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Until Robots Destroy Us All (!), 'AIM' High With AI Marketing For startups looking to enhance their viability, AI presents lucrative opportunities. Want to get started?

By Q Manning Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

John Springer Collection | Corbis | Getty Images

Ask Elon Musk about the future of artificial intelligence, and he'll likely claim that the robot apocalypse is right around the corner. That's a terrifying proposition. Fortunately, it's not supported by other tech moguls like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, both of whom believe that Musk's points are not only overblown, but also destructive.

Related: Is Your Startup Ready for Artificial Intelligence?

Beyond all this contentious rhetoric, the point is that AI is already here, and it's capable of accelerating the business world. Nearly 60 percent of marketing leaders surveyed by Salesforce believed that AI will play a major role in marketing campaigns. So, for startups especially that are looking to grow their viability and expand their consumer reach, AI presents lucrative marketing opportunities entrepreneurs simply can't ignore.

While AI may have begun as a thought experiment relegated to computer science or robotics contexts -- both real and imagined -- marketing and growing a product's reach have become a major deployment for it these days.

So much so that it now has its own segment label: artificial intelligence marketing (AIM).

"AIM" at marketing success.

So how does AIM work? Every business needs high-quality lead generation to reach its target consumers, and marketers can deploy an AI lead-generation tool such as Growbots that analyzes an ideal consumer profile and discovers the right types of leads from more than 200 million system contacts.

With those leads, AIM can then help organizations create personalized messaging, content and campaigns, and it can analyze that content's effectiveness. Here, artificial intelligence marketing is particularly apt, because AI can extract patterns or insights from data sets. So, it's not surprising that companies such as Netflix use AI to analyze how people utilize its content and then suggest pricing models or new content on the basis of these behaviors.

Unlike a salesperson or marketing manager, AIM isn't subject to human error: It never "forgets" to contact consumers, for example; it even contacts them at precisely the right time with a topical message.

Overall, AIM has massive advantages for marketers, but all this information doesn't do entrepreneurs any good if they can't integrate it successfully into their organizations' marketing platforms and reap these benefits. The followinge three steps are a good start for incorporating AIM into your own marketing campaigns:

Related: Rethinking Chatbots: They're Not Just for Your Customers

1. Start simply but robustly.

When dealing with any dynamic concept, it's a good idea to start small but comprehensively. At a minimum, all websites and mobile applications should be integrated with Google Analytics, just as, according to a 2017 W3Techs survey, 54 percent of websites already are. While not the most deep-thinking tool available, Google Analytics is pretty user friendly, and it offers a solid set of monitoring capabilities to help entrepreneurs understand how people interact with their company's content.

To take AIM to the next level, entrepreneurs should next consider using a product like Mixpanel, which automates much of the user-interaction research regarding user behavior. Apart from just tracking usage, Mixpanel also gives automated insights into how consumers use its software; it offers suggestions, taps into push notifications, tracks consumer engagement and can even do a deep dive of the marketing "funnel," pinpointing where consumers are dropping off and why.

As if this weren't enough, Mixpanel also assists with A/B testing, which is an excellent tool for entrepreneurs to analyze and evolve their marketing processes, to combat the increasingly dynamic marketplace.

2. Don't ignore costs.

In the end, all the AI technology in the world can't supplant a startup's bottom line, particularly when that line may be more fragile and shallow than many more established businesses'. Entrepreneurs need to research what the best fit for their needs is and allocate marketing dollars appropriately.

Once the domain of bloggers, reasonably priced, content-producing tools like Wordsmith and Quill are now being used by even venerated institutions -- such as the Associated Press -- because they're excellent ways to keep costs down while driving effectiveness up. By defining a set of data parameters and then creating a first draft that can be refined later by marketing experts, these tools can save startups a ton of time and money. The Associated Press, for instance, saw a 12-fold increase on quarterly earnings stories when using Wordsmith over manual processes.

Even better, these tools can be enhanced with other platforms such as Boomtrain that can help entrepreneurs use that content to optimize their website, applications or email campaigns and foster consumer engagement.

3. Use data to supplement creativity.

While AI platforms such as Mixpanel offer vital insights into consumer obstacles -- and give them to teams in real time -- they're never a substitute for human creativity, especially when it comes to solving problems or overcoming product obstacles. One of the best ways to hone that creativity, though, is to keep teams in touch with consumer responses. Automated services such as Campaign Monitor, ActiveCampaign and Contactually can keep your teams in touch with consumers by offering updates, reminders and touchpoints.

For a deeper dive into the consumer experience, AI startups such as Revuze, Aspectiva, SmartMunk and SentiGeek can actually analyze consumer responses through a variety of ways, identifying opinionated words and phrases or aggregating reviews. It can help creatives experience how a product functions and might evolve.

And while it's your human employees who are the ones making the final determinations for something like a product redesign, without this immediate and in-depth AI information, creatives have to play catch-up instead of being able to react and respond to the market much sooner.

Related: 6 Steps to a Dynamic Multichannel Marketing Strategy That Gets Results

With AI offering so many possibilities and opportunities, entrepreneurs who don't capitalize on the opportunities offered by these relatively lost-cost tools, to craft more effective and more lucrative marketing campaigns, are simply missing the boat.

So, yes, one day, the world may indeed be taken over by a sci-fi-like army of super-intelligent robots. And that's a scary thought. But, for now, that possibility remains many years away. In the meantime, we have decades of opportunity in which AI can serve us. So why not take advantage?

Q Manning

CEO, Rocksauce Studios

Q Manning is CEO of Rocksauce Studios, which crafts custom mobile apps for all platforms. Rocksauce Studios’ goal is to create an amazing user experience that can succeed in the marketplace when that experience is coupled with powerful, eye-catching app marketing.

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