Machine learning. Artificial Intelligence (AI). Deep learning. These buzzwords have been thrown around for a while now, and while they sound futuristic (and at one point, they were), the truth is this: the future is here. These technologies are a reality, and they are disrupting every part of the business, including marketing.
For those who are unclear about the difference between machine learning and AI (and I don’t blame you – it is quite a grey area!), here is a simple way to understand the two: AI involves machines that can perform tasks that are characteristics of human intelligence. And machine learning, which entails systems that can learn and improve without repeatedly being programmed to do so, is a way of achieving AI.
For marketers (and almost every other professional), the burning question is this: how are these technologies going to change the way I do my job? In a nutshell, the answer is this: dramatically.
Today, customers expect experiences, content and messaging that is tailor-made for them. And machine learning allows brands to make this happen. By embedding machine learning functions into marketing technology, brands will be able to personalise advertising in real-time, thereby improving the accuracy of information for their audience and the likelihood of conversion. For the sales team, too, this technology will improve the number of qualified sales leads coming in, which is likely to reduce inefficiencies within the sales cycle and improve the win rate of sales forces around the world.
As if that wasn’t enough, new technologies will also enable brands to improve their demand forecasting and assortment mix. This is useful for industries such as FMCG and retail, which are often left with unused inventory if their demand forecasting is not accurate. Furthermore, machine learning will allow these industries to take advantage of dynamic pricing as well. Today, dynamic pricing is heavily used in the airline and hotel industries, but emerging applications of AI will allow marketers to ensure that their pricing is dynamic, contextually-optimised and therefore, more competitive.
Now, one of the biggest jobs of a marketer is to determine how to allocate resources across the marketing mix. Without the quick response time and sheer depth of information that the machine learning tools have, it can be a relatively cumbersome, hit-or-miss task.
These new technologies will support marketers in determining the optimum marketing mix, to lead to a new sale, or even, a new cross-sell or up-sell. Combined with the element of personalisation, these applications will be able to use contextual intelligence to create targeted sales offers, incentives or programs to drive sales and bump up the top-line.
As a marketer, it’s important to remember that these tools and technologies are not here to replace you, but to help you do your job better, and take care of the mundane, low-involvement tasks so that you can focus on the high-value, high-impact tasks that machines cannot replicate. By keeping an open mind and embracing new platforms, tools and applications as they come, you are bound to stay ahead of the curve and deliver value for both your customers and your company.
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