Should You Trust Artificial Intelligence in Marketing?
For all its controversial biases, artificial intelligence comes out as the best tool for marketers.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
AI-based marketing tools allow teams to derive insights from the data collated and available, and the decisions based on insights from these tools offer customized and completely personalized offerings. AI technologies allow data collection, analysis and additional observations of trends and situations that can impact and influence both the customer and the marketing team.
Related: What Is an AI Writing Assistant and How Can it Help Me as an Entrepreneur?
Benefits of AI
One of the most significant benefits that AI offers for marketing is personalization that paves the way for a much more agile response mechanism and hence an excellent customer relationship. AI tools provide a much more comprehensive range of opportunities for outreach and better customer experience. The use of AI in marketing strategies is widely about three things: intelligent segmentation using good data analytics, creating a connection based on this segmentation and then delivering customized and personalized messaging to each segment.
With support from ML and predictive analytics tools, the best target group can be identified in clear preference segments. This cut and dice activity is made extremely sharp with these three tools, and each point of preference is clearly identified for every segment and target group.
The granularity of the details that AI can provide is impressive and makes it very easy to target these segments with their personalized messaging and product. As a result, marketers can craft a unique and personal customer bond. Establishing relationships with the target market on their terms is a massive flex in B2B marketing.
The fact is that there is really no choice for having AI in marketing anymore. It has been around for some time and has also proved its worth in better marketing at a much lower cost.
Related: The Next Trillion-Dollar Business You Haven't Read About Yet
Challenges for AI
However, AI also has its challenges and limitations, which could be significantly undesirable. Apart from the inherent biases that AI suffers from, there is the vital matter of customers not being comfortable with bots at the other end of the line.
Even though AI is widely accepted as an intelligent replacement to humans, any communication with a non-human for marketing actually becomes a bit of a hurdle in establishing relationships. The good news is that AI will always need a human at the backend to make decisions, be creative with conversations and be imaginative enough to forge a bond with the customer segment.
Then there is the matter of doubts on the complete trustworthiness of a machine-based algorithm. An AI tool may have several inherent drawbacks that can actually wreak havoc with marketing communication despite its apparent benefits. These could go well beyond racial biases or even geographical ignorance. A wrongly placed phrase could lose a customer forever, and that's a situation that an AI tool, trained on machine learning, cannot rush to solve.
Besides, the human psyche is too complex to be fitted into boxed formulae. In fact, business leaders have even opined that AI should be regulated for all the threats it could be posing. There will undoubtedly be a time when customer preferences appear illogical to an AI software tool.
Deploying AI for marketing outreach is never an easy task in terms of enterprise activity. If it has to become a part of the workflow, there is a clear need for deep integration, not only of human-machine operations but also between existing platforms and the new AI tool. If our focus is to use AI to enhance existing capabilities, this integration must be seamless, or it will deliver more negatives than positives.
Another issue could be the privacy and security of customer data when it is in the hands of AI tools, however sophisticated. Even with the newest security covers, there will always be a doubt in the customers' minds about the sanctity of their personal data in the hands of a bot.
Having said that, the new age customers seem pretty much at home sharing their data with bots like Alexa, so if the process displays transparency and robust security controls in terms of data collation and storage, this hurdle can be overcome.
The bigger issue here is about the biases that AI suffers from. Inherent racial, community, language, cultural and even geographical biases could just turn the table on marketing activity. Needless to say, there will be much more to lose than there would be to gain. There are many instances where an AI bias has led to a marketing disaster. But there would be ways around these issues as well.
In fact, there have been ethics and privacy review boards established by many industry leaders, which comprise technical and legal experts, to assure their customers about the AI projects being entirely above board. Then doubts of all kinds can be laid to rest.
Clearly, very little can be done to stop the rapid proliferation of AI in marketing strategies as a critical tool for data insights and segmentation for the proper customization of marketing messages. Industries will find a way around whatever doubts still persist. These doubts are still around primarily because we, as humans, are still a little suspicious of AI, given the statements made in popular media.
AI could take over the human world and rule us — ruthlessly, they tell us. But the reality is that AI, as of now, is only as intelligent as the learnings it has been imparted. Both its flaws and strengths come from that point. It is really in the hands of enterprise leadership to utilize this technology's massive potential for the marketing sector. The benefits are substantial, but the proper leverage will take perhaps decades to be shown.
The remaining question is, should you trust AI for marketing? The answer is obvious: Do you have a choice?
Related: 7 Helpful Hints to Apply to Your Business Intelligence Efforts