Chatbots have been used by companies for a number of years, answering the basic queries of consumers at any time of day. But could artificial intelligence be used to make marketing more effective for smaller businesses?
E-commerce company Shopify is now offering a chatbot that can complete basic marketing to users of its platform. Called Kit, it works in conjunction with social media sites to streamline strategies for small businesses.
From creating ads on Facebook and Instagram, to posting updates on the sites and even generating reports to give insight on performance, this AI is impressive. But Kit's skills go much further than just social media. The chatbot can also send personalized 'thank you' emails, create and promote discount codes, and promote new or back-in-stock products to customers.
The potential of this for a small business is clear; it gives them a low-cost way to start marketing. From this point they can see what works and what doesn't, allowing them to decide what areas they want to invest further in and adapt their strategy. But will it devalue the marketing professionals who have developed their own creative skills?
AI vs Creativity
Traditionally, marketing has required a lot of creativity. Whether developing campaigns to engage a certain audience or actually identifying these personas to start with, marketers have always had to flex their creative muscles to enjoy success. AI is already able to create visual elements and personalize content to increase engagement and it won't be long until the technology becomes increasingly sophisticated to take on more creative tasks.
It could also lead to a point where marketers are neglecting this skillset because machines are able to do it much quicker, thereby further devaluing their assets. This could easily have a snowball effect, where marketing professionals are given less opportunities to showcase their creativity, and they subsequently don't spend time developing these skills, therefore giving C-level executives less reason to give them a chance.
But why would any brand want that? Surely the value of professionals is their ability to collaborate, bounce ideas off each other and adapt strategies as a team. This is a creative process that no algorithm will be able to replicate - at least not in the near future.
Changing the marketing universe
Brands stand to lose a lot more than just people if they aim to transition away from marketing professionals and rely on AI more heavily instead. Engaging an audience isn't as simple as solving an algorithm, as can be seen in the influence of emotive advertising and the change in consumer priorities. People - especially millennials - want brands that understand them and share their values.
This humanization of companies has become incredibly important in marketing and shows no sign of going away. Although AI may be used increasingly to do menial tasks or automate certain processes, replacing the people behind the creative process could be incredibly damaging for brands trying to prove that they truly care and value consumers.
Of course, it's hard to deny that AI and chatbots have changed marketing, much like the digital revolution did, and will probably continue to do so in the future. It's pretty likely that chatbots will change the day-to-day role of marketers and even their priorities. However, it will need skilled professionals to understand the ways it can be best implemented to accomplish any strategy. This will help ensure marketing efforts continue to align with the goals and values of a business.