Digital marketers, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re all toast. A recent study proves that by 2025, your jobs will be lost to robots. I’m joking of course. But in this second installment of my two-part blog series on why brands must start adapting to AI, I’ll be discussing two things. Firstly, what all of this means for the future of digital marketers. And secondly, the seven steps they must take to prevent their brands becoming obsolete by accident because algorithms aren’t placing them in front of consumers.
But before I begin, let’s first of all do a brief recap on what I discussed last week. Simply put, we’re on the brink of a fundamental shift in the evolution of shopping. This is driven by the rise of AI and voice commerce, and will see consumers relinquishing control of the buying process to voice-controlled, intelligent personal assistants like Alexa, which will make purchasing decisions on their behalf. This in turn means brands must start influencing the algorithms making these decisions. Or in other words, start advertising to robots.
So what does this mean for digital marketers? It doesn’t mean they’re going to lose their jobs to robots. It just means that in eCommerce, as in life, there is constant change, and to weather this change, one must evolve with and adapt to it.
There will always be a role for digital marketers. They just need to begin adopting strategies that influence algorithms as well as people. This doesn’t involve reinventing the marketing wheel. The tried and trusted traditional wisdom still applies. With just a few tweaks here and there.
Here are the seven steps all digital marketers must take to begin successfully advertising to robots:
1. Know Your Consumer
Knowing your consumer better than they know themselves remains paramount to marketers, no matter who or what you’re advertising to, people or robots. Think about it logically — if you don’t know your customer, how are you going to target your marketing activities to connect with and influence the algorithms making choices on their behalf?
So, questions you should be asking of your consumer include but are not limited to:
- What is their purchasing history?
- What are their preferred products?
- When during the day/week/month do they prefer to shop?
- Do they shop more at certain times of the year?
- On what platforms do they prefer to purchase?
2. Engage Consumers Where They Are
This is a vital part of any brand strategy now. Previously, brands invested huge time and effort trying to drive consumers to direct purchases. But the digital landscape has changed this dynamic.
Now, the consumer is in far greater control of the purchasing process. They’re on the platform of their choice, using the device of their choice, at the time of their choice, and they don’t expect to be forced through to a direct purchase from a brand. Brands must understand this and adapt their strategies accordingly.
Today, it’s not about forcing consumers to behave how you want them to as a brand. It’s about understanding where they are, being present where they are, and making it easy for them to connect with and buy from your brand in that time and in that space, on their terms. Softly softly, catchee monkey.
3. Create Unique Brand Experiences
So, now you know your consumer and where they are, you must give them what feels like a personalised brand experience, in which they develop that all-important emotional connection to your brand, at scale. Algorithms or no algorithms, the classic rules of the customer life cycle still apply here. That is, select, acquire, retain and extend, delivering customer service excellence along every step. Personalisation is key here, so segment all campaigns as specifically as possible.
4. Make Every Interaction Actionable
Once you’re in a position of knowing your consumer, engaging them where they are, and delivering them what feel like customized personal experiences, you must drive action from them.
Timing is of the essence here. Engage and capture consumers and offer them a clear path to purchase in the moment, when their buying intent is peak. Shoppable content is a key weapon in your arsenal here, with shoppable video in particular building momentum, as discussed in our blog, Shoppable Video: The Rising Star Of Your Marketing Strategy.
The likes of Ted Baker, Hugo Boss, CoverGirl and the BBC are all using shoppable videos in clever ways to increase engagement and conversion rates. ‘Shop the look’ videos are particularly effective. Viewers can simply click on their desired items in the look and be given the option to purchase them directly or from a preferred retailer.
Regardless of the content your consumer is engaging with though, brands must capture the valuable data at each interaction. Which leads me neatly to my next point…
5. Understand Their Behavior
Brands must use this data to further understand their consumers and adapt their strategies accordingly, in what is a constant feedback loop of improving how things are presented to them.
For example, are there particular campaigns that are working more effectively with a particular segment of consumers on a particular platform? Or is there a particular point in the purchase funnel where consumers are dropping off? And if so, why? Is it bad content? Poor imagery? Both? Regardless, once a brand has identified a problem and established its cause, it can go about rectifying it.
This requires lots of A/B testing, learning, refining and optimizing to ensure what you’re putting in front of your consumers is as compelling as possible.
6. Build Lasting Relationships
This is all about trust. Because without trust, you can’t form a lasting relationship. In the past, brands established trust with their consumers on the basis of the consumer trusting that the product or service would deliver on its promise. And that’s what built a lasting relationship in which the consumer kept coming back.
But nowadays, it’s a deeper and more complex dynamic. Again, it’s about establishing and maintaining an emotional connection with the consumer at every stage of their life cycle. That’s what establishes trust, and, with that, a lasting relationship. And it’s by these lasting relationships that algorithms will recognize a consumer’s preference to have a relationship with your brand over any other.
Building and nurturing these relationships over time is one of the most important things you can do as a brand, because this is what will position you for success when it comes to influencing the algorithms that will be making purchasing decisions on the consumer’s behalf.
7. Embrace Innovation
As you test new ways of engaging with your consumer, you must embrace the fact that not all of them will work. In fact, you need to go one further and embrace the fact that not only will not all of them work, but that most of them will fail.
Why? Because success is born of these failures. It’s these failures that provide the lightbulb moments and lucky breaks that will really accelerate a brand in this newly emerging space. So, embrace innovation with all its inherent failure. To quote Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Make this your brand mantra.
This completes the seven steps your brand must take to advertise to robots. None can be ignored. And all are unified by one key message — to succeed here, you must build a lasting and emotionally connected relationship with your consumer.
So, once a brand understands how to do this and has a process that works for them, what next? Well, next you use programmatic methodologies to automate as much of this process as possible. And this is where things get really interesting. Because what you’ve got then is a situation where algorithms are advertising to algorithms. But we’ll leave that rabbit hole for another day!
Interested in capturing the deep, cross-channel data necessary for your brand to advertise to robots? ChannelSight’s Buy Now solution can deliver this, so contact us today!
Chief Executive Officer