said it shortened the sales cycle.
AI can process large volumes of data and extract valuable insights with unprecedented speed. With such insights readily at their disposal, companies can promptly respond to market changes, optimise their strategies, and capitalise on emerging opportunities.
Enhanced Customer Experience
The provision of instant, personalised customer support via AI-powered chatbots improves the overall customer experience, allowing companies to provide 24/7 support without the need for human intervention. Voice assistant technology also helps in this area, and the use of sentiment analysis further improves the experience by identifying pain points that may otherwise have gone unnoticed, so they may be addressed proactively.
Improved Conversion Rates
There are many ways in which AI can improve conversion rates, including:
- Segmenting audiences effectively and identifying the most qualified and high-value prospects, helping marketers target customers with personalised messages and offers, increasing conversion rates. One study showed that 92% of companies saw increased conversions from their email campaigns after implementing personalisation, with similar figures for other marketing channels.
- Improving lead scoring and lead nurturing processes, enabling marketers to prioritise their efforts on high-quality leads.
- Providing immediate assistance and relevant information using AI-powered chatbots, helping overcome potential obstacles or doubts that customers may have, thus increasing their confidence and likelihood of converting.
- Ad optimisation, as mentioned previously.
The Cons of AI in Marketing
AI raises several key ethical considerations in the context of marketing, such as:
- Data privacy concerns: AI relies on vast amounts of data to operate effectively, and there is a risk that customer data may be misused or mishandled, potentially resulting in a loss of trust, and reputation damage.
- Errors and bias: Algorithms are not immune to errors or biases. Flawed algorithms or biased training data can lead to misinterpretation of customer behaviour, or unintentional discrimination in targeting.
- User manipulation: While AI can be used to personalise content and messaging, there is a fine line between personalisation and manipulation. Marketers must be cautious about using AI in a way that respects users’ autonomy and avoids exploiting psychological vulnerabilities.
- Job displacement: The automation capabilities of AI is always a cause for concern about the impact on employment. Balancing the adoption of AI with considerations for the workforce and ensuring a just transition is essential.
Lack of Human Touch
While many consumers are comfortable with the use of chatbots, some customers may prefer human interaction and find AI-driven experiences impersonal or less satisfying. Striking the right balance between automation and maintaining the human element is therefore a challenge that may need consideration in some scenarios.
The same applies when it comes to creativity regarding the human touch. AI language models are becoming more sophisticated all the time and their ability to produce original, valuable content is developing. However, there are still limitations regarding repetitiveness or a lack of originality, as well as accuracy issues and variation in quality.
As a result, editors are always needed in order to ensure the accuracy of information produced by AI, and that the tone is on-brand. In some cases, such as with technical content or anything requiring a high degree of expertise, more time may be spent fact-checking than would be spent creating the content from scratch, making the use of AI redundant.
Data Availability and Quality
AI algorithms require access to relevant and high-quality data for accurate predictions and insights. In cases where data is limited, incomplete, or of poor quality, the effectiveness of the models may be compromised.
Preparing to Use AI for Marketing
A few considerations when considering implementing AI are as follows:
- Prioritise data privacy and establish robust security measures for handling customer data.
- Stay informed about relevant laws, regulations, and industry guidelines pertaining to AI and marketing, and collaborate with legal and compliance teams to ensure adherence to privacy and data protection regulations.
- Provide ongoing training and support for employees to adapt to AI-enabled marketing practices.
- Consider the scalability and integration capabilities of AI systems with existing marketing infrastructure.
- Foster a culture of experimentation and learning to iterate and improve AI-based marketing strategies.
- Regularly assess the impact of AI on customer experiences and make necessary adjustments. Seek feedback from customers and stakeholders to gauge their satisfaction and address concerns.
- Stay updated on the latest advancements and trends in AI to leverage new opportunities.
- Be prepared to adapt to the changing landscape of marketing as AI becomes more advanced. This may involve retraining employees or hiring new staff with the skills and knowledge needed to work alongside AI technologies.
AI presents both opportunities and challenges for marketers. It can enhance efficiency, reduce costs, improve the customer experience, and boost conversion rates, among other benefits.
However, there are several ethical concerns that need to be carefully managed in order to maintain consumer trust. In addition, it is important to ensure that human oversight is in place due to potential quality and accuracy issues, especially regarding complex or specialised content.
To leverage AI successfully, businesses should stay informed about regulations, provide ongoing training to employees, and regularly assess the impact of AI on customer experiences.
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