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What Do Marketers Need to Know About AI?

Until the robots take all the jobs for themselves, marketers need to understand how to make the most of their AI partners. Unfortunately, steep barriers to entry — and confusion about the definition of “true AI” — make that easier said than done. 

To use AI-powered tools effectively, marketers need a crash course on what AI is, what it can (and can’t) do, and how those capabilities complement existing tools and processes.

What AI Means — and What It Doesn’t

By now, savvy marketers know that marketing AI doesn’t mean space-age technologies. Beyond that, however, even some high-level professionals don’t know much else.

Marketing AI refers to automated tools that help marketers optimize campaigns, analyze consumer and prospect behaviors, and improve ROI. Put even more simply, marketing AI tools can handle much of the grunt work and manual analysis that marketers waste hours performing every week.

Say you run an email campaign and would like to send follow-up communications to prospects who seem interested. AI tools can identify behaviors that indicate interest and trigger the delivery of more content. A human could do that, too, but while a human would have to parse through spreadsheets and manually send communications, AI tools can do the work on their own.

While some tools can generate headlines and even original content, don’t count on replacing your marcom team with software anytime soon. AI-created content has a long way to go before it sounds like genuine human writing, especially on in-depth topics created to inform savvy customers. AI also can’t tell you which strategies to follow. The tools produce data and automate manual work, but you still have to tell them what you want them to do.

Getting Started with Marketing AI

If you’re eager to see how marketing AI could help your business grow, you don’t have to go back to school for a computer science degree. Try these tips to add bits of AI to your existing workflows:

1. Use AI for social listening.

According to Reputation Refinery, 96% of unhappy customers won’t tell you about their problems — but they’ll tell an average of 15 friends. Now that people communicate with their circles on social media, those negative reviews can spread quickly if you don’t address them. By using AI tools for social listening, you can get alerts when people talk about your brand (or your competitors’ brands) online, then respond to issues and take advantage of opportunities quickly.

2. Automate simple content.

You may not be able to replace your staff bloggers with machines, but you can lean on automated content generation tools to create simple descriptions and reports. Your marketing team can then tweak the content produced by the AI tool and upload it, a much faster process than asking team members to create everything from scratch. Don’t get too ambitious yet but do play around with content creation AI. Consider opportunities to shorten your workflows with a little pre-generated help.

3. Project customer lifetime value.

Do you waste time chasing down customers who don’t make you much money? If so, you might need help to identify bad customers before onboarding them. Marketing AI tools allow you to input your customer information and identify warning signs that indicate a customer may not stick around for long. Armed with that knowledge, you can spend more time pursuing customers with higher lifetime value. 

4. Recommend related products.

Online sellers know all about related product recommendations, but most websites limit their recommendations to items in similar categories. With AI, you can match visuals, not just details. That means you can appeal to your customers’ sense of style instead of just their needs, which could lead to an immediate boost in sales if you operate in a style-focused industry.

5. Invest in chatbots.

Not just for customer service, chatbots allow you to answer simple prospect questions and get people into your sales funnel quickly. You can build your chatbot to help score leads more quickly or guide site visitors to products that may interest them. Chatbots can also act as conduits to your best content, leading prospects to information that will encourage them to deepen their engagement with your brand.

6. Personalize communications.

First-name-basis emails don’t count as personalized communications. Instead, lean on AI to send emails based on how prospects interact with your website, previous emails, or other content. Context-based communications made possible by AI allow you to hold one long, continuous conversation with your prospects and increase the likelihood that they’ll convert.

AI tools continue to evolve, so don’t wait too long to incorporate some of these exciting capabilities into your marketing arsenal. A few years from now, AI will handle even more marketing tasks. Who knows what the next 10, 20, and 50 years will bring? Get ahead of the game by adopting AI tools today so when the next wave of technology arrives, you’ll be ready.


Automated tools are allowing marketers to do things they never could before, with more efficiency and effectiveness. Find out “6 Reasons You Need Marketing Automation.”

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