AI is what everyone knows, but few understand. From fearing the software is snapping up jobs to believing its best use case is one-and-done product recommendations, the conversation around AI is notoriously confusing. The issue is, AI is innovating faster than ever; and marketers who aren’t quick to jump on board risk being left behind when it comes to delighting and retaining their customers.
For brands, this uncertainty arises because the AI they’ve seen hasn’t been the most trustworthy player. For instance, while AI may be widely used, it’s often relegated to the less important content—never the hero piece. On the other hand, many customers feel uncertain about AI’s function, usually because what they hear is convoluted and confusing.
While many AIs could have drawbacks, marketers need to ensure they don’t toss the champagne with the cork. AI is here to stay, and the best solution is finding a trustworthy tool, understanding it, and using it strategically to balance marketer creativity with data-driven technology.
Building Trust in the Brand-AI Relationship
Brands are often wary of trusting AI with anything above the fold. Instead, it’s often used for supplementary content at the bottom of the communication, almost with the expectation of minimizing negative effects when the software makes a mistake. What would it take for brands to use AI as the hero of their digital communications? Seeing undeniable results through fresh content that serves customers long-term.
Creating Fresh Content
Everyone has received the marketing communications that just parrot back what you’ve already done. Think of the customer who views a pair of boots, only to immediately receive an email that “suggests” that exact same pair.
If this is all AI can do, then marketers are completely right to avoid using software for their most important content. After all, merely repeating a customer’s already completed action is no way to engage them long-term.
But not all AIs rely on repetition to get the job done. When AI powered personalization can produce never-before-seen experiences that marketers know their customers will love, only then will brands trust AI.
Here, Inkredible Home uses AI for their email from top to bottom. After noting the customer’s previous activity in adjacent product categories, creative decisioning is used to generate editorial content within the hero image. Not only does the AI predict that this image will resonate with the customer, it also exposes new product categories—in this case kitchen appliances— that encourage further brand discovery.
In the body of the email, personalized product recommendations are displayed, complete with real-time ratings and reviews to leverage social proofing. To finish it off, an enticing deal sits at the bottom of the email, with the image, title, and CTA reorganized for every customer’s individual preferences.
Keeping a Long-Term Perspective
Most AIs focus on sales, not marketing. Often, they’re used as the final push a customer needs to make a purchase, rather than as a tool to foster a long-term relationship. In a time when loyalty and retention are more important than ever, this sales-first type of AI simply isn’t going to cut it any longer.
A trustworthy AI looks ahead. Instead of putting the next sale above all else, a reliable AI will generate truly helpful content encouraging continued engagement: the north star of marketing.
By producing content that inspires customers to organically choose the best products, rather than relying on price-points alone, it’s a double win for both consumers and brand retention rates.
Collaborating, Not Competing, with AI
Often when brands don’t trust AI, it hits really close to home. There's a misconception that AI is here to replace human intelligence, when in reality, it’s meant to be a partner. Similar to any successful partnership, brands must first understand how to collaborate effectively.
Take a typical marketing email, where a team ideates and invests in a high-quality creative. Without AI, the buck stops there—the brand has a great creative, but it’s a one-and-done piece that still resonates with some customers more than others.
With AI, brands get exponentially more use out of their creative investments. Using AI, marketers can generate variations—both within the image and the subject line—that allow them to reuse a great creative through generated variations. With marketers and AI working hand-in-hand, the two can send truly personalized communications that can be used multiple times, maximizing on investments and saving valuable time.
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Building Trust in the Customer-AI Relationship
Customers may have the misconception that AI is a little too close for comfort, unhelpful, or a combination of the two. This again comes into play when communications simply mirror what customers already know, resulting in repetitive messages.
Customers need an AI that hones in on listening, rather than bombarding them with a high volume of messages that do not resonate. With an AI that prioritizes learning about the product, the customer, and the world, it will better adapt and ultimately lead customers down a stronger loyalty journey.
AI Powered Personalization That Learns About the Product
To recommend a product, you’ve got to know the product. If an AI fails to learn about the product itself—from its features to how customers react to it—it’s akin to friends suggesting an item that they’ve never used, but they promise is great.
For an AI to make helpful recommendations marketers must ensure the tool they’re using is continually learning about the brand’s products. Only then can truly tailored, trust-building recommendations occur.
AI Powered Personalization That Learns About the Customer
In the same way, the greatest product in the world can’t serve every customer. It doesn’t matter how cute and comfortable those shoes are, if you only have a size 8 in stock and your customer is a 9, it’s simply not going to work.
To mitigate this, an AI must ask strategic questions and continually adapt based on incoming responses, rather than telling customers who they are and how they should respond. How is this carried out? A/B testing.
With every message, a sophisticated AI can adjust the next send to better suit each customer’s tastes and follow-up with more questions that help the tool get to know them better. By creating a culture of learning before sending, customers and marketers alike will see messaging grow increasingly nuanced and accurate.
AI Powered Personalization That Learns About the World
The AI software customers need not only performs with long-term goals at the center, but generates messaging with the big-picture in mind.
Think of the current economic climate. That’s a global phenomenon that impacts virtually everyone in some capacity. Or take something as simple as the season—few want swimsuit recommendations in the dead of winter. This is why it’s crucial for an AI to also continually learn and adapt to bigger trends, ensuring your brand’s messaging always hits the mark.
Some have been operating under the false assumption that AI is either unhelpful or invasive. This is far from the case, and the bottom line is that marketers shouldn’t oust AI altogether, but instead ensure they choose the right software to help them meet their goals and serve customers better than ever.