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How intelligent technologies are helping marketers predict challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond

By Saranya Babu, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Wrike

Marketing is undeniably one of the most important aspects of modern business strategy. Whether it’s developing a unique brand image, or carrying out specific campaigns to attract the right audience, the activities of the marketing department are at the centre of driving growth and revenue within any organisation. 

This year, marketers have been presented with an entirely new and unexpected challenge – how to navigate a global pandemic. The economic uncertainty surrounding this ongoing crisis has forced many businesses to redefine their brand identity, in order to distinguish themselves from their competitors and survive. 

While many businesses are accustomed to crisis management, the scale of this pandemic calls for a more comprehensive approach. In order to truly speak to their audiences during these unprecedented times and beyond, marketers must focus on developing a meaningful and consistent brand image, with each and every project being a success.  

Make no mistakes with integrated insights

With businesses of all shapes and sizes facing a long road to recovery, tough decisions are being made across the board. Unfortunately, many marketing departments are bearing the brunt of industry-wide cut-backs. In fact, dips in business revenue have resulted in the largest ever decline in spending, with over  41% of UK firms  reducing their marketing budgets in the third quarter of 2020 as a direct result of the pandemic.  

During this time of turmoil, instant access to real-time performance metrics within existing work management platforms is essential for marketing teams, especially given the speed at which things are changing. The ability to examine the progress of ongoing projects and campaigns, their strengths and weaknesses, as well as potential areas for improvement can improve the chances of a successful outcome. 

After all, marketing is dependent on the ability to juggle several tasks at once. This is a lot easier said than done when multiple ads, email, and social campaigns are running simultaneously. Operating on outdated information – even by a day or two – can adversely affect the final outcome of a project. Moreover, as the remote work era continues, visibility will become more important than ever before. The lack of face-to-face communication demands accurate performance metrics in order to track and analyse a campaigns’ progression at any given moment.  

Ahead of the game 

Many different things can derail a project. Additional costs, failure to meet deadlines, or unplanned modifications can all have a negative impact and, ultimately, cost a business – especially in our current landscape. In order to increase the likelihood of success for a project and limit any potential risk, marketing teams should look to predict and plan for a series of different possibilities from the offset.  

This is where modern technologies – such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) – come into play. These technologies can pinpoint at-risk projects and provide an early diagnosis, so that teams can take necessary action to minimise risk and solve any potential challenges before they even occur. By recognising signals and patterns based on hundreds of factors, including past campaign results, work progress, organisation history, and work complexity, the insights provided by these technologies can help to salvage entire projects. 

With intelligent insights readily available, marketing teams can work towards prioritising matters of high-importance, such as mitigating and managing risk. This can be done by evaluating a project’s ‘risk tolerance’. In other words, how much can you allow before you need to act. This is a crucial step in any project management process, enabling marketers to choose the most effective response and ensure that resources are being used in the most effective way.  

As competition rises and budgets shrink, marketing teams are under increasing pressure to deliver. Connecting with desired audiences through brand consistency, strong messaging, and impactful campaigns is still important. However – thanks to the increased pressures brought by the pandemic – there is no longer any room for error. Therefore, guaranteeing all activities are on course and risk is at an all-time-low must be a priority. While there isn’t a single ingredient for success during these unprecedented times, integrated insights and AI and ML technologies could play a significant part in enabling marketing teams to predict and mitigate any possible risks ahead of time. 

Boostify partners Third Foundation on customer experience tech

Yorkshire-based Boostify has teamed up with machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) start-up Third Foundation to strengthen its customer experience optimisation (CXO) platform.

Specialising in behavioural targeting and advanced content personalisation, Boostify’s solution enables brands to collect in-depth data insights and segment website visitors, allowing them to deploy customised messaging and offers throughout a user’s entire site journey.

Integrating Google Cloud Partner company Third Foundation’s ‘Prime Radiant’ technology enables machine learning to help highlight trends in consumer behaviour that would otherwise be unidentifiable. Additionally, it can reduce the time businesses spend manually building customer segments and minimise human error and decisions driven by predictions.

Boostify’s CEO and founder, Jonathan Thirkill, said: “Joining forces with Third Foundation takes smart and engineered data insight to the next level.

“Using advanced machine learning and AI technologies, Third Foundation will improve the quality of our platform’s targeting features, thus enabling us to make content more relevant to individual website visitors.

“This will empower brands to have a better understanding of their online users’ behaviours quickly. And, by really getting to the heart of what content makes them tick, organisations can yield more conversions in less time.

“We’ve been looking to expand Boostify’s offering with machine learning and AI – this solution ticks all the boxes.”

Third Foundation’s CEO, Michael Ward, added: “This is a truly exciting partnership which brings together two businesses at the forefront of their respective industries.

“By combining Third Foundation’s specialist data engineering and machine learning features with what is probably the most advanced CXO platform on the market, we are creating an exciting proposition that could revolutionise the industry.

“In this new dawn of relevance demanded by consumers, this partnership will allow digital marketing agencies and brands to deliver a more relevant online experience, for more of their customers, more often.”

Retailers urged to embrace digital personalisation

Retails have been urged to extend personalisation at every digital touchpoint and to every individual using AI, in light of more dire warnings on the state of the High Street.

The British Retail Consortium and KPMG have noted the lowest sales figures since 1995 in May, which in a year plagued with closures and CVAs raises the alarm for further decline in the UK high street in the coming months.

According to Raj Badarinath, VP Ecosystems at RichRelevance, brands and retailers are desperately looking for a solution, but stubbornly ignoring the most critical factor: what customers want.

Badarinath asserts that instead of exploring their customers as individuals (not rough marketing-made segments) they keep holding on to outdated personalisation tactics that are clearly not good enough.

“It is disappointing to see retail sales falling year on year in the UK. It’s a tricky time for UK retailers – as they battle on multiple fronts: monopolies like Amazon, ankle biters such as DVNBs (Digitally Native Vertical Brands) and more,” said Badarinath.

“UK consumers today are short on time and inundated with the problem of choice – too much content, product, offers and more. Retailers should reduce decision fatigue by extending personalization at every digital touchpoint and to every individual using AI, which provides the technical ability to do so for the first time. Retailers realize that the UK consumer is fickle and easily wooed, so techniques like hyper-personalization ensure a seamless, memorable customer experience, to increase repeat sales and improve overall lifetime value.”

Privacy concerns hindering Allo’s chance of messaging success?

Although reports have suggested that Google’s newly launched messaging service, Allo, is already causing some privacy concerns, the multinational technology company is defiant in ensuring users can safely navigate the app – despite its integration with Google’s new artificial intelligence (AI) assistant, which requires all messages to be sent without end-to-end encryption.

As a result, not only can Google’s Assistant access and read the messages, but Google as a whole can too; as well as national security organisations. With its developers announcing back in May that Allo would include revolutionary message retention policies unheard of among other messaging apps such as iMessage and WhatsApp, industry insiders have found that all messages are linked directly to an account and stored indefinitely – failing to keep its promise of ‘transiently’ storing chat logs and making sure all conversations are not permanently placed on Google’s servers.

A Google spokesperson said in a statement: “We’ve given users transparency and control over their data in Google Allo. And our approach is simple – your chat history is saved for you until you choose to delete it.”

“You can delete single messages or entire conversations in Allo. We also provide the option to chat in Incognito mode, where messages are end-to-end encrypted and you can set a timer to automatically delete messages for your device and the person you’re chatting with’s device at a set time.”