Communicating through bots

Using AI to add life to your next marketing communications campaign

Posted by Robin Wyers on September 25, 2019

SHARE THIS 

Automated help chats, voice-activated devices and augmented reality are just some of the platforms where artificial intelligence (AI) can be applied in industrial technology marketing communications.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the way in which marketing communications is being conducted. Whether the evolving technology is being used in the form of chatbots that engage website visitors, or in predictive analytics campaigns, there is vast potential to utilize AI in how products and companies are being positioned and the marketing communications campaigns behind them. 

Google’s Knowledge Graph, for example, is helping search users pull up better results for their long-term search queries. The tool collates all the facts about people, places, and things to create interconnected search results and presents them in the form of useful answers, rather than just links. Google is taking this to the next level by using AI to facilitate better matches to search queries using its RankBrain algorithm. This type of development follows work from Twitter’s Project Lightning (later known as Moments). The system creates new stories based on the images, posts, videos and other content people share in their tweets with “the best of what’s happening on Twitter in an instant.”

Hyper personalization gathers commercial ground

The notion of a personalized approach to business is incredibly important in B2C, but even more so in B2B. Marketo reports that 52% of consumers are likely to switch brands if they don’t have personalized company communication, and 65% of businesses are likely to switch vendors. AI can help a marketer transform from one-size-fits-most marketing, to a far more personalized and uninterrupted experience. 

The onset of commercially adoptable AI technologies is therefore already being seen in the form of hyper-personalized marketing communications campaigns. AI is helping brands to target B2B customers on a one-to-one basis, where they appeal to their behavior and ultimately anticipate the desires and demands of end consumers. This goes far beyond addressing the email respondents by their first name. It is about offering pop-up messages and adverts that appear on websites and landing pages to appeal to the target customers’ activity history. Furthermore, it is about presenting content that is customized to the user themselves in terms of headlines and related content. 

In the sales and marketing department, AI is really finding its feet. Particularly simple, quick and effective lead generation is an area where AI will prove essential moving forward in B2B marketing. Here AI can be leveraged to easily capture a large set of data from various platforms such as websites, social media channels and contact databases. AI can bridge the gap between the sales team and potential customers through sales target identification potential. With the embedding of AI into CRM databases, day to day tasks can be automated for salespeople, giving them more opportunity to focus on closing the deal. The technology can help in the prioritization of prospects, so that sales teams can gain a better return for the fewer outreaches they make. This will allow employers to increase their expectations of what are achievable sales results from their staff and thereby focus their teams more efficiently. 

From a content perspective, the evolution of AI means that time-consuming SEO tasks can be automated and conducted in a more efficient manner. This will mean relief from some of the most tedious tasks that the content specialists are being confronted with on a daily basis e.g. creating backlinks, summarizing and tagging keywords. Content analyst teams will typically also have systems in place to discover existing content, by analyzing market trends and generating competitor insights. AI can improve these processes and interpret data patterns more efficiently compared to human search strategists. They will in turn deliver high-quality information that is free from any disruptions.

Untapped B2B platforms for AI

The biggest benefit of AI is to use data to select the right audience, so that you are really targeting the demographic that matters. Instead of broadcasting to as many contacts as possible use data to select the right prospects that provide business opportunities. A true AI-empowered marketer allows for the making of meaningful connections that spark real engagement with your customers and truly optimize the customer experience. Using AI to deliver at the right time – identifying the stage of your target’s  customer journey so you can create the framework and pipeline for your communications. Evaluating the data will provide you with an understanding of where and when to publish to gain the most effect. So let’s look at some more specific fields where AI can really help in B2B marketing and sales optimization.


Automated Help Chats: Imagine if the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) could be answered in a polite and real-time way, so that your customer support team can instead focus all of their energy on highly complex customer-specific requests. The use of chatbots is already much more prevalent than you might imagine. According to Really B2B, by 2020, 80% of B2B and B2C companies will be using chatbots to boost the customer experience and reduce costs. It is the immediacy of chatbots that is key here, as 5 minutes or less is the optimum time for a response to a customer.

For example, Air Asia features AVA (AirAsia Virtual Allstar), which can automatically solve common ticket queries in just a few moments. These help chat bots can answer the basic questions, but once it gets complicated, however, they forward the query to a specialist who will get back to the customer within 24 hours via email. A great example of a marketing approach through the use of a chatbot is from US natural foods retailer Whole Foods. Their chatbot allows consumers to search for recipes through Facebook Messenger using simple emojis, thus making their marketing come across as more fun and interactive.

The rise of new systems presents opportunity too. HubSpot’s acquisition of Motion.ai in 2017 now gives its clients the ability to build, train, and deploy chatbots. Hubspot uses both a website and Facebook Messenger bot to capture leads and provide users with more information on its software. On its website, HubBot acts as a placeholder until a live representative can hop in to chat with users. When a conversation is initiated, the bot will ask users what kind of help they’re looking for to qualify them as either prospects or current customers.

Chatbots bring an instant response and will then forward it on to the right technical associate within your organization. It is about leveraging the immediacy benefits that automation brings with it and the knowledge that your technical support team can offer on the more complex issues. By implementing a chatbot into your marketing strategy, you can learn more about your audience, tailor your marketing efforts, reach new audiences and monetize your social media profiles. 

Voice-Activated Devices: Another AI marketing tool that many people forget about is Siri digital assistant, which uses Google search to get her answers. This means that the content (website, press releases, blogs, tweets, etc.) that is posted online can be found in a Siri query. Remember that Siri is effectively your electronic marketing person, so it’s important that she is well informed through high-quality online content that paints a positive and accurate picture of your company and its technologies. For industrial technology companies, people may ask Siri how your process works and where it can be applied, for example. Think of questions such as, “does this solution for polypropylene mean that it is still recyclable?” 

But Siri is just the beginning as voice-activated devices enjoy significant growth within the marketplace. Who knows, perhaps you may be able replace the chatbot in the future and actually “talk” to the chatbot. A well-versed engineer who can inform your customers about your latest products and technologies in a friendly way and answer relatively simple queries could make the customer service step both polite and forward-looking.

Augmented Reality: Augmented reality (AR) is one of the most exciting technological developments with potential to shape industrial technology sales & marketing in years to come. It works by merging the physical world with the virtual one, so that a so-called “mixed reality” is created. The major difference with virtual reality is that the user will remain in the real world, whether at their office, factory, school or any offshore location around the globe. The AI technology constantly scans your environment and surroundings, so that the hardware knows exactly where you are and how you are moving. It allows the user to place 3D models on a table, against a wall or simply just float. The potential applications are (virtually!) limitless. Imagine that by looking at an object, you could get all kinds of information about this very object in your sight e.g. its uses, technical composition and potential applications. You can view this data at the same time as your co-worker, thus enabling you to share this data through your organization, or with clients.

AR has particularly huge potential within the B2B world. Machinery in the industrial technology world can often be vast in size and in constant operation, making it difficult to share with remote colleagues/clients, without physically being there and interrupting production. Since seeing is believing, you could take your customer into 3D models of your latest processing machinery and detail all the manufacturing components inside, without having to open the hood. This provides them with a great insight into your current processing technology and why a certain approach is necessary.

But beyond colorful demos of processes it could also be used for R&D to demonstrate the durability of a plastic when placed under extreme pressure, for example. You could show how a plastic additive performs when subjected to drive over tests, so that (potential) customers can see the amazing benefits of your latest industrial technology solution. AR lets you take customers far beyond the product data sheet and white paper and allows you be truly creative in how you present your company breakthroughs. Ultimately, if a picture tells a thousand words – imagine how many bucketloads of actionable data can be communicated in a 3D mixed reality world!

AI and humans: Working hand in “hand”

As a sign of what the future could hold for AI, China’s Xinhua state news agency last year introduced AI robotic members of the newsroom: AI anchors who can report “tirelessly” all day, every day, from anywhere in the country. Developed by Xinhua and the Chinese search engine, Sogou, the anchors were developed through machine learning to simulate the voice, facial movements, and gestures of real-life broadcasters, to present a “a lifelike image instead of a cold robot.” At the same time as this type of journalistic advance, automated algorithms are now capable of creating simple content for a wide range of industries. For example, the analysis of financial stock market trends or documentation of sports results can be done through the use of AI.

But anchoring to read a set script (still written by a human) or compiling financial results in a set order through the use of an algorithm, is not the same as analyzing the information and placing it within the context of a greater picture. It is different to combining creative energy with detailed thought to submit a carefully crafted and nuanced piece of writing that can both inform and entertain the reader. 

For now, AI promises to be a useful tool in optimizing your marketing strategy and helping to cut out some of the more tedious and time consuming mechanical tasks of data mining, as the examples above show.

There are numerous ways that AI can be adopted into your organization, helping to improve customer engagement and the customer experience.  Let us help you on that journey of discovery to identify how AI can take your company forward. 

 

Industry Trends Strategy CommsTech Marketing Communications