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How AI Is Driving Marketing Automation AI is consolidating the many tools we use to create and manage customer experiences.

By Albizu Garcia

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Busakorn Pongparnitm | Getty Images

Marketing automation is a rapidly growing industry set to expand by 8.55 percent this year, increasing market capitalization to $5.5 billion by 2019. Given the benefits, it's not surprising that more than half of companies use some form of marketing automation already.

As the industry grows in the next year, we can expect to see some particular trends in how marketing automation utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to better target customers. AI is already widely used in marketing automation, for some very compelling reasons. Here's a look at the most popular use cases.

To reach more people.

AI allows marketers to engage new customers who match their existing customer profiles more efficiently. Customers' interests, buying habits, and past interactions can be combined to give sales teams a vast pool of data to analyze and filter down to likely targets. This allows marketing to be more efficient and enables companies to build highly-targeted content.

Email marketing, ad content, social media marketing and search engine optimization all benefit from the intelligent analysis of customer data that would not be possible without the processing power of AI.

Customer retention

An even bigger challenge than finding customers is keeping them. Customer retention is the basis of every company's success, so continuing to provide value and relevant content is key.

AI enables companies to remain up-to-date with minimal input, bringing customers tailored content, personalized recommendations, and providing one-on-one human-like assistance with chatbots and virtual assistants.

Related: 3 Pillars of Client Retention Every Brand Needs to Implement

Increasing efficiency

Chatbots are a vital tool in increasing efficiency while decreasing overhead costs. A chatbot can use personalized information for each customer it speaks to, allowing it to provide real-time, valuable assistance or service in a targeted and friendly manner.

AI allows this increase in efficiency while enhancing user experience through personalization and timeliness. The majority of consumers are now familiar and comfortable interacting with chatbots.

Related: 4 Uses for a Chatbot That Will Transform Your Business

Trends to watch in 2019

More and more companies are being drawn to marketing automation, and as they are, they help to define the important developments in the industry. 2019 promises to be an exciting year of growth for AI in marketing.

Trend 1: Voice and visual searches

Organic search opportunities continue to be very lucrative for companies. Slightly more than half of product searches currently originate on Amazon, but there is a growing trend in voice and visual searches using IoT devices.

More and more devices have smart speakers; 55.5 percent of customers owning such a device use it to search for products vocally, and 44.2 percent use it to purchase. Savvy marketers are now focusing on generating content to capture voice searches to unlock this expanding market.

Visual searches are also on the rise as the technology behind them improves. Facial recognition is at the tip of the iceberg. Reverse image lookup is another related and emerging technology that's sure to grow rapidly in the next year.

Trend 2: Improved customer experience

Whether it's through personalization, automation or chatbots, customers expect a very high level of service. Tailored content is now so widely available that it is becoming the norm, and companies not using ML and AI to deliver unique messaging to each consumer are suffering.

The good news is that using this technology is not limited to brands with a big budget. Any company can deploy automated marketing campaigns based on AI to enhance their customer's experience.

Trend 3: Predictive lead scoring

Predictive lead scoring uses factors such as demographics, social information, online posts and behavioral data to analyze potential leads and assign them a score to predict whether the lead is qualified or not.

This enormously enhances the efficiency of lead generation and allows marketers to create and deliver content targeted at exactly the right people. Lengthy efforts to identify and tier leads can now be completely automated.

Related: 5 Innovative Ways to Automate Your Sales Processes This Year

Trend 4: Enhanced integration

Many people now use a variety of devices throughout their day, and the lines between different types of marketing are beginning to blur.

To the customer, the distinctions are meaningless, but the key is integration. Companies need to offer a seamless experience between devices and across multiple channels so that their customers are well catered to and so that opportunities are not missed.

The big majority of retailers -- 87 percent -- state that having an omnichannel strategy is critical or very important to their success. AI is increasingly vital to this effort because it allows companies to utilize all of their customers' data regardless of the source and to provide the same level of customization and service across all platforms their customers use. Without AI, the workload to achieve this is prohibitive.

The numerous possibilities that AI offers do not have to be overwhelming. As AI continues to develop and integrate into the world of marketing automation, marketers will find it increasingly easier to consolidate the many marketing tools they use to create and manage customer experiences.

Albizu Garcia

Co-Founder and CEO of Gain

Albizu Garcia is co-founder and CEO of Gain, a marketing technology company that automates the social media and content approval workflow for marketing teams.

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