May 29 Comment

an introduction to AI - graphic - the pros and the cons

An Introduction to AI: Transforming the Marketing of Services and Products

AI IS something we are all hearing about regularly in our day jobs, in conversations, in daily newsletters and even on our TV screens. I heard a much older person the other day talking about how it had been mentioned on the soaps she had been watching. When I worked in newsrooms, it was around 2005, in the Herald Express in Torquay and our regional editorial director was in our newsroom doing a presentation and part of that presentation he told us that in 20 years time (so 2025) there would be robots doing the jobs of journalists. The very thought of it rattled my cage. But, here we are. So, I’ve been doing my reading up on it for quite some time now, I have been bombarded on digital platforms with offerings of courses – who knows which one to pick, if any, I should be just able to ask AI right? Anyhow, it absolutely intrigues me but I’ve yet to decipher if that’s in a good way or not…..  

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most talked-about technologies today, but what exactly is it, and why is it becoming so crucial in the marketing world? I want to break it down in simple terms, explore both the advantages and potential drawbacks of AI in communications and marketing.

What is AI?

At its core, AI is a branch of computer science which aims to create machines capable of performing tasks which usually require human intelligence. These tasks include learning from experience, recognising patterns, understanding natural language, and making decisions. You might already encounter AI in various forms, such as voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, recommendation algorithms on Netflix, or even chatbots on customer service websites. We have all experienced some of those at some point. So why is it suddenly deemed important? The experts say that AI is important because it can process vast amounts of data much faster and more accurately than we humans. This capability allows AI to uncover patterns and insights which would be impossible for humans to detect on their own. In the context of marketing, this means AI can help businesses understand their customers better, predict future behaviours, and make smarter decisions.

The Pros of AI in Marketing

I be thinking about all of the people I have worked with in the past and presently – food and drink producers, healthcare providers, service providers – you name it, I have worked in many sectors. And I often think of them and how AI will impact their business. But, there’s always two sides to a story so let’s firstly look at the pros from a marketing perspective.

  1. Personalised Customer Experiences: AI can analyse customer data to deliver highly personalised experiences. For example, AI algorithms can recommend products based on a customer’s past purchases or browsing history. This level of personalisation helps build stronger customer relationships and increases the chances of making a sale. I suppose that’s great for the business but will it get annoying for someone perhaps who has purchased once and isn’t that bothered about that product in the future?
  2. Enhanced Customer Insights: Data is the new gold. By analysing large datasets, AI can provide deeper insights into customer preferences, behaviours, and trends. Marketers can use these insights to tailor their campaigns more effectively and reach the right audience with the right message at the right time. Gold, right?
  3. Automated Customer Service: AI-powered chatbots can handle customer inquiries around the clock, providing instant responses and freeing up human agents to deal with more complex issues. It’s argued that this will not only improves customer satisfaction but it was also reduce operational costs.
  4. Optimised Marketing Campaigns: AI can predict which marketing strategies are likely to be most effective by analyzing past campaign data. This helps businesses allocate their marketing budgets more efficiently and achieve better results. I am all on for this of course. Results matter!
  5. Content Creation: AI tools can assist in generating and optimising content, from writing social media posts to creating entire blog articles. This ensures content is relevant, engaging, and optimised for search engines. Now, weirdly for me, I get it. I have been testing content – both social posts and blog writing for over a year now, and no matter how good I believe I am getting as a prompt engineer, the content still requires me doing a lot of work on it. And as for the social media posts, they can even look and sound quite robotic. Hands up – I haven’t explored many other AI tools.

Cons of AI in Marketing

As much as there are pros, there are definitely cons. And these are a few of the key ones which I am certainly aware of…..

  1. Privacy Concerns: AI relies heavily on data to function effectively. The collection and analysis of personal data can raise privacy issues. Customers might be uncomfortable with the extent to which their data is being used, leading to trust issues. Remember what I said earlier – data is the new gold!
  2. Bias and Fairness: AI systems are only as good as the data they are trained on. If the data contains biases, the AI will likely perpetuate these biases, leading to unfair or discriminatory practices. This can be particularly problematic in areas like hiring or credit scoring.
  3. Job Displacement: The automation of tasks traditionally done by humans can lead to job displacement. While AI can handle routine tasks efficiently, it raises concerns about the future of work and the potential loss of jobs in certain sectors. We certainly saw this during 2020-2022. I can’t bring myself to write the C word.
  4. Lack of Human Touch: While AI can handle many tasks, it lacks the human touch that can be crucial in customer service and engagement. The absence of empathy and understanding can sometimes lead to a less satisfying customer experience. I absolutely agree with this here but how good will AI get? I’d say the advancements will escalate so quickly that this con could soon enough become a pro.
  5. Dependence on Technology: Over-reliance on AI can lead to problems if the technology fails or is not properly managed. Businesses might find themselves in trouble if their AI systems encounter issues or are not updated regularly. We all know how heavily we rely on technology. That’s the way the world works now. Can you imagine a cashless society and technology breaking down? Everything would stop.

The Future of AI in Marketing

As AI technology continues to advance, its applications in marketing will only grow. It’s reckoned that businesses which embrace AI will be better equipped to understand their customers, create personalised experiences, and stay ahead of the competition. However, it is crucial to address the ethical and practical concerns surrounding AI to ensure it is used responsibly and effectively.

In summary, there’s no doubt about it, AI is transforming the marketing landscape by providing unprecedented insights, enhancing customer experiences, and optimising marketing efforts. By leveraging AI, businesses can stay competitive and deliver more value to their customers. However, it is essential to balance the benefits with the potential drawbacks to ensure that AI is a force for good in the marketing world. I am definitely intrigued finding out more and more about it so I’ll keep delving, testing and learning.