- There are many practical areas in which AI has already been deployed, including everything from static image recognition and tagging to the prevention of cyberattacks.
- Now is a great time for marketers to educate themselves and determine how best to leverage the technology for their own businesses.
- When survey respondents were asked about the level of impact they expected AI to have on their direct marketing activities over the next two years, over three-quarters believed that its impact would be significant or transformative.
By Priya Gohil
In late 2023, tech investor and inventor Elon Musk joined UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to discuss all things related to artificial intelligence (AI). This discussion was one of the crowning achievements of a two-day tech summit on AI and its safety. Musk touched on the benefits of AI by stating that an AI friend might be great for his son, who sometimes has trouble making friends. Even so, Musk’s most memorable soundbite might have been his warning of the potentially ruinous impact that AI could have on traditional jobs. “We are seeing a disruptive force in history here,” he asserted. “There will come a point where no job is necessary. You’ll be able to have a job if you want one for personal satisfaction, but AI will be capable of doing everything. It’s both good and bad—one of the challenges in the future will be figuring out how to find meaning in life.”
The thought of AI swooping in to someday make all of our jobs redundant might seem like quite a stretch, but this philosophy illuminates a pertinent point—AI has arrived and it is encroaching on many areas of business. The technology has created quite a shakeup, as evidenced by the vast amount of column inches that are currently devoted to the rise of ChatGPT. It should also be noted that ChatGPT is but one of the many content-generating AI platforms that are now proliferating in the tech space.
Using AI to Improve the Customer Experience
AI-generated copy aside, there are many practical areas in which AI has been deployed effectively, including everything from static image recognition and tagging to the prevention of cyberattacks. In addition, Keypoint Intelligence’s research confirms that the power of AI is resonating among providers of direct marketing communications. There’s also plenty of potential for AI to become more strongly ingrained in the campaigns of the future.
Earlier this year, Keypoint Intelligence released its Direct Marketing Communications Research, which surveyed over 300 senior-level business professionals. According to the results of this research, only 3% of firms were not engaging with AI on any level. Even so, less than a third of respondents were regularly using AI to improve their outcomes. Since the majority of survey participants are not regularly using AI, this is a great time for marketers to educate themselves and determine how best to leverage the technology for their own businesses.
Figure 1: Use of Artificial Intelligence
N = 318 Total Business Respondents
Source: Direct Marketing Communications Business Survey; Keypoint Intelligence 2023
When these same respondents were asked about the level of impact they expected AI to have on their direct marketing activities over the next two years, over three-quarters believed that its impact would be significant or transformative. Here are just a few ways that AI can help improve the customer experience (CX), now and in the future:
- Tailoring your message:AI can personalize marketing communications for more effective campaigns. It can analyze data on your customers’ purchasing decisions, browsing history, e-mail engagement, and so on. AI algorithms then predict what type of products or services they will be more receptive to. All of this boosts the chances of a successful campaign.
- Successful segmentation:Knowing exactly who your audience is remains pivotal to an effective campaign. Segmentation breaks down an audience into groups based on certain traits, desires, or needs. Broadly, segmentation can be based on geographical (urban, rural) or demographic (age, sex, income-related) lines. AI enables improved targeting by drilling into audience data and predicting which segments are likely to respond to a particular message.
- Improved learnings:AI can analyze the effectiveness and reach of direct mail campaigns by tracking response rates to marketing messages. This is invaluable as firms can adjust their campaigns and strategies and improve the effectiveness of their efforts going forward while potentially saving costs and increasing profitability.
- Content creation:ChatGPT is a prime example of how AI can help automate processes and free up human resources. AI can be used to generate direct marketing copy, source artwork, and images to accompany blog posts and mailings while also creating viral content out of videos (i.e., long-format videos can be crunched into bite-sized 1-2 minute clips for social media).
The Bottom Line
While conversation and predictions about what AI will mean for businesses and peoples’ livelihoods in the long run abound, this technology looks set to become the heart of most direct marketers’ business strategies. Our research shows that respondents’ confidence in AI lies in its ability to improve CX, which is a key concern for most campaigns.
With its ability to analyze data, segment target audiences, automate tasks, and personalize content at scale, AI will undoubtedly become transformative. Not surprisingly, however, most businesses were cautious about giving free rein to AI because they believed that it did have limitations. Over two-thirds of respondents believed that human intervention would still be required to make business decisions at least in the near term. Bringing things back to Musk’s vision, I would argue that there should always be a place for human creativity and decision-making in business, and that marketers should embrace AI rather than seeing it as competition.
With over two decades of publishing experience, Priya Gohil has been providing A3, production, and wide format analysis since joining Keypoint Intelligence in 2013. While sharply focused on custom test reporting as well as high-value subscription content, she also contributes blogs and a variety of other articles across all of Keypoint Intelligence’s channels.