If you are a business owner who has yet to embrace AI for marketing purposes, it may transform how you operate your business.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fast becoming a regular part of our daily lives. What we once thought impossible – the ability of machines and computer systems to think, understand language, solve problems and make decisions – is now an everyday occurrence.
It has been a relatively quick progression from the first whispers of building intelligent machines to the world we live in today, which is heavily immersed in AI. We use AI to open our phones via facial recognition, cut through the spam in our inboxes, recognise fraudulent activity in our bank accounts, effortlessly discover products and TV series suited to our personal tastes, and respond to the most mundane of domestic requests via virtual assistants.
In 2023, AI has far more applications than simple personal use. It’s also an incredibly helpful tool for healthcare, agriculture, astronomy, transport and, of course, business. In fact, embracing AI for marketing purposes – as long as you understand its uses, costs and benefits – could transform how you operate your business.
How to Leverage AI for Your Regional Marketing
Oxford Reference defines AI as ‘the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages’.
It has rapidly progressed since Alan Turing’s 1950 paper ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’, and the breakthrough Logic Theorist program created five years later by Allen Newell, Cliff Shaw and Herbert Simon.
The AI journey has been punctuated by impressive developments and frustrating challenges. But as the memory and speed of computers continually advances, so do our AI capabilities.
AI for marketing
AI can be incredibly useful in business in many different ways across various sectors. In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, generative AI’s impact on productivity could potentially add trillions of dollars in value to the global economy.
Its recent report, ‘The economic potential of generative AI: The next productivity frontier’, proposed that current generative AI and other technologies may be able to automate work tasks that currently absorb 60–70% of employees’ time.
AI can be particularly helpful in marketing activities for businesses. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways business owners can embrace AI for marketing purposes.
AI can quickly and effectively generate creative content for marketing, including product descriptions, email marketing campaigns and social media content. For example, ChatGPT can help you generate keyword ideas, as well as initial drafts of social media and email copy. AI’s language capabilities mean it could also translate generated content into different languages if needed.
It's important to note that generative AI can be considered spam or plagiarism by Google. (In fact, any AI-generated content is against Google’s guidelines.) So it always needs to be rewritten and edited before publishing.
Example: GrammarlyGO, generative-AI for content generation
Business owners can use AI to collect data and gain better insights into their customers, their preferences and their buying behaviours. Not only does this allow them to understand their needs better, but also allows for better personalisation.
AI programs can also collate data from various sources into a cohesive source of information. This, in turn, allows for a better understanding of consumer behaviour.
Example: SEMRush Market Explorer, market data collection
Because of AI’s impressive data collection abilities, businesses can segment their audience and tailor advertising material that considers their individual preferences, tastes and past behaviours. This allows for a far more targeted approach with a higher chance of sales conversion and customer loyalty.
Email campaigns can also be segmented with both written copy and visual imagery tailored for different audiences.
Example: Rock Content, AI persona builder
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
AI can assist with SEO for businesses via technical aspects such as image tags, URLS and more. Experts believe that AI-powered analysis can help businesses better understand search trends (and, therefore, customer trends). Predictive AI may eventually be able to forecast future trends that will allow businesses to better identify content that appeals to their target audience.
Example: Surfer SEO, AI SEO tool
Search personalisation for e-commerce
Time-poor customers typically appreciate recommendations based on personal preferences and past buying behaviour. Using this information to suggest specific products to customers can help businesses with better conversion rates. AI tools can assist with this process.
Example: Vue.ai, AI-powered personalized search solution
Online shoppers will be well aware of the handy little chatbots that pop up on websites when you are considering a purchase. They can quickly answer customer questions, help with sales issues, foster engagement, upsell and collect data from leads – which all ultimately assist with sales conversions.
Chatbots can automate your marketing process around the clock, but be sure to back this up with a real person when necessary.
Example: Lyro by Tidio, AI-powered chatbot
AI programs can help businesses identify the most effective channels for advertising, depending on the needs and interests of their particular target audience. This can help to funnel advertising spending more effectively.
Example: Albert.ai, Optimises advertising campaigns
One of the great advantages of AI is that it helps save time in many areas of our lives, including business. Employees can use AI to automate their marketing tasks, such as scheduling ads or email campaigns and managing social media posts.
Example: Motion, To do list application
Benefits and drawbacks of AI for marketing
Harnessing AI for marketing purposes comes with many benefits for businesses, particularly those located in regional areas where access specialists or support can be more challenging. But there are also some things to be aware of, including some drawbacks to current AI tools.
- Maximises a small team
- More cost-effective for small business owners
- Automation of tasks means employees’ time can be allocated elsewhere as needed
- Personalised content will appeal to your local audience
- Targeted marketing will help you to find the right customers
- Less time spent generating ideas for marketing
- Can support consistency of tone and brand voice
- Understand your valuable customers better
- Boosts customer engagement and retention
- Supports better time management
- Content creation is not yet perfect and will be considered spam by Google. Employees will still need to edit copy drafts to ensure that Google considers it to be written by a human, and check that all elements are actually correct.
- Time and money. Setting up and maintaining AI tools for business could potentially consume significant time and money.
- Copyright and plagiarism. AI content tools simply scrape information that’s already out in the digital world. Businesses must ensure that generated content does not commit copyright violations or include plagiarism. While many tools have plagiarism checkers they usually come with additional fees. And free plagiarism checkers don’t always catch everything, though they are certainly a good place to start.
- Expertise and thought leadership. AI can’t yet think or make intuitive leaps. You will need to continue to share your expertise and thought leadership.
- Perception. You will need to consider your local regional audience’s perception of AI, e.g. how they feel about chatbots answering auto questions or dealing with chatbots.
- Privacy concerns. ChatGPT, for example, is a learning platform, and the information you input is used by it and ultimately becomes publicly available. While this can now be managed via settings (in some cases) your target audiences may have valid privacy concerns.
- Lack of empathy, emotion and creativity. AI programs are not the same as real employees, and depending on your business, the lack of emotion and creativity could impact your business.
- Personalised content. AI is still not good at capturing personalised content. Tone and style is very individual, and it’s not quite able to sound just like you yet. In addition, it struggles to use information gathered from other sources, such as interviews, in a way that is relevant and useful to the reader.
AI can help you look to the future
AI is an ever-growing field that is likely to continue experiencing major advancements in the future. Utilising AI for marketing currently offers many benefits for regional businesses, such as efficiency and time management, which is particularly valuable for small teams. However, it also carries risks. It’s worth thinking about and exploring to see how it can help you now and into the future!