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How CMOs Must Evolve to Take Advantage of Artificial Intelligence

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Marketers are drowning in data from dozens of sources: social monitoring, media monitoring, web analytics, emails, call tracking, sales, advertising, remarketing, ecommerce platforms, mobile apps, and more.

The question is: what do you do with all of it?

That is where artificial intelligence comes in. Artificial intelligence is the science of making machines smart, which in turn augments human knowledge and capabilities. AI takes very specific and complex data-driven problems, and then devises and executes solutions.

Marketers have a finite ability to process information, build strategies, create content at scale, and achieve performance potential. AI algorithms, in contrast, have an almost infinite ability to process data, and deliver predictions, recommendations and content better, faster and cheaper.

That means AI is a tool that can help marketers do their jobs better. All that data, rather than creating noise, becomes a priceless asset, used by AI systems to accelerate marketing performance and gain insight into which investments work. 

So, what can CMOs do to evolve and start leveraging artificial intelligence now?

1. Cut Through the Hype About AI

Artificial intelligence may seem like a futuristic concept, but its use is widespread among companies we interact with daily, including Netflix, Amazon, UPS, Facebook, Google and Apple. But it comes with plenty of hype. It’s difficult to tell what AI is truly capable of—and this leads marketers to underestimate how AI might change their businesses.

In reality, massive amounts of data; exponential advancements in computing power; and the availability of AI technology from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, IBM and others have combined with a flood of venture capital money pouring into everything AI to prime the marketing industry for disruption.

CMOs must take AI and related technologies seriously before they can reap its benefits. (A good place to start is diving into these 11 expert resources for marketers interested in AI.)

2. Understand That AI Enhances More Than It Automates

Marketing is being disrupted by AI, but that does not mean marketing as a profession is being destroyed or automated out of existence. Many tasks commonly performed by marketers are being augmented by machine learning, deep learning and cognitive computing.

Consider how much time your team spends drafting social media updates, optimizing content, building email workflows, predicting conversions, writing performance reports and dozens of other marketing management activities. Now imagine if machines performed many of these activities. This would not make marketers obsolete. It would free them up to enhance rather than solely create.

This means more time spent on activation, promotion and improvement, driving better performance and using top talent on higher value tasks. CMOs must grasp that AI is a tool to give their marketing teams, not a technology to replace them.

3. Experiment with AI Now

CMOs need to start experimenting with AI now. That means signing up for demos, talking with providers and researching the solutions on the market. When we interviewed 9 AI experts about their advice for marketers, some variation of “experiment often” came up again and again.

Consider the AI capabilities of your existing marketing technology. While marketing automation is still largely manual, we anticipate major solutions to add AI functionality rapidly. CRMs like Salesforce are already baking AI into their products. Chances are, your marketing tech providers are a good resource to start learning what’s coming.

Begin to evaluate the repetitive manual marketing tasks that might be intelligently automated. Solving for pain points, such as “I need to automate social media posting,” is a good way to focus your AI experimentation efforts.

4. Focus on Continued Learning

C-suite marketers have historically lacked access to AI-focused education that helps them develop internal capabilities. That's why we launched AI Academy for Marketers, a platform that brings the power of artificial intelligence to you

AI Academy for Marketers is designed for marketing professionals and students at all levels, and largely caters to non-technical audiences, meaning registrants do not need backgrounds in analytics, data science or programming to understand and apply what they learn.

The Academy is available now and features deep-dive Certification Courses (3 - 5 hours each), along with dozens of Short Courses (30 - 60 minutes each) taught by leading AI and marketing experts. Learn more here. 

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