Hackernoon logoThe Promise of Marketing Automation Has Always Been AI by@j_r_wi11iams

The Promise of Marketing Automation Has Always Been AI

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@j_r_wi11iamsJesse Williams

It’s Time for Something Better Than a More Complex Decision Tree.

With the rise of SaaS and PaaS applications, marketing automation has become the backbone of modern marketing. It allows us to offload repetitive tasks and keep users engaged with our product in a customized and humanized way. It also makes data interpretation at scale possible and makes the visualization of that data a breeze.

These automation systems have brought us a long way, but there is still a lot lacking.

A More Complex Decision Tree

Currently, marketing automation systems are comprised of if/then decision trees. The majority of these decisions are triggered by the behaviors and actions taken by the lead or customer. There are major pros and cons to this.

To a user, this can feel like a custom-tailored in-product experience. But in reality, it’s the careful massaging of evergreen content and merge fields. If a user doesn’t fit into the persona that the automation sequence was created for, it will feel irrelevant and intrusive.

To limit the room for error, marketers focus on their largest segments and hold fast to the saying that you can’t please everyone.

The biggest con is that automation systems age — and they don’t age well. Businesses are already at a disadvantage when it comes to keeping up with the internet. In fact, it’s almost impossible to keep our human assets informed and up-to-date with trends, emerging tech, and user sentiment. Keeping an archaic decision tree disguised to mimic a human is a battle that is lost before it even starts.

What We Want Marketing Automation to Be

Like the title of this post implies, we’ve always looked to marketing automation as a pseudo AI. We’ve been sold the dream of a set it and forget it automation system that auto-magically interacts with our leads, slowly leading them through our sales pipeline.

We see the numbers and user data and quickly realize that the value depends on the employee who’s interpreting it. We transition from season to season, forgetting to update our flows to reflect business focuses, scratching our heads about how we missed out on an end-of-year campaign to snatch up some unused budget.

The simple truth is that, as automated as we’ve become, we’re really not automated at all.

A Solution: AI Powered + Marketing Automation

We’re all aware of the capabilities that modern AI platforms. Thanks, IBM Watson. Now, imagine that same level of intelligence is applied to your marketing automation software.

AI integration opens up an entirely new world for marketing professionals. It lifts the restraints imposed by ridged one-size-fits-all campaigns, empowering automation to become a customer-centric experience.

Imagine the ability to create a custom nurture flow for every individual customer who enters your lead funnel. Now, add the ability to automatically spin up A/B tests based on second-by-second data interpretation.

On top of all of that, add in the ability to be aware of business climate changes like the end of fiscal years, company reputations, emerging trends, human behaviors, and even holidays.

Ultimately, you find yourself with a customer success manager for each and every potential client that enters your funnel. The days of lead scoring would be over and sales reps would be alerted to reach out to their opportunities at the exact moment of highest conversion potential.

Use Cases for AI in Marketing Automation

Data Interpretation at Scale — Identifying trends among thousands of pieces of data is a time-consuming task. AI has the ability to interpret data at scale in real-time, identify trends, and respond to those trends.

Custom Content Curation and Delivery — The marketing world has been tossing around the power of custom content curation for years without discovering a practical solution. AI has the ability to curate content based on perceived interests that are far beyond the ability of a content tagging and categorization strategy and deliver that content at just the right time.

True Behavioral Analytics and Actions — We like to believe that we are currently embracing and taking full advantage of behavioral analytics. In reality, we currently use behavioral analytics more like traps or benchmarks scattered along the customer journey. With AI, we remove the guesswork and can make decisions based on even the most insignificant behaviors.

Realtime Geographic and Sociographic Responses — Depending on your industry, the ability to respond to geographic and sociographic changes can make or break your company. Unfortunately, responding in a timely manner can be impossible and requires constant monitoring. With AI, we no longer miss opportunities that are outside of our ability to plan and forecast.

Personalized Tone and Messaging — One of the biggest frustrations of marketing automation is its lack of human resemblance. Mass email communication comes across dry and lifeless. AI has the ability to bring a human tone into the email interactions with leads.

In Conclusion

With all of the potential of AI, it’s only a matter of time until it takes its place at the core of marketing automation systems, allowing them to deliver on their original promise. But, once it does, the life of the marketer will shift ever more away from design and copy and further into data management and system administration.

This post was originally published in the Mindbox Journal.

About the Author: Jesse Williams is a young entrepreneur, husband, father, technologist, and SaaS marketing expert. You can follow him on Twitter and learn more about him and his projects here.

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