AI usage has been slowly increasing over the past few years, and now that ChatGPT is on everyone’s minds, it is only set to grow. There was a boom in AI adoption due to the pandemic – a PwC study found that 52% of companies accelerated their AI adoption plans in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid crisis. In fact, in 2022 AI adoption grew nearly 2.5 times as compared to the adoption rates in 2017.
But, when it comes to marketing, what do we actually mean by AI? It certainly isn’t a conscious robot looking to take your job! It can be easier to think about AI as machine learning, a tool that can parse and absorb huge amounts of content, which can then be used across the marketing function.
It has been a bit of an under-the-radar trend in recent years to integrate AI into marketing channels. In fact, your favourite marketing platforms are likely powered by AI and the data it generates – the social media you engage with, ads displayed and your search results. A survey across the US, UK, Canada and India found that roughly 50% of respondents mentioned ad targeting as one of the main marketing applications of AI. In short, AI is helping personalise everything you see, making marketing smarter and making targeting better, offering your ads to the most relevant audiences.
One stat suggests that more than 80% of industry experts integrate some form of AI technology into their online marketing activities. And the data backs this up, as the positive impacts of AI are starting to be seen – in a 2022 survey of senior data and technology executives, 92% of large companies reported that they are achieving returns on their data and AI investments. So, now that we have got past the idea that artificial intelligence is a ‘scary’ concept, how can more businesses implement AI tech and start to reap the benefits?
Start by changing how you think about AI. As we said, it is not an army of robots coming after us all (!) and it can help to reframe how you think about it when considering the role it can play for you. Don’t think of it as one single point of intelligence; instead, AI is a collection of areas of automated intelligence, it isn’t going to offer an opinion or take over entire jobs. AI is not ‘conscious’, which is the mainstay of the creative intelligence that we use for problem solving.
A good first step is to review your current systems and processes, to understand the current capabilities, and how AI is working in the systems you currently use. You might find that you are already a confident AI user and you didn’t even realise it! It might also be that you discover unused functionality in your systems – for example, maybe there is a tool to help generate email content that you have overlooked.
Once you have an idea of the AI tools you are already using, you can start to integrate them at an operational process level. In an ideal scenario, teams should lean to their strengths: let human creativity come to the fore, based upon the data provided by AI. For example, you can take the legwork out of the data gathering and lean on the systems to provide the insights, on which you can then base your strategy.
This is the dream for those of us who love efficiency gains. AI can effectively help boost your team’s productivity and remove time consuming admin burdens by centralising data sources and creating dashboards that deliver consolidated findings. Think of data driven AI as a ‘coach’ leading your team to make better decisions more easily, whether this is by generating drafts of content that need only a brief copy edit, or to gather data points and deliver insights.
Before you get carried away though, a caveat: think of AI as machine learning, rather than ‘intelligence’, and be aware of the pitfalls of relying upon it too heavily. Any machine is only as smart as its inputs, and so AI can therefore be biased by the data that is input.
Most algorithms and AI in a digital marketing setting are in fact optimising to the same end – creating a better user experience for your audience, as this is critical for many metrics and rankings. For example, the Google search engine optimisation (SEO) updates this year focused on providing the most helpful content to users. So, once you have an idea of the AI tools you are already using, you can understand how the algorithms are working, and optimise your content and marketing strategy to maximise results.
In order to get the most out of AI, the investment leaders should primarily be looking at is training for their employees. Technology adoption is always the most challenging part of any change to business operations, and so by bringing your teams on the journey with you, you can ensure these tools are being used as much as possible.
Did you know that AI can differentiate between different social media platforms? There are lots of tips out there for how to build the right prompt to get the type of post you are looking for. In fact, a recent study found that 45% of marketers use generative AI for content creation, and 22% said they use AI to generate ideas. Check out this recent Hubspot post, for example, which has some great tips for AI prompts to draft social media posts, such as:
- “Write a Facebook post introducing a new product feature and rephrase its current description to sound more exciting and effective: [insert current product description text].”; and
- “Create a LinkedIn post promoting a new job opening in [number] words or less with a strong call to action at the end”
We put it to the test to see what would happen when we let tools like ChatGPT do some of the legwork. We asked ChatGPT to write a LinkedIn post to show how data driven AI helps get the most from your team and your budget (does that title sound familiar to you…?!), and it came up with the following:
Overkill maybe, but it shows that it can at least give you some content to start working with. In short, AI is not likely to take your job any time soon, but someone who is using AI just might…