Every time you use a digital assistant, receive a recommendation from Amazon or use an app to find the fastest route, you’re using artificial intelligence. AI has changed our lives in countless ways, but I’ve noticed most agencies still struggle to harness its power to improve their business.
In truth, AI is already a part of agency life — and its influence will only become more profound. According to a recent report, AI in marketing is predicted to be a $21 billion market by 2023.
Clearly, this growth means agencies may want to get on board. They also may need to grapple with determining what data to collect, how to analyze it, which tasks to automate and how AI can help clients.
In my agency, we typically use AI to analyze the content, context and outcomes of client calls. Our findings, ideally, lead to higher profitability and retention rates.
Sizing Up Big Data
I’ve noticed that agencies are often scared to dip their toes into AI’s waters because it feels complicated; after all, it’s rife with terms like “big data” that can seem irrelevant to small businesses. One report on AI in B2B marketing found that only 12% of marketers surveyed feel “very confident” about their knowledge of AI. But really, at its core, data is just information; big data is anything that doesn’t fit on a spreadsheet.
If you’re just beginning to explore AI, apply it first to your internal operations. Where can you be more efficient in 2020? How can AI help improve life for your employees?
Identify repetitive tasks that take a lot of time. If you can use AI to offload some of those time sucks, you can free up time to produce higher-quality work.
Here are some ways to dive into AI today:
1. Record And Transcribe All Calls
An article published by The Atlantic predicted that as AI learns to transcribe human speech with all its nuances, a stenographer’s role may become a thing of the past. Agencies might not hire stenographers, but every employee — from intern to owner — likely spends hours each week taking notes. This is a task no one should have to do in 2020. Imagine that instead of writing notes, your employees could spend more time listening deeply and processing information during calls. What ideas would surface? This is also low-hanging fruit, mind you — your conference line software likely offers this service already.
2. Score Leads
Say goodbye to wasting time on leads who aren’t a good fit or don’t have any budget. Using AI, predictive lead scoring can tell you the difference between strong and weak leads for your company. If you use software such as HubSpot, Pardot or Marketo, this tool is already at your fingertips — and I suggest you take advantage of it as soon as possible.
3. Accurately Forecast Results
What kind of content will get the most traction next month? Which SEO keywords will perform well in the second quarter? By applying predictive analytics to time series data (which represents any data points collected and ordered in time), you can answer this question and similar ones.
Applying predictive analytics to time series data can help better forecast future results by using historical benchmarks. Rather than using predictive analytics alone (and looking at a snapshot of a specific result from the past), you can use time series data to see the whole picture. Tools you could use include Python and R. Using these programming languages, you can better predict profitability and find solutions for negative trends.
Python and R simply can make a machine learning framework useful and manageable. Think of them like scaffolding: They support different algorithms and “libraries” that can ultimately reach marketing solutions through deep learning processes.
To begin this journey, you could use R to build a programming function that better explores marketing data (culled from different times and sources) to predict upcoming trends. R can guide the way that data is collected, combined and interpreted in order to discover patterns. This allows you to single out certain patterns in your growth from quarter to quarter.
4. Identify What Drives Conversions
AI can also optimize your business strategy by identifying channels that contribute most to lead generation and conversion. For example, FlyPolar used machine learning algorithms to understand which website designs performed best. With these insights, the fashion brand optimized its landing pages, created a simpler conversion funnel and increased order value by 13% in three weeks. That’s a powerful result, and it’s easily replicated: Your web analytics service likely already has the data you need to do this.
Through machine learning, behavioral insights and profile data allow us to understand every individual in a target audience with the utmost accuracy. You can glean details like a prospect’s media habits, personality, character, passions and more. Google Ads and Adext AMaaS are two of the more common applications to achieve this successfully.
5. Keep Tabs On Your Competitors
If you’re an independent public relations firm with 50 to 100 employees, you could use AI to analyze your bigger competitors to understand what’s behind their success. Data science and machine learning make it possible to get a comprehensive look at what your competitors are up to. To monitor them, consider using tools like Sprout Social, Buzzsumo and iSpionage.
If you feel behind when it comes to AI, don’t stress — there’s still plenty of time to integrate the tools above to optimize your agency operations and strategy. With that said, choosing not to use AI may not be the best option. It doesn’t seem to be a fad, and the future of your agency may depend on it.