AI and automation lead the show in marketing today

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The adoption of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) continues to grow, accelerating workflows, reducing manual efforts, driving decision making, and making the impossible possible: targeted, personalized, and scaled-up digital experiences.

IBM found that 80% of companies use automation software or plan to use automation software in the next 12 months. Fifty percent of McKinsey respondents report that their companies have embraced AI in at least one business function. Both capabilities are more sophisticated and accessible than ever. Automation platforms that were previously only available to large marketers have been democratized and easy to use. Most come packed with built-in AI tools or the option to easily add AI through third-party integrations.

The machines now run the show. Today’s marketers rely on automation and artificial intelligence to guide profitable customer journeys, meet rigorous performance goals, compete, and go to market.

Martech expands from execution to optimization

Traditionally, martech assisted in the execution of digital campaigns. Today, automation and artificial intelligence, when harnessed and maximized by human experts, are at the center of creation, execution, evaluation, and optimization.

Through sophisticated and easy-to-use analytics, predictive modeling, AI recommendations, and experimentation, martech is now directly influencing digital strategy and creating powerful opportunities. The machines tell marketers what to do to improve performance.

Experimentation (such as changing the layout of a web page, improving information hierarchy, adding content recommendations, reducing web form complexity, testing visual cues) accelerates decision making through proven optimization. Replace long-term, potentially bureaucratic decisions (which may not return desired results) with agile and iterative improvements.

Digital experience platforms build on this concept and are packed with web experimentation tools, optimization-as-a-service capabilities, and customer data platforms.

Run an experiment, make a change, measure efficiency, and continually improve digital strategy. Replace guesswork and intuition with engagement and performance data. When optimizations fail, they fail quickly and the strategy turns. This is the future.

Related article: Decision vs. Orchestration: What’s the difference?

Where do humans fit in the world of AI-powered digital experience?

Until the rise of robots, experts running digital experiences are as critical to their success as technology.

A digital strategist is the driver: setting campaign goals, devising experiments, creating content, determining measurement plans, aligning goals, and making results-based decisions to fine-tune strategy and performance.

Marketers and executive leaders must understand the data inputs that power machines, algorithms, and experiments, and how they are used. Never blame machines for disappointing results or rigor. Instead, go back to the data and are always learning, turning, and optimizing for better results. Each test and each campaign produces information to better inform the next.

More and more machines may run the show, but people run them. Investing in your team members, vendors, and partner agencies ensures that you’re taking advantage of all untapped opportunities and maximizing your technology investment.

Feeding the Machines

Proper feeding of machines accelerates success and future-proofs your business. Focus your efforts on these three critical areas:

Better data

Marketers know that comprehensive and actionable data drives digital strategy. Activate messages, build predictions or experiments, offer recommendations and inform decision making.

It is hardly easy. The rigor of data privacy continues to put marketers to the test, users are increasingly sensitive to data disclosure, and tech giants like Google change their data policies on a whim (like removing third-party cookies ). In fact, Forrester found in 2020 that 32% of global marketing decision makers said that managing data quality was one of their organization’s biggest challenges with marketing programs.

Marketers must continue to rely more on source data sources and obtain explicit user consent. The more reliable the data, the better the performance and repeatability of the campaign.

Clean, quality data drives better marketing for both machines and the digital experts who run them.

Better culture

To take advantage of all the opportunities and optimization, marketers must adopt a data-centric culture of experimentation.

They must be willing to experiment and have the permission of their executives to quickly fail and turn around. Leadership must speak out and commit to this permission, removing bottlenecks or red tape that get in the way of fast and agile action and iteration.

New insights, innovations, and opportunities are the direct result of trying something new, measuring its success or failure, and tailoring the strategy to make it more compelling, relevant, and useful to each customer. Make experimentation a cultural priority.

Related article: Data-driven organization is an endangered species

Better basics

This area is frequently overlooked, affecting customer experiences.

Investing in powerful solutions from martech is a drain on money if the overall customer experience is frustrating and full of friction. Google’s recent Page Experience update is a direct nod to getting these essentials right, or risking losing search visibility to your competition.

Website speed, mobile experience, engaging and personal content, and SEO are the minimum fundamentals that all marketers must prioritize to get right. If you don’t, you won’t have an audience to participate in in the first place.

Embrace the unrealized potential of automation, artificial intelligence, and experimentation

Automation, artificial intelligence and digital experimentation provide modern marketers with robust capabilities and information that reflects science fiction.

By combining these powerful technologies with actionable data, bold and empowered teams, and strong fundamentals, companies can scale execution, solve challenges, accelerate performance, and tap into unlimited unrealized potential. Tame the machines, beat the competition.

As CEO of Whereoware digital agency, Michael Mathias leads Whereoware’s strategic vision and culture of innovation, comprehensive digital marketing, and flawless performance. Mathias comes to Whereoware with an impressive track record accelerating business growth at all stages, with experience in marketing, software, professional services, big data, analytics, and technology.

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