Say ‘AI’, and plenty of people conjure up images of robots taking over the world. However, that does a disservice to the many ways the technology can benefit us as a society. AI can help empower businesses and customers through concise transactions and online marketing.

Technology like AI, neural networks, deep learning, big data, and automation aren’t new to marketers – but how they’re incorporated into a business often is.


AI shaping the future of digital marketing and branding

Marketing without social media is unthinkable today. Adverts gain businesses significant revenue through channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter – and AI and machine learning can play a part in driving a business’s success here. Just think of online ads that ‘know’ relevant interests based on prior searches.

AI is also expanding in its intricate ways every day. Take visual searches, for instance. A customer snaps a picture of a shirt they want, and the machine ‘understands’ what it’s looking at, and provides both the exact shirt, as well as similar or relevant offers. Already we’re seeing this deployed in large retail stores – but expect to see this technology develop and transform the ecommerce and customer experience.


Creating the optimal customer experience

We live in the ‘age of instant’. We demand everything now, whether it’s online shopping, watching films, and even responses from customer services.

Chatbots are making the process of automated responses to potential buyers even easier. With natural language processing, keywords can be stored and resurfaced when used, allowing related answers to be surfaced to speed up the process.

Cortana is a great example of this. Voice recognition restricts the hassle of typing out questions and saves even more valuable time. It also allows for a level of personalisation that makes customers feel so much more welcome. Using face, voice, and fingerprint recognition to log in to your account also creates seamless access into your shopping experience. With the evolution of interactive technology, it’s a no-brainer to include this type of AI into the commercial sector.

Pattern recognition is another revolutionary part of the digital transformation. With analytics recorded and processed, it allows future recommendations that are relevant to the customer.

Imagine, a virtual machine that can offer you tailored fashion advice. Or receiving automatic notifications for price drops at your local store. All based on the data you’ve already supplied.


The future of social media marketing

I find it fascinating that careers can be made from the amount of following you have on social media. 8 weeks on a reality TV show can now equate to huge sponsorship deals that can set you for life – simply in exchange for a picture with a product.

While social media platforms are free to use, in the main, companies like YouTube are also capitalising on added features for revenue, such as monthly subscriptions. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see pay-as-you-go features added to these sort of social networks in the future. That is likely to become to pay off – paid-for premium services in exchange for fewer ads, higher quality media, and all-round a more personalised experience. That’s if every social media site doesn’t monopolise into one big brand first; a huge, single site for Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and the like.


Customer experience counts

With 95% of British people buying their items online, companies must adapt. The search pool for customers is massive, where billions of potential buyers are within reach. With a strong marketing campaign and smart usage of AI tools to assist this, any company or brand can achieve success.

AI is critical to expanding this incredible digital world we are all growing into. Brands will soon rely on these technologies to drive their sales, especially when shopping now lives on the internet.

There is a huge market within online marketing and branding, and whilst the majority of companies are taking advantage of this, there are many that could be doing more to boost business. As shopping becomes easier and more personalised, the response becomes more positive. And the happier the customer, the higher the revenue.


Find out more

Download the report: ‘Accelerating competitive advantage with AI’

Read our deep dive into the state of AI in the UK

Q&A panel: What will AI mean for retail in the next five years?

About the author

Tom Crawford, Azure Specialist internTom Crawford is an Azure Specialist intern working on the Enterprise and Commercial sectors of the business. He has been with Microsoft for 3 months, on a year-long journey of continuous learning. Data and AI fascinate Tom, and chime well with his Computer Science studies at university. With that experience, he believes he’s beginning to see, first-hand, the digital transformation of the modern era.