By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.
Artificial intelligence has gotten a bit of a black eye in recent weeks:
— CNET posts a story on its website using an AI text generator and the content turns out to be riddled with errors, though CNET says human editors did review the material;
— Wide media coverage has focused on another, newer AI tool, ChatGPT, through which professors have caught students asking AI to write essays for them, raising questions about plagiarism and cheating.
CNET and college officials say such problems are fixable and that they’re on it — perhaps they’ll do so by using artificial intelligence itself.
As CNET, colleges and many companies nationwide already have learned, AI has contributed to much of how business is done today, with unlimited growth potential that has been barely tapped.
It’s estimated that companies spent $341 billion on AI software, hardware and services worldwide in 2021 and that annual number will climb to $500 billion by 2024.
Larger companies already have invested in AI specialists, while many smaller companies are turning to their marketing consultants to help them trek this brave new world. Salesforce says only 29% of marketing leaders used AI in 2018 — but that number ballooned to 84% of marketing leaders by 2020.
Artificial Intelligence: A Man-Versus-Machine Debate
What is artificial intelligence, also known as machine learning?
We like software kingpin Adobe’s definition of AI:
“Artificial intelligence marketing tools can help you make key, data-driven marketing decisions more easily. By gathering data and analyzing it rapidly, artificial intelligence can make a number of quick tactical choices that would take us humans far more time and effort.”
In other words, it’s sometimes best that machine gets the honors in today’s man-versus-machine world. Adobe notes that AI software can perform — or already does — such tasks as data analysis, economic and consumer trend analysis, media buying, content creation and content personalization.
As for marketers using artificial intelligence?
Adobe notes: “The expansion of AI marketing offers the potential for double-digit improvements in outcomes: 41 percent of marketers say that AI leads to higher revenue generation from email campaigns, as well as a 13 percent improvement in click-through rates.”
Other Examples of How AI Is Already Used Today
Bernard Marr, a strategic business adviser, best-selling author and self-described “futurist,” wrote in a recent post for Forbes that “there are so many tools with AI features that we are used to using without even thinking about it.
“ …The most frequently used social and search engine advertising solutions, email marketing platforms, e-commerce solutions and tools designed to assist with content creation all provide functionality that taps into what we refer to as ‘AI’ in business today.”
Take email marketing, for example.
Much of email marketing is about tweaking headings, scheduling and copy, all “in order to impact those all-important open and click-through rates,” Marr says.
Some AI-powered tools already exist to help in those very email marketing areas, he adds. They include Phrasee, which automates the creation of subject lines for emails; Seventh Sense, which optimizes the timing of sending emails; and, rasa.io, which makes it easier to create personalized newsletters.
“Small differences in the language that is used can make the difference between an email getting identified as one of the 148 billion spam emails sent each day and snared by a filter,” Marr says, or “making its way through to the intended recipient at a time when they are open to suggestions on what they should buy.”
Adobe identifies content creation and chatbots as two other areas in which AI has appealed to marketers and their businesses.
“Artificial intelligence tools can help automate many types of content creation, such as automatic posts on social media when your company announces a new product,” Adobe says. “AI tools could also help you craft responses to prospect emails or social media messages based on the content of the queries that prospects send.”
Adobe cites how the American Marketing Association tested artificial intelligence by integrating it with the group’s email newsletter. “Collaborating with rasa.io to personalize thousands of subject lines based on member data, this helped drive subscription rates by 42 percent, which is a massive uplift to be proud of.”
Chatbots, meanwhile, use AI to conduct real-time conversations with users and “offer a great way to personalize the customer experience and ensure that customers get fast answers to common questions without calling customer support,” Adobe says.
“Chatbots can help guide customers’ purchasing decisions by making personalized recommendations or responding to common sales objections associated with a product.”
Here, Adobe cites the example of popular beauty supplier Sephora, which has been using AI chatbots since 2017.
“It can be hard to find what you’re looking for with a wide variety of cosmetic choices,” Adobe notes.
“Sephora’s chatbot started with a simple quiz to help users find the product they were looking for. It has seen so much engagement that they have rolled it out across other messenger platforms.”
Despite the recent, fixable black eyes we’ve seen about AI in the news, look for companies to roll out more and more of the machine-made material on their platforms in the years ahead.