As a veteran in the ever-evolving realm of digital marketing for over two and a half decades, I've witnessed seismic shifts that have shaped the industry. None, however, have been as riveting and promising as the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The potential unveiled by AI in recent years is akin to the excitement I felt in the early days of digital marketing when concepts like organic search, websites, and email marketing were groundbreaking.
In the imminent days, AI is poised to reshape the landscape of marketing, introducing transformative changes to the industry. In fact, according to McKinsey's research, companies leveraging AI initiatives and investing in scalable infrastructure experience a notable increase in profit margins ranging from 3% to 15%. In another worldwide survey by Statista, 87% of current AI adopters said they were using or considering using AI for sales forecasting and for improving e-mail marketing. Industries such as healthcare, financial services, and professional services stand out, showcasing the most substantial growth in profit margins attributed to the adoption of AI.
Today, as we stand at the cusp of a new era, the influence of AI in marketing is more pronounced than ever. On this note, I delve into the five AI marketing trends for 2024 in my latest article, offering insights and perspectives that draw from the wealth of experience garnered through the years.
1. Generative AI: Crafting Tomorrow's Content
At the pinnacle of interest in AI is Generative AI. As indicated by the latest Gartner Hype Cycle 2023, the trajectory of Generative AI is on the rise, promising to soon revolutionize content creation. The shift from text-based outputs to richer content, including audio and visuals, is exemplified by tools such as ChatGPT, which can now respond to audio prompts and even create visuals with the integration of DALL-E.
A key application-based example of this trend is the use of AI in image and video generators based on audio and video transcripts fed by humans. Synthesia and HeyGen are two such pioneers who are even using human-like avatars to impart a realistic aspect to the images and videos produced using Generative AI.
This trend is witnessing the pouring of massive investments, for example Microsoft's collaboration with OpenAI and Amazon's $4 billion investment in Anthropic – the developer of the next-generation AI assistant, Claude. Come 2024, I feel that these investments will increase even more, thus making the trend a foundation stone for future AI practices in the world of digital marketing.
2. Autonomous AI Agents: Shaping the Future of Automation
In 2023, AutoGPT made waves by showcasing the potential of autonomous agents. While not an official OpenAI release, it signifies a future where AI-powered bots can perform intricate tasks. We have seen numerous examples of autonomous AI agents in the form of self-driving cars and robotic automation. In fact, Microsoft Jarvis, another player in this space, connects to web services, making autonomous actions like web searching and API interactions possible.
In the field of digital marketing, the Autonomous AI and its associated agents shall offer extensive coverage in terms of completing the set of actions undertaken by customers or users via an end-to-end manner. Thus, for example, tasks such as conducting research on a specific topic and deriving raw information from relevant sources, buying products with auto-completion of add to cart and purchase actions, and booking the best or cheapest flights from points X to Y. However, we still are yet to see widespread adoption of this trend in an active and highly productive manner, which is expected to occur in the next year in a more comprehensive manner.
3. Causal AI: Uncovering Marketing Insights
Identified by Gartner in their article What’s New in Artificial Intelligence from the 2023 Gartner Hype Cycle, Causal AI is set to provide human-like intelligence in 2024, assisting in analysis and decision-making. This trend aims to unveil cause-and-effect relationships, allowing businesses to go beyond predictive accuracy. In fact, as per my experience regarding research on this trend, it can go one step further beyond Autonomous AI and target a specific group of users and product/service categories to optimal conversions. Thus, the predictive accuracy derived from this AI automation can help users and digital marketers get valuable insights and help maximize revenue generation. A key example of this is adopting Causal AI based applications that help you as a digital marketing expert make the decision of whether to invest X amount of dollars on LinkedIn Ads instead of Facebook Ads.
Tools like Causal Lens exemplify this by supporting decision-making through understanding the drivers of behaviour. This would be a great addition to businesses in the Banking, Insurance, and Financial Services (BFSI) industry sectors, wherein both sales and marketing-based activities can witness accurate decision-making.
4. Conversational AI: Enhancing Customer Interactions
The next of trend in this listicle is Conversational AI, which plays a crucial role in enhancing customer interactions. Compared to the previous trends, this one has become sufficiently established in various industries in terms of providing robust AI marketing capabilities. Conversational AI facilitates direct customer interactions in two ways: either the inbound customer inquiries are sent or received through web contact forms; or outbound communications such as welcome emails, thank you emails, and promotional content can be automated using conversational AI applications to get higher engagement.
I remember reading about Conversational AI many years ago before it became hyped, and today it has evolved in a much stronger product/service. This trend can be easily combined or related to Generative AI wherein its solutions are not based on rigid templates, but more on a response-based mechanism. However, there trend leaves immense scope of improvement, mainly in terms of tuning to relevant business questions asked as customer inquiries. Thus, a lot of human oversight is still needed, and I think that is what the focus shall be on, in 2024 regarding this trend.
Tech solutions such as Intercom and Drift are powered by AI-engines and possess inbound and outbound capabilities. The AI engines such as Fin in Intercom, Zendesk, and Genesys are prime innovations that handle more of the inbound communications.
5. Predictive Analytics: Building on Historical Data
In large businesses with business intelligence teams, Predictive Analytics has long been a stalwart. And the synergy of this trend with other AI innovations and trends that I explained earlier in article such as Generative and Causal AI, enhances its capabilities. From customer segmentation to personalized recommendations, Predictive Analytics continues to be a cornerstone, now powered by the latest advancements.
There are several business actions and activities in myriad domains such as business operations, sales, and marketing, where this trend has time-and-again been implemented. Customer segmentation is one such set of activities where AI-powered Predictive Analytics can be used to segment or segregate customers based on aspects such as purchase history, buying behaviour, demographics, etc. Predictive Analytics can also help accentuate marketing campaigns by predicting which activity can provide the highest ROI and conversion rates.
A few of the remaining business activities where this AI trend for 2024 shall be most effective is Churn Prediction, Lead Scoring, and Personalization/Recommendation Engines.
Conclusion - Looking Ahead: Managing AI and Governance
As we embark on this AI-driven journey for 2024, it's imperative to not only explore the opportunities but also address the challenges. From job displacement to data privacy concerns, businesses need a robust AI policy framework. For large enterprises, this involves creating committees, providing comprehensive AI training, and engaging stakeholders. Even small and medium-sized businesses can draft basic AI policies, assign responsibilities, and explore AI opportunities to stay competitive.
In conclusion, the future of digital marketing is undeniably intertwined with the evolution of AI. As we navigate the landscape of 2024, Dust Value is committed to not just embracing these trends but leading the charge. It's not merely about staying ahead; it's about shaping the future of marketing through the lens of AI.
Authored by Arif Kazi (Founder and Managing Director of Dust Value) |