4 Reason Why Your B2B Brand Needs to Get On Board with AI!
Whether you realize it or not, artificial intelligence has infiltrated our everyday lives and it isn’t limited to story lines from HBO’s award-winning Westworld. B2B and B2C brands are leveraging artificial intelligence to enhance customer service and offer buying recommendations. It powers consumers' searches via personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa.
A recent Adweek article cited research that eight out of 10 B2B marketing executives believe AI is poised to revolutionize the marketing industry by 2020. Yet, a gap exists with those B2B and B2C marketers who have actually adopted it. Read on for tips on how to integrate this technology into your marketing strategy in order to accelerate business growth.
What is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning?
Broadly, AI systems analyze data related to a task and determine how best to complete it. A ZDNet article says it best, “AI systems will typically demonstrate at least some of the following behaviors associated with human intelligence: planning, learning, reasoning, problem solving, knowledge representation, perception, motion, and manipulation and, to a lesser extent, social intelligence and creativity.” Machine learning works together with AI. While AI at its core refers to a computer’s ability to make decisions based on human logic, machine learning is how a computer evolves to learn without being programmed.
Tip 1 | Power Faster Customer Service
Brands effectively using AI and machine learning are powering customer service to handle basic customer questions and complaints, and anticipate what people are looking for based on how they navigate a website. For simple tasks, AI can often meet customer needs faster than a brand’s customer service rep. It can also seamlessly access customer data to create personalized experiences. Ally Bank’s integration of their banking services with Amazon’s Alexa allows their customers to control their bank account from an Alexa device to check bank balances and more.
Tip 2 | Hyper-Personalization
Technologies such as AI and machine learning are powering personalization meaning a brand can truly create a deeper relationship with its customer. Deloitte’s 2018 Travel + Hospitality Outlook report takes a close look at what it means to create “personalized moments that matter.” The report states whether it is in the digital or physical realm it’s all about, “…the willingness of a business to go above and beyond to provide their customers with experiences and services tailored to individual needs and preferences.” This forward-leaning technology can enable large brands that serve millions of customers the ability to interact with customers in a more tailored and intimate way – similar to the personalized feeling of engaging with a small business. This hyper-personalization ensures that the right promotions and the right messaging reach the right customers at the right time. While this isn’t a new concept, machine learning improves the capability.
This isn’t limited to brands with an eCommerce presence, but within retail events or at a key customer sales events, tradeshow or similar. The data and learning can support better in-person interactions between a brand’s employees and their customers. For instance, knowing that a customer from a high profile global account is at an event can trigger an employee to stop in, say hello, thank them or offer their favorite wine or invite them to a special VIP lounge or similar transaction.
Tip 3 | Prediction of What Customers Want
You’re probably most familiar with AI’s capability to make purchasing recommendations based on your shopping history, distinct interests and browsing behavior. Amazon is the most well known brand doing this with claims of over 50% of sales being driven by it. Netflix utilizes AI and machine learning to analyze how viewers consume movies and entertainment. This concept also applies to any B2B brand. Predictive modeling can help identify seasonality focused on buying patterns and planning for inventory management during heavy shopping periods.
Tip 4 | Data Insights + Content Development
Brands rely on data from market research to inform their decisions. (Check out this article if you need a market research planning checklist). If you are soliciting information through surveys, there are services that use AI to place your ads in front of interested consumers. Data mined from social media services can be easily untangled with the help of machine learning classification algorithms that can group distinct users into specific customer segments. That same data can also be analyzed with techniques like sentiment analysis, which try to determine preferences and feelings about topics and brands. This will help brands fine tune the topics brought forward with their content strategy and editorial calendar. For more on AI and content marketing check out this article.
Brands, AI, and the Future
AI is not a crystal ball that can tell you what to do. It must be part of a greater strategy that is anchored in a deep understanding of your brand. You must have clarity around your B2B brand’s vision, a value proposition and purpose. It’s important to remember that you cannot use tools like AI to help you build a B2B brand -- it can only help accelerate the growth of B2B brands when a solid marketing foundation is in place.
AI is not a crystal ball that can tell you what to do – you have to direct it in a productive way with a deep understanding of your brand meaning you have clarity around your brand’s vision, a value proposition and purpose.
However, if used carelessly, AI can result in damage to your brand. Multinational consumer brands like Coca-Cola and Starbucks found themselves in hot water when they relied on Google’s ad algorithms to place their advertisements on YouTube videos. Google themselves had not adequately trained their algorithms to filter out videos with offensive content. This led to Coke ads appearing on videos featuring inappropriate content misaligned with the brand’s values. If misapplied, AI can do just as much harm to a brand as good.
Is Your Brand Ready for AI?
Most importantly, it may become a competitive imperative to employ these techniques. With the rate at which hardware is becoming more powerful and the rapid pace at which AI software is being improved, business applications of AI will become more widespread and sophisticated. Is your B2B brand ready for AI? If not, you might find yourself floundering as your rivals enhance the competitiveness of their brands through smart use of AI.
About Carolyn Kopf
Carolyn Kopf is the founder and managing partner of C.E.K. & Partners, an Atlanta-based market resarch and branding firm. We're trusted by Fortune 500 companies, innovators, category disruptors, start-ups and nonprofits to bring their brand vision to life. Our hand-selected team of senior practitioners holds expertise that spans custom research design, brand strategy, content creation, media relations and creative design.
Carolyn can be contacted at 404.345.6447 or via email at email@example.com
 Deloitte’s 2018 Travel + Hospitality Outlook