Written by Phill Midwinter, chief technology officer at AI firm Third Foundation
As brands continue to navigate uncertain times, modern marketers are finding themselves more on an organisation’s frontline than ever before.
Already part of an industry that suffers with immense time pressures and often restrictive budgets, such marketing resources have been seriously stretched to capacity to cope with the response in light of the Coronavirus crisis.
And the pandemic has led to brands calling out for more innovative technological solutions as they battle through the global outbreak – and subsequent economic downturn – to ensure their firm’s messaging remains relevant and attractive to customers.
Not only that, savvy professionals are being put in pressured positions to make rapid decisions that are based on knowledge of outcome, in order to maintain strong market visibility. And for all this to happen seamlessly, technological advantage is vital – that’s why many companies are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI) for assistance.
The modern marketers’ challenge
It’s become abundantly clear that, in response to COVID-19, marketing departments are expected to deliver more, with less, for their firms to thrive. Since the end of March, when the UK lockdown was enforced, over a quarter of businesses witnessed a reduction in sales of over 50% – with some of the worst affected sectors being travel, hospitality and leisure, to name a few.
For seasoned marketers, although such a healthcare crisis has rocked the entire globe, many have faced periods of economic downturn before – especially during the recession in 2008. So, they would’ve been all too aware that a cut in resources would hit them hard, be that headcount or budget. However, it would’ve still impacted their existing marketing strategies – with pre-pandemic plans being reviewed or remade as swiftly as possible.
But, on the other side of the coin, with most challenges comes opportunity. And, with the economy beginning to re-open, consumer demand is set to recover and there’s expected to be an uplift in latent customer expenditure for many sectors.
What all this leads to is further pressure on marketers – many of which are still battling with reduced resources – to come up with the goods, and that’s why many are looking at AI to deliver.
How advanced technology can be the key to unlocking positive return on investment
Embracing innovation that presents competitive advantage is high on every modern professional’s agenda. But, with reports that the UK economic growth is expected to decline by 15% in 2020-21, how can marketers achieve the online cut-through and positive bottom-line results they need?
It comes back to having the capabilities to forecast using critical data. Organisations have to give themselves the opportunity to utilise vital insight gleaned from AI to help their marketing departments think differently, disruptively and decisively, so that they can increase their chances of survival. Simply doing the same as it’s always been done, won’t be enough – and could even be catastrophic.
AI gifts marketers with the chance to capitalise on a challenging marketplace. Why? Because it improves customer insight – where they can identify patterns and trends – and enhances user experience and engagement levels through personalisation.
Bringing all these AI applications together underpins an organisation that is able to acknowledge the importance of its audience – subsequently putting them front-and-centre throughout their online journeys.
But for many marketers, there is still the ‘fear of the unknown’ when it comes to adopting smart technology and integrating it into their existing IT infrastructure. For instance, concerns cover the level of security and privacy in which AI presents, or how it can be effectively measured. It might seem like a complex process for several firms too, or there could be a perceived lack of internal skills and knowledge, in order to develop the AI use case.
So, how can these worries be eradicated so that modern marketers can thrive in an AI-led environment and continue to innovate at the same time – and at a time when resources are even more sparse than usual?
- AI better understands a customer base – and in greater detail
Up to the minute, unobscured visibility of an organisation’s audience provides modern marketers with the ability to rapidly adapt and respond to ever-evolving needs – enabling firms to maximise every purchase opportunity.
Using AI allows departments to build a comprehensive and dynamic Single Customer View (SCV), for example, that informs truly actionable customer segmentation. And this provides businessess with absolute clarity on their most profitable consumer profile, developing a marketing response that seeks to find – and retain – them, so they can continue to meet their changing needs.
- AI allows marketing campaigns to work harder
With consumers perhaps behaving differently during the current climate, their differing attitudes must be captured so they can inform how those all-important campaigns look, thanks to dynamic data gleaned from their online activity.
Using AI to feed real-time data from multiple sources – both internal and external – directly into marketing automation platforms subsequently ensures that decisions around customer segmentation, messaging, product selection and promotional offers are as relevant and targeted as they need to be.
- AI provides uncompromised data and transparency
Unobscured visibility of the most vital online performance data gives modern marketers the clarity they need to identify the comms that are truly driving incremental revenue – and those that are going straight into a recipient’s spam folder.
As such, AI enables professionals to make informed decisions about where and when to place investment for optimal return on investment. And it’s through this uncompromised data that helps departments to meet specific marketing needs and empower intuitive campaign decisions – all of which are based on knowledge of outcome.
- AI can solve the challenge of prediction
The last thing a marketer needs during a pandemic – or any time for that matter – is to drive a campaign that’s based on inaccurate data. Not only could that negatively impact cash flows, but that drain on resources could add further pressure on the entire department.
AI can take on the heavy lifting by ensuring insight is being utilised comprehensively from the outset. With the capability to produce detail beyond sales forecasting – and which can accurately inform ‘what-if’ scenarios – organisations are equipped to strategically plan ahead, placing the role of the modern marketer, and their customers, at the heart of the operation.
Now is the time for savvy professionals to adapt quickly to current circumstances. They must give themselves the best possible competitive advantage and evolve alongside ever-changing consumer demands. As a surge in AI-led marketing accelerates during COVID-19, innovation is typically the way forward for many companies keen to utilise their resources to the fullest – and positively impact the business’s bottom line.