by Dr. Sarabjit Kaur and Dr. Kimberley Khoo Kim Leng
By 2029, the market size of artificial intelligence (AI) is predicted to reach USD 1,394.30 billion (Fortune Business Insights, 2021). A recent survey conducted by NewVantage Partners (2022) indicates that 9 out of 10 leading organisations have ongoing investments in AI applications. Examples of AI applications in marketing include discovering correlations among the consumer datasets, performing segmentation, clustering distinct groups, and identifying anomalies.
Due to data proliferation and the growing importance of cloud processing and computing power, AI adoption is increasing. It helps brands to analyse real-time data, provide business process automation and engage with clients and employees. AI has been identified in IR4.0 as one of the key economic growth activities in the Malaysian government’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 and a driver for the 10-10 MySTIE framework.
In addition, AI can be classified as one of the technologies under United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 to achieve its three pillars of economic, social, and environmental sustainability.
From the consumer perspective, one of the most popular or widely known applications of AI is in voice and text-based digital assistants which are commonly known as chatbots. Such conversational marketing is able to build connections with consumers and create a better experience.
According to a survey conducted by Salesforce (2022), 88% of consumers indicate that experience provided by the company is as important as its products or services. These digital assistants perform a wide range of functions such as handling consumer enquiries, providing product recommendations, and making online purchases across various platforms such as on the company’s websites, mobile apps, or via other platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
Brands should consider built-in AI capability in software, applications, and websites such as AI-powered tools from tech giants like Microsoft Azure AI, Google AI, and software such as Adobe Sensei, IBM Watson Assistant, and Salesforce Einstein Analytics. The available options make it easier for marketers to evaluate and understand if it could be something useful that could be directly applied to help in their current marketing strategies. Consequently, this may involve the considerations of hiring an in-house expert or purchasing a system/solution that can be customised and maintained by the provider.
It is essential for brands to know if their data is clean and big as machine learning needs sufficient data to learn and perform optimally. AI can be a vital element of a company when there is participation from people in the organisation at all levels, from CMO to junior executives. It is also critical for the organisational culture to be receptive to AI, have processes that allow the collection of best cases from the industry, and is able to run experiments to continuously build and improve.
When it comes to implementation, marketers must begin by breaking down the goals along the customer journey process – from creating awareness to after-sales support. Thus, AI can be used in email marketing to propose email titles based on outcomes such as open rate, and in programmatic advertising such as media buying based on the outcomes such as engagement rate.
Marketing campaigns’ performance will improve over time as the machine learning algorithm tracks and learns to present the best possible content, including mixing and matching in real time to improve customers’ experience that not only increases sales but boosts customer satisfaction and loyalty.
While there is no denying the continued growth of AI in businesses, it is also important to not forget the importance of human traits such as curiosity, empathy, common sense, humanity, and creativity which are unique to humans. The AI is as intelligent as you build it as the output is defined by the parameters you define and the data you feed into the system. Sometimes, common sense and experience might serve the purpose better than having to use complicated algorithms for AI.
It is important to not lose the focus that AI should benefit not only the business but also the well-being of consumers at large. Marketers need to ensure the ethics of AI in marketing are upheld, where customers will not be accidentally disadvantaged due to parameters that are defined in the algorithm.
In addition, marketing is about your brand and the connection that you form with your customers. Hence, AI can work together with your existing marketing strategy for maximum positive impact on customers and the company’s bottom line.
Taylor’s Business School is the leading private business school in Malaysia and Southeast Asia for Business and Management Studies based on the 2022 QS World University Rankings by Subject.
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