As you may have heard, artificial intelligence has taken the marketing world by storm, increasingly saying “hasta la vista” to the hands-on, human approach that has been an integral element to marketing since the days of “Don Draper” and Albert Lasker.
Of course, there’s a great reason for this. AI Marketing leverages behavioral data and machine learning to anticipate a user’s future behavior and improve the customer journey. Sounds great, right?
Many brands and advertisers emphatically say yes – and those who don’t are a dwindling majority. According to recent studies, 78% of marketing decision makers say they plan to adopt or expand AI marketing platform initiatives, while 49% intend to incorporate machine learning into their Customer Journey.
Why? Well, it works, of course. AI Marketing has produced brand uplift of 20-50% for many advertisers, while showing the potential to double conversion rates. The machines are taking over because they work and are frequently more effective than the hands-on approach.
So, are you ready to hand over your marketing budget to an algorithm and watch the magic happen?
Not so fast.
Human Predictability vs Human Psychology
There’s a good reason AI Marketing is so effective. Because artificial intelligence can quickly process massive amounts of behavioral data on the fly, it excels at picking up the minute, ancillary indicators that help it “understand” what a user is most likely to do next. In other words, past behavior informs future potential behavior and aims to capture that future behavior with the right messaging at the right time.
But does artificial intelligence actually understand human behavior? They may accurately predict a user’s actions, but are they capable of understanding why a user acts?
Take, for example, the parable of the three bricklayers: A passerby encounters three men laying bricks and asks each what they are doing. The first man says he is laying bricks. The second man says he is putting up a wall. The third claims he is building a cathedral.
Each man is performing the exact same action, but each gives a different answer. Why? Because each man has a different reason – or purpose – for their actions.
Now imagine you’re trying to market to these bricklayers. Artificial intelligence sees them all performing the same action – they’re all likely to continue laying bricks and be interested in how they can lay bricks more efficiently. AI Marketing would select messaging that bricklayers tend to respond to at the highest rate, based on the previous behavior of bricklayers.
But will the man who imbues his bricklaying with the dream of building a cathedral respond to the same content as the man who sees his task as a simple job to be done?
The answer, obviously, is no. We respond to content that speaks to our ambitions and sense of fulfillment – not just our short-term needs.
Authentic Intelligence In Marketing
You’re likely not marketing exclusively to bricklayers, but your audience also has unique motivations and concerns that better inform their actions than predictive behavior ever can. The advancements in AI-driven personalization marketing have created a system in which the content we see feels catered to us, but machines can only interact with us on their levels – essentially treating us as robots who carry out the same programming over and over again.
This is why the human element of marketing will never be made obsolete. The aforementioned Albert Lasker is considered the forefather of modern marketing because – in a time where advertisements were more akin to factual news articles than the aspirational ads we know now – he was the first to write ad copy that attempted to persuade the consumer to purchase. He understood the human psyche well enough to know that a consumer is more likely to purchase a product they are convinced will better their lives than a product that simply lists its function.
Amidst all the technological advancements and integrations of AI in our daily lives, we’re still the same people we were in the 20th century. Our true concept of personalization extends beyond our similar behaviors and into the aspirations and goals, inadequacies and fears, challenges and achievements that collectively embody our self-perspectives. These are insights into the very nature of human behavior that machines can never master. Just as computers break down our behavior into data points, only a human can break down our behavior into intention and purpose.
The Customer Journey = A Human Journey
What’s this all have to do with you? Well, if you’re planning to invest in AI Marketing, go ahead, invest away. Artificial intelligence is an incredible tool for marketers and in this ever-changing landscape, brands and marketers alike need every tool at their disposal to stay competitive and capture the attention of their audience.
However, while your audience may respond to automated messaging, they are not automated beings. The ads they respond to aren’t based solely on behavior, but their reasons for that behavior as well. Your marketing efforts should account for those intentions.
That’s where the strategy of a seasoned marketer can make the most difference. Like AI marketing tools, marketers also start with data, but also instill our understanding of human psychology on top of that data to highlight why different users behave in different ways. It allows us to coordinate messaging to those users that speaks to a) their unique concerns and hopes and b) how the unique value and image of your brand directly speaks to them. The intersection of what the user wants and how they feel about your brand is where marketing campaigns reach the pinnacle of success.
AI marketing is a fantastic tool at the hands of marketers who understand the why to compliment the when/how of artificial intelligence. As you prepare to delve into AI marketing for your business, make sure you don’t lose sight of the human touch which makes strategic marketing so effective to begin with. Reach out to Anvil Media if you’re concerned with how to best implement AI into your marketing initiatives.