3 ways AI brings personalization to marketing

Writing about AI as if it’s a trend–like the slinky or the pet rock–doesn’t really do justice to the 1.2 trillion dollar industry at which AI was valued in 2018. For years, experts have touted the value of data, all those taps, clicks, likes, shares, and even purchases, we get from our customers, which resulted in more data than most marketers knew what to do with.

But thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, we can finally use all that data we’ve been sitting on to offer audiences the personalization they’ve come to expect. Here are a few ways AI is on track to make one-to-one relationships with our customers not just possible, but standard.

Audience segmentation

In an ad-packed digital landscape where advertisers have just seconds to capture their audience’s attention, segmentation matters more than ever before. In fact, a recent survey of 450 advertisers, publishers, and tech developers by Winterberry found that nearly two-thirds (62%) said that better ad targeting and improving segmentation was a top priority.

Until now, most marketers had to resign themselves to guesswork and settling for segments based on demographics such as “males between 25 and 33.” However, AI can target audiences  based on browsing behavior, past purchases, comments, and likes in order to deliver true personalization.

For example, casual-dining restaurant chain TGI Friday’s recently used AI technology to leverage customer data from POS systems, credit card transactions, social media, and mobile to move beyond the inbox coupon. Instead, the restaurant sent text messages based not only on the days customers typically came into their local Friday’s, but also the food they were most likely to order. So rather than inviting diners to take advantage of $10 off their next order, the brand was able to send personalized invitations to events like Thursday rib night. The move helped the company triple their online orders.

Customer journeys

But customers need more than the right message; they need the right message delivered at the right time. Most of our inboxes are overflowing and our social feeds are swamped with ads clamoring for our urgent attention. Even the best messages can get overlooked if they’re sent too early or too late.  

AI can find trends that may not be readily visible to human analysts and offer the right suggestions at the right time. For its “Thanks 2016, It’s Been Weird” campaign, Spotify took data from 100 million listeners and used AI to create a highly targeted, and also incredibly timely, personalized campaign. For example, Brits heartsick over the election got the message, “Dear 3,749 people who streamed ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It’ the day of the Brexit vote, hang in there,” while New Yorkers near Broadway got, “Dear person in the Theater District who listened to the Hamilton soundtrack 5,376 times this year. Can you get us tickets?”

Product recommendations

Ever had Amazon suggest a series you literally just watched? If you loved the series enough to binge it, chances are, you want something like it, but to keep suggesting the same show is just frustrating. With the assistance of AI, every customer can receive customized recommendations based on their preferences. And when marketers have an omnichannel view of the customer, personalized recommendations can meet the customer where they are.

Those few times Amazon suggested we re-watch Broadchurch aside, it’s no secret that the company’s recommendation engine is part of its success. A 2013 McKinsey report found that over 85% of Amazon’s sales were a product of the company’s recommendation engine. And since then, AI has changed the way most of us shop on other sites as well, and more changes are on the way.

In a recent Women’s Wear Daily interview Matt Zeiler, founder and CEO of visual AI platform Clarifai, predicted “In the retail store of 2020, brands will use AI visual search technology to provide hyper-personalized recommendations to in-store shoppers. For example, the tech will be able to sense shoppers’ physical dimensions as they model in front of the mirror, and will provide recommendations and clothing options from the store inventory.”

And it’s not just clothing retailers that are on track for a change. AI can bring an organization precision and scale that humans alone can’t reach. But the trick to adopting successful AI is recognizing the technology in its infancy, discerning which few platforms offer tangible value, and separating the necessary from the noise.

To learn more about the ways AI is shaping the ways we shop, tune in to our November 7th webinar, “How AI can bring true consumer personalization to your marketing.”

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