How to Strategically Use AI for Marketing
Updated: May 3
I recently stumbled upon a LinkedIn post from a marketer that said: “In the future, the success of marketing teams will be determined by those who use AI and those who don’t.”
While it makes for a nice emotional hook, I completely disagree with this take.
The hype around AI is real. The current AI market in the US has a value of nearly 100 billion dollars and is expected to grow to nearly 2 trillion dollars by 2030. Many of the world’s biggest companies are investing in and expanding their AI capabilities, including Google, Microsoft, GE, and others.
To me, it’s abundantly clear that everyone will use AI in the future. As it pertains to marketing, the success of your team will not be determined by whether or not you use AI. Instead, success will be determined by how you use AI. But your marketing team shouldn’t wait to figure this out in the future. You need to figure it out now.
What is AI's Purpose in Marketing?
The overarching purpose of AI in marketing is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your team’s operations and output.
AI allows marketing teams to optimize their campaigns, streamline operations, and gain valuable customer insights with greater speed and ease. With machine learning and predictive analytics, marketers can create more personalized campaigns that resonate with their audience, resulting in increased engagement and ROI. AI can also reduce manual labor and automate routine tasks, enabling marketers to focus on higher-level activities.
Regardless of how many impressive AI-powered bells and whistles are made available to marketers, it is critical for us to understand that AI is a supplement, not a cure. AI will not fix a bad marketing strategy - nor will it make a bad marketer a good one.
AI should be used to support your marketing efforts, but it should not be relied upon as the sole solution. Instead, you should look for ways to leverage AI to improve and enhance your marketing functions.
Researching and Choosing AI Tools
When considering AI tools for your marketing team, it's crucial to start by identifying the key areas of need within your functions. This might involve assessing current marketing processes and identifying pain points or areas where AI could help drive greater efficiency or effectiveness.
Once areas of need have been identified, marketing teams can begin researching the different AI tools and technologies available to them. This should involve conducting due diligence on different vendors and assessing the capabilities and features of different tools to determine which ones best meet their needs.
When evaluating AI tools, it's important to consider factors such as the level of automation they offer, the accuracy and reliability of their predictions, and their ease of use and integration with existing marketing systems. Marketing teams should also assess the vendor's track record and reputation, looking for evidence of successful implementations in similar industries or use cases.
Finally, it's important to ensure that the vendor has robust data security and privacy policies in place, as well as strong customer support and training resources to help teams get up and running with the technology. Too many tools lack this and it can make things a nightmare down the stretch.
💡 Tip: It’s very easy to waste time, budget, and quality on cool new toys. A little math and due diligence will go a long way here.
Applications of AI in Your Marketing
There are hundreds of AI tools introduced each month. Some are incredibly useful, while many others aren’t (like the bot that is intentionally awful at chess). Since we're all for being useful, let's focus on the more impactful applications of AI in marketing:
Research/Analysis: AI-powered tools can be used to collect, organize, and analyze customer data, social media trends (such as most engaging times to post). AI is particularly helpful in collecting data and insights for a competitor landscape analysis of your market.
SEO: AI can help optimize website content and structure for search engines by analyzing search data and identifying the most relevant keywords, topics, and phrases to include. You can even use ChatGPT to organize keywords into categorized lists and create templates for link-building outreach.
Content Marketing: You can use AI to improve written content by fixing typos and grammatical errors, or using it to generate ideas for your blog posts. But do not rely on AI to do all of the writing for you. Your content should be as profound and authentic as possible.
Email Marketing: AI-powered tools can help optimize email campaigns by analyzing performance data and engagement rates. You can also use tools to test and improve headlines, copy, and automation workflows based on customer behavior.
Media Production/Editing: AI can be used to expedite and optimize multimedia production. For example, you can automate creating video clips from longer videos, master podcast audio, and create transcripts that can be repurposed for blog content.
Paid Media: AI-powered tools can help optimize ad targeting and bidding by analyzing customer data and performance metrics. You can also use AI to test ad copy and creatives for split tests. This can help marketers create more effective ad campaigns that deliver better results and ROI.
💡 Tip: There are more AI tools than we could ever count. Some will prosper, but most will not. Invest 75% of your AI strategy into tools with staying power. Use the remaining 25% to experiment with others.
Developing an AI Implementation Strategy
Once you’ve ironed out your tools and use cases, you’ll need to shift your focus to implementation.
In order to successfully implement AI tools, marketing team leaders must consider the trifecta of human control, cost, and time.
First and foremost, it's essential to ensure that humans remain in control of the AI. It is ultimately your team’s responsibility to make strategic decisions based on the insights provided by the technology and ensure that the quality of its output is up to snuff.
Secondly, teams must consider the cost of implementing AI, which can range from the cost of acquiring the technology to the cost of training employees to use it effectively.
Finally, time is a critical consideration, as the overall time that the technology saves you must significantly outweigh the time spent implementing and operating it.
A successful implementation is one that balances the trifecta and uses it as a triple threat. If you forego that balance, you can find yourself with even more challenges than you had before. Do not try to find that balance through trial and error. You need create a formal implementation strategy for the tools you’ve chosen. This will prevent unwanted surprises and keep your objectives on the rails.
Creating a measurement plan is essential for your marketing team to effectively evaluate the impact of your AI tools. A measurement plan helps define key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with the overall business objectives and SMART marketing goals. For example, a KPI for an AI-powered email campaign could be the open rate, click-through rate, or conversion rate.
The measurement plan should also include a clear definition of success criteria, such as the percentage increase in conversion rate compared to the previous period or a specific benchmark. Once the KPIs and success criteria have been defined, your team can track and analyze the results to measure the impact of the AI tools. This will help them identify what’s working and what’s not.
In addition to evaluating the performance of the AI tools themselves, your measurement plan should also take into account other factors that may impact the campaign’s success, such as external market trends or changes in consumer behavior.
By using a measurement plan, your marketing team can ensure that its AI implementations are delivering the desired results and making a positive impact on the business.
What’s Your AI Strategy?
AI will be a mainstay in marketing for many years to come. All companies, including your competitors, are already implementing AI into their marketing strategies. That said, simply using AI will not determine success. But how you leverage it will.
Developing a sound AI strategy has become crucial in staying ahead of the game. Now is the time to experiment and refine. Don't fall behind.