The Financial Services Forum hosted their annual Martech conference recently, which allowed guests to be a part of a comprehensive journey through the marketing technology ecosystem as it stands today. Panellists spoke covering everything from the base level of organisational culture, governance and project buy-in, to automation, AI and staying on top of the technology trends that all marketers should know about in 2023 – and beyond.
White Marble’s Andrew Scott and Ross Treleaven used their time at this event to discuss marketing automation and its evolution alongside artificial intelligence. The relationship between marketing and technology, as well as the capabilities of AI in relation to automation, has dominated headlines of late.The terms ‘AI’ and ‘automation’ are often used interchangeably but in reality are distinct technologies. Automation involves using machines and software to automate tasks that would typically require human intervention. Automation tech can vary, encompassing robotics, computer software and AI, and its main goal is to increase efficiency, reduce errors and enhance productivity. In contrast artificial intelligence involves machines imitating human intelligence to perform tasks that typically require human capabilities. AI tech utilises algorithms, deep learning and neural networks to analyse, interpret and learn from data, enabling it to carry out tasks without human intervention. To put it simply, automation is the ‘doing’, whereas AI is the ‘thinking’.
So, could AI aid marketing automation? I believe AI could be an extremely assistive tool and, as we know, marketing automation is vital for the following reasons:
- Generating leads, at scale
- Allowing the sales team to focus on high-value leads
- Supporting personalisation at scale
- Bringing sales and marketing together
- Delivering data which fuels insights
- Paving the way for AI.
AI is interpreted as assistive in its ability to recommend, optimise and generate content, yet the quality of its output is highly predicated on the quality and governance of data. Poor, incomplete or incorrect data sets can lead to inaccurate recommendations and activities being suggested by AI functionality. However, accurate and well-sourced data can be vital for improving personalised experiences. The value of personal experiences and how they can affect ROI have been well-proven. Artificial intelligence can streamline this process, saving time, money and resources – as seen with engagement scoring, which is able to help marketers understand the relationship between their audience and their brand. Using historical data, AI can be used to predict the engagements of your audience with email campaigns, whilst also categorising subscribers into groups that may have similar activity habits. Marketers can therefore create specific email marketing journey decision-splits that treat each customer type differently.
Engagement frequency helps marketers understand the optimum frequency for communications within a pre-defined time-period to specific audience types. This approach allows marketers to understand how send frequency affects engagement, and tailor their tactics to customer requirements via a simple marketing automation decision split, entirely managed by AI. An example could be running a journey with a series of emails; you may consider suppressing some email communications to the over-serviced group and then reaching out via a different medium, such as SMS.
Finally, AI can score and interpret the best-performing day and hour to send your email communication to each individual contact. Overarching human control still means that you can select the time parameters that must be adhered to, but this advisory role from AI demonstrates extreme utility. Emails are delivered at the time each customer is most likely to open them, resulting in improved engagement and conversion rates. This function can be built into marketing automation email journeys as an action or trigger to be considered before an email is sent, giving you an advantage over your competitors.
In conclusion, using AI in marketing automation can provide marketers and businesses with the distinct advantage of understanding their customers better, removing friction and in turn providing a more intimate client experience.