How loyal do you feel to certain brands? Would you stick with one over the other, no matter the price difference or level of service? Nowadays, the answer is likely to be a definitive “no”. We have so much information at our fingertips, so many choices, and so much power as a consumer that we see it as the smarter bet to continually look for alternatives.
Catering to the individual
Quite simply, we aren’t inclined to be as loyal to brands as we once were because the underlying value itself is no longer particularly relevant. This is a big problem for brand-owners and why 80% of marketers say increasing customer loyalty and reducing customer churn will be a priority in the next 12 months - according to a new study launched by Forrester and commissioned by Sizmek.
As consumers jump from channel to channel, it can be difficult to continue engagement and interaction with them in a way they are comfortable with. Personalisation is what it comes down to, and marketers know it; 86% say improving personalisation capabilities is a top strategy over the next year. Fortunately, another survey conducted by Sizmek this year showed consumers are happy to receive advertising messages related to brands or products that interest them. In the ‘Consumer Perceptions of AI’ study conducted in April 2017, 62% of 18-34 year olds surveyed stated that they are open to brands using AI-based technologies to help them access the products and services they want.
If brands want to capture the attention of consumers, they must be ready to communicate with them at the exact moment they’re likely to engage using tailored content that delights rather than annoys. This means predicting the time of day, the device being used and the likelihood of converting them, rather than their position on the traditional marketing funnel.
Easier said than done, right? With millions of consumers, how can brands possibly cater to each of their individual needs, desires and demands? And with 2.5 quintillion (a billion, billion, billion – still with me?) bytes of data created every day, what marketer can make sense of it all?
The data accessible to brands now exceeds what any of us could compute as humans. The oceans of information at marketers’ fingertips can be viewed as both a positive and negative. On one hand, it holds valuable insights into the behaviour or preferences of consumers. On the other, it is useless without the tools to organise and utilise it. With technology evolving to empower the consumer, often putting them ahead of the brand marketers, tools are also advancing for the benefit of brands. Primarily, this has come in the form of artificial intelligence (AI), which learns from online behaviour through an immeasurable amount of data points. With this continual learning, AI can start to predict behaviours, and enable marketers to act accordingly.
There are strategic marketing tactics that AI enables, and brand-owners are using it to tackle their priorities for the next 12 months. The first of these is to automate their processes by implementing predictive marketing capabilities. AI is empowering marketers to optimise operational and ad buying efficiency, grow revenue through cross-selling and drive unprecedented marketing insights. It also has implications for reaching consumers at every stage of their journey. With the ability to deliver the right creative at the perfect moment across any device, brands can now achieve something that would be impossible to do manually. Through its ability to completely reinvent the customer experience, brands are able to see how it drives business performance. Marketing can finally truly - and accurately - prove its worth.
This is because AI answers the question, “who will make sense of all this data?” Businesses have so much valuable information about their customers, such as habits, behaviours, products they purchase, and how often they purchase them. By using AI to filter and organise first-party customer data, marketers can generate insights on how individual customers interact with their product category, brand, or services. This means they can find the optimal retention strategies for the business and reduce churn.
From keeping up to getting ahead
With the data understood, the next step is deciding what to do with it. Marketers have to become channel-agnostic, pursuing the consistency consumers crave. This means delivering optimised content that is consistent across devices. AI can do this in less than a blink of an eye, continuously deciding the right time to push out which content to which consumer, on which device. With creative optimisation we take the tech a step further; not only delivering ads at the perfect moment (the right consumer, the right device, and the right time) but with the perfect product, offer or information from a set of predetermined options.
Mark Twain once said ‘reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated’. And the same can be said of brand loyalty. It is very much alive, but businesses have failed to keep up with expectations of a consumer base that is desperate to receive relevant, personal advertising at the perfect moment. Those consumers not only like it when brands anticipate their needs or desires. They have come to expect it.
AI goes further than simply helping brands to keep up. It allows them to get ahead. AI is not optional, it will become an absolute essential for marketers that want to reach consumers, sell products and compete in a crowded marketplace. Now that predictive marketing is a reality, marketers can give consumers what they want, when they want it and to do so they must make every moment matter.
By David Gosen, general manager EMEA at Sizmek
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