Heidi Unruh has more than 25 years experience in marketing B2B software and services with a focus on digital content marketing. Heidi is currently vice president of global content marketing at e-Spirit. Her extensive leadership experience includes worldwide marketing for Oracle ATG, FIS (formerly SunGard) and PaperThin.
We’re long past the tipping point of mobile device usage overtaking desktops for internet access. In the US, for example, mobile digital media time is now at 51 percent compared to 42 percent for desktops. The message for marketers these days is clear: if you’re not able to provide a great mobile experience, you will quickly fall behind competitors who are stepping up their mobile game.
So how can you leapfrog competitors and deliver a game changing mobile experience? One place is to start is by asking this question: Exactly how are consumers using their smartphones compared to tablets and PCs? As it turns out, smartphones are overwhelmingly popular for activities such as social media, messaging and consuming news, but consumers also tend to use desktops and tablets for more detailed reviews and purchases. This multi-platform behavior undoubtedly stems from the simple fact that too many mobile experiences, especially for purchases, are simply awful.
As any marketer interested in building awareness and driving sales through social and mobile media knows, platform switching halfway through the customer journey is not a good outcome. The obvious solution then is just to build out a better mobile site, right? And indeed, making an investment in your mobile properties is a good start. But in this world, you’ll need more than just another mobile site to keep those platforms shifters from kissing you goodbye.
Enter artificial intelligence (AI)
Without question, AI is quickly becoming one of the hottest trends today, not just in marketing but across numerous industry segments (think connected intelligence and the Internet of Things). You may think AI seems like an intimidating technology that will require many experts and deep pockets to pull off, but you would be wrong.
In reality, AI has already helped many marketers accomplish tasks with ease that could only previously be achieved with great time and effort – even tasks that may have seemed impossible in the past. AI-optimized mobile experiences present a huge opportunity for marketers to differentiate themselves from competitors and to save customers time and reduce aggravation.
Most of us who follow technology are likely aware of chatbots which have been hyped as the online support representative of the future, only automated. They are essentially smart messenger programs that can mimic human conversations and provide concierge-level service to help people do things such as choose a movie, book flights, troubleshoot support issues, schedule appointments, and so on. As great as all that sounds, AI-powered chatbots are still not ready for prime time, as evidenced when Facebook unplugged its M chatbot in early January.
More to the point, what the initial poor-showing illustrates is that AI has not necessarily advanced to the point where it can do things that humans are inherently good at, like understanding nuances in tone and meaning. Instead, where AI is gaining traction is doing things that computers are inherently good at, but doing those things far more intelligently than either computers or humans have done them in the past. And in those areas, AI is already showing game-changing potential.
Among the best applications we’ve see yet for the use of computer smarts is to deliver mobile experiences that are personalized all the way down to the individual level. This can include nearly anything your marketing brain can imagine from hyper-relevant content recommendations to micro-targeted real-time offers. To kick your thinking into gear, here are four ways you can deliver better mobile experiences using already available AI-powered targeting and engagement technologies:
- Deliver perfectly personalized mobile content. This is one area where the bots are ready to step up. AI-powered personalization helps organizations unify data from internal and external sources (systems, channels, etc.) for a single view of the customer. That data can then be used to deliver perfectly personalized digital experiences in real time that incite customers to action on their mobile devices, wherever they may be. Starbucks is a great example of a company starting to get mobile personalized experiences right. Starbucks’ app gathers customer information such as coffee-type preferences, consumption times, and branch preferences to craft personalized promotions for the individual. This data combined with AI analysis can then be used to serve a promo for a new latte flavor to customers who frequently purchase lattes as they walk in or approach a Starbucks store.
- Uncover micro-segments. AI segmenting helps you obtain insights from cross-device behaviors to uncover and target valuable customer segments. Instead of having to painstakingly build out spreadsheet pivot tables, you can direct AI bots to intelligently and quickly sort through vast amounts of data, so you can segment by user behavior, device type, element clicks, geo-location, local weather forecast, past purchases and much, much more.
- Increase revenues with recommendations. AI-powered recommendations allow you to increase user retention, app engagement and session length by inserting data-driven product, content and email/text recommendations at critical touchpoints and drop-offs – and remember where users left off, whether on a desktop or smartphone. Iconic beauty brand Sephora, for example, increased ROI 6X using AI-powered product recommendations.
- Drive clicks with automated mobile app A/B testing. AI-powered A/B testing helps you automatically and continuously optimize the performance of any app content using testing and optimization algorithms. Test anything from headlines to CTAs to landing pages and let AI choose the best options for you for truly effortless optimization.
Given the impressive advances in AI over the past few years, you can now use it with confidence to intelligently personalize content and deliver it with targeted accuracy at every stage of the customer journey on any channel, including mobile. Marketers that take advantage of AI’s true strengths today will be able to accomplish exponentially more while expending less effort. They’ll be able to leverage customer data for more intelligent targeting and focus their energy on honing marketing strategies rather than doing work that AI can do better. And by improving customer’s mobile experiences in this way, marketers will realize a significant edge over their competition.