Marketing Automation and AI. Technology is changing the world in wide sweeping ways and in so many little ways—both at the consumer level and certainly at the business level. This post examines how new innovation in automation and AI are transforming every stage of the campaign lifecycle.
Some marketers worry that their jobs will be replaced by technology, but successful marketers worry that they’re not adopting it quickly enough.
The right way to approach technology is that it’s just another tool in the toolbox. You must learn how to use it and when best to apply it. If you don’t, your competitors will and there are so many examples out there of legacy brands being leapfrogged by hungry, nimble rivals who simply have found better ways to use the tech to their benefit.
It’s no longer a best practice in marketing to leverage technology, it’s an absolute need. The successful marketing organization of the future will need to balance its human talent and technology resources wisely in order to compete and win.
According to a Microsoft study, 90% of senior executives worldwide expect AI to improve their company’s growth over the next 5 years.
Where technology works best for advertisers
The two areas of innovation most applicable to brands go hand-in-hand—marketing automation and artifical intelligence (AI).
- Automation takes on tasks to free practitioner up to handle more strategic work
- AI helps intelligent machines to learn how to do those automation tasks better and to extract the right insights from big, fast-moving data sets
How marketing automation and AI are transforming the campaign lifecycle
Big, clunky campaign flights are a thing of the past.
Today’s marketing is always-on which means marketers are constantly in every stage of the campaign lifecycle—actively managing and optimizing in-flight campaigns, planning and building the next initiatives, and analyzing and reporting on programs that have recently completed.
Marketing Automation and AI in the Campaign Phase 1 – Planning, Building, Targeting
Plan. At its core, marketing is about investing resources wisely. That starts with at the planning stage. If your plan is sub-optimal, your investments won’t drive the highest return. Technology can inform almost every aspect of the planning stage such as how to properly allocate budget among channels, forecast expected results, inform the right creative directions to best influence your audience, etc. This is the area of marketing that today is most being impacted by AI.
Build. One of the biggest differences between the previous era of advertising and the current state is that digital marketers must get in the weeds to upload campaigns themselves versus simply shipping off ads and commercials to the publishers and networks. Some marketing teams are so overwhelmed with simply building and loading campaigns that it leaves them little time to do the valuable work of optimizing them. Does this sound familiar? The workflow efficiencies that technology can provide can not just dramatically reduce the time to launch but reduce the inevitable errors of manual processes.
Target. Technology can surface non-intuitive connections between data points and segment consumers into intelligent groupings based on real-time data. In just a company’s own customer data center, there’s enough data to develop robust and powerful audience targets. But it’s also a moving target… While campaigns are in-flight, automation and AI can react to new market signals within moments to ensure media targeting is truly finding those needles in the haystack.
Marketing Automation and AI in the Campaign Phase 2 – Buying, Measuring, Optimizing
Buy. So much media is now auction based with literally millions of ads to decision upon each second. Automation can figure out what the next best bid is at the speed needed to succeed the same way today’s high-speed financial trading is benefiting from smart machines. It can know what it should be paying for each impression for the most efficient return. Fractions of a penny in differences across billions of ad impressions add up to huge gains over time.
This is really where automation and AI shine. If the marketers can load up these buying platforms with the best ads and intelligent rules guiding the automation, then the technology is best suited to handle the high-speed buying that is needed to drive maximum efficiency.
Measure. The data sets today are beyond big. Across just Search and Social advertising, the average medium-sized brand can generate tens of millions of ad impressions every day. Automation and AI can analyze current and previous marketing campaigns to show you what is and isn’t working within your media portfolio and why. Marketers need these insights to optimize in-flight campaigns in real time and post-campaign analysis to get better with every subsequent initiative.
Optimize. Optimization is probably the most important campaign lifecycle phase in the new era of marketing. All of the previous phases are designed to launch the best advertising elements, but once the program begins, optimization both by human expertise and from intelligent computers is what can make good campaigns great or save sub-par initiatives to not fail.
If you can increase relevancy by 1%, CTR by 1%, drop costs by 1%, have 1% better measurement driving smarter decision making, be 1% better at budget allocation, etc., that’s what equates to big gains over the course of the year. Today’s optimization is both a granular exercise (down to the keyword/ad) and a macro exercise (where to spend the next dollar). Both humans and machines need to work together to maximize the power of their marketing campaigns.