If you’re using Siri, Alexa, Google Home, Netflix, Instagram and Hulu, you already intuitively know that most of our digital lives are already enhanced by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
As AI and machine learning continue to permeate our digital lives, marketing is rapidly becoming an AI- and machine-learning data science (which is awesome), and marketing teams must evolve and adapt accordingly in order to gain accurate insights and make ever deeper connections with the customer.
So here are 3 examples on how AI and machine learning are turning marketing into a data science, and most importantly who is looking at this data and making decisions, from content and creative to customer support.
What we see today is a complete streamlining of the creative process with AI helping to identify key elements derived from the data harvested and apply them to the building blocks of creative content such as graphics, video and text, which in turn are integrated in the larger creative frameworks such as website design, image recognition, email content, blog copy, and more. Insight engines will rapidly become the future-proof way for marketeers to source adequate content they can be absolutely sure that their customers will want to engage with.
assistants and natural language recognition
With Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant becoming a part of our mornings and evenings at home and in the car, conversational interfaces are finally establishing themselves as useful consumer technology.
So as an increasing number of consumers are learning and experimenting their digital experiences through bots, modern marketeers will need to understand conversational AI in order to get in front of their own customers more efficiently.
For example, airlines and banks have been using rudimentary conversational AI for the past 10 years. Now today, the list in long of startups working on big data, machine learning and Ai technologies to disrupt and displace customer service by knowing exactly how and when to route incoming client issues.
drop, measure, repeat
Data-driven marketeers today are sitting on piles and piles of data, and making sense of it requires a completely different skillset. What was “guesswork” and the old-school’s “set it and forget it” campaigns even 5 years ago is unacceptable today with the advent of new AI-based tools that are greatly enhancing the marketeer’s arsenal for the better. Today we are using AI to optimize targeting and the date we collect is sued as a training set for future campaigns in an ever-more intelligent data drop-measure-iterate infinite feedback loop.
My name's phil mora and I blog about the things I love: fitness, hacking work, tech and anything holistic.
Thinker, doer, designer, coder, leader.
Head of Product at Sikka Software.
Here's my contact info.
I think it’s best to read this post as an open letter to old-school marketeers who still think that brand advertising is the way to go but see in content marketing the new hip vector to the holy graal of marketing: conversions. It’s not. And here’s why you’re totally missing the boat.
See, the idea goes along the lines that by this point in human evolution, most people know how to ignore ads, but they can’t ignore relationships. To put it simply, do you prefer an ad for a Maui resort, or a pic of two of your friends enjoying a great time at that Maui resort? So the winning strategy today that the “marketing experts” are bringing to organizations is content marketing. Seems to make a lot of sense:
marketers and salespeople realize that traditional ad channels are being tuned out, so they want to turn to content/stories/narratives. But -- do they actually understand what 'content' should mean?
Unfortunately, the traditional marketeer first instinct is to write content and use stories that conform to the brand’s messaging strategy, for example underlining positive brand values and attributes, because they see them as a means to an end - the result is dull and totally highlights the primary disconnect between ‘old-school’ and “new-school’ marketing. See, old-school marketeers are always very concerned with “The Brand”, which is okay, brand is an important intangible (look at any public company’s like apple’s balance sheets under the intangibles line), but the problem is …. the power of the brand is declining … and what’s replacing it is the consumer connection back to what you do.
As an example, see what Facebook does when there is a disaster - they activate safety check so that anyone can easily see who is safe. Connection is important. Snapchat allows you to see things for what, 10 seconds? In those 10 seconds people are truly engaged, though. It's about connection and stories and people and relationships. Bye bye “brand guidelines” and 20th century “processes”.
So, what’s up with content in marketing?
To start with, let’s shift the semantics away from ‘content’ into ’stories’ and ‘value’:
‘what is the value in your brand and/or idea?’ Also remember that it’s definitely not about the product or service itself. It’s about why the product or service makes someone’s life better.
Second, this is definitely not about ads, flyers, white papers, catalogs or articles. Not even trade shows.
This is about producing stories. Real, relevant stuff that will resonate with the reader and that eventually will lead them towards buying things from you. The word ‘eventually’ is extremely important and I am emphasizing this: stories should be designed as the bridge between commerce and consumer (it’s the same whether you’re talking b2b or b2c) ‘what is this stuff and why do I need it?’ and the only way for the consumer to figure this out is 1. talking to their friends and 2. doing research.
‘Eventually’ is also important because this process takes time. Decisions take time. The old-school types are hanging on to conventional revenue plays and abandoning content/story marketing because the ROI is not showing up immediately. That’s stupid. Relationships take time. When done right, they lead to revenue and last forever.
So in the end, modern marketing is all about the art of storytelling and fostering a deep, human connection with your clients. It is the essential difference between boring and soulless content old-school companies continue to create and truly, honestly engaging, nurturing, stimulating your clients with content they want to hear and share - that’s how they will buy from you, and will continue to buy from you forever.
My name's phil mora and I blog about the things I love: fitness, hacking work, tech and anything holistic. Here's my contact info.
Today's marketers are investing more time and marketing dollars in cultivating customer retention, as part of their role helping businesses to generate revenue from customers, both existing and new. Their reasoning: Customer retention is the right bet for a healthy and sustainable company. Research backs that up. According to Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by just 5 percent increases profits by 25 percent to 95 percent.
So, what customer retention tactics are data-driven marketers from leading brands adding to their marketing tool box these days? And which companies are employing them? Here are a few examples.
1. Build trust.
Trust needs to be earned, especially when it comes to interacting and developing a relationship with your customers. In today's world, where every customer is bombarded by information, product placement and ads for myriad products and brands, trust is more important than ever. Once lost, it’s hard to gain back.
So, providing "social proof" from customers of your products' and services' quality -- in the form of online reviews -- is a great way to not only win new customers but reassure existing ones that they’re in good company.
Another way to build (and maintain) trust is to be transparent with customers. Everlane, for example, is a brand that produces durable bags and clothing; it shares all of its cost structure with its customers. By doing so, Everlane educates customers about its mission and builds trust along the way.
Treating customers with respect and keeping them informed when crises happen motivates customers to appreciate your honesty and remember your brand when they make their next purchase.
2. Add real value.
Let's say you have a great product or service to offer. But, are you adding enough value to keep your customers engaged? Adding value beyond features and benefits helps keep customers from moving to competitors offering similar products.
Take Apple: In a crowded PC market, Apple built a product that stood out and became the best-known computer company in the world. How did Apple do this? Instead of focusing on product features, it added value for customers by making its products easy to use. So easy, in fact, that most customers don’t even read a manual when setting up their machines.
So, add value to set yourself apart and keep your customers from jumping ship to a similar product. We can't all be Apple, but as marketers, our task is to know why our products are unique and to help our customers understand why those products add real value to their lives.
3. Don't be afraid to show your personality.
When your customers describe you, do they describe you as a person or an obtuse corporate entity? This is why showing your brand’s personality through your messaging and communication is key. An example of a brand that does this well is Dollar Shave Club.
Dollar Shave Club got started in 2012, with a humorous video. The video has since gone viral and helped launch a successful brand that many of us love. Through its content, packaging and customer service, Dollar Shave continues to stay true to who it is as a company, showing its personality, humor and wit -- which speaks well to any company's target audience.
4. Listen attentively.
Listening to your customers is one of the best ways to keep customers from leaving you! Listening to both good and bad feedback from customers will give you a better idea of what customers really want and need from your brand -- and give you ideas on how to provide it.
Data-driven marketers, then, need to stay informed about the reviews and feedback their customers leave, whether that feedback comes through a call center, tweets (or other social media channel), emails, etc. It is critical that they listen, and attentively, so they can address customers' concerns accordingly. That tactic will go a long way in customers' minds.
5. Surprise and delight your customers.
In the effort to surprise and delight your customers, ask them to take part in product testing; send them promotions on special occasions (think beyond the birthday concept -- and maybe celebrate something like the anniversary of when they became a customer). Let customers in on exclusive “behind the scenes” information. Just make sure that your gestures are there to engage and interest your customers, rather than merely advertise sales.
6. Build loyalty.
Loyal customers are the key to retention, and there are multiple ways to build a loyal customer base. First, however, you need to give customers a reason to remain loyal.
For example, anyone who has purchased from Zappos knows that the company gives customers the VIP treatment, reasoning that treating them well will pay off in the long run (which is right!). Other companies have also realized that strong loyalty programs and perks build loyal customers: Starbucks has a great program that not only keeps customers coming back, but lets them track and manage their "rewards" stars (points) on their mobile app -- a brilliant move, considering that a majority of Starbucks' customers utilize that loyalty program-on-the-go.
7. Don't skimp on customer service.
No matter how great your product is, if your customer service isn’t up to par, you’ll never be able to keep customers. According to Kissmetrics, 71 percent of customers surveyed said they had ended their relationship with a company at some point due to poor customer service. Good customer service means quickly taking action (both reactive and proactive) and communicating with customers on their prefered platform.
For example, if a customer reaches out to you on Twitter, make sure your first interaction also goes out through a tweet or direct message. Customer service is where your brand can really shine, when you set and beat customer expectations.
In today's noisy market, data-driven marketers who understand how to retain their customers will succeed. Customer retention marketing is the most cost-effective way to impact the bottom line of a business. By focusing on adding value, personalizing customer experiences and listening to their customers’ needs, savvy marketers are keeping more of the customers they’ve worked so hard to acquire.
Phil Mora is based in Silicon Valley and AVP Product at SikkaSoft, a health SaaS startup. I specialize in product magic, digital marketing, business development and entrepreneurship. A creative problem solver with a talent for strategic thinking and communication, I combine lessons learned from more than 15 years as a high-tech industry executive with my roots as a software technologist, product developer and digital marketeer. When I am not working on mobile health, I am obsessed with with sports, fitness, wellness, nutrition and anything holistic: you’ll find me at the gym or outdoors training hard. I look forward to connecting with you! </ Here's my contact info>
You've probably noticed that podcasting is having its moment.
Smartphones mean that anyone can host one or download one, and they’re an easy way to pass a boring car commute or some treadmill time. Apple reported that podcast subscriptions through iTunes reached 1 billion in 2014.
Here’s a reason to consider becoming a host, and not just a listener: running a podcast is one of the best ways out there to network. Indeed, it feels far more authentic, and is more effective, than hanging around with your business card at cocktail parties.
Here’s why: Hosting a podcast means you have a great reason to call or email interesting people and ask for their time. It’s not just you wanting to "pick their brain," you’re offering access to (ideally) many listeners, and you’re providing something of value to these listeners. Even big-name people are far more likely to get on board with this concept than meeting you for an informational interview.
"While I didn’t start my podcast as a networking tool, it’s certainly become one," says Joe Saul-Sehy, host of the finance-oriented podcast Stacking Benjamins "I’ve had some incredible fan-boy experiences talking to financial pros like Jean Chatzky and David Bach, artists and thinkers like Austin Kleon, Gretchen Rubin, and Don Hahn. None of those conversations would have happened without the podcast. I’m finishing a book right now and the number of people I can ask for help has grown immensely, which I owe to the number of people I’ve connected with because of Stacking Benjamins," he says.
Podcasting is structured more like an actual chat, with a give and take that deepens a relationship. Says Erik Fisher, host of Beyond The To Do List, "Podcasting is like being invited into a conversation over coffee. It's intimate, informative and a bonding experience for everyone involved."
It gives you a way to network even if you’re not local, or wouldn’t wind up at a conference together. Saul-Sehy lives in the small town of Texarkana, TX, and needless to say, many of the guests he meets through his podcast would never wind up there.
The upside for you and your guests
These connections often pay off directly. Since starting the So Money podcast a few months ago, Farnoosh Torabi reports that she’s been inspired "to up my professional game" and the podcast has "earned me a richer network. The podcast is intimate, too, so when we talk, we go deep. We share personal stories about money and in the end, you feel like you've made a friend. And in some cases, those relationships have helped me take my business to the next level." Online marketing guru Robert Coorey spent "many generous hours" walking her through a digital product launch, and 4-Hour Work Week guru Tim Ferriss called her up to offer advice on how to improve downloads. "Who would ever have thought Tim Ferriss would be calling me on my cell phone?"
The process of getting to know people also makes you a better networker generally. Portia Jackson hosts the Working Motherhood podcast, and has interviewed over 300 successful working moms. "Having an interview-based podcast has also helped me in offline networking as my conversation skills have improved and I now have an easy ‘in’ to talk with people I would have otherwise been slightly intimidated to approach," she says. Even if a person you want to talk to will never wind up being a guest, your take-aways from other interviews give you great fodder for small talk.
Of course, there are some complexities involved in getting started in podcasting, and developing an interview style, and getting your first few guests. If you have any big name connections, you might want to start with them until you get your first few thousand regular listeners. Then you can approach bigger name people you don’t know yet. But if they say yes, you will get to know them—and do it in a way that provides something of interest to other people at the same time. That’s what good networking is all about.
Phil Mora is based in Silicon Valley and AVP Product at SikkaSoft, a health SaaS startup. I specialize in product magic, digital marketing, business development and entrepreneurship. A creative problem solver with a talent for strategic thinking and communication, I combine lessons learned from more than 15 years as a high-tech industry executive with my roots as a software technologist, product developer and digital marketeer. When I am not working on mobile health, I am obsessed with with sports, fitness, wellness, nutrition and anything holistic: you’ll find me at the gym or outdoors training hard. I look forward to connecting with you!
</ Here’s my contact info >
i blog about the things I love: fitness, hacking work, tech, Experiences and anything holistic.
> I am the Head of Product and Head of AI at Sikka Software.