4 Use Cases for AI in Digital Marketing

Artificial Intelligence has been a trending topic for a few years now and as the technology continues to improve, it is becoming an increasingly integral part of a well-rounded digital marketing strategy. As new uses for AI are being developed, it is important for marketers to stay on top of the trend. Any opportunity to save time, money, and better cater to your audience’s needs and wants, is worth the effort.

Automated Processes Save Time and Money

Despite the growth of AI technology, human insight is still vital. AI is becoming a crucial part of a modern paid media strategy. Paid search managers benefit from the opportunity to focus on bigger-picture strategy initiatives by automating the more mundane tasks that can take up a lot of time without automation. Spending less time on repetitive tasks, such as budget pacing and adjusting bid values, can increase productivity significantly.

The digital marketing use cases for AI don’t stop here. We elaborate more on those in our recent article on Paid Search Trends for 2019

AI for Content Creation and Curation

Creating quality content is a key part of building authority within your industry or niche. Building authority is necessary for improving organic rankings and visibility in the SERPs. Marketers may be hesitant to let AI take the reins and create content autonomously, but this technology is closer than one may think. Content that’s at least partly generated by AI is currently being published by several global brands, including Forbes.

AI-software can also parse through web traffic data and curate content recommendations based on searcher intent. Again, this is an example of artificial intelligence cutting down on time spent on a repetitive task, in this case determining content topics and publishing content on the most effective channel at the optimal time.

Now that marketers will have more time on their hands, they can allocate that time to work on strategic growth strategies, face-to-face communication, and other areas where the human touch is more valuable than AI.

Improve ROI by Using AI to Predict Customer Behavior

Predictive analytics is one of the most exciting uses of AI for marketers. There are several predictive analytics companies that empower users to visualize and analyze data in a secure environment. Some, like Microsoft Power BI, are self-service platforms made for non-technical business users – so you don’t need to be an expert in big data to utilize the technology. For more on predictive analytics software, check out this list.

Data visualized for quick analysis through the Microsoft Power BI platform.

 

The accuracy at which AI-software can predict future customer behavior based on past behavior, data, and statistical models is startling. In this instance, AI is not only saving time but improving accuracy. When a customer’s actions can be anticipated, you can serve them highly personalized messages that will guide them through a buying funnel that is unique to them and optimized to nurture purchases.

Similarly, AI-based digital marketing can help you identify your target market. Identifying your ICP is vital to getting the most out of your marketing budget because spending time on leads that aren’t ready to buy is a waste of time and money. Again, you have many options in terms of which AI-software to use – what’s important is that you leverage the software’s ability to quickly parse through large amounts of data. AI-software can analyze your past sales wins and quickly determine the firmographics and demographics of these wins to show you where you can focus your efforts.

Improve ROI by Using AI for Better Personalization

Personalization is no longer just a trendy marketing buzzword. Personalized messaging, especially in retail marketing, is quickly becoming a standard. Most of today’s consumers expect brands to personalize their messages, whether it be modifying to match their location, demographics, or specific interests. Many consumers won’t even respond to messaging that is not personalized. By analyzing consumer data and behavior, AI-software can hyper-personalize the customer experience to foster consistent engagement and interest.

Personalized product recommendations are one of the most prominent uses of AI technology in retail and eCommerce. You can easily craft a more effective marketing strategy by knowing your customers’ buying habits. We most commonly see this technology used in online shopping to get users to purchase. Or do we? Think about Netflix. Their goal is to keep you interested in their subscription service. Before, during, and after you finish a show or movie, Netflix curates recommendations for you to keep you from canceling.

The average user doesn’t think about Netflix using AI to comb through their watch history – they’ll just be excited to start watching Ozark as soon as they finish Breaking Bad.

 

Amazon uses AI to great advantage by providing personalized suggestions based on buying history, items they’ve viewed and liked, items in their cart, and what other users purchased. Once a user is already in the final stages of the purchasing funnel, these personalized recommendations can drive additional revenue per capita.

Above, we see Amazon’s product recommendations in play. These suggestions may prompt a user to make an additional purchase or change their purchase if they see a product they like more. Either way, the customer feels understood and their overall experience is improved. The more you shop, the better the recommendations become. During their next session, this user could be shopping for books – Amazon will “remember” the interest in hats and provide recommendations like these again. Fast forward twenty minutes: this user has their book in their cart along with a hat that they just had to have. Ka-ching.

 

 

The use cases for AI in digital marketing far exceed our list, and more ways to leverage AI are continually being developed as the technology improves. AI-powered site builders, for instance, build sites with search engine marketing in mind, cutting down on the need for on-page optimizations and UX/UI adjustments.  Chat-bots are being used on most websites to help answer simple questions and to segment visitors into a proper funnel based on the questions they ask.  AI plays a prominent role in the development of voice search technology, which as we’ve covered recently, is becoming a dominant player in search marketing.

The most important thing for diligent marketers and website owners is to stay updated on ways AI can be used and to look for ways in which it can streamline their current processes. Subscribe to our newsletter for fresh insights and industry updates.

 

 

Where Does Link Building Fit into Modern SEO?

Backlinks used to be the basis for SEO success…but where are we now?

There was a time where all a website needed was a handful of backlinks to rank well in the SERPs. That’s hard to imagine today, but old-school SEOs sure remember! SEO and its strategic complexities have evolved over the years, and one of the most dramatic shifts has been the success rate of and attitude toward backlinking as a modern SEO strategy.

The Evolution of Link Building

Backlinks deserve distinct recognition because they were such an integral part of early SEO strategies.

Shifting from Wild Wild West to User-Focused

During the dawn of the internet in the late 90’s, it was the wild west – raw and unfiltered, with everyone scrambling to find ways to claim their stake on the World Wide Web. Concerning SEO, all strategies were fair game, including backlinking to the spammiest degree.

It wasn’t until the new Millennium that Google came to bat for the search user and began testing ways to regulate results. At the same time, inbound linking was the height of sophistication when it came to SEO strategies. Google released some of the first updates to combat link spam, including the Brandy and Jagger algorithm updates.

Caffeine – The Catalyst to Combat Webspam

In the quest for more responsive search results, Google rolled out Caffeine, which was essentially a new way of indexing results continuously. Caffeine was the beginning of a massive shift in SEO, thus changing strategies that companies had to use to earn rankings.

As Google continued to focus on user experience, they made it a priority to combat webspam.

Enter Penguin 1.0.

Penguin is one of the most notable algorithm updates in the history of backlinking. Penguin focused heavily on combating webspam and penalized a massive amount of sites for spammy link tactics. There were over 10 iterations of Penguin between 2012 and 2016.

Quality to the Core

In 2013, Google released Hummingbird, which functioned as a more efficient core algorithm, encompassing every aspect of the previous algorithm updates. Ranking well came to rely on hundreds of different signals focused around search intent and user experience.

Where Are We Now?

Today, quality is still the main driving force behind Google’s core mission and algorithm – (RankBrain). To thrive, SEO strategists were forced to adopt the same mentality – users are top priority.

Inbound linking as a strategy has been through the gamut, from seriously abused to nearly devalued.

So, is inbound linking still a valid SEO strategy today?

How you obtain links is the difference between the past – and potential penalties today. When considering link building in the modern-day, apply these three main strategies:

1. Align with the Search Engine Mission

Search engines’ main goal (other than obtaining ad dollars of course – another topic for another day) is user experience. Instead of trying to manipulate the search engines for improved rankings, put that energy into making a better experience for your users. Focus on your users and prospective customers to benefit from more than just rankings!

Brush up on some of the techniques to build quality links in our post Forget Link Building. Think Link Earning!

2. Be Discerning with Directories

Or any lists, websites, or blogs for that matter.

If you submit your website to local directories, vet them heavily. Always err on the side of caution, and if you’re on the fence, opt to forgo a link rather than risk a penalty.

3. Take Control of Your Link Profile

Now more than ever, the quality of your links trumps the quantity. There are many tools, including Google Search Console, that enable you to monitor your link profile. And monitor you must!

If you’re starting to audit for the first time and have purchased links in the past or have suffered a penalty, check out our post on cleaning up links.

Gone are the days of amassing copious amounts of links. Monitor your inbound links, maintain a clean link profile, and be very selective about the types of sites you link to and the types of sites that link to yours.

So where are we now?

Building backlinks is still a valid strategy, although they carry much less weight than they once did.

User-focused perspective = more effective

Worry less about how to build links and more about how to build content that will resonate with your user. This will be your key to long-term success. And if you focus on building that killer content, they will come!

4 Reasons Why Diversification in Paid Media is Critical

Paid media isn’t exclusive to one platform. There are a variety of ways to customize your paid media strategy to support your specific goals. Each individual paid media platform is unique and can be used to reach different audiences with different creative and at different points in the purchasing journey. By sticking to only one paid media platform, you may be missing opportunities to engage influential audiences. Below we present four ways diversification can help improve your ROAS.

 

Reason 1. Your audience moves between platforms.

Fortunately for us, we don’t have to physically follow our audience around.

 

Do you advertise where your audience goes, or in the place you think they go?

Unless your budget is very limited, you can use performance data from multiple platforms to really know the most effective placements. While you likely wouldn’t promote children’s toys on LinkedIn, do you know if your promotions would perform better using Facebook or Google Ads? Even different toys could have a different answer. The real solution is gathering and using data to find out where your audience goes, and which platforms are most effective.

In addition, placing your products on multiple platforms helps you build impression share and stay top of mind. This has shown to significantly increase advertisement performance.

Context is just as important as messaging, and since your audience’s context changes between platforms, it presents a great opportunity to show off your products in multiple ways…

 

Reason 2. You can use different platforms to deliver a variety of messages and content.

We’ve moved past using newspapers as a crude form of demographic targeting. Thankfully.

 

Google Ads search campaigns are great at reaching high-intent buyers with targeted ad copy, but they won’t promote your downloadable content nearly as well as LinkedIn, where business-minded users actively seek out high-quality eBooks and whitepapers.

LinkedIn, however, is not going to allow your brand to connect with its audience in the same way that Facebook and Instagram can foster legitimate B2C brand loyalty with visual and interactive content. And neither of them will let you place 6-second video ads on YouTube for people who have already visited your website.

Every paid media platform offers something unique and valuable. Even if the message on all of your content is the same, the delivery is equally important.

 

Reason 3. You can compare performance across platforms to make educated decisions.

Comparing performance across platforms is like converting between inches and centimeters: at the end of the day, they’re just different units measuring the same thing.

 

If you only run paid media on one platform, there is nothing concrete to compare your numbers to. You may like your ROI, but is a 5% conversion rate good? Bad? There is no way to tell for sure.

When you add in another platform and see that its ROI is better even though it gets a 2% conversion rate, maybe because each conversion is ¼ the price, suddenly you have data to compare and ROI optimizations to make.

Conversion rates are one of several secondary metrics which play into ROI. How about optimizing click-through rates or finding ways to decrease cost? With multiple platforms, you will have more points of reference to use when optimizing all of your paid media campaigns.

You may even find that some platforms provide the best conversion rate, but since the cost-per-click is so high, you need tailored audience lists to only deliver the ads to the most likely users to convert. Those lists, as well as other sections of the funnel, can be provided by your other paid media platforms.

 

Reason 4. The effectiveness of paid media effort is compounded with diverse platforms.

Just like cookies and milk… good separately, but better together.

 

Retargeting and remarketing lists can be incredibly effective—and slow to build. But when you have multiple platforms’ worth of traffic to build a site visitors list for every single platform to target, suddenly the barrier is lower.

Seeing ads in multiple places, with messaging that gets more and more compelling or targeted, will make your audience members more likely to convert. If you’ve already visited a website, you will be more likely to remember them when you see another ad showing you the products you viewed or with another selling point for the service.

This also helps to strengthen your company’s visibility. By appearing in many places, your brand will be more memorable and seen as more authoritative—being seen once and forgotten is worse than not being seen at all since your company’s money has already been spent.