Using AI to Establish Digital Dominance
In the realm of marketing, AI is ushering in a profound transformation—a new era marked by heightened levels of personalization, efficiency and overall effectiveness throughout the entire customer journey. AI’s influence extends to both B2B and B2C brands, affording them a unique competitive edge in the form of enhanced marketing effectiveness, heightened customer engagement and swift access to invaluable first-party, data-driven insights. This accelerated pace enables brands to refine their strategies and make breakthroughs at an unprecedented rate.
In a recent study conducted by Dentsu and shared here, out of hundreds of CMOs surveyed, more than 87% of them agreed that brands are built through experiences. The survey highlighted that “84% believe that every aspect of the customer journey can and should tell the brand story, while 88% agree that it’s essential that the customer experience matches up to the brand promise.”
“In fact, past research found that about half of all consumers say that when a brand doesn’t live up to its promises, they can’t trust it anymore and won’t buy it anymore.
“In the dynamic realm of marketing, AI is emerging as a potent force, ushering in a new era marked by heightened personalization, efficiency and overall effectiveness throughout the entire customer journey.”
When examining what makes a great brand experience, the Dentsu study found that almost half (48%) pointed to technology that enhances the brand idea—as we previously shared in these posts: Can AI Streamline Marketing for Speed, Efficiency and Cost? and How AI is Revolutionizing Sales and Marketing for Business Growth.
AI is having a significant impact on every aspect of both marketing and the customer experience. The speed and scale at which global brands and challenger brands are adopting AI to enhance personalization, efficiency and the overall effectiveness of their brand strategy is happening at an unprecedented rate.
Below are several methods through which AI is redefining the marketing landscape across both the pre- and post-customer journey phases.
- Content Recommendations: AI-driven recommendation engines analyze user data to suggest relevant content, blog posts, articles, or videos for potential customers, increasing brand visibility.
- Personalized Advertising: AI-powered ad targeting ensures that advertisements are tailored to individuals who are more likely to be interested in the product or service, optimizing ad spend and increasing awareness.
- Chatbots and Virtual Assistants: AI chatbots can engage with customers in real time, answer questions and provide product information, helping users make informed decisions during their research phase.
- Product Comparisons: AI-driven tools can assist customers in comparing products or services based on their preferences and needs, simplifying the decision-making process.
- Personalized Product Recommendations: AI analyzes user behavior and preferences to suggest products or services that align with the customer’s interests, increasing the likelihood of conversion.
- Dynamic Pricing: AI algorithms can adjust pricing in real time based on demand and other factors, providing customers with competitive and fair pricing.
- Customer Support Chatbots: AI-powered chatbots offer immediate assistance with order tracking, returns and general inquiries, improving post-purchase customer support.
- Follow-up Communications: AI can send personalized follow-up emails or messages to customers, requesting feedback, offering product recommendations, or providing assistance, enhancing post-purchase engagement.
Retention and Loyalty Stage:
- Personalized Loyalty Programs: AI can tailor loyalty programs and rewards based on individual customer behavior, ensuring that customers feel valued and motivated to remain loyal.
- Predictive Analytics: AI helps predict customer churn by analyzing data on usage patterns and behavior, enabling proactive retention efforts, such as targeted discounts or special offers.
- User-Generated Content: AI can identify and promote user-generated content, such as reviews and social media posts, encouraging customers to become brand advocates.
- Referral Programs: AI-driven referral programs can automate and personalize incentives for customers to refer friends and family to the brand, expanding the customer base.
Feedback and Improvement Stage:
- Sentiment Analysis: AI analyzes customer feedback and reviews to gauge sentiment and identify areas for improvement, helping businesses refine their products and services.
- Product Development: AI can provide insights into customer preferences and demands, guiding product development and innovation.
- Reengagement Campaigns: AI can identify dormant or inactive customers and trigger personalized reengagement campaigns to win them back.
- Relevant Updates: AI can send updates on new features, products or services to reengage past customers who may have missed out on recent developments.
Using AI to Establish Digital Dominance
When dissecting the AI-enhanced customer experience, I loved how the authors of this Harvard Business Review article stated their rationale as to why companies, such as Home Depot, JPMorgan Chase and Brinks, are building “Intelligent Experience Engines” that deliver transformative experiences that are personalized, omnichannel and data-driven.
“We are now at the point where competitive advantage will be based on the ability to capture, analyze and utilize personalized customer data at scale and on how a company uses AI to understand, shape, customize and optimize the customer journey.”
As the authors summarized here: “We are now at the point where competitive advantage will be based on the ability to capture, analyze and utilize personalized customer data at scale and on how a company uses AI to understand, shape, customize and optimize the customer journey. The obvious winners have been large tech companies, which have embedded these capabilities in their business models. But challenger brands, such as Sweetgreen in restaurants and Stitch Fix in apparel, have designed transformative first-party, data-driven experiences as well.”
The same article highlights how the following companies are benefiting from having “Intelligent Experience Engines”:
Brinks Home leveraged AI and OfferFit, an AI startup, to optimize customer interactions across channels. They conducted extensive A/B testing, increasing personalization and reducing the need to wait for results. This led to significant improvements in direct-to-consumer (DTC) package size and revenue per user, with an overall revenue increase of 9.5% compared to the previous year. Brinks demonstrates how harnessing customer data and AI can enhance and personalize user experiences, setting an example for other brands.
Comcast Telecommunications harnesses the power of Pointillist, a cutting-edge customer-journey analytics service. This innovative platform meticulously traces the steps of each customer across Comcast’s vast ecosystem, time-stamping every interaction and crafting intricate journey maps. Powered by AI insights, Comcast swiftly identifies pain points within customer journeys, including those related to their mobile app, and takes proactive measures to enhance the overall customer experience.
Starbucks employs geotargeting to reach out to lapsed customers in close proximity to its stores, enticing them with advertisements featuring new seasonal beverages. Furthermore, the company takes a personalized approach by sending individualized in-app offers, aimed at encouraging customers to either visit a store or explore the convenience of their mobile order-and-pay option.
Take the case of Sweetgreen, a brand with 140 stores (in contrast to Starbucks’ 33,000+). Sweetgreen’s approach was centered on data and digital integration from the outset. They introduced an exceptional app that simplifies the process of crafting custom salads for pickup or delivery. Leveraging the app, they continually unveil fresh digital menus and personalized offers for their patrons. Even in their physical stores, Sweetgreen enables customers to make payments via their smartphones. Notably, this app-driven strategy allowed Sweetgreen to outpace Starbucks in terms of digital engagement in 2021, with an impressive 68% of their sales originating from digital channels as opposed to Starbucks’ 52% for U.S. stores.
In the dynamic realm of marketing, AI is emerging as a potent force, ushering in a new era marked by heightened personalization, efficiency and overall effectiveness throughout the entire customer journey. AI empowers both B2B and B2C companies to adeptly capture, analyze and leverage personalized customer data on a grand scale, fundamentally reshaping the landscape for industry giants and innovative challengers alike. As exemplified in the aforementioned case studies, these “Intelligent Experience Engines” yield significant returns, enhancing revenue, personalization and the overall customer experience, ultimately enabling these brands to establish digital dominance and secure a competitive stronghold within their respective sectors.
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