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The ultimate guide to artificial intelligence in digital marketing and sales

artificial intelligence

Before we start: Can you think back of a day without any of your digital items, consuming no information from the web? Knowing that nearly half of the world’s population is active on the world wide web, more than two billion websites can be found online and a quarter-billion emails are sent within every 24h worldwide, this is hard to imagine, right?
The once so unknown digital world has become part of the new normal where the internet and social media have a more crucial influence on businesses than ever before.

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Artificial Intelligence in digital marketing and sales

With new technologies emerging every day, companies and brands are riding the technology wave to provide clients with services and products in a more efficient and effective way. As a natural consequence, the online world is filled with digital marketing opportunities, popping up almost daily.

Impact of Digital MarketingNow let me tell you a secret:  When you know exactly how you want to be perceived and how far you can go while playing around with the possibilities the digital era is offering, you will realize there is no magic behind it – but the natural consequence that occurs when the right intelligent technology solutions are being utilized. Having marketing and sales as crucial areas of business, many companies are rapidly adopting intelligent technology solutions to facilitate operational efficiency while marketers can gain a more comprehensive understanding of their target audience to constantly improve the customer experience. By this means the information gathered can be used to drive conversions while it eases the workload for marketers and salespersons.

If you are not a digital dinosaur you are probably using some of the typical intelligent marketing technologies already. But are you sure you have levered the full potential that digital technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) is offering? Let us take a short cut and dive directly to the main reasons why Artificial Intelligence is playing such a crucial role for marketer and sales. 

What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

Speaking in terms of computer science, artificial intelligence (AI) is understood as a development field of intelligent machines. In a nutshell, machines, computers, or robots are enabled to conduct human-like intelligent actions. They can develop capabilities referred to humans. Such as learning from experience, mimicking perception, solving problems, or making decisions.

AI is no longer related to science fiction but included in activities of our daily lives. Google assistant and Siri for example are using speech recognition to listen to commands, Google Lens for instance works by using computer vision. 

And what’s the idea behind AI in marketing and sales?

The concept of using AI in marketing and sales is constantly changing the way companies reflect upon their online marketing strategy. With the rise of social media and web technology, businesses are no longer limited to a specific audience and marketing through traditional channels like radio or TV. Even print has become increasingly outdated. With the developments of the digital age, AI technologies are making it easier than ever before to tap into a massive source of potential customers without spending tons of money on traditional marketing.

Today highly influential factors such as economic trends, collected and analyzed data, can be used within AI technologies for automated decision making. When it comes to AI being used in marketing, it helps bringing speed to customer interaction. It facilitates digital ads or the execution of tailored customer campaigns for a precisely defined target persona. AI algorithms help you eliminate repetitive tasks and thereby frees up human capacity that can be used for more strategical functions. Finally, this will help you maximizing your productivity while saving valuable time that can be turned into profits.

What are the reasons marketers should consider AI?

Forward-thinking marketers are exploring AI as powerful marketing strategy. AI can enable marketers to scale business growth and drive revenue. It empowers marketers to bring customer experience to an outperforming level by allowing personalized engagement and messaging with their target groups. Moreover, utilizing the right AI technologies opens new opportunities for improved internal alignment between the marketing and sales departments, for the sake of an increase in revenue and a running lead generation pipeline. 

The technology behind AI allows companies to boost their lead generation volume, to turn qualified leads into closed deals and to achieve an overall improvement of sales performance. By establishing powerful automated and augmented sales processes, efforts ensure that salespeople can focus on what is important: Generating revenue. 

As a marketer you will drown while trying to survive in today’s competitive shark tank if no attention is paid to AI in your operations.

Let us roughly touch base on three major reasons therefore:

1. Predicting customer behaviour 

Based on data AI can predict the behaviour of your customer. It takes notice of your past and present business trades and captures to make predictions for the future. AI assists in the detection of the important leads, allowing the sales team to focus on them rather than spending time chasing leads.

2. Processing of big data 

For you to avoid errors in your data samples, the best advice to use as marketer is to resort to AI. Instead of reading crystal balls, you can use AI to extract useful knowledge from your data. 

3. Automation

Another important reason to consider AI is the ability to automate tasks– free yourself form performing iterative activities. Imagine yourself interacting with hundreds of customers within a twinkling of an eye on a very personal base. With AI you will improve your productivity to draw your attention on strategic marketing activities by delegating routine activities to a marketing software.

Following the findings of a State of Sales report of Salesforce, leading salespeople anticipate AI to be adopted faster than any other technology. Additional research from Salesforce points out that top-performing teams are 4.9x times more likely to utilize AI in their daily operations than underperformer. With all the benefits in scaling business that AI brings, it is however not intentioned to replace human resources in sales and marketing. In business practice the opposite tends to happen: AI can create new jobs.

Some best examples of companies leveraging AI for their marketing and sales

Years ago, it was difficult for many businesses to use AI in their marketing and sales strategies. The trend has changed, and many businesses are applying AI to their brands and reaping the benefits. The combat on becoming the world’s leader in AI has thus begun. By embracing AI, tech giants have brought their services and products to the next level. 

Amazon, for example, uses AI to display shoppers’ appropriate items based on past searches, orders, and views. By offering personalized experience, the chances of a shopper making their first purchase or becoming a return customer is being highly increased.

The world’s largest e-commerce platform Alibaba sells more products and services than Amazon and eBay together. Speaking of this tech giant, AI is fully integrated into the company’s daily operations. Starting with automatically generated product descriptions to predictions on customer purchase. It is no secret that the intelligent use of AI can take a business to the next level and open up new opportunities. By having internalized AI, Alibaba is making use of intelligent AI algorithms to invest in it’s City Brain project and the idea of creating smart cities by reducing traffic jams through vehicle monitoring.   

Cars lined-up at a production plant in China - Credits: Getty Images / VCG / Contributor

Cars lined-up at a production plant in China
Credits: Getty Images / VCG / Contributor

Microsoft has eternalized AI in its vision statement that pursues the goal of making smart machines the center of everything they do. Already today Microsoft is one of the biggest AI-as-a-Service (AIaaS) vendors worldwide and has incorporated intelligent capabilities into Office365 to Skype and Cortana and all Microsoft products and services.

Exemplified by the giants of the tech industry, AI has become a reality in digital marketing and sales that should be considered by any company – no matter the size. If you are planning to use AI in your digital marketing and sales, I charge you do so now to get the dividends. Our blog article “AI for marketers and sales” explains more detailed how to leverage AI in these business functions. 

How does AI improve digital transformation in marketing and sales?

The greatest catalyst to motivate a business to digitally transform are changing customer preferences, purchasing power and loyalty. As a crucial factor in keeping and expanding an existing customer base the general desire for improved customer experience is required to be the cornerstone of any invest in intelligent technologies. Consequently, digital transformation is no longer purely considered as a technical construct but goes beyond with the objective of creating more and more successful customer stories. 

Here’s how AI can facilitate and improve the digital transformation for marketers and salespeople:

AI algorithms support you in defining accurate personas that illustrate your customers exact needs and preferences.

Businesses that have successfully executed their digital transformation agenda have observed a significant improvement in their customers satisfaction and loyalty rate which can be traced back to well-defined personas. By implication, personas must be the basis of any digital transformation initiative in marketing and sales. It’s the right combination of the company’s brand, its products, events and customer preferences, content viewed, popular channels and preferred communication that makes the most advanced use of AI for persona definition.

With the help of AI-based algorithms, propensity models can be developed.

Propensity models have a high relevance for customer predictions, so that statements can be made about which customer groups react to bundling or price offers. Propensity models are based on predictive analytics as well as machine learning. They can estimate upsell or cross-sell probabilities that may be triggered by a bundling or price offer, an email campaign, or another call-to-action campaign of marketers. In practice, propensity models have proven to be very effective to engage customers. The following dashboard illustrates how a propensity model works, using TIBCO's customer propensity as an example. 

Customer Properties - TIBCO

Credits: www.tibico.com

According to predictions of Gartner, organizations with embedded AI will benefit from an increase in their operational efficiency by 25%.

By 2025, AI based customer engagement centre platforms will revolutionize the process of customer care. The reason why adequate customer service usually fails in practice is insufficient real-time contextual data. 

Looking at the field of customer service, there are various use cases that note an improved customer experience through the deployment of AI. The undisputed leader in the use of AI and machine learning is Amazon. Here, intelligent machines decide which customer persona speaks to a live agent at which point of time during the customer service process. Similar strategies can be used to improve the service performance of intelligent personal assistants, natural language processing (NLP) or chatbots. And finally, AI can be utilized to improve knowledge management and the search function or the field support.

The use of AI increases the success rate of digital transformation around sales effectiveness.

By tracking purchase decisions clustered by campaigns and sales channels, AI can develop an understanding of customers' purchase and non-purchase decisions. As marketing activities are fundamentally analytical, marketers are finally able to understand which marketing and sales strategies are bearing the low hanging fruits and which ones are doomed to fail by allowing an isolated reflection. Supplemented by relevant data from CRM systems, AI can be used to develop predictive models to identify ideal customer profiles.

Do you speak data? 3 important tips for B2B sales.

Today, most of the top performing companies have internalized the benefits of incorporating AI into their business to help it thrive. If you want to learn what to consider while getting started, follow our quick guide on the most important tips:

Tip 1: Rely on data.

Artificial Intelligence does not do guess works. For your business to improve, you need to provide the machine with data to be analyzed. By this means the machine forecast turn into accurate prediction.

Tip 2: Think as a data scientist. 

As a sales manager in B2B, you should be able to familiarize with data science and its discipline. This will enable you to access, read and analyze data whenever you are given. Your ability to interpret these data will make you get confidence and trust in the predictions. Successful sales managers understand the fundamentals of artificial intelligence so that they can see and appreciate the possibilities. 

Tip 3: Use your judgement. 

Even though Artificial Intelligence can present a nearly perfect outcome for you during its forecasting you should use your adjudgment in accepting and evaluating it. Sales managers should take advantage of their experience and expertise in critical matters assisted by AI. 

How must CMOs evolve to take advantage of AI?

Marketers are being swamped with data from different sources. Be it from web analytics, social media monitoring, emails, sales, ads, apps, e-commerce platforms and many more. The important question now is what to do with all the data? Stay hydrated and stop drowning by reading through our quick guide on how CMOs can adapt AI:

1. Get over all the hype on AI.

There's a lot of information and general hype on the effectiveness and advantages of AI which sometimes can overwhelm marketers looking for a particular field to utilise AI. Large conglomerates like Facebook, Google, Netflix boast of using AI with other tools to make huge profits.

2. AI is enhancing more than it automates.

The idea that AI does all things in automating marketing processes is far from what it does. Artificial Intelligence has over the year reduced marketing procedures which would have otherwise been done manually yet AI can go further by enhancing marketing solutions and making strategies more effective.

3. Start experimenting with AI.

CMOs should start experimenting with AI now than later as it would offer the oppoertunity to grasp the technologies that would otherwise affect the business in a positive direction.

4. Continues learning is key.

Always focus on continuously learnig more about AI and how to integrare it into marketing strategies. AI can offer more for business than what would be projected. Learning more on it can offer some lights on how best to implement it for your business. AI is here to stay, and it is time that CMOs take advantage of it for an increased effectiveness for their organisations.

What is the future of Artificial Intelligence in digital marketing and sales?

Considering AI as a fuel to transform digital strategies, it will continue to advance. At the same time, the need of utilizing AI to improve and perfect digital marketing strategies will rise, no matter the size of the enterprise. 

Looking at the past to make an estimate on the future, the movie “The Matrix” is no longer fiction since Google AI, Siri is more than just a humorous tool since Tesla developed self-driving cars. AI is reshaping the future of digital marketing and sales. We may not know what is coming tomorrow.

Remember to stay woke, embrace the transition and be more than just a part of the digital journey – be it. And we rest our case. 

About Scalework

SCALEWORK helps companies to effectively build and integrate custom analytics, data science and machine learning solutions in their daily operations.

Throughout our careers, we have helped many companies scale their data-driven organizations, but we could also see limitless companies struggle to create sustainable impact from data. This has several reasons: Inexperience to anticipate potential impactful data science solutions; inability to translate project ideas into requirements; limited access to data experts and overly expensive and frustrating service providers in the market – just to name a few.

With SCALEWORK, we want to offer all companies the chance to realize the power of data, irrespective of their internal level of digitization or analytics capability. We want to make data impact as simple and cost-effective as possible.

Contact us to learn about customized AI templates for your marketing and sales.

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