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What skills do marketers need to survive the AI takeover?

(MARKETING) Quality marketers are constantly evolving, but getting your head around artificial intelligence can be a challenge – let’s boil it down to the most relevant skills you’ll need.

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When Facebook and Twitter were born, a new era of social media was ushered in, opening the gates for new areas of expertise that hadn’t existed before. At first, we all grappled to establish the culture together, but fast forward a decade and it is literally a science with thousands of supporting technology companies.

So as Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes over marketing, doesn’t that mean it will replace marketers? If you can ask your smart speaker in your office what your engagement growth increase was for your Facebook Page, and ask for recommendations of growth, how do marketing professionals survive?

Marketers will survive the same way they did as social media was introduced – the practice will evolve and new niches will be born.

There are 7 skills marketers will need to adapt in order to evolve. None of these are done overnight, but quality professionals are constantly grooming their skills, so this won’t be stressful to the successful among us. And the truth is that it won’t be in our lifetime that AI can quite process the exact same way a human brain does, even with the advent of quantum computing, so let’s focus on AI’s weaknesses and where marketers can perform where artificial intelligence cannot.

1. Use the data your new AI buddies generate.

In the 70s, the infamous Ted Bundy murders yielded the first case that utilized computing. The lead investigator had heard about computers and asked a specialist to dig through all of their data points to find similarities – a task that was taking months for the investigative team. After inputting the data, within minutes, they had narrowed their list of suspects from several hundred to only 10.

We’re not dealing with murderers here in the marketing world (…right, guys?), but the theory that algorithms can speed up our existing jobs is a golden lesson. As more AI tools are added to the marketplace to enhance your job, experiment with them! Get to know them! And continue to seek them out to empower you.

Atomic Reach studies your content and finds ways to enhance what you’re delivering. CaliberMind augments B2B sales, Stackla hunts down user-generated content that matches your brand efforts, Nudge analyzes deal risk and measures user account health, and Market Brew digs up tons of data for your SEO strategy.

See? Independently, these all sound like amazing tools, but call them “AI tools” and people lose their minds. Please.

Your job as a marketer is to do what AI cannot. Together, you can automate, do segmentation and automation, beef up your analytics, but no machine can replicate your innate interest in your customers, your compassion, and your ability to understand human emotions and predict outcomes effectively (because you have a lot more practice at being a human than the lil’ robots do).

2. Take advantage of AI’s primary weakness.

As noted, you have emotions and processes that are extremely complex and cannot be understood by artificial intelligence yet. Use those.

How? Compile all of the data that AI offers and then strategize. Duh. AI can offer recommendations, but it cannot (yet) suggest an entire brand strategy. That’s where you come in.

And more importantly, it cannot explain or defend any such strategy. One of the core problems with AI is that if you ask Alexa a question, you cannot ask how it came up with that information or why. This trust problem is the primary reason marketers are in no danger of being replaced by technology.

3. Obsess over data.

AI tools are young and evolving, so right now is the time to start obsessing over data. What I mean by that is not to use every single AI tool to compile mountains of useless data, but to start studying the data you already have.

The problem with new tools is that marketers are naturally inquisitive, so we try them out and then forget they exist if they didn’t immediately prove to be a golden egg.

Knowing your current marketing data inside and out will help you to learn alongside AI. If you aren’t intimately familiar, you won’t know if the recommendations made through AI are useful, and you could end up going down the wrong path because something shiny told you to.

Obsess over data not by knowing every single customers’ names, but be ready to identify which data sets are relevant for the results you’re seeking. A data scientist friend of mine recently pointed out that if you flip a coin five times and it happens to land on tails every time, AI would analyze that data and predict with 100% certainty that the sixth flip will be tails, but you and I have life experience and know better.

Staying on top of your data, even when you’re utilizing artificial intelligence tools will keep you the most valuable asset, not the robots. #winning

4. Don’t run away from math (no wait, come back!)

One of the appeals of marketing is that math is hard and you don’t need it in a creative field. But if you want to stay ahead of the robots, you’ll have to focus on your math skills.

You don’t have to go back to school for data science, but if you can’t read the basic reports that these endless AI tools can create, you’re already behind. At least spend a few hours this month on some “Intro to Data Science” courses on Udemy or Coursera.

5. Content is God.

We’ve all said for years that content is king and that feeding the search engines was a top way to reach consumers. You’ve already refined your skills in creating appealing content, and you already know that it costs less than many traditional lead generating efforts and spending on content is way up.

Content can be blogging, video, audio, or social media posts. Artificial intelligence will step in to skyrocket those efforts, if only you accept that content was once king, but is now God. What is changing is how customized content can be. For example, some companies are using AI tools to create dozens of different Facebook ads for different demographics, which would have taken weeks of human effort to do in the past.

Because content is what feeds all of these new smart devices, feeding your brand content effectively and utilizing AI tools to augment your efforts will keep you more relevant than ever.

6. Get ahead of privacy problems

Consumers now understand what website cookies are, and know when they’ve opted in (or opted out) of an email newsletter, but to this point, humans have made the decisions of how these data choices are made. Our teams have continually edited Terms of Service (ToS), all done not just with liability in mind, but to offer consumers the protections that they want and have come to expect.

But AI today doesn’t have morals, and consumer comfort is not a factor unless humans program that into said AI devices. But it still isn’t a creature of ethics like humans are. Ethical challenges going forward will be something to stay ahead of as you tap into the AI world. Making sure that you know the ToS of any tool you’re using to mine data is critical so that you don’t put the company in a bad position by violating basic human trust.

The takeaway

You’re smart, so you already knew that the robots aren’t taking your job, rather augmenting it, but adding AI into your marketing mix to stay ahead comes with risk and a learning curve. But seeing artificial intelligence for what it really is – a tool – will keep your focus on the big picture and save your job.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Chris Shouse

    July 30, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Love this info Lani thanks…when you were talking about Twitter I remember the group of us chatting on Twitter till wee hours. Fun Times!

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Business Marketing

Reddit put on their big kid pants to attract ad dollars

(MARKETING) If your company is scared to engage Reddit, they’re trying to button up for you, and it’s worth a second look. Maybe.

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While Reddit remains to be one of those strange sites where advertisers still aren’t sure if they want to use it (whether it’s because Reddit is a little confusing, or companies are turned off by it’s well known strange subcultures and tendency to be a magnet for a lot of uh, weirdness – we don’t know.)

Reddit has been working to improve their ad platform over the past year, mostly recently taking pixel from tracking only a single conversion event to eight conversation windows with an improved attribution window of 1, 7, or 28 days.

This builds on top of the cost-per-click buying that was added as a feature last month.

Reddit putting on big boy pants for marketing is a big deal. In case you missed it – Reddit generates over 1.2 billion visits a month – and remains one of the most popular sites on the internet. It’s the sixth most popular site in the United States, and it’s not afraid to boast a moniker of being the “Internet’s Front Page.”

Marketing on Reddit has some pitfalls of course – if you just go in blindly and without care, you wont’ get anywhere – the platform is not friendly to self-promotion and flagrant marketing.

But if take the time to generate valuable content, the ability to share that content to a very specific audience in the right subreddit. Marketing effectively will still require getting your material to the right place, but there’s a lot of opportunity for marketers to use both the uniqueness of the forum, combined with these new marketing tools, to reach this vast sea of Redditors.

If you don’t know about Reddit – here’s some good places to get started:

Short summary – Reddit should be somewhere you could consider advertising. It has an easy potential for some modest returns, but has a lot of possibility if you take the time and leverage the tool. So go forward, and subreddit smartly, marketers.

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Business Marketing

A more environmentally sensitive Pantone color of the year

(MARKETING) Why is Pantone’s coral color causing a ruckus? Marketing is just marketing, right? Maybe not…

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pantone unofficial color of 2020

Every year Pantone declares the Color of the Year and for 2019, the institute declared Living Coral to be the “it” shade calling it “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.” And it totally is. Imagine bright red orange swimming in a sea of crystal blue water.

Pantone’s Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman even goes so far as saying it that Living Coral was what “consumers craved” and that it incites “human interaction and social connection” which might be a stretch. It is just a color after all.

However, some found this messaging to be anything but convivial and well, off-color.

Jack Railton-Woodcock and Huei Yin Wong, partners at Jack and Huei, a Melbourne-based design agency, took umbrage with this decision and for good reason.

Their native Australia has front-row seats to the dying of the Great Barrier Reef and for them, coral is anything but lively. If anything, it’s on life support.

To call attention to the tone-deaf decision, the duo preemptively christened Bleached Coral as the Color of the Year 2020.

Touche.

The duo furthered their burn, saying, “It’s the responsibility of all of us, creative or otherwise, to find creative solutions to big problems, and right now there aren’t many problems facing humanity that are bigger than climate change.”

Oof, way to pull back the curtain, guys.

As much of a buzzkill as this pair might be, they’re not wrong, and they bring up the larger question of social responsibility in marketing.

But it’s just marketing, right?

Wrong. The very root of marketing is aspirational. We see ads for luxury cars, we imagine ourselves behind the wheel and believe that maybe we can get there. We see beauty products that promise flawless ageless skin and maybe we decide to take better care of our skin. We see Living Coral and we’re blinded to the reality that the coral just might be a thing of the past.

Yes, Pantone’s Color of the Year is one of those fun end-of-year things we in marketing get excited about, but when you’re living in a world where climate change is our reality and we see it in unnatural weather patterns and the dying off of one of our greatest natural treasures, it’s time to take pause. We can do better.

These days it’s hard to please everybody. Try as we might to make everything for everyone, if we’re going to attempt to talk about a unifying the human race through color, we sure as hell shouldn’t choose a color that reminds us all that our environment is in rough shape and it’s largely humanity’s fault. Bleached Coral isn’t the color we need, but right now, it’s the color we deserve.

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Business Marketing

Video marketing is here to stay – 5 ways to change your SEO strategy

(MARKETING) Video marketing now constitutes the majority of all web traffic – is your brand getting lost in the shuffle?

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Video marketing has grown as a content strategy over the past several years, as the explosion in mobile devices and fast mobile internet has made it more feasible to stream videos on the fly. And considering more than three-quarters of all business using video marketing are seeing results, it’s unlikely that video marketing is a trend going away anytime soon.

If you’re a search marketer, video content isn’t a trend you can ignore. You need to adapt your SEO strategy if you’re going to thrive in this new market and capitalize on the new opportunities that video provides.

Videos as Part of SEO

How exactly do videos impact your campaign?

  • Platform-specific optimization. Google gets all the attention in SEO, but it isn’t the only search engine you can optimize for. Video-centric platforms, like YouTube, function as independent algorithms with dedicated audiences. That represents an additional ranking opportunity, and the chance to get your content in front of new audiences.
  • Onsite value. Videos are also powerful ways to improve the authority and value of your onsite pages. Integrating a video into your how-to guide, for example, can make visitors spend more time on your pages and engage with your content in more meaningful ways. Accordingly, high-quality videos could increase your onsite authority.
  • Brand reputation and links. Good videos have the potential to quickly improve your reputation as a content creator, making you visible to more people and making people appreciate your content more. That means you’ll have opportunities with more external publishers, and you could potentially attract more links to your domain.

How to Adapt Your Strategy

So what steps should the average search marketer take to adapt their SEO strategy for the future of video marketing?

  1. Create more videos. For starters, you can spend more time creating and publishing video content as part of your overall content marketing strategy. Including them onsite, as part of your articles and guides, can bolster your onsite strategy, while including them offsite can help you optimize your offsite presence. Learning to create high-quality videos isn’t as hard as it seems; you don’t need expensive equipment, nor do you need much experience (though it does help). As long as you’re focused on creating content that your viewers want to see and are converting your videos to the appropriate file formats, you should stand to gain from the efforts.
  2. Leverage multiple mediums of content. Your videos don’t have to exist exclusively in video form. In fact, if you transform your videos into multiple different formats, you can benefit from it in multiple contexts. For example, publishing your video content, then including a written transcript and a downloadable audio file can expose you to multiple audiences simultaneously, while giving Google more content to crawl.
  3. Learn to title and tag your videos appropriately. Depending on where you publish your videos, you’ll likely have the opportunity to label them with a title, a brief description, and possibly categories and tags. These are incredibly valuable for helping algorithms “understand” what your video is about, and an opportunity to captivate your audience at the same time. For example, a catchy or compelling video title will attract more clicks when you’re featured in search results, and including the right tags can ensure you come up for more searches.
  4. Take advantage of YouTube’s algorithm. Don’t optimize for YouTube the same way you’d optimize for Google (though there are some similarities to consider). Instead, learn how YouTube’s algorithm works and use strategies to capitalize on its functionality. For example, you can tweak your content to get more likes and comments or optimize your channel to get more subscribers. You can also look at how your competitors are tagging and categorizing their similar videos, and either mimic or complement those strategies.
  5. Foster a video-centric community. Finally, take the time to build and nurture a video-centric community. Engage with the people who are commenting on your videos, and reach out to people on social media to see what they think of your video content. Doing this motivates people to continue following your channel, and will attract more people to your brand at the same time. Best of all, earning more regular subscribers and viewers will increase your authority as it’s perceived by algorithms like those from Google and YouTube search.

You don’t have to include videos as part of your content creation strategy to be successful in SEO, but it certainly has the potential to improve your performance. At the very least, you should be aware of your competitors making use of videos in their strategies, and adjust your tactics to reflect the nature of this new era.

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