Will AI transform retail marketing?
A survey from Sailthru finds more retailers using artificial intelligence (AI) to support marketing purposes.
The survey of more than 200 retail marketers showed that of the 66 percent who leverage AI for marketing purposes, the most common applications are in search (37 percent), product recommendations (33 percent), and programmatic advertising and data science (both 26 percent).
Still, the marketers leveraging AI in one or more channels/methods weren’t much more likely to have met or exceeded their 2016 marketing goals. Sailthru said this suggests “not all applications and methods are equally useful, and that simply employing AI-based solutions is not sufficient for marketing success.”
Cosabella, however, has significantly increased its subscription base and e-mail-driven revenues since shifting to an AI-enabled marketing automation platform, according to Emarsys, which provided the core marketing technology for the implementation.
In transitioning last fall, the family-owned Italian lingerie company dropped the advertising agency that had overseen areas such as SEO (search engine optimization), CRO (conversion rate optimization) and overall e-mail campaigns.
The company collaborated with five technology providers, programming the new AI-driven platform to absorb two years of product, pricing and consumer profile data. Customers were then auto-grouped into “personas,” such as best/worst customers, slipping/gaining customers, etc., to receive tailored e-mail or mobile offers.
Courtney Connell, Cosabella’s marketing director, said that due to the system’s machine learning capabilities, the program is “constantly fluctuating,” or continually making adjustments based on responses to campaigns to optimize returns. The technology works to personalize offers to past-purchasing behavior and employs other methods to better engage customers across channels.
Allen Nance, CMO, Emarsys, admits that one challenge for AI is that many marketers trust the traditional “batch and blast” approach that is often favors human instinct over a machine algorithms.
Ms. Connell said she “always believed that a machine would make better decisions and scale the data better than I would personally.” Her marketing team can now spend more time on “emotional content” and other more creative pursuits. Indeed, she believes removing much of marketing’s repetitive tasks through AI will “force us to reconnect with what makes us human.”
- Digital Retail Innovation Report – Sailthru
- Cosabella’s Revenue Surges 60 Percent Using Emarsys AI-enabled B2C Marketing Cloud – Emarsys
- Retail Marketers Using AI Most Commonly For Search & Recommendations – MarketingCharts
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How do you see artificial intelligence altering retail marketing? Where can machine learning automation be being particularly beneficial across marketing processes?