How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Digital Marketing in 2018

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Artificial Intelligence, once the reserve of Sci-fi movies, is now a fully-fledged reality. And an immensely important part of business growth for brands and organisations looking to future-proof themselves. The market for machine-learning applications is estimated to reach £30 billion by 2020, according to the International Data Corporation. AI is here to stay. And in the digital sphere, these rapidly advancing technologies have already begun to transform the way we market products and services to our customers. Let’s take a look at the use of AI in digital marketing in 2018.

1. Hyper-Personalised Experiences

From the Business of Fashion: “companies that effectively deploy the right technologies will be able to enhance their competitive advantage by personalising products and shopping experiences.” It’s true – increased personalisation is closely linked to retention and artificial Intelligence opens up huge new possibilities when it comes to tailored online experiences. For a little while now, ahead-of-the-game brands have been using geographical location data to deliver homepages merchandised to best target individual users. Which products are the top sellers in the visitor’s location? What season are they shopping in? But AI gives us the power to go beyond a homepage curated for a specific segment of customers and create a homepage specifically for, well… you. Let’s look to luxury label Diane von Furstenburg, who recently transformed their eCommerce, as an example. Working with localization platform Qubit, DvF now have a mobile feed that’s curated based on AI and tailored to the customer. The homepage feed will show complementary shoes or accessories to match a previously purchased style. And everything they see will reflect sizes and styles similar to their preference. We can see here that AI is facilitating something beyond what was previously available – instead of catering to the needs of the customer, we can now anticipate them.

2. Augmented Reality

AR was a natural evolution of VR because it’s far more accessible (and, well, actually commercially useful) for brands. Previously, both had been used in a way that we might have called out for being too “gimmicky”. But more recently, businesses have found a way to utilise AR in a way that added to their customer’s experience as opposed to distracting from it. The early adopters were, of course, the beauty brands – it makes sense for an industry where returns and exchanges are something of a sore spot for both customers and retailers. Apparel retailers have followed suit and, at the beginning of this year, Amazon launched a “smart mirror” that virtually overlays clothes on to a customer’s reflection. Similarly, Gap and Google collaborated on a digital dressing room. AR is sort of a win-win. It could help to eradicate the immensely frustrating try– return – wait for refund part of the customer’s experience and reduces costly dead stock for retailers. It’s likely to become a non-negotiable aspect of UX design over the next five years, so the race is now really one between Amazon, Apple and Google to corner the market.

3. Facial Recognition Technologies

JD.com has recently announced that it will be opening hundreds of unmanned stores, which will use facial recognition technology to register payment for products. These advancements also open huge opportunities in the digital landscape as well. This kind of enhancement actually addresses two extremely significant factors that prevent users from making it all the way through to purchase. A clunky payment path is widely understood as one of the main reasons that customers drop off before converting, as are concerns with security. Seamless payments through a system that only accepts money from people with your face? It’s a no-brainer, really.

4. Chatbots

The chatbot is a natural and intuitive interface that can help to enhance your user’s journey. Brands including H&M, Sephora and Estee Lauder have all introduced chatbots over the past couple of years and there’s a huge opportunity to stay ahead of the game here. A chatbot can mean removing the obstacles that prevent a customer from purchasing. Offering payments through your chatbot which are processed without taking the user away from the app is likely to boost conversion. Your customer wants to receive information while they are shopping. Machine learning means the potential to present relevant information to the customer at key points in their journey. As an example: the customer adds a product to their basket but realizes that they’d forgotten to check the delivery time. The bot steps in to offer up this information a second time and the user’s journey isn’t disrupted – they get the information they need and head straight through to checkout.

5. Voice Technologies

Again, a natural evolution of the chatbot, new voice technologies present the opportunity to enhance your customer’s shopping experience. This is an immensely intuitive interface (intuitive in the sense that humans are literally hardwired to interact in this way) which will allow your user to interact and ask questions throughout their experience. Comstar predicts that half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, so optimising your site or app for voice search will become hugely important. Effective SEO in the voice landscape will mean knowing your customer or audience in a much more personal context. To truly integrate your brand into their lives, your service will need to be able to respond to conversational search terms. They’re likely to be different to the terms used for search. Put simply, you’ll need to find out how your audience talk IRL. We can see here how technologies that once seemed like novelties are quickly becoming viable, or perhaps even essential commercial tools. And the market for AI is only picking up pace. The future is artificial intelligence. Make sure you’re on board.

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