Artificial Intelligence

COVID, AI and Marketing

Wednesday, September 16, 2020
16
Sep

‍By Timothy Roberts, a marketing thought leader

As the outbreak of COVID-19 rages on and the world races to find vaccines, we’re faced with increasing economic challenges and the need to do more with less. 

Whether you’re grappling with smaller teams, a smaller budget or greater demands just to stay in the game - now is the time to step back and rethink how you connect with the market and get the data driven insights needed to navigate the turbulent year ahead.

Why AI matters

To understand the importance of AI, we need to understand what it is. Given the push by the big players to highlight their big data prowess a few years ago - you could be forgiven for thinking there is a fully conscious, neural network lurking in each of their clouds. The reality is (thankfully) simpler - but you might still need some help from the experts. 

Speech and visual recognition technologies combined with Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning allow us to find patterns in data that might take years for even the smartest humans to process, understand and act on. We can identify objects in an image, the tone of someone’s conversation or connection points between seemingly unrelated concepts quickly and accurately.

We see this in everything from self-driving cars to medical research tools. However, the ability to reason and understand outcomes is where we come in - we’re still in the driver’s seat!


Putting it into practice

So what does this mean for marketing? Let’s think back the challenges we identified earlier around doing more with less.

Campaign Optimisation

Managing campaigns is time consuming, and involves a lot of repetitive work to optimise and identify patterns that improve ROI. It’s a perfect opportunity for AI to help lessen the load and free up your time for more strategic work.

At its most simplistic, Google Ads will allow you to create responsive search and display ads that test different asset combinations to improve click through rates. But that’s just the start - with predictive analytics forecasting weather, people’s movements and changing interests, the scope quickly expands to automatic management of campaigns. 

By taking into account hundreds of continually changing pieces of data, we can understand where the buyer is in the buyer journey and what to best present them with at a given point in time - even at the mall with interactive signage. A great example of leveraging AI is IBM’s Watson Advertising, which has introduced COVID-19 triggers that can be leveraged to adjust campaigns in light of the impact of the pandemic.


Conversations at Scale

The next challenge is how to best engage online visitors in conversation. It doesn’t make sense to allocate your teams’ valuable time equally to every visitor - but what if you could use AI to make sales at lower values that might not have been viable where human intervention was needed, and still ensure that your higher value buyers receive the personalised attention needed to get them across the line?

Cove Insurance's chatbot allows you to buy insurance and make claims directly via Facebook Messenger.


This is where AI driven conversational bots are hugely valuable. With simple Natural Language Processing, they can respond to questions and connect visitors with the right people as needed. Some great examples include Lemonade, an AI driven chatbot for processing insurance claims, and Cove’s insurance chatbot that allows people to buy and claim on Facebook by talking to their first digital employee. In an industry that has been slower to embrace technology, a bot-based approach is not just a cost saving mechanism but also provides unique value to digitally savvy buyers.

You may in some cases want to make yourself less accessible to those browsing your site that don’t fit your target personas and segments, but for those that are your ideal buyers it's time to get creative. Why not have a coffee delivered to them automatically using a service like DoorDash. A clever idea during a pandemic when in person meetings might not be viable!


Better Lead Qualification

Finally, with your marketing campaigns delivering, your sales team prospecting and your chat bots adding to your contact database - the question is how to sort and qualify which leads make most sense to allocate your precious time to.

Traditionally lead scoring systems have utilised a selection of predefined demographic and behavioural criteria to assign a positive or negative score depending on how closely aligned a visitor is with your buyer personas. But this requires a lot of manual work, and needs to be constantly kept up-to-date. This might be okay for companies with limited activity and smaller budgets. However, for those with dynamically changing websites, large campaigns running and an active sales team, AI has a role to play.

Recently HubSpot has refreshed its automated lead scoring model, with a more advanced AI that determines the likelihood of a contact to close with predictive lead scoring and assigns a constantly updating priority to ensure that the right contacts are surfaced to sales at the right time. This is driven from analytics information, enriched data from HubSpot Insights, details specific to your business and interactions logged in the CRM.

In terms of your CRM, AI can also help with identifying duplicate contacts and identifying data like phone numbers and addresses from emails to enrich your contact data on the fly. From tedious repetitive tasks, to complex analysis - artificial intelligence can help to increase the velocity of your pipeline.

contacts-database-hubspot-actions-manage-duplicates
Managing duplicate contacts on Hubspot cleans up your contact database and prevents the confusion of sending multiple emails to the same client.


Where to next?

Many of these ideas may be new to you, or some might already be under consideration. The first thing to do is reflect on the skills within your team. You need a good mix of left and right brain thinkers - whether internally, or supplemented with the expertise of an agency. 

The most important thing is to make a start. Pick one small thing, test it and then iterate. AI is new and everyone is learning about what works best for their business and their objectives. 

As long as you keep your buyers in mind and are conscious of making sure the experience is authentic, helpful and not “creepy” you can’t really go wrong. 

So what will you be talking about at next week’s standup?
Still curious about how your organisation could implement AI?
Contact us to find out how our team can help you navigate the new normal!

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