As the all-important holiday shopping season is underway, retail marketers must consider which vital data-crunching tools will help increase efficiencies and create more targeted customer experiences. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) leads the pack. While brands are already heavily investing in AI to better engage today’s easily distracted consumers, there are many myths around the technology that retailers need to know.
What’s clear is that AI-enabled technology has the potential to amplify almost all business areas in virtually every sector, particularly retail. Most tech experts believe AI will almost handle the vast majority of routine marketing execution in the coming years. Uncovering the potential AI has to offer (e.g., an increase in return on investment), let’s dispel the three common AI myths, explore actionable tactics to combat each, and unearth the benefits that retailers will reap if they adopt machine learning tools.
Myth No. 1: AI is the Solution
One of the largest misconceptions around AI is that it’s THE solution. In fact, AI is an enabling technology which works like a math algorithm. The automation tool is built upon several different capabilities, such as machine learning, neural networks and deep learning which help machines gain insights from massive amounts of data.
AI is an enabling technology. It’s not a solution that can just be downloaded or installed and do the job at hand. We’re not yet at a stage where AI thinks freely for itself; we’re at a stage where it can analyze complex data sets and identify business problems.
The key to dispelling such a myth? Take a look at how AI manifests itself in our everyday lives, both within and outside the world of marketing:
- Example 1: As an everyday consumer using anonymized location data from smartphones, such as Google Maps, our mobile devices can analyze the speed of movement of traffic at any given time. With vast amounts of data being fed to its proprietary algorithms, Maps can help reduce commute times by suggesting the fastest routes to and from work. That’s AI!
- Example 2: Brand marketers are leveraging AI to scale personalization beyond human capacity, allowing automated tools to handle complex tasks like data integration so they can focus on developing richer content, strategy and creative campaigns.
Both examples showcase the prognostic nature of a computer algorithm to, ultimately, enhance our lives by saving us time and steps. However, AI isn’t driving us to our destination and it isn’t creating a marketing campaign from start to finish.
Myth No. 2: AI is a Premature Platform Which Doesn't Fit in Your Business
While users are still needed to guide and feed data into AI algorithms, it would be a big mistake to believe that AI is an immature technology. AI is still in its early stages when it comes to marketing execution, however, it’s a misperception to believe that just because the tool is in its early stages that it’s an immature technology.
Brands both small and large that refrain from adopting these technologies are exposing themselves to potentially losing loyal customers. Studies yield by 2020 that 57 percent of consumers will depend on companies to anticipate their needs through personalization, and if they don’t, they’ll have no problem switching brands.
How your organization can adjust to the platform? Instead of cannonballing into AI, your company should consider piloting and testing the automation platform which best suits your bottom line. Buying a new technology platform is similar to buying a new vehicle — you want to “test ride” the new gadget. Ease into the AI-enabled technology which can help your brand produce the best results.
Myth No. 3: AI is Going to Kill Our Jobs
This may be the biggest myth yet.
Marketing and creative careers which require artistic expertise will always have a place in business. AI simply unlocks the full potential of marketers, giving them the ability to spend more time on creating content and campaigns that get delivered to their audiences.
Wondering how to combat the fear? The key to overcoming this misconception is to understand the areas that AI will automate, yet recognizing its current limitations. AI will help retail marketers save time, reduce manual labor, determine personalization for each customer down to an exact science, but it will never fully generate one’s marketing strategy, replicate human creativity and understand changing business sentiments of users.
As the holiday season gets into full swing, retailers must reflect on the strategies that will help lure consumers to their websites and offer personalized incentives that will have them purchasing. To truly optimize this year’s holiday sales, let us combat the fictitious noise around AI and uncover how the tool can create more targeted customer experiences and deliver meaningful engagement.
Allen Nance is the chief marketing officer at Emarsys, a provider of B-to-C marketing automation software.
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