How Should Marketing Leaders Leverage AI and Machine Learning?

The following outtake, focused on breaking into digital marketing is taken from a recent exclusive recording of an MMC Moments of Truth discussion between Stephanie Leigh-Rose, education and media director at MMC Learning and David Edmundson-Bird, who is an author, a principal lecture in digital marketing and thought leader.

In this extract, Stephanie and David talk about the advent of AI and machine learning and how advances in technology can benefit marketers.

Watch the fascinating 6 minute video below for an insight in to the AI of the future.

What new AI technologies are available to marketers and how can we utilise them?

Stephanie Leigh-Rose:

Our next question was, how should marketing leaders leverage AI and machine learning?

David Edmundson-Bird:

This is a question that a lot of marketing directors in particular are looking at at the moment and going, “Oh my gosh, I’m really terrified.” I mean those are frightening words!

I think there are a lot of systems that are coming to the fore now, which we can start to use to our advantage.

One is conversational chat bots. For a marketer, the idea that every individual customer wants a conversation produces an inward groan because we don’t have the human resources to do that, but some of the really interesting vanguards of this technology are really using conversational chat bots to their advantage. You can use them on a lot of interesting channels.

There are chat bots that can run on WhatsApp and on Facebook Messenger and they can be a great way to bring people into a conversation early. They can be a great way of channeling people into certain roots of conversation and making sure that they end up talking to the right human. I know that quite a lot of the leading tech driven banks, particularly credit card companies are using conversational marketing to help people talk about a credit card that they might like to take advantage of.

I think chat bots are still an undiscovered country. They are used a bit at the moment, but I think that more and more of us are going to use them because the interfaces between them and us are becoming quite simple. They are becoming really easy to use.

The journeys you can create in them are really quite simple, it’s just about knowing where you want conversations to go so they could be really, really useful. I’d be very wary about replacing good human conversation with chat bots but they could be used for certain things, they would make sense for example if it’s the same conversation being used time and time again.

The other area that’s really interesting is the use of AI to generate content. I don’t know about you. I sometimes wake up in the morning and sometime says, “Right. We’ve got to get that blog post out,” and you think, “Great…” and you sit down in front of that blank screen and nothing comes.

So one of the things I’ve enjoyed doing is looking at some content generating systems. You give it a few ideas. You maybe write sentence or throw in some keywords and it will generate some narrative for you.

Now, that’s great but I would be very cautious about going, “Right, let’s put that out.” I think that sometimes it can be a great way of putting out some bulk content and then you go in as a human and make it neat and tidy, make it human if you like.

I’ve used it just because I just haven’t got any inspiration for something in the morning and it will just knock out some little bits and I go, “Oh, right. Yeah.” That gets me into the mood and gives me the inspiration and allows me to add the human dimension to it. I think those kinds of things are really interesting.

How will AI and machine learning change the marketing world in the future?

David Edmundson-Bird:

Where are we going to go with this kind of technology in the future? I think all marketers are becoming increasingly aware of the amount of data that they are going to be looking at. I mean thinking beyond just looking at your Google Analytics reports. Think about the fact that you may have dealt with 30 million customers in the last year.

We can use machine learning to start to drill down into those numbers. We can start to understand the patterns that exist with individual customers. We can look at human behaviour and we have to use this technology because the human mind can’t deal with all that at that level. We have to use sophisticated systems that allow us to do that.

Then we can use those technologies to start forecasting things in a way that we’ve never really had the power to do before. And what’s interesting is those kind of systems are starting to bring out insights that we would never have had, they’re delivering insights that sometimes seem counterintuitive, but the data shows it.

How can marketers prepare for changes in technology?

David Edmundson-Bird:

I think I would be looking over the next few years at investing in training and in systems that allow you to exploit machine learning to really look at the amounts of data that are just not navigable by the human mind on its own.

Stephanie Leigh-Rose:

Yeah, it’s really smart too, because it appeals to our instant gratification as well, whether it’s a prompt in the morning to help with content writing. Or whether it’s drawing in that customer, or you want a question answered, instead of writing that email or calling that number, it’s like, “Oh, I can just…” and people want that.

What are the limitations of AI and machine learning for marketers?

David Edmundson-Bird:

I would say though, that none of these things are a panacea. I think it’s very, very easy to be drawn into the idea, “Oh, well, this thing is going to generate a blog post for me every morning. Fantastic.” No, it’s not. It’s going to generate some content which is going to make you go, “Mmm. That’s just really awkward. It doesn’t mean much.” But it can be a great prompt. It can really give you something that you can then add your human flavour to.

David Edmundson-Bird:

And that, I think is where things are going to go right now. But always be with caution. It is a tool. It is not the thing that allows you to dispose of the… You are still going to have to do a job of work. It’s just that you’ve got this assistive technology that can help you out.