How artificial intelligence will super-charge marketing

19 February 2019

The general consensus is that we’re still decades away from reaching what’s known in artificial intelligence circles as “the singularity” – the point where machines surpass humans in terms of overall general intelligence. In the meantime, however, we’re constantly reminded that this is the trajectory we’re on. AI is having an ever-increasing impact on our lives as the technology makes exponential strides on a number of fronts. Around the world, intelligent technologies are increasingly being employed to reach and interact with customers and potential customers. It’s a trend that’s set to redefine effective marketing.

Introducing Justin

For some insights into where AI in marketing is headed, we spoke to Justin, Head of Growth for GrowthBot, an AI-powered chatbot developed by HubSpot. Justin has written about how chatbots will significantly change marketing and in an up-coming post we’ll explore the subject of chatbots with him and learn more about the work being done with GrowthBot.

But on the subject of AI’s impact on marketing generally, Justin points out that IT research firm Gartner currently has AI in the “peak of inflated expectations” section of its popular Hype Cycle – meaning that it’s yet to reach its full potential. And while we’re a long way from achieving “artificial general intelligence” and the Singularity, he says there are a lot of “narrow use” AI applications being deployed, including some of the ventures HubSpot is working on.

Apart from chatbots, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated at dealing with customer queries, Justin says there are significant developments being made in terms of using AI for text analysis in the marketing space. “AI has a lot of applications in this area. For example, there is some really interesting work being done around analysing copy on websites, trying to suggest ways to improve it to increase conversion rates.”

Will marketing jobs disappear?

Given these developing technologies and a number of other AI applications in marketing, are the jobs of those working in the industry doomed? Justin doesn’t think it’s that simple. “It depends. The marketing space is quite diverse in terms of the spectrum of work that’s required to be done. By and large, any type of repetitive work, or work that doesn’t require any customisation or human input, is always at a huge risk of being replaced by AI, including in the marketing space,” he says.

“People who are employed to check for things like grammar and sentence structure are being replaced by software like Grammarly, but on the other hand, the likes of marketing strategists, brand strategists – those responsible for pushing out campaigns that speak to the emotional needs of people – I don’t think that sort of role is going to get replaced any time soon. I don’t think there is a risk of that happening in the next couple of decades.”

In a recent HubSpot webinar, AI marketing expert Paul Roetzer said the technology presented opportunities for marketers to push their companies, and their personal careers, to new limits. “The way I look at it for marketers right now is, it can be your competitive advantage, within your career. For your brand but also you as an individual. The more you grasp it and what it's capable of doing, and the more you start finding ways to do things more efficiently in driving performance. You may replace some of the tasks you probably hate doing anyway [and] you're going to be a better marketer.”

Tapping into AI’s marketing potential

Taking the first steps towards incorporating AI into a marketing strategy can be daunting, but Paul says rather than viewing the concept as overwhelming, the solution is to commit to learning about the technology’s potential. From there it’s a matter of picking a “single use case” as a starting point, he says. “Look at which things you spend the most time and money doing that are really time intensive and that maybe are really inefficient, or they have a bunch of data involved. And say, could I intelligently automate this? Is there a tool to intelligently automate this task?”

In closing

AI is bringing exciting developments to marketing practice and businesses that understand and embrace the technology’s potential stand to reap the benefits.

Further reading about AI in marketing

Artificial Intelligence in Marketing and Advertising – 5 Examples of Real Traction

AI Is Changing Marketing As We Know It, And That's A Good Thing

The Robot Revolution: Why Marketers Must Prepare for the Rise of Artificial Intelligence

How Will Artificial Intelligence Impact Digital Marketing in 2018?