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What might’ve worked a few years ago could now be irrelevant. That’s the situation many in the startup content marketing and SEO space find themselves in today. The technology seems to move at breakneck speed, meaning there’s usually something new to learn in order to keep a competitive edge.
In the startup world, where speed, convenience, and personalization are paramount, marketing efforts are shifting towards newer technologies to keep up. Today more marketers are embracing the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and big data in interesting ways.
It’s only natural. More and more businesses live in “the cloud” — an entire business infrastructure hosted over the internet — so it’s no wonder that digital marketing is increasingly cloud-focused as well.
Writer Dan Blacharski notes part of the downfall of the dotcom era was a too-quick leap into impersonal automation. The inability for customers to talk to a real human along with limited customer service options killed many a turn-of-the-millennium business. But a new era of automation has much brighter prospects.
“Nothing will be off the table in terms of what can be automated or synced, especially for businesses that exist in the cloud from the start,” Chris Hall, founder and CEO of Bynder, told Blacharski. “The key component will be implementing tactics that bring agility to the forefront of digital marketing. We know consumers want personal interactions with brands, but they also want them in real time.”
Making computerized marketing interactions feel personal and delivering them in real time doesn’t just happen by itself. The use of the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technologies take center stage. HAL 9000 it’s not, but personalized automation, chatbots, and virtual assistants are a step in that direction.
“Very soon, maybe even by the end of next year, a lot of online transactions and ordering products and services will be done online through chatbots,” Alex Bar, owner of Third Temple Digital, told Blacharski. “The future of marketing lays in the use of virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Home,” John Leo Weber, director of digital marketing at Geek Powered Studios, said, pointing out your virtual assistant won’t tell you about 20 coffee shops in town, but about the one a block away with great reviews that’s open now.
Vijay Chittoor, founder and CEO of Blueshift, a top AI marketing tech firm, told Forbes recently that a “segment-of-one” philosophy is the future of marketing. “The only survivors on this battlefield [for competitive advantage] will be the ones who embrace behavior and AI at the core of their marketing and customer experience strategies.”
Chittoor explained how his company’s AI tech helps firms market to customers in a more holistic way.
Most brands end up organizing their marketing teams by marketing channels, such as the email team, display team, and so forth. This prevents them from engaging with customers in a holistic manner. As a result, most marketing technology companies end up building solutions that are channel-centric rather than customer centric, further perpetuating this problem. Blueshift takes a different approach to being a brand’s Customer Data and Engagement hub across all channels, building AI-powered intelligence that can be plugged into channel-centric tools. This enables brands to not only capture all the customer data in one place and keep it updated in real-time but also to orchestrate marketing across every channel from websites and emails all the way to paid channels like display and Facebook advertising. For the first time, brands can place customers at the center of their marketing, and craft customer journeys guided by AI.
Of course, once a company is involving AI across multiple marketing channels, at scale, things get complicated. And that’s where the third key piece of startup marketing comes into play: big data.
In a way, marketing to each customer rather than a scattershot audience of target personae turns the whole game on its head. As customers demand fast, personalized cloud-based solutions, it’s the only way possible to deliver it.
As Chittoor explains it, the technology itself has grown to keep pace. What was once “big data” became combined with AI applications and was then termed “machine learning.” Adding new spatial and temporal features to the data crunching now makes for something called “deep learning.”
What all that means is that a customer won’t be shown a Cadillac ad because they “commute to an office job, live in a nice neighborhood,” and are between 45 and 65. Instead, such a customer would be shown such an ad because a “highly detailed consumer behavior [analysis] suggests that the individual has always researched and desired an American-made luxury car.”
What’s happening in startup marketing so far with the cloud, AI, and big data is probably only the start. There are many opportunities that businesses will test out and refine going forward. In one example already, Buzzsumo, the content and influencer marketing firm, detailed how they used big data to tweak their approach to influencer marketing.
For online businesses, one thing is certain. Your customers will continue to want personalized and real-time interactions as the world becomes more and more automated. These new technologies offer a great opportunity to meet that customer need, whether it’s with chatbots, individualized marketing campaigns, or big data insights that affect your whole business.