Category: AI


Choose Your Chatbot Wisely

Just about every business website has some form of chatbot now, though their level of usefulness does vary. The right chatbot can give your customers a great experience and improve your operational efficiency. But the wrong ones may frustrate customers and cost you business.

The key? Make sure you’re aware of your options and the user experience before committing to any solution.

Become the best CRMer you can:
CRM Hack: measuring the right marketing campaign KPIs
How To: use loyalty data to power retention and reactivation
See how brands take their email deliverability to the max
Get inspired: great sports betting campaigns to follow

The origins of the chatbot

The proliferation of chatbots over the last decade may give the impression that they are only a product of the internet. In truth, though, the roots go all the way back to 1966 when Joseph Weizenbaum a German computer scientist and Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a program, he called ELIZA.

The all caps make it look like an acronym, but ELIZA doesn’t stand for anything. Instead, as explained in the original Stanford article about it: “Its name was chosen to emphasize that it may be incrementally improved by its users, since its language abilities may be continually improved by a ‘teacher.’”

The reference there was to the character of Eliza in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (more likely recognized by people today as the character in the musical version My Fair Lady).

Eliza was hoping to convince others that she was something she was not – a well-bred lady. Likewise, the program was designed to come across as a human therapist and convince users “that they were having a conversation with a real human being.”

While ELIZA definitely counts as the first chatterbot, the term was only born decades later. In 1994 Michael Maudlin invented a program he named Julia and called the function of a chattering robot “ChatterBot,” and the term soon got shortened to chatbot.

Chatbots now

While users enjoyed their conversations with those early chatbots, most of us would not mistake them for actual people. But today’s chatbots are a different story.

They’re able to carry on much more natural-sounding conversations thanks to the application of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing. Adding in ML and AI enables them to learn by identifying data patterns and then to apply their knowledge to answer questions and carry out tasks without any human intervention.

Their greater functionality translates into far more use by businesses and their customers. Today businesses use bots for a range of communication needs, ranging from customer service to product suggestion, scheduling, and various forms of marketing designed to engage the audience.

But the biggest area of growth for chatbots may be in sales. In Chatbots: Vendor Opportunities & Market Forecasts 2020-2024, Juniper Research anticipates that consumer retail spend over chatbots will hit $142 billion by 2024, quite a jump  from the $2.8 billion we had in 2019.

Juniper also predicts that by 2024, more than half of retail chatbot interactions will go through automatically and that “80% of global consumer spend over chatbots will be attributable to discrete chatbots” that are used  through a mobile app rather than a browser. On that basis, the report “urges retailers to implement chatbots as part of a wider omnichannel retail strategy in order to maximize their presence on a number of key retail channels.”

How to build your customer model

Examples of chatbot successes

For businesses who are looking for inspiration of great applications of chatbots in 2020, there are six standout examples assembled by

  • WHO – Understandably, 2020 created a great demand for information on COVID-19. That prompted the WHO to put out a chatbot on WhatsApp to provide “fast, reliable information related to the pandemic and combat the spread of misinformation.”
  • National Geographic Genius – This was a Facebook Messenger chatbot to promote its Genius series. The bot’s interactions varied according to the featured figure.

For example, when it was up to the Einstein episode, they got the experience of interacting with the quirky personality of the scientist.  “The result was six-to-eight minute average conversations, 11 turns per conversation, 50% user re-engagement, and an engaged community of followers,” reports

  • Duolingo – It’s a native chatbot built with the freemium language learning app to encourage users to practice through a gamified experience. It’s not one-size-fits-all but offers different style tutoring bots to appeal to different types of learning styles.
  • Erica – Back to female names with Erica from Bank of America, a financial assistant who goes beyond just offering account information. She is equipped to not just carry out basic transactions like paying bills but to offer budgeting advice.

The numbers tell the story of the success. It boasts over 7 million users who have completed over 50 million transactions with it. Users appreciate the ease of discovering the bank’s services with her and the helpful reminders to do things like cancel subscriptions.

  •  Madi – That a cool and apt name for Madison Reed’s hair color bot. For those who need help visualizing what color will work for them, this is the perfect solution.

All they need to do is upload a photo. Madi does the analysis of the hair through image recognition and also asks the right questions about what they would like.

As notes, it removes the pain of waiting to get a colorist appointment (something that may not have even been possible for months during 2020-2021). The payoff was huge: “the bot has boosted engagement by 400% with a 21% click-through rate to the company’s website.”

  • Julie – She’s the friendly and capable voice of Amtrak’s customer service. In truth, Julie is older than she looks. The voice is named for the voice talent lent by Julie Stinneford since April 2001. Read up on that in For a machine, Amtrak’s Julie is really sweet.

That means Julie has a successful track record of nearly two complete decades, which is quite an accomplishment for a chatbot. She also saved Amtrak $1 million in customer service cost and boosted revenue by 30%  automated bookings.

More reasons to get on board lists a full dozen types of functions for chatbots and shares the statistics on their ROI for businesses:

  • Consumers are 63% more likely to return to a website that has a chatbot.
  • 71% of people are willing to use messaging apps to get customer assistance. People want their problems solved, fast.
  • Web page engagement rates increase by 3x on average after adding a chatbot.
  • Chatbots increase conversions on your website by 45%.
  • 53% of consumers are more likely to shop with businesses that they can message.

The site also offers information about the various chatbots in the market with rankings, so businesses can find the ones that fit their needs and budget. With the right chatbot, your business can scale up marketing and sales with great efficiency and deliver real value for your investment.

The post Choose Your Chatbot Wisely appeared first on Post Funnel.


How Retailers Will Be Using Artificial Intelligence In 2021…

We’ve known for years that artificial intelligence and machine learning technology is the future of marketing. 

 Or, at least, it was a few years ago. 

 The fact is, AI-powered retail technology is in full effect by today’s standards, in a variety of ways. And, as impactful as it’s been for many companies around the world, it’s only going to keep evolving as time goes on. 

 For retailers in 2021, using artificial intelligence technology is essentially table stakes. As Capgemini found back in 2018, 28% of the top 250 retailers use AI in some capacity (compared to just 4% in 2016). 

In other words, if you’ve yet to hop on the AI-powered bandwagon, your business is likely missing out.

If, perhaps, you’ve been waiting for some hard evidence to prove the value of AI before hopping aboard, well…look no further.

CDP eBook

AI and Data Analytics

Becoming more data-driven is the key to success as a retailer.

In using actual data and hard evidence to drive your business decisions, you’re all but guaranteed to keep your company on the right track.

Of course, combing through the ever-increasing amount of big data your teams collect can be a Sisyphean task if done manually.

Which is why artificial intelligence is playing such a major role in retail data analytics.

Netbase Helps IHeartMedia Analyze User-Generated Content and Other Brand Mentions

Staying up to date with what your customers want from your brand is more important than ever.

But, again:

With a million things being said throughout your industry at any given time, cutting through the noise isn’t exactly easy.

Knowing this, iHeartMedia began using Netbase’s AI-powered tools to track mentions of their brand in terms of both quantity and quality. With Netbase, the team was able to collect valuable insight into their audience’s personalities and perspectives — in turn leading to more promotional opportunities for the brand.

“iHeart uses NetBase to measure sponsorship ROI during our live events including the amount of activity generated for each sponsor, the amount of conversations, the quality and sentiment of those conversations, and the conversation themes.”

Hetal Patel, EVP of Smart Audio Insights and Analytics

With AI automating the process of monitoring social and other channels your audience operates on, your team can stay focused on actually using the data being collected to grow your business.

GumGum Scans Third-Party Sites to Optimize Ad Placement

Getting an ad noticed often comes down to getting it in the right place, at the right time.

With so many places to choose from, though, finding the optimal time and place for each of your ads can be pretty difficult.

Luckily, AI-powered tools like GumGum are here to help.

With GumGum, teams can easily identify the best possible scenario for a given ad, based on millions of data points relating to the customer.

The impact of refining your ad targeting just can’t be overstated.

As GumGum reports, one hotel chain was able to engage and book an additional 148,000 guests by optimizing its ad placement on various channels. Even better: The chain did so at a cost per acquisition that was nearly thirteen times below the industry average.

While other efforts certainly went into improving the chain’s ad campaigns, these improvements would have been for nothing without strategic targeting. With AI tech on-hand, though, this initial step becomes a breeze.

Using AI to Make Better Predictions

Going along with the last section, the entire point of gathering more and more accurate data is to make better plans for moving forward.

More than just collecting and analyzing data, AI is also being used by companies to act on the data they collect.

For example…

AIXON Helps CommonWealth Magazine Identify High-Probability Prospects

When it comes to predicting whether or not a given prospect will convert, AI will always be more accurate than its human counterpart.

Tools such as Appier’s AIXON are being used by a number of companies to supercharge their team’s ability in this regard. Specifically, brands such as CommonWealth Magazine have used AIXON to:

  • Unify and centralize incoming customer data being collected in real-time
  • Identify behaviors indicative of action/conversion
  • Identify the right offer to deliver these individuals, and the right channel to deliver it on

With AIXON’s help, CommonWealth Magazine was able to increase its subscriber list by 400% — at about a third of the cost it would have otherwise. Because the team was better able to predict the outcome of individual engagements with their prospects, they were able to focus on the ones with the best chance of converting.

SalesForce’s Einstein Helps Marriott Staff Predict and Provide for Guest Needs

Making accurate predictions is also key to keeping customers on the hook, as well.

This is especially true in the hospitality industry, where catering to the individual customers’ needs is critical to their satisfaction and loyalty.

For this reason, Marriott relies heavily on Salesforce’s AI-powered tool, Einstein. With Einstein’s assistance, hotel staff can stay on top of any goings-on that may impact their guests on the whole, or on a personal level. In turn, they can quickly react to any incoming information that may enable them to better serve their visitors.

“Partnering with Salesforce, we’re building a platform that enables us to go fast, but do it in a way that’s elegant and still warm and human at the same time.”

– Brian King, Marriott’s Chief Digital & Revenue Officer

AI for Proactive Audience Engagement

Brands are also becoming increasingly reliant on AI-powered technology to stay actively engaged with their individual customers.

In many cases, AI is being used at all stages of the customer’s journey in lieu of actual person-to-person engagements. While the technology hasn’t completely replaced the human brand rep, it certainly has enhanced their ability to deliver value to the customer.

Appier’s AIQUA Helps Clovia Deliver Dynamic, Personalized Content

Again, Appier’s suite of AI-powered tools comes into play.

Here, we’re looking at how AIQUA can help brands deliver dynamic content and offers to their individual customers based on their individual circumstances. By automating this process, brands such as Clovia have uncovered tons of additional opportunities to engage with their customers in real-time.

In Clovia’s case, the goal was to minimize cart abandonment — and turn potential defectors into paying customers. With AIQUA, Clovia was able to present highly-targeted offers based on the customer’s shopping cart and purchase history at critical moments in the on-site experience. In turn, Clovia was able to recoup an untold amount of lost business.

Says Clovia’s Head of Digital Marketing, Rajeshwar Rao:

“Browser notifications work very well when the content is dynamically personalized. We like the way the entire system works by itself, fully optimized to meet our goals. Personalized cart drop-off campaigns have helped us scale conversions significantly.”

KIA Uses Chatbot Technology to Spur Sales

We’ve always been a fan of chatbots here at PostFunnel — and with good reason.

As artificial intelligence continues to improve chatbot technology, using it to engage with the customer will become more and more common.

Need proof?

Kia’s proprietary chatbot, dubbed “Kian”, generated three times more conversions than its website did within just four months of being operational. Through Facebook Messenger alone, Kia’s engagement levels increased fifty times over in that same time period.

Again, a common thread emerges among brands using AI to reach their customers. As Brendan Flynn, VP of Marketing at CarLabs explains, Kia’s chatbot isn’t delivering “blatant marketing messages.” Instead, it’s “the right message, to the right person, at the right time”.

Streamlining Transactions With AI

Modern retailers are also using AI to automate and otherwise optimize transactions for both the customer and the team.

For both parties, it’s all about convenience and ease: The less friction involved in the transactional process, the easier it is for each party to get what they’re looking for from the actual transaction.

For example…

Hypatos Automates Customer Invoicing Processes

As important as it is for your business to get paid, actually processing payments and other transactions can be a huge drain on resources if your workflows aren’t optimized.

Hypatos is just one tech company aiming to help companies do just that, specifically through the use of artificial intelligence. Hypatos’ AI-powered tools take nearly all of the legwork out of processing documents, whether from customers, vendors, or internal staff members.

In addition to processing written and other physical text, Hypatos actively learns how to better recognize this text over time. Moreover, the tool can also detect anomalies within scanned documents, as well. In both cases, this ensures ever-increasing accuracy throughout any and all customer transactions.

The impact, here, can be tremendous: Many of Hypatos’ clients have seen an astounding 90% reduction in costs relating to invoicing and other processes.

Standard Cognition and Other AI-Powered Companies are Paving the Way for Cashierless Stores

While retailers have been offering self-checkout in some form or another for a while now, AI-powered technology continues to revolutionize the process as time goes on.

A few examples:

  • Standard Cognition’s software uses a network of cameras to monitor in-store consumer behavior and product movement
  • Imagr’s SmartCart technology identifies products the customer places in their physical shopping cart, allowing the customer to pay for their purchases via mobile app
  • Amazon continues to open more and more Amazon Go brick-and-mortar stores, where customers can simply “Just Walk Out” with their new purchase (which will be charged to their Amazon account)

Most recently, Australian AI tech startup Tiliter has secured $7.5m in funding to ramp up its efforts in developing cashierless technology. As explained in the company’s press release, the funding will be used “to accelerate its expansion across Europe and the U.S., with many supermarkets to unveil Tiliter’s product recognition technology over the coming months.”

In other words, cashierless checkout is going mainstream in the years to come. As things currently stand, the technology is able to process the necessary product- and customer-related data within one second, with 99% accuracy.

As artificial intelligence tech continues to evolve, we’re bound to see more brick-and-mortar locations adopt some form of cashierless checkout in 2021.

Is Your Retail Business Ready for Artificial Intelligence?

(Hint: The correct answer is “yes”.)

Like we said at the beginning, the use of AI for various purposes is no longer optional for modern retail businesses.

With so many affordable, scalable tools quickly coming into the mainstream, even the smallest of startups will be looking to see how AI can supercharge their business. What’s more, those that may have already adopted artificial intelligence to some degree will definitely be adding to their AI-powered tech stack in the near future.

That said, it’s important to be strategic as you add new AI-powered tools to your tech stack. The message to take from all this isn’t that AI allows you to put your business on autopilot; it’s that it allows your team to truly maximize their efforts, while automating tasks that don’t need the human touch.

So, really, you shouldn’t be asking yourself “Is our organization ready for AI?”, but instead “How are we going to be using AI to supercharge our business this year?”

The post How Retailers Will Be Using Artificial Intelligence In 2021 (and Beyond) appeared first on Post Funnel.


4 Trends in the Marketing World Made Possible by…

As we recently discussed, the artificial intelligence revolution is upon us – and it continues to ramp up almost daily.

The advancements made in AI tech over the recent years have been highly beneficial to marketing teams around the world.

On just a surface level, AI enables marketing teams to become more productive. By today’s standards, even the most rudimentary AI tools can allow marketing teams to create more output while minimizing production costs.

Become the best CRMer you can:
CRM Hack: measuring the right marketing campaign KPIs
How To: use loyalty data to power retention and reactivation
See how brands take their email deliverability to the max
Get inspired: great sports betting campaigns to follow

That’s all well and good – but there’s much more to the big picture, here.

Today’s AI-powered technology doesn’t just help marketing teams do “more of the same”. Rather, modern AI has paved the way for the modern marketer to evolve their processes across the board.

This has ushered in a new era of marketing. This era is marked by four AI-powered emerging trends – which will be discussing throughout this article.

Hyper-Personalization and Hyper-Segmentation

The “segment of one” has long been the Holy Grail of marketing.

And with good reason: As a 2018 report from Evergage shows, providing a personalized experience to your customers is key to increasing acquisition, engagement, conversion, and retention rates.

Of course, it’s near-impossible to provide a truly personalized experience to each of your customers – at least not without the help of AI. As AI technology continues to improve, so, too, are brands’ hyper-personalization and hyper-segmentation efforts.

First of all, AI has revolutionized the data analytics game. With AI in the driver’s seat, here, marketers can collect, organize, and analyze more data than ever before – and do it all in a fraction of the time it used to take.

More than that, AI and machine learning technology enable modern analytics tools to uncover data and information that had previously gone unnoticed. This can lead to the creation of innovative experiences for your customers, as well as the creation of new and more accurate audience personas to target in the first place.

(This, to be sure, is a huge step toward being able to create the coveted “segment of one”.)

Artificial intelligence also allows for the delivery of a dynamic experience to individual customers, in a few different ways:

  • Dynamic content
  • Dynamic advertisements
  • Dynamic pricing

Here, AI uses all available data to understand the context of a certain customer engagement – and use this context to automatically deliver laser-focused content, ads, or promotions to the individual as needed.

AI takes all this even further, allowing for omnichannel delivery of these offers and experiences, as well. This, in turn, will give your team better insight into which channels to focus on moving forward – and how to use them to effectively engage with your customers.

The Takeaway

AI has enabled marketing teams to provide a highly-personalized experience to their customers – both automatically and manually.

As AI tech continues to improve and attending to the “segment of one” becomes more of a reality, the modern consumer will begin to expect such individualized service from the brands they do business with.

Those that manage to do so are going to quickly find themselves way ahead of their competition in the years to come.

Real-Time Marketing via Micro-Moments

As you surely know, the modern consumer can be pretty impatient.

In fact, Hubspot found that up to 90% of consumers expect an “immediate” response when they reach out to their favorite brands for assistance. On top of that, Salesforce reports that 45% of consumers will switch brands if said team is unable to proactively anticipate their immediate needs.

More than just being quick when engaging with their customers, marketers also need to pack as much value as possible into every one of these engagements. Unfortunately, falling short just once in this regard can cause a customer to think less of your brand moving forward.

As we touched on in the last section, AI enables marketing teams to provide for their customers more quickly and effectively than ever before.

For one, AI can supercharge your approach to creating behavioral triggers (and accompanying content/promotions). This goes back to using AI-powered analytics software to understand what to offer your customers at various points along their customer lifecycle.

AI can also simulate human-to-human engagements between your customers and your brand. As AI technology becomes more advanced, chatbots, conversational landing pages, and the like will continue offering more human-like interactions – leading to a more personal and personable experience in the eyes of your customers.

And, again, AI brings more data to the table than ever before. With all this data on-hand at all times, marketers and other customer-facing team members will always have the information they need to optimize the actual human-to-human interactions they have with your customers.

The Takeaway

When it comes to engaging with the modern consumer, every second counts, and every moment matters.

As AI enables marketers to better capitalize on the micro-moments that are so crucial to the overall customer experience, this, too, will become a major expectation of the modern consumer.

More than just catering to the micro-moments that already exist, we’ll likely see brands begin creating new reasons to engage with their audience (and vice-versa) throughout their journey. If your team is able to anticipate (and even proactively provide for) your customers’ needs at all times, you’ll quickly be seen as the go-to brand in your industry.

VSEO: Voice and Video Search Engine Optimization

Depending on who you ask, VSEO means either voice- or video-SEO.

In both cases, the concept stems from the evolution of AI’s evolving ability to understand more than just textual information:

  • Video SEO acknowledges that search engines are learning to crawl through and discern meaning from audio, video, and visual content posted on the web
  • Voice SEO acknowledges that search engines are learning to better understand spoken search queries

Here, it’s not so much about marketers using AI, but in being aware of how it’s affecting their content’s visibility.

When optimizing video content for search, marketers now need to go beyond the typical titles, descriptions, scripts, and meta tags that have been the focus for years. On top of all these things, we’ll now need to start thinking of our video content in the same way we think of our text-based content.

As for individual video content, optimizing for video SEO now means:

  • Structuring the content in a clear and comprehensive manner
  • Providing both visual and audible cues throughout the content
  • Ensuring the equipment used creates high-quality content

In terms of the overall approach to video content marketing, we’ll now need to create video pillars and clusters that interlink with one another. With regard to AI, the more robust your video content catalog, the more attention it will get from tomorrow’s search engines.

For example, SEO guru Brian Dean owns the top three video results for the search term “video SEO 2020 examples.”

Content marketers are also adapting to AI-powered improvements to voice SEO in a number of ways:

  • Delivering clear and concise information in-text to snag the snippet (or so-called “rank zero”)
  • Using more conversational longtail keywords to match spoken search queries
  • Creating both longform pillar content and more concise and targeted cluster content

Again, the goal is to cater to the individual as needed at any given moment – regardless of the format of your content or the channel it’s being delivered on.

The Takeaway

Again, as AI evolves, so, too, will best practices for search engine optimization.

And it’s not just that the best practices of yesterday and today will go out the window. Rather, we’re going to see brands build on these past practices to ensure their content remains highly visible for their target audience.

On that note, we’re certainly bound to see AI-powered SEO tools continue to emerge and evolve as time goes on, as well. So, in addition to amending your approach to SEO, overall, you’ll also need to stay up to date with the newest tools that will ensure your team’s efforts are leading your company in the right direction.

Internet of Things (IoT) Marketing

The Internet of Things has been around for years now – and continues to connect our world in ways that felt like science fiction mere decades ago.

A few quick stats:

  • The number of in-home IoT devices is expected to explode to 86 billion worldwide by the end of this year
  • 127 new IoT-ready devices are connected every second
  • Consumer electronics will account for 63% of all IoT devices within the next year

IoT and AI technology go hand-in-hand in many ways – all for the purpose of supercharging the modern brand’s ability to engage with and provide value to their customers.

Firstly, many brands have begun adding IoT connectivity to their digital and non-digital products, alike. This can give marketing teams a glimpse of the “hidden” parts of the customer’s experience with said product. Brands selling consumables, for example, will gain a much clearer idea of how (and how often) their products are used within the home.

(As we said earlier, this is where AI-powered data analytics tools come into play.)

In addition to simply collecting this data, IoT and AI tech team up to enable brands to deliver proactive service and support in real-time. From automating replenishment orders to delivering right-place-right-time offers based on product usage, physical location, and other factors, IoT and AI are paving the way for brands to deliver a truly integrated, omnichannel experience to their customers.

The Takeaway

True omnipresence in your customers’ lives simply can’t happen without IoT and AI technology.

On just a surface level, the takeaway is clear:

If you aren’t hopping on the IoT/AI bandwagon, you’re going to be missing out on a ton of potential opportunities to engage with your audience.

But, there’s more to all this than just relying on technology to become more omnipresent in your customers’ lives. As we said earlier, the goal is to dig deep to discover the high-stakes moments throughout your customer’s journey that can make or break their experience with your brand.

The fact is, brands are becoming more in-tune and connected with their customers – both literally (in a digital sense) and figuratively (i.e., relationship-wise). As a marketing team, it’s your duty to ensure these connections remain active in some way at all times, and to continue finding new and exciting ways to provide value to your individual customers.

Again, this just will not be able to happen at scale without the help of IoT and AI technology.

Wrapping Up

Artificial intelligence has come a long way in the marketing world…and it’s going to continue evolving at a rapid pace as time goes on.

Instead of just sitting back and letting technology do everything, though, the modern marketer needs to understand how AI can enable them to evolve as marketers, overall.

(Perhaps one day AI truly will do everything for us…but that day is not today.)

This is essentially why the above trends have emerged in full force:

With AI taking some of the load off your human marketing team’s back, the team will be able to invest more heavily into the progressive marketing tactics that the modern consumer expects from your brand.

The post 4 Trends in the Marketing World Made Possible by Artificial Intelligence appeared first on Post Funnel.

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