Not so long ago, technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning were just in sci-fi movies. Now, with the rising of sophisticated smart devices like smartphones and voice assistants, we’re getting closer to a reality where artificial intelligence and machine learning play an important role in our lives.
What is Machine Learning? And Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a field of computer science that involves machines with human-like intelligence. Their abilities include speech recognition, problem-solving, and learning. Machine learning is a large sub-field of AI, referring to the statistical techniques that enable computers to “learn” something new without being explicitly programmed to do so.
How does AI work?
AI is already a part of many people’s lives and maybe already a part of your life too — whether you realize it or not. Amazon’s Echo (a.k.a. Alexa), Google Home, and Apple’s HomePod (with Siri) are perhaps the three most popular products in the thriving field of AI assistants. It’s estimated that Amazon has sold about 25 million Echo devices up to now, and they expect that number to go double or more by 2020.
These AI assistants products understand spoken commands and speak in humanlike voices using natural language. They are able to improve the lives of consumers by can offering help for a wide range of things from providing weather forecasts to taking on time-consuming tasks like comparing options and making suggestions. If you’re busy and overwhelmed by all the choices available in the market, AI assistants definitely can come to help, like ordering frequently bought groceries when they run low, or suggesting local restaurants based on your preferences with the best deals for you. In short, it’s very likely that AI will be of great importance in the lives of consumers in the soon future.
What does it mean for marketing?
The rise of AI and machine learning is causing changes in marketing. Traditionally, consumers purchase the brands that they remember and prefer. Now they can ask the devices to purchase specific brands – the brands they remember and prefer as usual, but also can ask the devices to compare and make suggestions. The devices will compare data like quality, price, and value to make data-driven decisions.
All of this means more competition. Machine learning will help AI assistants shape a consumer’s preferences, so these devices will become even more discerning when choosing products. Big companies will have to be more active, keep up with trends and innovate to continue staying ahead of the game instead of just enjoying their market portion or past reputation. Marketers will have to target the devices instead of consumers: they need to be tech-savvy to understand and influence AI algorithms in order for the device to purchase it. Marketing will also become even more personalized as companies totally focused on targeting the right consumers for their products.
How can you apply AI to your retail marketing?
Invest in your content
When it comes to helpful information about your brand and products, the more, the better. Start with a content marketing strategy, then publish a wealth of interesting and helpful information that AI can learn and choose from on your website, blog and social platforms. Also, such content helps establish you as a knowledgeable industry leader and encourages AI and humans alike to take notice.
You should also make sure that your content marketing is optimized for organic search. By 2020, it’s predicted that 50% of searches will be voice search and because only one result is surfaced in a voice search, it’s important that all of your content (and website) uses SEO best practices.
Personalize voice skills
Up to now, many big brands have created their custom skills for Alexa. For example, Tide’s Stain Remover skill provides voice instruction for removing over 200 types of stains, or Ask Purina skill offers up detailed information on various dog breeds to help dog owners find the right breeds to fit their needs based on the criteria they provide. If you’re interested in diving into the Amazon Voice Marketplace, you or your developer can build your own new skill for Alexa through Amazon.
Get personal with customers
Personalization can still be a highly effective way to engage your customers, even if a major AI strategy isn’t in the cards for your business right now. Aim to deliver customized, personalized content as much as possible — you can start by simply slicing and dicing your email lists into different target segments and send appropriate content for each segment.