If you’re not doing these, your competition is
Artificial intelligence is all around us and has been for quite some time. Virtual assistants, like Siri and Alexa, have been a mainstay in billions of people’s personal lives, but it’s only been recently that new AI technology can completely take over day-to-day work tasks. Writing marketing plans, evaluating prospect data, conducting competitive research, generating written and visual content…these are all things that AI can now do, although not perfectly (yet).
Depending on your industry, you may or may not have done a deep dive into AI at this point. If you’ve just been reading the headlines, it’s time to take action.
Below are five things you can do right now to determine how you as a marketing leader should and shouldn’t use AI to achieve marketing objectives.
1. Demystify AI for yourself and others.
Two words: Experiment and educate. If you’ve been hesitant to try out newer AI tools directly, stop waiting. It’s one thing to talk about AI in theory, and completely different when you experience first-hand how it can assist your work.
First of all, be mindful that “AI” is being used to describe a variety of different marketing tools.
What types of AI applications are marketing leaders and their teams using? The list below includes some technology that has been around for years (chatbots for example), but now they are growing in capabilities as new advancements are released.
- Predictive analytics: This type of AI uses data and algorithms to predict future outcomes, such as which customers are most likely to make a purchase.
- Natural language processing (NLP): NLP is used to analyze and understand human language, allowing marketers to better understand customer sentiment and intent.
- Chatbots: Chatbots are AI-powered tools that can communicate with customers in real-time, providing them with personalized support and assistance.
- Image and video recognition: This technology uses deep learning algorithms to analyze images and videos, which can be used for tasks such as identifying products in photos shared on social media.
- Generative AI: This type of AI can be used to create content, such as blog posts or social media updates, in a matter of seconds.
ChatGPT and DALL·E 2 by OpenAI are wildly popular generative AI tools you can use to create text and images. However, there are literally thousands of AI platforms that you can choose from to get started. As a best practice, always avoid inputting sensitive information about yourself, your company, and your clients when you use any sort of free tool.
Don’t start using these tools to conduct your business until you’ve done your due diligence by understanding how they work, and the implications for your team (keep reading for more on that). In addition to educating yourself, you will also need to educate others in your organization about the opportunities and pitfalls that AI can bring to your marketing efforts.
With changes happening in AI every day, I recommend the following resources to bookmark and visit often:
- Marketing AI Institute. In addition to free resources for marketers, they also offer paid advanced courses that you can take to understand the technology and implications of newer AI applications.
- Christopher Penn’s YouTube channel provides ongoing marketing updates, including the latest developments in AI and what it means for marketers. The video below is a great place to start to understand how large language models like ChatGPT work. (Spoiler alert: It’s not magic, it’s math.)
2. Audit your current MarTech stack.
This task should be a combined effort that starts with your marketing and technology teams, and then continues out to your sales and customer support teams to get a complete understanding of AI capabilities throughout the customer journey.
Most likely, your current MarTech stack already has some level of AI capabilities. Conducting an audit will help you see the baseline of what AI functionality you currently have available. It will allow you to make better decisions about how to utilize each system, and make the case for upgrading existing systems, replacing them, or adding in new integrations.
The outcome of the audit can take many different forms. What’s great is that it can be as detailed or simple as you need. The goal is to have a way to document each available tool and quickly understand if it has capabilities that will help your team to do their job more efficiently.
At a minimum it should include:
- A complete inventory of all of your marketing technology tools. This includes those used for: content creation, customer relationship management, email marketing, events, paid media, project management, social media, SEO/SEM, and website management.
- Quick stats about each tool. Track administrators, licenses available, cost, business purpose, and how often each system is used (daily, monthly, etc.).
- Capabilities, including newer AI features. Specify which features are most beneficial, and what would be useful but is currently lacking. You can note things here such as the system’s ability to generate content, catch and correct mistakes, automate tasks, make data predictions, etc.
- An evaluation of the effectiveness of each tool. Assess whether the tool is meeting your performance expectations, whether it is aligned with your overall marketing strategy, and whether it is delivering a positive ROI for your team.
Use this as a starting point for determining the current state of your marketing technology. Then assess if and how new AI features can help your business stay efficient and competitive in the marketplace.
3. Invest in people first, then technology.
Successful organizations are not replacing marketers with new AI technology, they are using it to enhance work output and improve the overall employee experience.
Supporting employees by providing quality professional development is critical for leading a modern marketing team. As newer AI models take over, your workforce needs to adapt and grow with them. It is imperative for you to provide your team with the proper time and education to allow them to continuously improve how they use marketing tools in day-to-day operations.Have conversations with individuals on your team about how they feel about technology, and specifically about AI. Note any excitement or concerns that they have, which will allow you to be a better advocate for their professional growth.
Have you discussed AI with your marketing team?
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As new marketing platforms are unveiled every day, it is easy to be swayed into investing in shiner, newer, or more popular systems. Always keep this in mind: any tool is just as good as the person using it. If you decide to upgrade your systems, but be sure to upgrade your employee development as well.
4. Rethink your internal processes – all of them.
AI continues to change the way organizations conduct business, and at an accelerated pace. If you continue to run internal operations with a “business as usual” mindset, you will miss the efficiency factor that will help you achieve your business goals faster.
Smart leaders are allowing teams to utilize AI to take over tedious, time-consuming tasks, allowing employees to spend more time on strategy and creativity in their work.
In fact, Gartner recently predicted that “by 2025, organizations that use AI across the marketing function will shift 75% of their operational activities from production to more strategic activities.”
For example: many companies are already utilizing generative AI in their creative process. Generative AI tools can write first drafts of blog articles, but humans still need to write the appropriate prompts for the topic direction, ensure everything is factually correct, and do a final edit before it goes live. People are still very much a part of the process, but AI is saving hours of time on the production schedule by expediting the initial phases of work.
If you want to find efficiency within your own marketing operations, start by charting out your most time-consuming internal marketing processes. In most cases, you will find pinch points that AI automation tools can help resolve. Things like:
- Data entry
- Transcribing recordings
- Writing first drafts of copy
- Creating a team schedule
- Designing multiple pieces of creative to test
- Coding simple landing pages
5. Create an AI marketing policy and communicate team expectations.
The ethics of AI, and policies surrounding it, are important factors that every company needs to consider as AI is more deeply integrated into day-to-day operations. Creating an internal marketing policy is a crucial step in implementing the technology in a responsible and effective way.
As a marketing leader, you need to ensure that your team is using technology appropriately by defining what that means for your brand, while also building trust with customers and other stakeholders.
WIRED.com did this and made headlines for being among the first publications to release its own policy about using generative AI. You can read the overview here.
You will need to work with other stakeholders in your organization, including legal and IT teams, even if your policy is focused solely on marketing and content publications. Doing this will help align departments regarding the use of AI, and can help ensure that technology is used consistently across the organization.
Once you have a policy documented, be sure to socialize it with your internal teams and allow them the opportunity to ask questions for further clarification.
Start leading your team to success today
Whether your focus this year is on more personalized content creation, or improving your organization’s customer experience, advances in AI are already changing the game. Don’t put off thinking through the implications of AI on marketing for your company. Get started with these five tasks now to stay ahead of the competition, and remain in sync with your customers.
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