Stars in a night sky with a person in the foreground
Many marketers believe AI requires too much legwork to implement. Others think incorporating AI is as easy and instant as flipping on a switch. PHOTO: Jeremy Thomas

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already transformed a wide range of industries.

From healthcare and media to finance and retail, tedious, manual tasks have been replaced with automation, operational processes have been updated via machine learning and future trends are being accurately and continually predicted thanks to AI-powered technologies.

AI: Big and Getting Bigger

Research firm Markets and Markets estimates the AI market will grow from $420 million in 2014 to $5.05 billion by 2020 due to the rising adoption of machine learning and natural language processing technologies in the healthcare, media, finance and retail industries.

And with increasing consumer enthusiasm for the Internet of Things, the market stands to expand even further. In fact, Gartner estimates that 6 billion connected devices will be actively requesting support from AI platforms by 2018.

Despite this powerful momentum, one crucial industry remains hesitant about fully embracing AI: marketing.

Many marketers believe AI requires too much legwork to implement, while others think incorporating AI is as easy and instant as flipping on a switch.

Some mistakenly believe AI is the same thing as leveraging big data and that only larger, more established companies can benefit from AI-powered solutions. Perhaps most commonly, though, many marketers worry that AI will make them and their daily work redundant.

Debunking the AI Myths

While these fears are understandable, they’re largely unfounded. For marketers looking to optimize their professional efficiency, better target unique markets and more accurately predict consumer purchase behavior, consider the following five truths about AI:

  1. Implementing AI doesn’t have to require a lot of work from internal marketing teams. When done effectively, AI requires little effort internally to deploy, aside from providing access to applicable data streams and determining an agreed-upon end goal. From there, third party AI providers can extract value and identify and fill any holes, because the last thing busy marketers need is yet another project to manage.
  2. The benefits of AI technology can be realized fairly quickly, however the refinement process requires more time. While implementing AI doesn’t have to require significant internal resources, it’s not as simple as flipping on a switch. With machine learning, algorithms need to be honed over time, and finding the right way to extract the data insights that will move the needle for your particular business will also take time. Marketers should therefore set accurate expectations and understand that AI-powered solutions won’t be able to deliver results in just a couple of days or weeks.
  3. AI is different than using big data. Leveraging big data to better target customers and build more effective marketing campaigns is great, but it’s not the same thing as using AI. With AI, marketing processes can be fully automated, and results have the ability to steadily improve over time. It’s important to recognize this difference and carefully evaluate your marketing stack to ensure both big data and AI are included.
  4. It’s never too early to incorporate AI. Small, early-stage companies can experience the same AI benefits as larger corporations, so it’s crucial that all marketers embrace AI from the get-go, no matter their company size. In fact, companies and their marketing teams can’t afford not to start using AI, because those that fail to leverage the technology to meet their unique needs risk losing out to competitors.
  5. AI isn’t replacing humans. Contrary to popular belief, AI is built for enhancing people’s efforts, not eliminating them. While marketing roles may shift slightly more toward less tangible elements such as creative and business planning in the future, there will always be a place for skilled, human workers when it comes to marketing.

AI Improves Customer Engagement

By taking advantage of AI rather than fearing it, marketers can more easily and efficiently target their customers and prospects by delivering the right message, at the right time and in the right channel.

What’s more, today’s consumers are already indicating that they’re open to experiencing the benefits of AI. In fact, research from Sonar found that 70 percent of US millennials would appreciate a brand or retailers using AI technology to display more interesting products, and 72 percent believe that as the technology develops, brands using AI will be able to accurately predict what they want.

Don’t let unproven doubts prevent you from incorporating AI into your 2017 marketing strategy.

Let go of any inefficient, antiquated tactics, rely less on vague intuition, and embrace algorithms and big data to bring the dynamic, personalized experience of physical stores into the increasingly digital consumer landscape. In doing so, you and your company will be able to rise above competitors and foster profound, long-lasting customer loyalty.