What are Marketers Doing with AI Right Now?

3 May

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The business world is asking itself – has artificial intelligence finally moved beyond being yesterday’s buzzword of choice into an actionable solution for my marketing issues? The answer depends on who you ask. Many forward-thinking companies have already implemented AI into their marketing infrastructures. Others say that it is an innovation that still leaves much to be desired.

Each company must decide for itself if it will use AI within its marketing program. The best course of action is to take a look at how other companies within your business profile are handling the technology. The advantage we have today is the amount of real data on the subject.

The Digital Outlook 2018 Convention in Singapore

Among the data that we have on artificial intelligence and marketing is a conference of over 400 marketing professionals who met in Singapore to discuss this very topic. Econsultancy headed the event and asked the question quite directly, “What are marketers doing with AI right now?”

Many executives in companies from many industries had a similar viewpoint. Although artificial intelligence has had some hiccups in its past, 2018 may be the year that it is fully ready for mass adoption. Many of these executives pointed to similar concepts that they were employing in their businesses currently.

Producing Scaled Content

One of the first artificial intelligence examples is the production of blog content and ad copy. AI has the ability to change this copy according to the reaction of the audience. For instance, Toyota used AI marketing to feed an engine with 50 scripts for its new Mirai commercial. The program used was Watson AI from IBM. Watson was able to deliver thousands of ads from those 50 scripts that sounded surprisingly human.
AI tools now have the ability to write long form blogs as well. They can even produce short white papers using an AI technology known as natural language generation, or NLG. Currently Groupon, Credit Suisse and Forbes are using NLG to produce over a million words of content per day.

One on One Communications with Every Customer

Communication at scale has always been an issue with marketers. The more expansive a customer base, the less personalized communications become. However, with AI marketing, this does not necessarily have to be the case.

The aforementioned NLG technology, when used with dynamic menus, can be utilized to handle customer complaints in place of a customer service representative. Similar to the Toyota scripts, the AI can generate an exponential number of very humanized responses from just a few dozen scripts. You may have seen this technology at work if you have engaged in online chatbot. However, this is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what AI can do.

Better Recommendation Engines

A recommendation engine is a tool that uses the behavior of a browser to find the next best action for a company to deliver to that prospect. Artifical intelligence uses have the ability to do this without human intervention. As a matter of fact, it may actually accomplish this better than a human.

The advantage AI has over a manually run recommendation engine is that AI cannot be lied to. For the same reasons that social media comment threads delegitimized focus groups and surveys, AI recommendation engines outperform humans – a computer cannot be fooled by a misleading answer about why a prospect took a certain behavior. AI responds strictly to the action with no filter.

These are only a few of the actionable solutions that AI is currently helping marketers to achieve. You can definitely look for artificial intelligence to replace many of the functions of marketers in the near future.

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New Marketing in the Age of Local

1 May

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The Age of Information is old news – we are now in the Age of Local advertising. Just as big data now means nothing unless it has been streamlined and focused, information in total means very little unless it is immediately relevant. The fastest way to make business information relevant to a person is to make that information local. Example – all else being equal, would you rather go to a shoe store down the street or one that is 100 miles away from you?
The newest online marketing tools and the most bloody online marketing battles are both focused on local audiences. Marketers in general have discovered that the wide net strategy of marketing is all but dead. Just because you have the potential to reach billions of people across the world using the Internet does not mean that you should try. You probably will reach those billions of people (over time, of course), and those billions of people will ignore you.

Local Marketing Follows the Money

Brands that have more than one location are spending more than a quarter of their marketing budget on LBM, otherwise known as location based marketing. 50% of companies overall are using the location data they aggregate from customers to target them. These statistics come from the Local Search Association, and the data that is collected by these companies to create local marketing is representative of billions of dollars already.
Direct mail, local TV and mobile marketing combined represent over $151 billion in terms of local advertising revenue in the United States. What this means is that even traditional media is looking to move more into the Age of Local. Overall, companies will spend more than $2 billion specifically for local online video. It doesn’t depend on who you ask anymore – all of the money and marketing is going towards local structures. The wide net variety marketing of the past is dead.

Competing in Your Local Space

Big companies have taken over the “generic digital space” by pricing everyone out of the competition. When it comes to generic keywords, small and medium-sized businesses simply do not have a chance to compete. The Internet is known as the great equalizer in terms of marketing budgets, but only if a company knows how to use that budget. Longtail keywords that are focused on localization is the avenue for smaller businesses to compete with international giants.

Not only are local companies that subscribe to the Age of Local competing, they are actually pulling ahead of enterprise-level companies that have yet to fully embrace the Age of Local.

Figuring out the Best Strategy

Now that the strategy is definitely “go local,” the question is not whether to focus on local as a strategy – it is figuring out how to do it. 39% of companies in the lead of mobile ad buying listed “lack of knowledge” as their number one concern. If you are looking to create a digital profile for yourself, it behooves you to learn about programmatic ad buying, especially in the mobile space.

Research companies that are on the cutting edge in your area. You can piggyback off of them for local advertising ideas to determine the best investments to get the impact that you need in the short term.

The bottom line is simple – if you want to go global, go local. The modern consumer and the major search engines both appreciate this strategy much more than general, wide net marketing.

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Attracting the Right Customers to Your Trade Show

26 Apr

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Whether your business is to sell cleaning products or dog treats trade shows can be an effective way to introduce your product to distributors that can help your products gain popularity and bring about success. But just acquiring space in a convention center is not enough to make sure that the right people are stopping by your booth and checking out your products.

Know What You Want

No matter what you have to offer, it is important to know how participation in a trade show can best be worthwhile to your trade show ROI strategy. Are you looking to build relationships with other businesses as a wholesale supplier to help bring about future sales down the road? Perhaps your ultimate is for your business itself to be noticed for its value and sold to provide an opportunity to franchise or start another business? With a targeted audience in mind, you have a better chance of finding the right time and place to reach your goals.

Research the Right Spot and Prepare in Advance

Planning ahead is good advice in a lot of instances, and when you are booking a spot in a trade show, it is no different, Just as the “early bird gets the worm,” the early planner gets the best pick of potential trade show space and in many cases gets a discount, Before the show actually happens, find out as much information about any potential competition as you can.

Once you know the where and when of your trade show, it is time to self-promote. If you maintain retail space, be sure to let your customers know that you will be participating in a trade show and where it will be. Your business’s website and social media accounts also provide great opportunities to get the word out about your plans. Advertising early, including booth number information will give your customers a chance to plan ahead and help you achieve more sales and build stronger relationships.

Invest in Installation and Design

Whether you have a DIY tradeshow booth or hire professionals to help you get things set up and take things down it is important to give yourself plenty of time for both set up and the dismantlement of your display. You can purchase premade displays or work with professionals to customize the look of your booth to draw more customers.

Keep Perspective When Measuring Success

Participation in a trade show can be costly, and if you measure success solely based on what you sold, chances are you will wind up disappointed in the outcome of your trade show, but there are many things to take from the experience that you can’t put a firm dollar value on. Take notes on any feedback you get while at your show, including constructive criticism. Or by sending a trade show feedback questionnaire to attendees you networked with at the show. Even when businesses don’t seem similar, they can still offer insights that can help you in developing better products and forging the way to long-term relationships.

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How Will New Data Privacy Regulations Affect You?

24 Apr

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New data privacy laws around the world are going to affect North American business more than ever, and savvy executives are taking note. In a globalized economy that is more co-dependent with each passing business cycle, companies cannot afford to ignore any regulation based solely on the geographic location of its inception.

The European General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) are set to limit a number of actions that businesses normally take when addressing prospects. The most important of these is the “right to be forgotten,” or the right of the prospect to request that a business delete all information. EU countries face additional limitations, but the right to be forgotten will affect companies around the world doing business with EU countries.
If your outreach relies on email blasts that are not opt in, you should change your strategy immediately. You should also create measures to prove that you have deleted records from customers who have requested to be forgotten. It is much easier to accommodate this request that deal with the huge penalties that could become a part of your life very quickly if you ignore it.

North American Copycat Lawmakers

Lawmakers in North America are watching the new regulations from the EU closely. Experts have stated that the EU regulations took inspiration from Canadian law. You can bet that the international data community, which is becoming a larger political bloc by the year, will put pressure on North American lawmakers to protect their interests should the EU laws turn out to be successful.

Enforcement Across Borders

North American businesses have a legitimate question concerning data privacy regulations from the EU – how can they punish me even if I get out of compliance? Great question, and the answer is exactly why EU regulations apply to you in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Data protection agencies reach across country lines in the European Union. They also reach across continental lines. For example – as an America business person, if you purposefully eschew the laws just passed in the EU, you will likely be facing American regulators, not EU regulators. If your company has customers across borders, you will find your business thwarted until you pay the massive fines levied by the new regulations. If you do not, you will still have US regulators in your inbox and mailbox, because they must protect the precedent being set for the international business community.

If you are located in North America and you thought that data privacy issues around the world weren’t your problem, think again. Non-compliance may cost you the ability to expand your business into emerging markets and established populations across seas, and that will definitely not sell well at the next board meeting.

As a business in the US (or anywhere else), do not ignore the regulations that are being passed in the EU and the ones that have been passed in Canada (the Canada Anti-Spam Law). You may not think that international law can reach you. Nothing is further from the truth.

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3 Trade Show Booth Elements You Shouldn’t Skimp On

19 Apr

black-and-white-blackboard-business-356043When you attend a trade show, you pour many of your company’s resources — such as time, staff and money — into making it a success. This underscores the importance of your booth and making sure that it captures the attention of attendees while helping you achieve your objectives. The three trade show booth elements outlined below are ones that you shouldn’t skimp on.

1. Eye-popping trade show graphics
Did you know that your trade show booth has a maximum of three seconds to capture a person’s attention and convince them that they should learn more about your brand? One of the most powerful ways of doing so is by investing in eye-popping graphics that demonstrate your brand’s personality while supporting its objectives. Consider elements such as the typeface and fonts that are used, the trade show materials your graphics are made of and any taglines or other messages that can further support your company’s goals.

2. Skillful lighting
Like the graphics you use, the skillful use of lighting can help you capture the attention of trade show attendees from afar. Backlighting, for example, is an inexpensive lighting element to implement that also is an effective method of highlighting your brand. Be sure to start off at eye level when placing lighting elements so you can attract the attention of people as they come near. Then work your way up to make your booth visible to those who are some distance away.
Quality lighting elements deliver continuity and consistency in terms of tone, color and shade for your brand. In addition to making your booth appear professional, high-quality lighting also tends to last longer.

3. Innovative design ideas
The above two suggestions are primarily used — at least in part — to capture the attention of attendees when they are elsewhere on the trade show floor. Design elements, however, tend to be more subtle and can better be appreciated by people when they visit your booth. Make these count by integrating different textures and materials — like metal and wood or transparent and sheer fabrics — to give attendees an unexpected experience that creates a buzz. Instead of sticking with the standard box shape booth design, add contrasting items like round seating or a gently-curving sign to make it less angular and sharp.
Making sure that you don’t cut corners with the above three elements will help your brand’s appearance at trade shows become memorable. They are well worth your investment and will pay off every time you use them.

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