AI in digital marketing: What is it and will it replace us?

Have you ever thought about your job and wondered how easily a robot could replace it? (The answer might be more accessible than you think.)

Maybe you think about your daily tasks and find it hard to believe a machine might be able to do a majority of that work. But with AI technologies accelerating at lightning speed, I might look back on this article in a few years and laugh at my naivete.

While the technology is advancing rapidly, AI adoption in the marketing world is in the early stages. So what is AI, how can we apply it to marketing, what tasks can we pass off to a “robot” now and where does that leave marketers?

What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

The term artificial intelligence (AI) encompasses a lot, so its definition can vary. For our purposes, we are going to define AI as a system that allows computers to perform tasks that typically need human intelligence. The AI umbrella covers other buzzwords you might have seen, like machine learning and deep learning.

Machine learning is a subset of AI. It’s a system that is able to optimize and automate a task without constant human input. It does this through repetitive tasks, statistical modeling and algorithms.

Within machine learning is deep learning, which creates an advanced network of input and output layers. These layers enable the machine to learn through its data processing.

AI in marketing

The Marketing AI Institute outlines five primary use cases of AI in marketing:

Planning: Build intelligent strategies.

Production: Create intelligent content.

Personalization: Power intelligent consumer experiences.

Promotion: Manage intelligent cross-channel and cross-device promotions.

Performance: Turn data into intelligence.

With our definition of AI and these use cases, many of us have been using AI in our marketing efforts for years without realizing it. We have used it to help do things like place ads and automate email deployments — all examples of task automation.

Automation is one of the biggest applications of AI in today’s marketing work and provides very tangible benefits. Automation can cut down on human error, increase the speed of delivery and improve employee retention. By using AI to complete redundant tasks, your team can spend more time on strategic, creative and problem-solving projects.

Through machine learning and deep learning, systems will continue to get smarter. Content creation, web design and customer service — marketing jobs that once relied on human input — are applications of AI. Let’s take a look at a few of these applications and some tools that can help you get started.

AI powered chatbots

For early adopters, simple chatbots have been beneficial to the customer experience. Chatbots can take users through a decision tree that gets them the information they need in seconds.

Advancements in natural language processing and machine learning mean that AI-powered interactions can be more advanced, precise and impactful with less human input. Creating a virtual assistant is accessible with such platforms as Drift, IBM Watson Assistant and AtlasRTX. You don’t even need deep coding experience.

Predictive copywriting

Advances in natural language processing mean AI-crafted copywriting is a real possibility. We’ve seen huge strides in predictive copywriting thanks to the investment of big players. A prime example is Google’s Smart Compose in Gmail. AI-supported copywriting can help you scale, test, optimize and summarize long content in a matter of seconds. Platforms like Persado, Phrasee and Quillbot help with machine-assisted copy development.

Market and customer research

AI-powered customer research and business intelligence can help you process big data. This allows you to find more meaningful insights and better predict customer behaviors. Powerful examples include platforms like Resonate. This tool is able to augment customer research, provide lookalike analysis and platform recommendations, and even support channel activation.

Marketers working together with AI

The AI revolution is here, and smart marketers should be finding ways to work alongside this technology. AI can create smarter strategies, deploy them quicker and learn to optimize performance more effectively. At the same time, good marketing thrives on empathy, emotion and storytelling. Those are qualities that AI cannot emulate — yet.