Targeted marketing used to be a huge data challenge. Before the rise of the Internet and artificial intelligence (AI), marketers scoured for customer data to implement marketing campaigns to a targeted audience.
Today, people surf the Internet, they use apps daily, and keep in touch on social media. Through all of these interactions, data about who they are, where they are, what they’ve been reading, watching, clicking on, and posting about is quickly gathered up and filed away for digital marketers.
Targeting people based on age, interests, affiliations, parental status, sex, socioeconomic status, and location is now commonplace. It’s just what marketers do. It’s their job. To some, the fact that they can be tracked is creepy. There’s a feeling that “Big Brother” is watching over people gathering up secrets. The fact is that personal data being up for grabs is the new reality for anyone who has moved past paper planners, written checks, and personal letters sent via snail-mail to Google calendar, online banking and bill pay, and email and social media.
Digital marketing becomes much more powerful when not only do you have data as a foundation for targeting consumers, but when, through the use of artificial intelligence, you can learn your customers habits and market to the behaviors you know they’re likely to exhibit.
How does this work? Google, Facebook, and other platforms already keep track of your online surfing and feed you ads based on your interests, websites you’ve visited, posts and likes, and more. When you’re shopping online and add an item to your shopping cart and click away, you may receive an email asking if you’re ready to return and buy that item. Or a digital ad for that item may follow you around the Internet as you look at various websites.
Do you own a Google Home device or an Amazon Echo? Every time you use it, your questions and purchases are tracked so Google and Amazon can market to your unique preferences later. Remember that book you purchased by asking Alexa to complete the purchase? Don’t be surprised if Amazon later recommends books for your reading list by the same author or about similar subjects. This is artificial intelligence through digital marketing at work!
AI is moving fast. The technology is rapidly improving. Imagine ordering a meal from your favorite restaurant using their new mobile app. Today, that app can look at your past orders, see the food and drinks you’ve ordered previously, and suggest items during a new order you may want to try based on your preferences. For the restaurant, this is an awesome opportunity to target new products to the people most likely to buy them. Or the app might remind you about an item you do want to order but forgot to add to your cart. In this case, artificial intelligence is affecting your order in such a convenient way that you may not even notice or better yet, may appreciate. It’s a true win-win for the business and the consumer.
To sum up, with artificial intelligence, behavior is tracked so digital marketing experts can focus on the things consumers are most likely to want not just now but in the future. For advertisers, it means targeting marketing dollars directly to the people and behaviors most likely to result in new revenue. For consumers, it’s having the products and services you may care most about, based upon your behavior, reaching out to you on a daily basis.
Is AI creepy? Maybe. Is it convenient? It sure can be. But it means that companies need to go above and beyond to make sure their digital marketing efforts are seen as a benefit, not a nuisance. That it makes people’s lives easier, not harder. That it doesn’t annoy their customer but adds positive elements to their online experiences. The customer will ultimately decide who’s successful and who’s not.