AI has become one of the most impactful innovations of the digital age. A few decades ago, the sentiment was that AI belonged to robots in the far-flung future, but it hasn’t taken long for AI to assert its position in the real world.
Today, AI has become a firm fixture in many of our lives. Most of us interact with AI multiple times a day. As consumers, it learns our preferences for advertisements, music, movies, etc. to provide us with a personalized online experience – think Netflix, Spotify, and social media. It enables us to implement facial recognition technology; navigate maps on apps like Google Maps and Uber; use smart assistants like Google Home, Siri and Alexa and chatbots. It can even drive us around safely.
AI has also revolutionized marketing. It has been integrated into every digital marketing channel, from social media and display ads to copywriting and image generation. It facilitates smarter marketing, enabling businesses to connect with consumers in the right way, with the right message, at the right time, on the right platform. And to put a number on it, the market for AI in marketing was estimated at $15.84 billion in 2021 and is projected to increase more than $107.5 billion by 2028.
Below are some of the different ways AI is being used within marketing.
Predictive AI: AI can help marketers predict performance on things like email open rates.
AI image generation: AI can generate images that marketers can use in campaigns.
AI copywriting: AI uses machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to generate copy that fits a particular tone, style, and format.
Chatbots: AI-powered chatbots work using NLP technology to interpret knowledge and understand conversation structure to respond to customer queries, instead of relying on pre-programming.
Data enrichment and cleanup: AI can help marketers clean up their contact lists and enrich data to remove broken records and data mismatches.
Social media: AI and machine learning can be used in social media marketing to create high-performance campaigns, provide insights on buyer personas, suggest optimum publishing times, and track the performance of marketing campaigns.
Automation: AI can automate repetitive manual tasks, saving marketers time and money.
AI, by its very nature, does not rest. It is constantly learning and getting smarter, and continuously offers marketers new ways to harness its intelligence. This means there are new trends emerging every year. We asked marketers across different industries to share their thoughts on how AI in marketing will evolve in 2023, and here are five trends they expect to see.
1. Smarter content generation
When AI was first adopted into marketing, its main purpose was to automate repetitive tasks. But considering what AI can do now, that stuff is child’s play. Now, generative AI algorithms take existing data in the form of copy, images, videos, sounds, etc. and use it to create never-before-seen content.
Ortto’s AI image generator (coming soon) does just this. In the simplest terms, it works by looking at the text input by the user alongside reference images to compare likeness, and then generates an altered image.
Perhaps further ahead in its development is AI copywriting. In 2020, Open AI launched the Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT-3), which is a model trained with over 175 million machine learning parameters, so it can create any kind of copy and perform multiple functions like translation, and even code websites.
Ryan Turner, founder of Ecommerce Intelligence, recognizes the increased adoption of AI-powered writing tools in marketing. “AI content creation is becoming more and more popular, with brands leveraging tools to build article outlines, suggest keywords for SEO, write social media posts, and in some cases even create full blog posts and articles without much human input,” says Turner.
For Turner, the technology will only get more effective over time. “The more it gets used, the more feedback is available, and the more effective and refined the algorithms become. As this happens, brands will start to rely on it more and especially for time-consuming tasks such as content creation,” says Turner.
One tool that is invaluable to marketers – or anyone who sends emails – is a tool that crafts conversion-driving subject lines, like Ortto’s AI subject line writer tool. Not only does Ortto’s tool accurately predict the open rates of emails, but it generates alternative suggestions so you can be confident your emails will compete in the inbox.
“In the future, the AI tools may even be dictating the marketing strategy itself and coming up with the campaign recommendations,” suggests Turner.
Personalization in marketing is about using data to connect with target audiences and customers in a way that is specific and relevant to them, to give them the best experience. As we head into 2023, personalization will go beyond personalizing content and more towards delivering a personalized experience throughout the entire customer journey. In fact, according to one survey, 80% of customers are more likely to buy from a company that provides a tailored, personalized experience.
There has been an uptick in the amount of businesses using personalization. Statista surveyed 400 business managers and found there was a 6% increase in brands using exclusively first-party data to personalize customer experiences from 2021 to 2022 (31% to 37%).
Rajesh Namase, Co-Founder of TechRT, agrees that AI-powered personalization will become more prevalent. “Thanks to AI, marketers will be able to create more personalized experiences for their customers,” he says. “By collecting and analyzing data, AI can help marketers understand each customer’s individual needs and preferences. This means that customers will see more relevant ads and messages from brands they know and trust.”
Turner identifies the importance of personalization within ecommerce specifically. “We’re seeing a lot of personalization in the ecommerce industry, where online retailers are using AI-based tools to recommend products to users based on their behavior, so each person gets a unified marketing experience via multiple channels such as emails, social ads, and on-site deals and promotions,” says Turner.
Natalia Brzezińska, Marketing and Outreach Manager at PhotoAiD, predicts that marketing will begin to use advanced AI solutions to target specific audiences. “Thanks to AI solutions, like neural networks, biometrics, and eye tracking, we can better understand the attention mechanisms, so we know what buyers see as engaging and relevant,” says Brzezińska. “Knowing what piques customers’ attention, we can adjust advertisements to make them attractive to target groups. Because personalized marketing improves the costs we spend on campaigns, this trend will probably shape the future of marketing.”
3. Conversational AI will be enhanced by Large Language Models (LLM)
AI language tools are being adopted by businesses far and wide. According to a survey of tech leaders, 60% said their budgets for AI language technologies increased by at least 10% in 2020. 33% of them said their budget increased by 30%.
However, there are challenges with natural language processing (NLP) – the type of AI that allows computers to understand human speech – as highlighted by Matthew Ramirez, founder of AI copy generator tool Rephrasely and Forbes 30 under 30 alumni. “NLP is still not at a level where it can be used by all,” says Ramirez. “Even Siri, the most used natural language interface, struggles to understand words that are not part of its dictionary.”
In order for NLP to improve, it needs more data. “Unlike humans, AI is not capable of learning from one experience,” says Ramirez. “It needs to be fed hundreds or thousands of examples to understand what is right and wrong.”
One language model type that can fulfill this need – and is therefore set to make a great impact on conversational AI in the future – is large language models (LLM). LLMs are tens of gigabytes in size and are trained on enormous datasets. They have billions of ‘parameters’, which are the parts of the model learned from historical training data that determine its skill at solving problems, such as generating copy.
With LLMs, marketers can harness adaptive conversational tools that facilitate better customer experiences. This is definitely a space to watch.
4. Wider adoption of voice commerce
In recent years, people have become accustomed to voice-enabled devices and smart assistants like Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon Alexa, and more people are buying services and goods online using voice recognition technology. This is something Nunzio Ross, CEO and Founder of Majesty Coffee, predicts will be adopted more broadly within marketing.
“AI will continue to improve speech recognition and conversational queries in marketing in 2023,” says Ross. “As more and more households use voice commerce, it is imperative for marketing teams to leverage the growth of shopping voice commands and integrate them into their strategies and ensure that consumers get the best value and experience with emerging technologies that aim to improve accessibility and convenience.”
In 2021, over 45 million consumers in the US used voice technology during their online shopping experience, but while it’s an obvious choice for B2C/ecommerce businesses, what about B2B/SaaS?
B2B businesses could implement voice commerce if it works for their business model. More complex B2B/SaaS organizations may need to wait until it can handle complex transactions, and link to configure, price, quote (CPQ) software, which helps companies automate the process of quoting and proposals.
5. VR in the shopping experience
AI is the fuel that powers the ever-growing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology, both of which are breaking out of the realm of video games and into the ecommerce space.
Josh Tyler, CEO at Giant Freakin Robot which publishes technology, science, and entertainment-related content, suggests marketers will adopt AR and VR technology to enhance the customer experience. “AI-powered solutions provide plenty of opportunities for consumers to customize their shopping experience as much as they can,” says Tyler. “Customers shopping for dresses can quickly swap colors, styles, and patterns to see what they want best, or shoppers can adjust the specs of kitchenware and appliances seamlessly through AR and VR features.”
Tyler believes that businesses must empower customers with more control through interactive shopping experiences. “AI–powered AR and VR marketing will continue to provide businesses with unique ways to attract and retain customers, promote their products, and drive sales,” Tyler says.
Challenges AI needs to overcome
AI has made impressive strides within marketing, but technologies are far from perfect. Ramirez points out AI’s lack of reasoning as a shortcoming: “AI lacks common sense or the ability to explain its choices,” says Ramirez. “For example, if you ask an AI assistant why it didn’t book a flight to a particular destination, it will not be able to provide you with a clear answer. These are some of the problems that need to be solved before AI can become truly intelligent.”
Ben Tibbits, Managing Director at Broadband Deals, worries that the use of AI has become too predictable. “There is an undeniable occurrence of data similarity across many of the AI tools on the market today,” he says. “For example, many of the social media AI tools will aggregate data and suggest social post formats based on those which have performed well in the past. This works in theory, however when many people in the same niche or sector are using the same AI tools it becomes glaringly obvious just by looking at the format of the post/article alone.
“As a point of change, AI tools need to understand that recommended formats based on their internal data are going to be adhered to, and they need to vary these formats via tools before outputting to the user,” suggest Tibbits. “Otherwise, every tweet or social post is going to look the same in 12 months from everyone who uses AI integration.”
Brzezińska points out that AI isn’t free from bias, because AI tools are programmed by the society they exist within. “Current AI is creating a cultural divide,” says Brzezińska. “This problem arose because algorithms take in data influenced by a society that created it, becoming as biased as we are. We should use more diverse data to enhance cultural diversity in AI.”
One of the biggest challenges for marketers today is balancing the use of data for personalization while ensuring the use of the data is ethical. Mistrust in AI is still widespread, and technologies like facial recognition have the danger of undermining privacy and data control. Marketers must be responsible and commit to not abusing sensitive data in vain.
The increased adoption of AI is set to become the most prevalent trend in marketing in 2023, and with that, AI will become more democratized. We will see greater personalization, greater automation saving businesses time and money, and perhaps some exciting advancements in improving the overall customer experience. Watch this space!
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