Jay Kulkarni, CEO of Theorem
The events of the last few years coupled with changes in user behaviour and advances in technology have led to a seismic shift in the way brands need to operate to keep competitive. The onset of the digital revolution, the pandemic and worldwide lockdowns have fuelled an explosion in digital communication. This, alongside an increase in the digital platforms and channels available to users has led to a huge demand – or even expectation – for a customer-first approach.
Consumers today don’t just want a seamless, ‘always on’ communications experience with their brands of choice, but they also want that engagement to be on the channels they prefer and at the time most convenient to them. In short, brand marketers need a crystal ball to navigate today’s customer.
In 2022, as the cost of living continues to skyrocket and recession looms, brands have the added complication of financial pressure. As business leaders debate the implications of this tough economic climate, this article aims to outline how advancements in automation technology is one way to cut costs and boost bottom line results.
Across all industries, today’s most successful brands now rely on artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline their operations. The automation of business processes has enabled companies to perform more tasks in less time, resulting in lower labour costs, increased output, and higher profit margins. And, machine learning and AI-driven analytics have made it possible for organizations to make more informed and effective marketing decisions based on high-level data insights.
The benefits are numerous, here we look at the top three for marketers to stay competitive in today’s economic landscape.
Economies of Scale
New research from WARC predicts that by 2025, 73% of people will rely solely on smartphones to access the internet. This coupled with the potential impact of a recession decreasing the popularity of brick and mortar stores means that businesses must adjust swiftly to changing consumer behaviour and respond at scale if they are to capitalize on this trend. This is where adopting automation tools is crucial, as they can help manage high volumes of data and continuous, real-time analysis at scale, across all devices and platforms. These tools can also help businesses scale their first-party data collection and analysis to drive deeper personalization strategies, meeting marketing and customer experience demands in real time.
Despite unease in the workforce over automation replacing human roles, this type of technology actually creates efficiencies, making it easier for people to evaluate the meaning of the data and feed it back into business strategy.
Automation improves efficiency by running pre-programmed campaigns across multiple channels. With more digital channels being used today like social media, email, display advertising, retail media networks and more, automation can help marketers keep campaigns on track through robust, high-quality multichannel monitoring. Automation offers marketers the upper hand and the ability to strategically improve efforts on a consistent basis.
Similarly, it improves marketing segmentation strategies that group users based on demographics, location and device type. Modern segmentation strategies can also gauge a user’s proximity to physical stores, granting marketers an advantage to understand their customers wants and needs and provide solutions when and where they need them.
Data Driven Strategy
If automation is the process, real-time data is the intelligence. Now more than ever it is essential for companies to establish real-time data and analytics strategies, which can help boost business agility, improve campaign performance, increase operational efficiency and enhance customer understanding. All these benefits are now business critical for companies needing to attract and retain customers for business resilience.
Automation plays a core role in managing the flow of real-time data, which significantly decreases the time and effort it takes to collect, analyse, respond, and action it. Automated data collection and analysis creates the opportunity to make informed decisions and optimizations based on accurate consumer actions. It gives businesses targeting mobile commerce the opportunity to identify trends in real time and be agile in their marketing by adjusting dynamic aspects of their campaigns.
The automation of data collection and implementation strategies also enables businesses to be proactive in their customer retention efforts and improve customer experience by reacting to the freshest, most up-to-date insights and leveraging real-time data to proactively plan for future trends in buyer behaviour.
Future-thinking marketers are grasping this, understanding the need to think outside the box and use automation strategies to their advantage — 96% of marketing companies implemented automation solutions in 2021 alone and 36% only took six months to a year to properly implement an automation process into operation and marketing tactics.
The Personal Touch
Personalisation at scale is perhaps the biggest benefit derived from automation. With customer expectations on the rise, marketers not only need to be one step ahead, but they also have to increasingly have a 360-degree view and in-depth understanding of their customer.
For example, implementing dynamic creative optimization (DCO) is one way in which marketers can automate the creation of personalized messaging and creatives for their audience. Utilizing DCO can not only increase the scale of personalization strategies but can also improve the overall customer journey by providing highly relevant content.
Additionally, chatbots and other AI-powered tools use machine learning to help create consistency across channels by adopting and applying brand voice and tone. These tools can be used to track customer interactions across all touchpoints to ensure a smooth and cohesive omnichannel experience.
Automating personalization will lessen the manual lift on marketers while also creating a positive brand experience, improving loyalty and leaving a meaningful impact on your audience. Further, automating personalization tactics in campaigns demonstrates that marketers and brands are conscious of their target audiences and are working to ensure that consumers feel valued, increasing customer loyalty and trust.
But, perhaps more importantly, automation and AI can also be used to enhance how a company performs its services. This is especially true when it comes to customer experience (CX). Some research suggests that 68% of consumers are willing to pay more to have better customer service experiences.
Today’s AI-powered chatbots are nothing like the stilted communicators from 20 years ago. The capabilities of those largely ineffectual (and annoying) bots were extremely limited because they could only have conversations that were scripted or rule based.
Thanks to modern AI applications such as machine learning (ML), natural language understanding (NLU), and natural language generation (NLG), chatbots are now capable of “understanding” the context and intent of customer queries and can generate appropriate responses on their own. This results in a more effective, human-sounding communication that improves how consumers experience and perceive a brand.
In fact, 63 percent of people don’t know when they’re using AI-driven services like chatbots.
Another example of automation technology improving CX is the use of AI-powered recommendation systems that use machine learning to identify patterns in consumer behaviour data and predict what shoppers might want to buy next. Even if a visitor has never made a purchase on a site, these algorithms can suggest relevant products by collecting and analysing other key data points, such as previous communications, pages viewed, and demographic and psychographic info.
All of this points to a more conclusive, personalized experience for today’s modern customer. AI makes it easier than ever to provide customers with the high levels of personalization they’ve come to expect from their shopping experiences. 91 percent of shoppers say they’re more likely to buy from a brand that provides personalized recommendations and offers.
Automation is the Future of Successful Business
From AI-powered chatbots that actually sound and behave like real people to dynamic marketing strategies, highly personalized content and product recommendations, automation technology is helping businesses and brands level up the quality of their CX.
The technology allows 360-degree support for customer acquisition at every step of the journey. It can be a powerful tool for reducing churn by identifying customer pain points so they can be addressed pre-emptively and can determine which types of offers or rewards are most appealing to specific customers.
Brands that embrace automation technology will be better equipped to meet ever-evolving customer demands and the ability to deliver a seamless, superior customer experience will sustain customer relationships and drive loyalty at a time when businesses will need it most.