When we think of AI, we think of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator running around with bazookas in his hands and half his face ripped off. Revealing his exposed metal skull and wires like veins leaking sparks, as if fresh blood. We think of robot men from movies programmed to serve mankind, but instead learning emotions and human feelings. We think of software outsmarting humans in a bid to take over the world. But we are not in the land of make-believe or a Hollywood movie set, we are very much heading into the future. And the future of Marketing is Artificial Intelligence (AI), perhaps just not in the way highlighted above.
AI and machine learning is transforming the landscape with self-driving cars, smarter prosthetics and digital assistance (think of Alexa). The stuff which was now reserved for Sci-Fi movies is now our reality. AI is different because unlike a human, there is less margin for error, it can work continuously without the need for a break or rest and it is always learning! But what exactly does this mean for Marketing? It means your brand is ready 24/7.
To understand where we are going, first, we must understand where we have been. Artificial Intelligence is a way of programming machines to learn and be capable of solving problems as a human would. In the not too distant past, programmers would manually code software systems to provide an output when given a specific input.
A good example is to think of Facebook, remember in 2008 when you got your first account? You would have to manually tag all your friends who attended your birthday party into that group photo. Now, in 2018 with the introduction of AI, Facebook recognises faces and suggest you tag your friends.
You see, AI is already blending the lines between human interaction and technology in ways you may not even realise.
AI is beyond just data analysis and generation. Artificial Intelligence is going to revolutionise how customers interact with brands on a day to day basis.
AI and machine learning will push the boundaries of what is possible. The divide of what is marketing, art, design, music will blend together making for a truly creative experience for the audience.
An example of consumer engagement with brands, leveraged through the use of AI is Chatbots. A chatbot sits on your website and acts as an interactive messaging system with visitors of your site. The chatbot will crawl your site and pick up keywords and phrases to help converse with your customer, without the need for human interaction! Your chatbot can take the conversation to a minimum of 60% before anyone even needs to step in. Chatbots can also learn the language of your brand to interact with your consumers in your tone of voice.
AI and machine learning are going to completely revolutionise how your customers can experience your brand. New forms of creativity will provide new ways for your brand to tell its story.
Something that you will be seeing plenty of in the marketplace is brands reinventing their products and enhancing their functionality with AI. Products and services that may have been a little ahead of their time will once again see the spotlight with the introduction of machine learning and artificial intelligence. As customers in the modern digital landscape demand more and more personalised experiences from their brands, AI will stand up and create this technology to meet this demand.
Marketing campaigns and customer interactions will become a core focus for brands—from planning to creative messaging to media targeting to the retail experience. Integrating machine learning and AI into the buyer’s journey means proper representation and the opportunity for your brand to be present 24/7.
To approach this from a different angle, consumer expectations of their brands will increase. This will pose a difficult challenge for some brands as they choose to compete in the marketplace. Businesses who are proactive rather than reactive will retain their customers and ignite a journey which has never been seen in this landscape before.
So what does this all mean for marketers? The further integration of technology into the physical world creates new consumer interactions that are even more simple and instantaneous. Businesses who were once operating with limited resources can now use the helping hands of AI to operate in places where they previously had no expertise. AI will start a chained reaction of both higher expectations and the opportunity for more personalized marketing.
There is no question that there will be marketing and advertising solutions and resolutions that have not even been thought of yet. And this is the most exciting prospect of the digital landscape.
Using Social Influencers and thought leaders to promote your brand is not new (think about Justin Timberlake singing McDonald’s famous slogan), but with the rise of Social Media and this idea of instant gratification, it has become a valuable addition to a brand strategy.
So, the questions is, is a Social Influencer something you could use in your brand? Well, the obvious benefit of Social Influencer marketing is earning exposure through the influencer’s network. Having an influencer market your product is an enjoyable content marketing experience which your audience will like consuming, sometimes without their knowledge. Also, having an influencer builds credibility for your product/ service. Influencer marketing can show your product in action. This is also a great idea for products which are new to the market and have some level of user knowledge behind them.
If you believe an influencer could be for you. We have put together some key points to consider before you take that next step in your brand marketing.
In the not too distant past, a lot of influencers were not being transparent about their paid partnerships which were a big no-no. To avoid this, make sure your influencer is disclosing any piece of paid content that they are doing for you. Avoiding any legal troubles can be as simple as putting #ad or #sponsored at the end of their post. Instagram has responded to this trend by having an option for influencers to state explicitly above their post that this product/ service they are promoting is in collaboration with your business.
I’m sure I say this time and time again with any form of marketing strategy your business chooses to pursue. Meet your audience where they are spending their time, not where you think they are spending their time. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Instagram may be where you see the majority of the Social Influencers using the #ad sponsorship. While Instagram is the top influencer platform of 2018 and is likely to be for 2019, think about your brand persona and where they would most likely be spending their time. Is it YouTube? Pinterest? Take the time to think like your customer and meet them on the social platform where they are spending the most of their time. Because Influencers are getting a lot of sponsorships to put their posts on Instagram, it is likely to drive up the price. You may save yourself some money by researching what platform your brand persona is likely to use.
Use Influencer Marketing Tools to find your right fit. Finding an appropriate influencer is perhaps the biggest challenge in determining whether your strategy will spread its wings and fly, or flop. Heres a simplified example of what the process could look like if you do it the traditional way:
While this process can still work, there are far more marketing tools out there designed to facilitate this relationship and find the perfect fit for your brand. Take some time to look through these Influencers tools. This will not only save you time, ensure you find a better fit for your brand but it can also help you measure the return on investment from this sponsorship.
Any Marketing activity that you are doing, paid or not, should be measured! I cannot stress this enough. So many businesses just blindly put their feelers out and throw cash into the darkness but never know if it was worth their resources. That needs to end here. Everything that your business does in terms of Marketing needs to be measured in some way. Many tools offer analytics, so take advantage of those and treat them as your best friend.
A good way to see if you’re influencer is increasing your sales is to give your influencer a unique promo code. That way, each time a customer uses the promo code you can directly attribute that revenue to the influencer.
When designing your post with your influencer in mind, try to create useful content, not ads. Let’s move away from your influenced just holding your product and saying they loooooove it so much and use it every day. Instead, let’s be more creative and try to catch the attention of who you are really out there marketing towards. In 2018, your posts should look less like generic ads and more like content marketing which is aimed at adding genuine value to your consumer’s lives. Read our blog on creating content marketing for more ideas. Great marketing doesn’t make your audience feel like you are trying to sell a product. Great marketing is natural, it’s engaging and its thought invoking. Brands can tend to lose sight of this when they are working with influencers, believing that their thought leader can carry the product and make the sales pitch more forgiving. Do not be that brand. So take the time to think about the message you want to convey and make the suggestion to your influencer.
Ok, let’s turn your thinking on its head here and consider that maybe your brand could become an influencer. Now, this is a way to shift the phenomenon in your favor. And while this certainly doesn’t work for every brand, it definitely has seen a lot of brands rocket very quickly to the top. Let’s think back to Marketing 101, where a product is being introduced into the marketplace, not as a new product but a product with a different approach to its marketing strategy. This products/ services take the angle of a price premium, experience brand. To become a brand that is both the trend and that is the social influencer itself needs, your branding needs to be bulletproof. Often the Trend Influencer focuses on one product and one service instead of a range of products as it is easier for the consumer to recognise.
Let’s look at some famous brands that have seen this hype. Think of the Kardashian Waist Trainer craze which happened recently. Corsets are certainly not new, but the product was marketed in such a way that it was coming to market with a different approach. The corset was traditionally used to give the wearer and tiny waist which was the style when they were predominantly worn. But these Waist Trainers were marketed as a product which is used during a workout to achieve an amazing hourglass figure such as the Kardashian women. This is a fantastic example of the Social Influencer being the trend itself. The product was not unique but the approach was. To name a few more, At home Teeth Whitening Kits, Hair Masks which double the length of your locks, Skin Hair and Nail gummy bears.
These are all brands which have influenced a trend and have found stardom by attracting influencers to them. These Influencer Brands have played on basic human psychology and the fear of missing out. Influencers want to be associated with this brand because it will boost their status and following. To start here you will need a new to market product and a few influencers to start with and the most impenetrable branding.