AI: Your Behind-the-Scenes Marketing Companion
“We don’t talk about the fact that humans and computers together almost always beat computers alone.”
Jana Eggers, CEO, Nara Logics
The battle to win customer hearts and minds is no longer simply about your product. It’s about the experience. Because that’s what keeps customers coming back. To compete on experience, you need to understand what customers want now while anticipating what they’ll do next. And because your customers have lots of choices, you don’t have a lot of time to get it right.
But many times, the knowledge you need to personalize interactions and compel customers to act is locked up in huge amounts of data. This means someone has to sift through it all to recognize patterns, trends, and profiles, so you can quickly act on insights. The problem is, it’s too much data for humans to sort through alone. That’s where artificial intelligence and machine learning come in.
Because customers will always expect a human touch in their interactions, these new technologies won’t replace marketing jobs, but they will change them. You should think of AI as your behind-the-scenes marketing assistant who helps you unlock insights in volumes of data, develop a deeper understanding of what customers want, predict trends, and monitor unusual activity such as spikes or drops in sales — all while giving you more time to make decisions that matter.
According to Business Insider, AI is the fastest growing marketing technology, ahead of IoT and marketing automation. Here’s how people say AI will affect their work, their competitive edge, and the entire marketing industry.
Almost 85% of companies say AI will give them a competitive advantage. Source: MITSloan Management Review
82% of employees say AI will make them more productive. Source: Kronos
70% of creative marketers believe they need to personalize content. Source: Adobe, “The State of Creativity in Business”
80% of marketers say AI will revolutionize the marketing industry by 2020. Source: Demandbase
Solving marketing’s most pressing problems
“If we open our minds, of course not without caution, to the possibilities that AI can bring, maybe we can realize some of the incredible problem-solving potential we have at our fingertips.”
Jordan Nguyen, Technology Futurist and Inventor
The more data your company collects about its customers, the higher the expectation for tailor-made experiences. Here are some of the challenges AI can help you solve.
- As a marketer, I want to create content and deliver personalized experiences faster. 65% of marketers say they’re producing more content and that creative workflows have become more complicated over the years.
Source: Adobe, “The State of Creativity in Business”
- As an analyst, I need to plan and make data-driven decisions instead of reacting to data. 79% of organizations implementing AI generate new insights and better analysis.
- As an advertiser, I want to ensure my budget is allocated most effectively across all channels. Only 44% of marketers feel confident in their organization’s ability to measure return on digital ad spend.
Source: Adobe, “2018 Digital Trends Report”
How AI can help
“Machine learning is really a transformative technology. AI is enabling us, and will continue to allow us to do novel things that we couldn’t do before.”
Gene Kogan, Artist
With Adobe Sensei, organizations can deliver more timely, relevant cross-channel campaigns, use customer insights to optimize and personalize experiences, and allocate limited budgets across channels to most efficiently meet their goals. Adobe Sensei helps marketers work faster and smarter in three main areas:
1. Creative intelligence. Speed up the creative process by letting machine learning take over time-consuming tasks like cropping a photo to fit various screens and channels.
2. Experience intelligence. Learn what customers want and deliver more timely and relevant experiences. Get alerts and recommendations for changes in activity like an increase in cart abandonments, so you can make adjustments on the fly and ensure you deliver the right content to the right customer in the moment it’s needed.
3. Content intelligence. Get faster, more accurate results from asset searches and offload tasks like adding metadata thanks to AI, which recognizes images, text, audio, and video at a deep semantic level.
Create, deliver, and personalize with speed
“The highest order is the customer experience. There’s this notion of bringing human and machine together — not versus each other, but together.”
Chris Duffey, Head of AI Business Strategy for Creativity, Adobe
AI can help you create more relevant content and more engaging experiences across the customer journey at the speed your customers expect. On the creative side, AI can speed up all kinds of tedious tasks, from identifying and organizing assets to adjusting and refining for specific channels.
Alex is the creative director for a global furniture retailer. Several months ago, as the company was preparing to launch their new website, Alex and his team found they were short on resources and decided to outsource the tagging and cropping of new imagery to an agency. Hoping for a quick turnaround, the team became frustrated when it took six long months for the agency to tag and manually crop their product images, delaying the website launch significantly.
With a new line of furniture launching soon, Alex decided to take the entire photography workflow in house with the help of AI in their data asset management (DAM) solution. Once the photographer uploaded thousands of images from the photoshoot, AI took care of tagging each one with both generic and business-specific metadata, as well translating those tags so the assets were searchable by language.
When it came time for the team to create assets for different channels, instead of taking on the repetitive task of cropping each image manually, Alex and his team used AI to do the cropping for them. Once complete, they reviewed the results and adjusted the images as needed. Finally, to make sure images would load quickly on all devices, the team used AI to automatically and dynamically adjust image size to ensure smooth loading experiences regardless of whether a customer had a lightning-fast or slow-moving connection. By shifting the photography workflow from an outside agency to AI, marketers were able to have more control over the process and realize significant cost savings.
While this is only one example of how AI can help you quickly deliver experiences through content creation and experience design, there are many other ways you can use AI to deliver personalized experiences at a faster pace. On the audience level, AI can help you better understand which audiences respond to which content, or how often people prefer to receive emails, so you can deliver the experiences your customers want while respecting their preferences and privacy.
“Adobe Sensei identifies and categorizes images in such a way that it takes a great deal of time and hassle out of finding just the right image. We spend far less time scrolling through search screens and more time working on exciting deliverables.”
Sabrina Rodriguez, Global Head of Social Content, Dentsu Aegis Network
Focus on strategy, decision-making, and action
“One of the gateway uses of AI in the enterprise is really understanding the customer — from designing products to thinking through the customer lifecycle. It’s putting the customer first.”
Catherine Havasi, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder, Luminoso
Analysts spend thousands of hours slicing and dicing data to find insights about what encourages people to purchase, what pushes them away, and which actions they can take to increase conversions. But with the time it takes humans to manually sift through massive amounts of data to find the hidden gems or red flags, you can easily miss opportunities. This is where AI can act as your personal data analyst to get a holistic view of customers — recognizing patterns, alerting you to unusual activity, and making recommendations. Here’s an example of how this might work in a SaaS company.
Daniel is an analyst for a software company that develops project management apps for various industries. After a year of strong sales, his analytics platform alerts him that sales have slowly stalled, and he needs to find out why. Daniel knows that sifting through potentially millions of data points and conducting hours upon hours of flow analysis to find out why people aren’t buying is impossible without help, so he turns to his virtual assistant, AI, to run the analysis for him.
Using his AI-powered analytics platform, in three clicks he’s quickly presented with a segment analysis that displays the top 10 indicators that lead people to purchase their software. Surprisingly, more important than a particular feature or low price point, he sees that one of the biggest reasons why people buy their software is access to their online community, which makes it easy for customers to share ideas about how they’ve successfully used the app. This tells him that the post-sales support his company provides is not only valuable for onboarding and customer retention, but for acquiring new customers, as well.
Findings in hand, he explains this unexpected development to his boss, and then gives his fellow marketers ideas on how they can better promote their online community to address customer needs and increase sales.
By relying on predictive analytics tools that use AI, you too can uncover the unexpected and have more time to make strategic decisions that make a difference.
“With machine learning, we can see beyond basic activities, monitor multiple channels and audience segments, reveal actionable insights buried in data, and act instantly to help ensure we’re delivering the best experiences possible.”
Roberto Gennaro, Chief Digital Officer, RedTag.ca
Power up your advertising campaigns
“The real value that AI can provide is that it actually empowers the customer to shape their experience with the business, as opposed to just receiving what’s been given to them.”
Kathryn Hume, VP of Product and Strategy, Integrate.ai
When it comes to advertising, the promise of AI is that customers will receive the most relevant ads, while allowing brands to drive awareness, engagement, conversions, and loyalty. This ultimately results in happier customers and less wasted ad spend. With AI, advertisers can budget, plan, and more effectively spend limited ad dollars. Let’s look at an example.
Cynthia is a travel and hospitality media buyer trying to determine the best mix of search advertising for her global hotel brand. She knows that with millions of keywords, multiple search engines, and different audience segments to consider, coming up with the right bid amount for each combination, as well as determining how to allocate her budget across her campaigns to most efficiently meet her goals is simply too much for her to handle alone. So she turns to her media buying platform to help her make sense of the data.
With AI leading the way, she reviews a forecast simulation to see how an increase or decrease in budget will impact her clicks, revenue, conversions, and other metrics. Once she selects her budget, she reviews AI-powered ad spend recommendations to see how to best allocate her advertising budget. She clicks on her preferred allocation. Later, as her ad campaigns are running, she accesses model accuracy performance reports so she can see how actual performance numbers compare with AI-generated forecasts, allowing her to make any necessary adjustments along the way. Once her campaigns have run, she’s thrilled to see that they delivered 99 percent of the clicks that were forecast, and actual revenue was five percent higher than forecasted.
Now that Cynthia has a clear picture of what worked during her search ad campaigns, she checks the performance of her display and video campaigns. Again, she calls on AI to report on awareness and performance while letting her demand-side platform (DSP) guide automated budget allocation so she can stay focused on strategic media planning and buying.
Like Cynthia, with the help of AI you can keep up with changing customer preferences, navigate mountains of data, and make adjustments multiple times per day if needed to make sure you allocate budgets most effectively across channels like search, display, and video, or even within a specific channel.
“Adobe Advertising Cloud Search enables us to look at many variables and balance our clients’ budgets and goals to achieve the best outcome. The Spend Recommendation capability powered by Adobe Sensei helps us bring down advertising costs.”
Mihir Palan, Account Director, Digital Media Planning and Buying, Social Kinnect
Not just for data scientists
“Not every company has to go out and hire a bunch of data scientists. The people who know the company best are the people who have been working there. Leverage them, use them, retrain them, and complement them with machines.”
Theodora Lau, Founder, Unconventional Ventures
Many of your brand’s most valuable assets are those that come from the human mind: creativity, strategic planning, and innovative thinking. By using AI to find patterns and trends, you can make the most of those assets. As you develop your strategy to become an AI-first business, here are some important steps to take:
1. Look for specific experience challenges you currently face that can be solved with AI, or new business opportunities that AI can help you address.
2. Gather internal experts like marketers and analysts to help you get a holistic view of your customers so you can put them at the center of your business.
3. Start small, be prepared to iterate, and scale.
And above all, remember that you don’t need to hire more data scientists to benefit from AI. Let the machines handle the science while you focus on creating beautiful breakthrough experiences.
Adobe can help
Adobe Sensei is the AI and machine learning layer of Adobe Cloud Platform. When you partner with Adobe, you benefit from dozens of innovations in Adobe Experience Cloud products, powered by Adobe Sensei. You can even train Adobe Sensei with your own data to create custom solutions for your own business.
Learn more about how you can use Adobe Sensei’s unified AI and machine learning framework, along with our expertise in creativity and marketing, to deliver the transformational digital experiences your customers crave.