Artificial Intelligence: Redefining the Digital Marketing Space

Mehjabeen Taj Aalam, Head - Information Technology, Muthoot Homefin (India)Muthoot Homefin(India) Limited (MHIL) is a Housing Finance Company. MHIL is a subsidiary of Muthoot Finance Limited, India’s Largest Gold Loan Company. MHIL is a part of The Muthoot Group which has been serving the customers across the world for over 129 years.

The term ‘Digital marketing’ was first used in the 1990. Little had one fathomed the phenomenon it was to become in the millennia that followed. Digital marketing modes have matured and become more sophisticated and tech savvy over the years. Being driven primarily through CRM applications in its initial days, today it covers a wide array of methods like search engine and social media optimization and marketing, e-commerce marketing, display advertising and content marketing, to name a few.

Success of this digital revolution is also attributable to the growth and proliferation of digital devices at an individual level television, mobile phones, easy and cheap access to data for the masses all have contributed generously to the digitization of marketing in the last two decades. Reaching out to customers was never so easy before. There are now multiple and more frequent touch points where product and service offerings can be made to the right customer at the right time via a digital channel.

Digitization prides itself on a gamut of technologies, and Artificial Intelligence is currently one of its most hyped tech. In contrast to humanity’s natural intelligence, AI is the intelligence depicted by a machine when it mimics the cognitive functions of a human mind. Having said that, the human mind is way more complicated than it seems and far from being completely assessed. This obviously makes AI an even more complex and difficult field to study and adopt.

AI as a concept has been around since 1956 but it has been able to add real value only in the recent times, thanks to smarter algorithms, advancements in computing power and storage and most importantly, increased data volumes which in turn have been a byproduct of our massive digital exposure. Essentially it’s been a self feeding cycle that is working wonders in the digital marketing world. To understand it better let’s pull out a typical day from our life.

Marketing is all about studying, creating and managing exchange relationships and with this amount of information on a person, a most meaningful and rewarding connection can be built. It is often
said that marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed. Right data on your target segment helps you know and understand your customer well enough to design product and service offerings that can start selling itself.

AI is giving a whole new dimension to the collection and analysis of data

AI is giving a whole new dimension to the collection and analysis of data. Like we saw, data is every where and today we have more points of data generation and collection than ever before. Understanding and processing this humongous amount of data the conventional way could get quite overwhelming, to the point where you simply chuck it and do what marketers have been doing since ages act on intuition. But AI is not just about automating manual tasks, it goes a step beyond where it automates repetitive learning and let the data do the programming. AI detects structures and patterns in data and helps the algorithm teach itself through progressive learning. So while processing and churning heaps of added data on a constant basis, the algorithm acquires the skill where it teaches itself to do what it is intended to do also known as machine learning. Machine learning algorithms when applied to large amounts of data, help create propensity models which can be used for predictive analytics. So no longer will you have to intuit on the right audience and right time to pitch your product, your selflearning AI program would know based on patterns what product to recommend next online. AI can thus provide hyper personalized customer experience that can generate great RoI for businesses.

One very important point to remember here is that your analysis is only as good as your data. If your data quality is poor or there is a high level of randomness, your results will suffer. The better your data, the greater is your competitive advantage.

Given messaging platforms is such a rage, conversational commerce might be the next big thing. You might not just catch up with a friend on a messenger but also book tickets, shop, check in to your flights and do a lot more from your to do list via these messaging apps. And to service you on the other side of the app would be an AI powered Chatbot. Many businesses are already using Chatbots for customer support services, a huge operational cost save on the call centre side.

Augmented reality is another aspect of AI that is being used for a personalized customer experience. It can ease decision making and lead to increased online purchases by providing consumers the option to see and feel the product before actual purchase.
AI is also helping marketers with content curation. So rather than mundane picking and forwarding content to your customer, you sort through heaps of web content, add value, trim, organize and present it in the most impactful way. Using its machine learning algorithms AI not just helps find relevant content to syndicate but also helps with the process of editing and drawing insights. Think of your shopping app recommending you products under ‘customers who bought X also bought Y’, or your Netflix subscription recommending you shows you’d be interested in as a smart content curation technique fueled by AI.

AI has been riding the peak of the Gartner Hype cycle since last few years. With the deep neural nets and machine learning increasingly finding new use cases and business applications, there are fair chances that AI will hit the plateau of productivity in the coming years. For the digital marketers, AI has revolutionized the space and redefined it in an exceptional way that’ll only lend it more power as the world goes more digital.