You’ve heard the buzz. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has supposedly revolutionized the digital marketing landscape, offering incredible opportunities for businesses to streamline their operations, enhance customer experiences, and drive better results. But you may be asking yourself, should my marketing agency use AI? And if they should use AI, how do I ensure my agency uses AI to drive digital marketing efforts forward without cutting corners? As a marketing agency client, harnessing AI’s power can significantly boost your marketing campaigns and overall business success. However, suppose your marketing agency isn’t leveraging AI. In that case, it’s crucial to understand how you can encourage and guide them to adopt this transformative technology without reducing the creative process to a series of AI-generated articles and AI bots. In this article, we will tell you how, as a client, to get the most out of AI from your marketing agency.
First – The Bottom Line
Some great details are coming up in this article, but if you’re anything like me, you want the critical information first and fast – so here you go; some quick hits.
What you should know – Your agency probably wants to use AI even more than you. It can speed up production and lower the costs to create and manage assets. This is a win-win as long as you ensure your agency is transparent about it and clear on what savings are being passed on to you. Bottom Line: ask what your agency is doing and how much they are saving.
AI Doesn’t Cut Costs As Much As You Think – For example, when generating long-form content, it nets out to about a 25%- 30% reduction in initial production costs. That’s it. A human must still optimize it and make it a great “story” to read. AI isn’t yet capable of producing final production pieces. Where it can save more time and money is imagery, so look for savings there. Bottom Line: Don’t expect more than 25% savings on your long-form content and possibly 50% on your imagery costs from your agency.
Amazing for Real-Time Optimization – Your agency and you have to use tools like SurferSEO to optimize your text-based content in real-time. Optimizing content before publishing is a huge win. It improves rankings and removes much of the SEO guesswork/costly experimentation. Bottom Line: Don’t publish, or let your agency publish, any text-based content without using an optimization tool first.
Avoid AI Email Generators/Engines – As fast as AI has grown, AI sales email generators have grown faster. There are so many now, and they all say things the same way (e.g., I saw what you’re doing with [blank] company and love it. We help companies like yours…blah, blah, blah.) The market is saturated, and engagement metrics on these sales emails are cratering. Bottom Line: Maybe get some email ideas using AI but get a skilled human to write them.
Keep Your Privates Private – Noobie agencies will put your confidential information into an AI generator and ask it to write something around that information. Guess what? The AI now has that data and could use it across all kinds of things – the AI isn’t acting out of malice but ignorance. There are tools to avoid this (e.g., Azure OpenAI), but most agencies don’t know they exist or how to use them properly. Bottom Line: Don’t let your agency use AI unless they know how to protect you, and/or don’t allow them to use confidential information in AI engines.
Google is a Wild Card – With so much content now AI-generated, none of us know yet what Google’s (algorithmic) response will be. That sounds like techno-babble, so let me put it in terms we can all understand. Google may soon be able to determine what is and is not AI-generated. Suppose it sees that AI-generated content doesn’t perform as well or is of lesser overall value. In that case, it may demote that content in its rankings (SERP, authority, etc.) which could negatively impact your organic traffic and other rank-based factors. Not much you can do about this yet but stay at the ready. Bottom Line: Keep creating your AI content, have your agency watch Google, and be ready to de-AI your content if necessary.
Educate Yourself on AI
To be a better partner in effectively utilizing AI in digital marketing for your business, it’s essential to understand its core concepts, benefits, and potential applications. Familiarize yourself with various AI technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, and predictive analytics. Educating yourself can better articulate your expectations, collaborate with your agency, and identify areas where AI can have the most impact.
Understand AI Fundamentals
Begin by familiarizing yourself with AI’s fundamental concepts and terminology. This includes understanding the difference between narrow AI (AI designed for specific tasks) and general AI (AI capable of performing any intellectual task a human can do). Learn about machine learning, a subset of AI that enables systems to learn from data and make predictions or decisions without explicit programming. Get acquainted with other AI technologies, such as natural language processing (NLP), computer vision, and deep learning. By differentiating between these concepts, you will be better prepared to manage your agency’s efforts in implementing digital marketing AI systems.
Stay Up-to-Date with AI Trends
AI is a rapidly evolving field, and staying informed about the latest advancements, trends, and best practices is crucial. Follow reputable sources such as industry publications, AI-focused blogs, research papers, and conferences to keep up with the latest breakthroughs and emerging technologies. IDLab recommend Adweek’s marketing tech postings, as they provide expert outlooks on the latest marketing technology that’s pushed out. We also find AdAge’s online publication very informative and timely. This knowledge will enable you to have informed discussions with your marketing agency and identify innovative AI solutions that can drive your digital marketing efforts forward.
Learn About AI Tools and Platforms
Knowledge about the various AI marketing tools and platforms available for marketing purposes (e.g., Jasper AI, SurferSEO, Zapier, and 6Sense). Research popular marketing automation platforms incorporating AI capabilities or specialized AI tools for tasks like sentiment analysis, chatbots, or predictive analytics. Understanding these tools will help you assess their relevance to your marketing objectives and facilitate productive conversations with your agency regarding their adoption.
Engage in Online Courses and Webinars
Numerous platforms offer courses tailored explicitly to utilizing AI to supplement a marketing teams’ efforts, covering topics such as AI basics, machine learning applications, and AI-driven marketing strategies. The Marketing AI Institute webinars provide an excellent foundation in marketing AI, so we recommend starting here if you are a complete beginner. Some courses niche down so far that they only cover one AI marketing tool. For example, Jasper.ai provides frequent webinars for email subscribers and product users to discuss new tool developments and use cases. These educational resources will deepen your understanding of AI and equip you with practical knowledge to collaborate effectively with your marketing agency.
Remember, AI is a vast and multidisciplinary field, and becoming an expert overnight is unrealistic. However, by dedicating time and effort to educate yourself on AI fundamentals, marketing use cases, industry trends, and relevant tools, you will be better equipped to engage in meaningful discussions with your marketing agency and make informed decisions about AI integration into your marketing efforts.
Conduct a Competitive Analysis
If you’re not aware of what efforts your competition makes to integrate AI into their Analyze your competitors and determine whether they already utilize AI in their marketing efforts and digital marketing campaigns. If they are, you need to understand which tools they are using, how much they cost, and whether such tools can impact your digital marketing strategy. Encourage your marketing agency to stay ahead of the curve and explore AI solutions that can give you a competitive edge.
Note that there aren’t yet tools that can definitively tell you if a competitor is using AI. Below are some helpful alternatives.
- Identify AI Adopters
Research and identify competitors in your industry who already embrace AI in their marketing efforts. Since there are no spy tools to see which AI tools your competitors use daily, it’s best to do an in-depth Google search to see if they made any ai-related announcements or published any articles touting their innovative use of AI. If you can’t find any that do, consider your opportunity to get one (or multiple) steps ahead of the competition. When you research, focus on organizations that inspire you with their innovative marketing strategies or have a reputation for staying ahead of industry trends. In this scenario, imitating their outlook and/or tactics allows you to elevate to their level and beyond. Pay close attention to their AI-driven initiatives, including personalized marketing campaigns, AI-powered chatbots, or advanced data analytics.
- Volume and Frequency of Content
Do a quick analysis and see if your competition has increased the volume and frequency of their content production/promotion over the last 6 months in particular. Unless they’ve had a major capital infusion, if the the volume and frequency of their content and related promotions have dramatically increased, it’s a safe be they have adopted AI.
- Evaluate Their Successes and Results
After researching your competitors and identifying AI adopters, analyze your AI-adopting competitors’ results and successes (and failures). Look for measurable outcomes such as increased customer engagement, improved conversion rates, higher revenue growth, or enhanced customer experiences. Study their case studies (often listed with blogs on competitor websites), customer testimonials, or industry reports to see what they have gained from AI adoption. Quantitative data and tangible results can be particularly compelling when advocating for AI integration within your marketing agency. Equally important, see if you can find any AI-related failures your competitors fell prey to, such as plagiarism, broken chatbots, or over-reliance on AI. Since you can learn from their mistakes, don’t make the same fatal errors again.
- Assess Gaps and Opportunities
Identify gaps or untapped opportunities in your competitors’ AI strategies. Think: What are they missing? Be the one to fill the gaps and gain a more significant competitive advantage. Look for areas where they might underutilize AI or where you believe AI could improve their operations. For example, if your competitors focus on AI-driven personalization, you might identify an opportunity to leverage AI for advanced predictive analytics or automated content creation. Assessing these gaps and opportunities will help you develop a unique AI integration strategy with your marketing agency.
By conducting a comprehensive competitive analysis, you gain valuable insights into how AI is utilized within your industry. This knowledge can be leveraged to educate and inspire your marketing agency about AI adoption’s potential benefits and competitive advantages. Use this analysis to make a compelling case for incorporating AI into your marketing strategies and drive the agency to embrace AI as a valuable tool for delivering enhanced results.
Identify Relevant Use Cases
Evaluate your marketing objectives and identify specific use cases where AI can make a difference. Whether it’s improving customer segmentation, personalization, content creation, or campaign optimization, pinpointing the areas that could benefit from AI will help guide your agency toward implementing the technology in the right areas.
Assess Current Marketing Challenges
Start by assessing your current marketing challenges and pain points. Identify areas where you believe AI can potentially provide solutions or improvements. You might struggle with manual customer segmentation or finding personalized content recommendations for your audience. For instance, Twilio will collect and classify your customer data based on numerous data points to eliminate manual customer segmentation, saving time and money while delivering better results. As another example, Nosto provides personalized content recommendations for each member of your audience, and can enact these recommendations to enhance the experience of your customers in your online store. Nosto can also develop dynamic customer segments with your e-commerce store data. These are just two examples of solutions for your marketing efforts; there are so many more to explore. Give them a try; you never know what could move the needle for your business. Here are a few more common marketing problems and AI-based solutions to these problems:
Optimize Ad Campaigns
Advertising campaigns can significantly benefit from AI-driven ad optimization. Explore how AI can automate ad targeting, bid management, and creative optimization tasks. AI machine learning algorithms can analyze historical campaign data, identify patterns, and make real-time adjustments to optimize campaign performance, budget allocation, and audience targeting. Google Ads uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to make their advertisers (including you, if you use Google Ads), get better results than ever before. To optimize the creative of your ad campaigns, consider a tool like Storyteq. With Storyteq, you can upload a few marketing assets, and create hundreds of different versions of content. Once the content gets tested, the winner gets selected, saving hours and the cost of hiring a designer to re-do every element of your creatives.
Automate Content Creation and Curation
Content creation and curation can be time-consuming. AI-powered automated tools can assist in automating these processes. Investigate how AI technologies like natural language generation (NLG) can create content like a blog post or a product description, or even assist in social media marketing. AI can also aid in content curation by identifying relevant articles, videos, or social media posts for your target audience. One of the best tools out there for AI-generated content creation is Jasper.ai. With Jasper, you can create almost any marketing content you can dream up, from blogs to social media captions. We love it here at IDLab.
Predictive Analytics and Forecasting
AI can enable predictive analytics to forecast customer behavior, campaign outcomes, or market trends. Explore how AI algorithms can analyze historical data, identify patterns, and make predictions to support decision-making. Predictive analytics can help optimize marketing strategies, budget allocation, and resource planning. For example, Bloomreach is an excellent tool that uses predictive marketing analytics to create effective campaigns, driving revenue & ROI. It references countless data points to deliver tailored campaigns to the members of your audience most likely to convert.
Improve Customer Service and Support
AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can enhance customer service and support functions. Investigate how AI can automate responses to frequently asked questions, provide instant support, and offer personalized recommendations. AI chatbots can handle routine queries, freeing human resources for more complex customer interactions. For example, Tidio is one of the best chatbots you can find, allowing you to directly trace how much revenue you gained from the chatbot’s assistance.
Enhance Data Analysis and Insights
AI technologies can process and analyze vast amounts of data quickly and accurately. Explore how AI can help you gain deeper insights from higher-quality customer data, social media analytics, or market research. AI algorithms can uncover hidden patterns, correlations, and trends humans may not readily identify, enabling data-driven decision-making. For example, Adverity allows you to synch all of your data sources into one platform with seamless data mapping capabilities and smart suggestions to synch new source data in seconds. Tools like Adverity can save you time, effort, and money, which pays big dividends in the long run.
Remember, the relevance of use cases will vary based on your specific business goals, industry, and target audience. To reiterate (we can’t emphasize this enough), aligning the identified use cases with your marketing objectives and prioritizing them based on potential impact and feasibility is essential. By identifying relevant use cases, you give your marketing agency a clear direction on where AI can be applied to enhance your marketing efforts. Collaborate with your agency to discuss these use cases, evaluate their potential benefits, and develop an AI integration strategy that aligns with your marketing objectives.
As a marketing agency client, embracing AI technology gives you a significant competitive advantage in the digital landscape. By educating yourself, identifying use cases, communicating with your agency, and highlighting success stories, you can effectively encourage your marketing agency to adopt AI. Remember to stay engaged, supportive, and patient throughout the process. With a proactive approach, you will unlock the full potential of AI and revolutionize your marketing campaigns, drive better results, and achieve your business objectives.
In this ever-evolving digital landscape, AI is no longer a luxury but a necessity for digital marketing agencies. By pushing your agency to adopt AI, you are investing in the future of your business and positioning yourself for long-term success. Remember, the key lies in fostering open communication, providing support, and demonstrating the value of AI marketing strategy through concrete examples and success stories.
As you embark on this journey with your marketing agency, keep in mind that AI implementation is a process that requires collaboration, experimentation, and continuous improvement. Stay informed, stay engaged, and with your agency, you can harness the power of AI to unlock new levels of marketing excellence and propel your business toward sustained growth and success.