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Scale 1-to-1 Customer Interactions With This AI Tool
Blog Feature

By: Paul Roetzer

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November 19th, 2019

Scale 1-to-1 Customer Interactions With This AI Tool

Chances are, your customers and prospects want more personalization.

Emarsys, an AI-powered marketing automation platform, can help.

Emarsys' platform helps B2C companies scale one-to-one interactions across every channel, no matter when or where customers interact. That includes using AI to offer lead and buyer predictions, improve email engagement, and drive mobile/in-store engagement.

We caught up with Raj Balasundaram, SVP, Artificial Intelligence at Emarsys, to learn how the solution works.

In a single sentence or statement, describe Emarsys? 

Emarsys is a marketing platform with ready-to-activate industry solutions delivering results in days, not months.

How does your company use artificial intelligence (i.e. machine learning, natural language generation, natural language processing, deep learning, etc.) in its products? 

AI is fully integrated in the Emarsys Marketing Platform, replacing the need for a separate CDP, marketing platform and AI solution. AI is embedded within the fabric of the software and works to drive engagement across every marketing channel. AI predicts when customers are about to churn, become inactive, or intend to make a purchase. In real time, AI can predict segments, content, channels and timing to deliver one-to-one personalization.

What are the primary marketing use cases for your AI-powered solutions?

Emarsys helps B2C companies scale one-to-one interactions across every channel, no matter when or where customers interact. Specific AI use cases we solve for include:

  • Buyer predictions
  • Lead predictions
  • Revenue predictions
  • Optimal send-time (STO) and live-at-open (OTC)
  • Replenishable products
  • Banner personalization
  • Product affinity / recommendations Incentives / incentive usage prediction
  • Email engagement
  • Web engagement
  • Mobile engagement
  • In-store engagement
  • Channel priority management

 

What makes your AI-powered solution smarter than traditional approaches and products? (i.e. how does it save marketers time and money, and how does it help them increase the probability of achieving their goals?)

AI is an integral, underlying component of the Emarsys Marketing Platform. We take a vertical-specific approach within the platform (completely customizable based on industry) with ready-to-use, turnkey tactics that run on self-learning algorithms all based on industry knowledge.

Since AI is embedded and engrained within the underlying code of the platform, it replaces the need for a separate CDP, marketing platform, and AI solution, therefore reducing the total cost of ownership. Emarsys offers a natively-integrated CDP with an AI prediction platform and channel automation capabilities as one seamless solution, out of the box.

AI-based turnkey tactics are fully populated with business logic to personalize communications on a one-to-one level. Marketing teams load in content, set their strategy, and choose their segment. The platform handles campaign execution, and all of its components. With embedded AI and knowledge from 2,000+ clients and 4.2 billion contacts, the Emarsys Marketing Platform can predict customer behavior over a time span of 360 days.

Are there any minimum requirements for marketers to get value out of your AI-powered technology? (e.g. data, list size, etc.)

The Emarsys team/platform is flexible and agile, and we work with businesses of all sizes spanning a variety of industries. Many of our most successful client brands have 250,000+ database contacts/email subscribers as a minimum. It’s also ideal to have at least six months worth of consistent and quality data (especially response data). We recommend starting to use AI once you have at least six months of history merged in one platform that executes campaigns across channels.

Who are your ideal customers in terms of company size and industries?

Our ideal customer typically is a mid-market and low enterprise brand that is in the ecommerce, retail, or travel space, and has a database of 250,000 contacts or more. The companies we work with are focused on strategic customer lifecycle marketing with emphasis on retention and creating a complete omnichannel customer experience.

They are usually looking for an integrated solution for cross-channel messaging, and want to take the next step in their marketing evolution to incorporate AI.

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What do you see as the limitations of AI as it exists today?

There are perceived challenges and then there are real limitations. A lot of marketers aren’t familiar with how artificial intelligence can benefit the bottom line and create efficiencies. Many think AI is expensive, time consuming, requires technical skill to “do,” etc. Still others are plagued by a “business as usual” mindset where they’re still reacting to customer events (instead of being proactive). We often see this with churning segments – marketers might see that a customer has gone inactive or has discontinued their subscription, and then decide they need to send an email to re-engage them. But by that time, it’s already too late. AI flips that on its head by identifying — before the fact — who is likely to churn, and then sends them the right message(s) to prevent it from happening in the first place.

AI still has a huge runway, and remains an emerging technology.

One major hurdle we see is that marketers are under enormous pressure from a lot of angles. They have to collect, aggregate, and analyze an overwhelming mass of data without increased resources or wasting too much precious time. The big data conundrum shows no signs of slowing down, either. With every consumer interaction — in-store visits, social media shares, email clicks, and everything else – being tracked and recorded, you have the groundwork to build a deeper, more complex picture of each consumer. This poses a problem, however, if you can’t unlock and manage the data in a streamlined manner.

What do you see as the future potential of AI in marketing ?

The future of AI marketing is wide open at this point. As marketers on the forefront of so much digital transformation, we all have to come together to collectively “lean into” the change.

Advancements in AI and machine learning will lead to the following:

  • CX will become proactive by addressing issues even before a customer ever complains or goes dormant one-to-one will become a true reality…marketing will be on-demand and feel less like marketing.
  • AI marketing will provide augmented intelligence. Truly, the marketer will be able to partner with the machine in completely new ways.
  • AI-driven content production will overtake marketer-driven content. Machines will create “moments” based content and marketers will create “emotions” based human insights.
  • Personal digital assistants will continue becoming mainstream.
  • AI algorithms will create an ecosystem for successful marketing. The best algorithm — especially with lots of quality data — will always win! There’s little debate as to whether AI and marketing automation will change how we connect with consumers in the future. The tangible impact of marketing automation supercharged with artificial intelligence is.

Any other thoughts on AI in marketing, or advice for marketers who are just starting with AI?

When it comes to ecommerce and retail, AI helps brands transform their marketing by anticipating what customers are likely to want and how much they’ll spend. Up until now, marketers have mostly been beholden by previous behavioral data. Now, self-learning algorithms can use data to inform and project future events. AI helps reveal what was previously unseen and is actually making marketers smarter. And you don’t have to be an AI pro or possess technical skills to “do” AI.

My advice is to start using AI on small projects with the biggest impact. Choose the best method of deployment (in-house, outsource, vendor based or hybrid) for you…not what others do. Always deploy on ROI-based projects, and test with historical data before deploying. Lastly, make sure you always do control vs. treatment statistical testing to optimize results.

Global ecommerce and retail marketing teams are embracing artificial intelligence as an enabling technology that can deliver the true personalization customers are craving. Intelligent AI-enabled systems can understand diverse, multi-device data points to surface insights that marketers could never find manually...especially among millions of data points across hundreds of thousands of customer profiles.

Given quality data, AI can decipher user intent, understand when contacts are browsing or buying on your website, and make inferences about what individual consumers need to keep them from churning.

With AI and by predicting, scaling, and automating contextual customer experiences across platforms and devices, marketers can open new revenue streams and unlock new dimensions of their marketing. We believe that AI is the key to not only compete, but to succeed, in the next age of marketing.

Get free access to the Ultimate Beginner's Guide to AI in Marketing: https://www.marketingaiinstitute.com/beginners-guide-access

About Paul Roetzer

Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) is founder and CEO of PR 20/20, author of The Marketing Performance Blueprint and The Marketing Agency Blueprint, and creator of The Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute and Marketing Score. Full bio.

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