We all know about AI: the simulation of human intelligence by machines - it helps your washing machine save water, curates the ads in your social media feed and decides which fuel your hybrid car should choose. Depending on who you talk to, it is either the first sinister steps towards a Terminator style robot revolution, or the beginnings of a tech utopia where computers liberate us from mundane tasks and tedious decision making. Whatever your point of view, chances are you are already using it. AI in its most explicit form can be seen in speech recognition devices like Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri - systems which learn to answer your questions or talking toys that engage your child in conversation. While these sorts of products might attract headlines, it’s not necessarily immediately clear how AI might help your business.
The answer lies in that miracle of modern marketing: data. Every business collects customer information which it uses to help drive future sales. Pass that data through AI and it will analyse it and put it to use in near miraculous ways, helping you make sales by reaching the right people at the right moment. The exciting news is that you can begin to harness that potential almost immediately while barely lifting a finger. Here are just a few ways in which your business could benefit from AI:
AI recommendations have become a daily part of life online. The way we shop has changed forever thanks to Amazon’s carousels of further delights (a system now available to you through a free plugin). What we watch on video platforms like Netflix and YouTube is no longer decided by television schedulers but by AI. Sky TV is even able to make personalised viewing recommendations based on a user’s mood! As AI becomes ever more sophisticated, even the most discerning users find themselves being swept along by recommendations that are uncannily suited to their tastes. There is no reason why clients should not enjoy the same experience when visiting your platform or using your software.
If you use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform like SalesForce or HubSpot, they now come armed with ‘intelligence’ tools and plugins that help you to analyse data. Einstein by SalesForce.com is particularly useful in helping to predict where a potential customer is in their sales cycle and which channels of communication they are most likely to respond to. These systems are often as simple to use as an app or plugin for your web application, meaning you can easily drill down into the finer details and start targeting higher quality prospects immediately.
We have all encountered sites that offer free content for a period of time before hitting us with a paywall. If this is done badly it can be like a door slamming in your face and has the potential to drive customers away for good. The Wall Street Journal have used AI to make this transition less jarring, scoring readers across criteria based on location, reading habits and how they access the site. The system then predicts the optimal moment to surface the paywall, doing so quickly for those it has calculated are most likely to pay or vice versa.
Never an exact science, marketing has always relied on a fair amount of trial and error – the classic approach of A/B testing is a good example. Something that was once not only time consuming and costly but also often contradictory has now been made more efficient through machine learning; speeding up the process and continuing to optimise the results over time. Virgin use a system called Phrasee which automates the writing of its marketing email subject lines. Simply feed the machine with your brand’s guidelines and several years of email subject lines and it responds with text that simulates the company’s tone of voice. Apparently the system has improved email open rates for Virgin by 10%.
Using AI in your operation doesn’t mean you can (or should) start putting your sales team out of work. If used correctly, it can be a superb tool to allow staff to work to their full potential. Algorithms can track a customer’s history with your company, drawing on their communications with you, along with their social media history and turn that data into rankings. A skilled salesperson will combine this information with their natural instincts to spot those most likely to want to buy from you.
All of this is just scratching the surface of what AI can currently offer your business – and is only the beginning of how it will ultimately impact on our lives. The most revolutionary use of artificial intelligence and machine learning might not come not from talking dolls or self-driving cars but through more subtle, invisible applications. It’s definitely something we’re really excited about at Ghyston. If you want to find out how it could make a difference to your company’s sales, we’d be happy to talk about bespoke solutions that will put you ahead of the competition.