Will digital marketing one day be automated?

Simon Arseneau
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Automation is rapidly changing the way we live while radically altering the way we work. Sectors that have been affected by automation so far include agriculture, retail, software development, manufacturing, healthcare, as well as energy and mining. We have not gone as far as building artificial human beings for manual labor like in Blade Runner or Westworld, but odds are someone is working on that right now.

The digital marketing sector is also being impacted by this evolving technology with Artificial Intelligence (AI) marketing, effective data analysis, and automation technologies that can help marketers obtain and analyze more data about their clients. Given how much change technology has brought compared to decades ago and the changes that are still to come, one could wonder if one day digital marketing will be a fully automated service. Will it take just the press of a button for any business to launch its latest advertising campaign?  

According to digital marketing influencer Richa Pathak, all digital marketing operations are now affected by AI-powered tools. These tools are helping digital marketers to better understand customer behavior and make the right recommendations at the right time. They can help determine where to find an audience, how to interact with them, what to send them and when to send a follow-up. Pathak states the number of digital marketers making use of AI is expected to highly increase over the coming years and early adopters of this technology will stay ahead of the game.1

Digital marketing consultant Shane Barker also believes AI is changing the future of digital marketing by providing improved customer experiences. More specifically, Barker says AI is becoming more and more popular because it increases precision and work efficiency, analyzes more and deeper data for valuable insights, and can add to the capabilities of various devices with smart algorithms.

When it comes to digital marketing, Barker says with effective data analysis and the ability to adapt to input, AI is taking over the human role of identifying marketing trends. It can help businesses drive relevant traffic, acquire new customers, and increase sales. 

AI tools that are already doing this include chatbots, which act as virtual assistants for consumers. Examples include Amazon’s voice service Alexa, which among other things can provide news and information about a variety of subjects. Chatbot programs can be used to reach out to customers or answer their questions. They can answer customers’ most basic questions and even engage in human-like conversations to improve customer service experience.

Another AI tool is personalized product recommendations, which is when retail and eCommerce brands use AI technology to track customers’ buying habits. This helps make suggestions for products customers might be interested in buying in the future. For example, if you’re looking to buy a new suit for work and you are watching YouTube videos, do not be surprised if your in-between YouTube videos,  you will notice ads for clothing stores with the latest fashion trends.

According to Barker, using this technology is much faster and more accurate than any human capability. It empowers businesses to personalize user experiences, engage with their audience, and increase eCommerce sales.2  

Paul H. Müller is the co-founder and CTO of the marketing website Adjust. He believes automation will change how marketers work and empower them to focus more on creativity and strategy. Automation helps marketers spend more time on the tasks that matter by using software and machine learning to take the heavy lifting out of data analysis. Ultimately the promise of automation, according to Müller, will be for machines to take care of nitty-gritty tasks while humans will still make decisions such as how to position a brand or which products to develop.3

Jen Murray, a lead nurturing manager with customer engagement platform Emarsys, says as much space as AI might be taking in the world of digital marketing there will still be room left for human marketers. Artificial intelligence collects a huge amount of data every day, one of the most valuable resources a brand can possess. This gives marketers insight into the decision of countless web users and allows them to develop personalized marketing strategies aimed at potential customers.

AI can also help organize data, set and monitor email activity as well as social media conversation. However, while marketing automation can provide excellent information on customers and help sift through hours of data, it is no replacement for the analytical and creative brains of a marketing team. According to Murray, marketers use the data provided by this technology to enhance, not replace, their own human understanding. 4

Given the existing technology, digital marketing is becoming more and more automated, but full automation for this sector is not in the near future. As much as artificial intelligence can do in terms of data collection, analysis, and the monitoring of social media, it cannot completely take over the jobs of marketing experts. Robots can take care of the menial tasks, but humans are still needed to come up with strategies to market products and services.    

Sources

  1. Pathak, Richa. “How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing the Landscape of Digital Marketing.” Entrepreneur, 21 Sept. 2019, www.entrepreneur.com/article/339837.

  2. Barker, Shane. “How AI Is Changing The Future Of Digital Marketing.” Hacker Noon, 22 Nov. 2019, hackernoon.com/how-ai-is-changing-the-future-of-digital-marketing-55c9585db075.

  3. Müller, Paul H. “How Automation Can Liberate Digital Marketing.” Mobile Marketing Magazine, 8 Apr. 2020, www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/how-automation-can-liberate-digital-marketing.

  4. Murray, Jen. “The Rise of AI: Will Your Marketing Job Be Given to a Robot?” Emarsys, 29 Nov. 2019, emarsys.com/learn/blog/the-rise-of-ai-marketing/.
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