If 2023 was all about playing in the AI sandbox, 2024 will be about putting those learnings into action and building a flexible foundation.
AI buzz reached a fever pitch in 2023, and we’re already seeing how it’s transforming marketers’ workflows. But this is just the beginning.
We’re betting AI will continue to bring us into a new frontier of more personalized marketing. And if you’re still new to AI, don’t worry: There’s still plenty of time to get “in on the ground floor” and put your new knowledge to use. Here’s what you should be thinking about (and prioritizing) as you come up with your 2024 marketing plans.
AI is ushering in a new era of personalization for brands and consumers
Imagine delivering 1:1 messages to each of your customers, tailored to their individual behaviors. It’s every marketer’s dream (including mine), but making it happen is a really tall order. You don’t just need the data. You need data scientists or analysts to make sense of it, and then a team of marketers to write the copy and build the campaigns. For most teams, that level of lift is simply a non-starter.
But now, AI is making that level of personalization (which has been out of reach until recently) a simple reality.
No-code solutions will unlock mountains of behavioral data to deliver personalization like never before
In the past, marketers have had to rely on data scientists (or try to be data scientists themselves) to pull out valuable insights from customer data.
Using predictive AI, marketers can now see the forest for the trees and spot key trends (such as what makes someone a high-value customer, or when someone is most likely to make a purchase) and send them the right incentive.
You could also use it to unlock progressive offers based on your own data (helping you maximize your ROI). For example: You could offer a new subscriber $10 off on their first purchase, since you know it’s most likely to encourage them to convert. Then, you could offer $7 and $5 off on their second and third purchases because your data shows that at that point, their lifetime value has gone up by 5X.
Decision tree chatbots will become a thing of the past
In the past, conversations between brands and consumers were built on decision trees. That meant that if you needed to get help from a brand, you had to answer a repetitive (and limited) set of multiple-choice questions that prompted you to call a customer representative if your question didn’t fit within those parameters.
But now, using natural language processing (NLP), conversational AI can understand questions like a real person. And (even more importantly), it knows the full context of the conversation. Generative AI takes in important details—including a customer’s purchase history and preferences—to respond with personalized and accurate recommendations, at the right moment.
This means that brands can now translate the in-store sales associate experience into an online one. Using AI, you can answer shoppers' questions, suggest products based on their previous purchases, and answer support requests in real time. This could look like proactively helping a shopper who’s looking for a special occasion dress find the right size. Once they’ve spent a certain amount of time on a product page, you can proactively ask them if they’d like help finding their size, and then ask a series of questions to determine the perfect fit. If their size is out of stock, you can recommend a second sizing option, share similar items they might be interested in, or invite them to sign up to be the first to know when it’s back in stock.
What’s more, AI-powered conversational marketing empowers brands to provide this level of personalization 24/7. Unlike sales associates who clock out and sleep, AI is capable of performing these tasks 24/7, guaranteeing your customers receive the assistance they need, whenever they need it.
Predictive AI will enable marketers to predict shoppers' future needs and behaviors—changing the retention game forever
Now, using generative AI technology and simple data capture solutions (like tracking first-party data with SMS and email), teams will be able to pull those trends without having to write code or learn new reporting systems.
Predictive AI, in particular, will drive a step-change in performance and retention. Predictive AI uses data analysis to predict your shoppers’ future needs or behaviors. Soon, you’ll be able to generate segments based on those predicted actions using natural language. You could prompt your email or SMS platform to “Create a segment of customers who’ve visited my site, looked at women’s apparel, but didn’t buy anything last month.” This will enable deep personalization at scale, helping you nurture customer relationships.
Brands (and consumers) will seek out responsible AI
In the rapidly evolving world of AI, brands and consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of responsible AI practices. As we look ahead to 2024, it's clear that privacy will be a crucial factor in determining which AI tools businesses choose to adopt.
Consumers and brands are more concerned than ever about how their personal data is being collected, stored, and used with AI. Brands that prioritize privacy and demonstrate they’re using AI tools ethically will have a significant advantage in gaining consumer trust and loyalty. This means that businesses must carefully evaluate the AI tools they use, making sure they adhere to strict privacy standards and regulations.
What the White House’s executive order on AI means for the future of marketing
The recent executive order on AI issued by the White House further emphasizes how important responsible AI will be in the years to come. The administration’s goal is to make sure AI is built and used in a way that’s transparent, accountable, and respects consumer privacy.
The executive order will primarily impact AI platforms and companies building tools powered by AI. These companies are already recognizing the need to develop these tools responsibly, and are investing in research and development to create AI systems that are fair, unbiased, transparent, and secure. Doing so not only protects themselves, but the consumers and businesses that rely on them.
The executive order will have an indirect impact on marketers, too. You don’t just need to choose a secure AI platform or tool. Aligning your AI strategies with the executive order's ethics will be key to minimizing long-term risks and building trust with your customers.
CMOs and CIOs will partner more closely than ever
Chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) will need to work hand-in-hand as brands begin plugging their data into AI tools. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship: CIO’s need to make sure their company’s data is being used responsibly. And CMOs need to access the right data to deliver personalized experiences that increase their company’s ROI.
They also need to think about surfacing and actioning on the right data. While CIOs will approach this challenge at the infrastructure level, CMOs will focus on how to effectively create 1:1 experiences with data, especially how to predict purchasing behavior to match shoppers with the right offer, product, and on-brand copy.
The future of AI in marketing
The future of AI is still being written. Now’s the time to set your own foundation and brush up on how your team can use AI as a force-multiplier. Check out these resources to jumpstart your planning: