Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technology that is booming in the digital industry. Artificial Intelligence, combined with machine learning will soon revolutionize the industrial world as we know it. The scope of AI is very wide, and it is not just limited to the technology industry only. In fact, organizations from a range of industries all across the globe make use of AI. Artificial Intelligence is used everywhere, whether it is to predict stock prices or to solve supply chain problems. However, AI is not just about revolutionizing the industries. Instead, AI plays a key role in sales and marketing as well. In this era of digital marketing, Artificial Intelligence can help creating better sales leads. In this article, we describe how AI can help in finding marketing and sales leads.
An organization that sells any kind of products or services is always looking to generate more sales. This will involve certain organizational decisions, such as the hiring of more sales staff, or improved marketing plans. Regardless of what decision you take, the ultimate goal is to boost conversion rates and improve sales lead generation. This is exactly where Artificial Intelligence can help you out.
The primary benefit of Artificial Intelligence is that it can process enormous amounts of data effectively in very quick time. This provides you with insightful information that you can use to improve the marketing and sales decisions which you take. Furthermore, Artificial Intelligence can be merged with concepts of machine learning as well. This enables AI features to make decisions and draw conclusions on their own, as well!
AI for Sales Leads and Marketing
Sales teams are always looking for more and more data. Artificial Intelligence is the best technology to assist them in making sense out of it. Marketing automation systems, as well as CRMs, are now integrating AI features as well. The interesting part is that the users don’t even have to know that the system uses AI in order to gain rewards from it.
Making a sale starts from connecting to a customer on a personal level. An AI system helps with this by giving the relevant information to the sales team for striking up a conversation. AI makes predictions for you by tapping into Big Data and by analyzing how similar sales leads have acted. Machine learning gains most of its power from the fact that it improves over time.
Consequently, the sales teams will become much more efficient as they no longer have to depend on the scattergun approach. An Artificial Intelligence system determines the prospects that are most likely to make a purchase. The system then uses available information for discovering the kind of message that would be most relatable to them. This means the team may spend half as much time on calls and still make twice as many sales.
AI can also be useful in real-world shopping situations. For instance, AI can power in-store purchases by serving advertisements that particularly relate to the buyers. At the same time, virtual assistants and conversational interfaces bring about a similar change in online shopping. They make the online shopping experience more relatable and natural, eventually leading to more conversions.
However, it is important to note that AI does not aim to replace traditional salespeople. The power of AI makes your conversations more effective, whether you are a B2B marketer in a busy call center, or a B2C marketer on the shop floor. The purpose of AI is similar to that of sales scripts today. These scripts are personalized for each customer with AI though. This is what concepts of Artificial Intelligence such as big data and machine learning can help us achieve.
In fact, the main idea behind using AI for sales purposes is the fact that machine and man together are much more powerful and effective than either of them separately. Humans depend on AI for processing data in real-time. On the other hand, AI relies on humans to make smart decisions based on this data. Perhaps in the future, AI will be able to make those decisions for us as well. However, for now, we have only reached the level where AI helps in placing bids and adjusting programmatic advertising programs.
Parsing Raw and Unstructured Data
A major issue that most marketers face is the difficulty in making sense of unorganized data. Unstructured data refers to things like feedbacks on Amazon reviews and reactions on social media posts. Currently, if we wish to standardize this data and include it in the customer’s record, the task will be quite time-consuming and difficult with chances of human error. However, through AI, we have a better way to parse and process this information with minimum human involvement.
The sale processes that we have followed up till now will change. This change will come regardless of our likes and dislikes. For instance, earlier, a sales leads would be assigned a nearest rep based on geography. Now, the sales software will determine which rep has the most chances of making a sale. The geographical location will still have a role. However, other factors like the performance of salespeople in similar sales leads and areas of expertise would also be considered. With these aspects, you may find out that the best person to make a sale isn’t a salesperson but a member of a technical team because he can answer questions that the lead tends to ask.
The beauty of the entire idea is that it is intrinsically measurable. The AI software will make use of the measurements taken to analyze and arrive at required decisions. As Artificial Intelligence determines the way of improving the sales team and streamlining processes, there are chances of you finding out that the more you measure something, the more improvement is seen in that measurement.
Generating Real-Time Customer Profiles
Earlier, businesses themselves had to use CRM (Customer Relationship Software) and previous purchasing data in order to create customer profiles. These profiles then served as templates for targeting new customers to get better sales leads. This archaic method, however, does not accommodate shifts and changes in current trends. Another problem with the method is that it doesn’t show the current business or consumer purchasing market accurately.
Harley-Davidson, a leading motorcycle company tested AI technology in one of their branches in New York. After the first week, the brand had sold 15 motorbikes, which was twice as much as the best sales weekend of the store.
The AI system was capable of generating useful customer information in real-time. This made the brand realize that the store had a larger potential customer base than earlier thought. The system could also automatically differentiate between customers who were just inquiring about products and the ones likely to make a purchase.
Lead Generation Through Social Media
An ignored use of Artificial Intelligence is across campaigns on social media. Even though platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook give some valuable analytical data on adverts, you may not always find them to be as helpful and efficient as they could be. Through AI, you can find the specific parts of an advert that are effective, instead of analyzing the entire advert.
For example, Harley-Davidson could use Artificial Intelligence to conclude that adverts containing the call-to-action ‘call’ had better effects than those with ‘buy’, because the word is not as intimidating.
Responding To Customer Queries
AI is a must for you, whether you run a website for information purposes or a full-fledged online store. Along with assessing your customers, the system can reply to simple questions like a stock query, which would take up significant time otherwise.
The AI chatbot will ask a series of questions from the client, and make a client profile accordingly. If the profile matches the required criteria, they will be forwarded onto an agent.
Improved Relevance and Control
Real-time advertising seemed to be a dead end before the Internet became a significant part of our everyday life. For driving engagement and sales, brands were confined to sending random ad messages to clients. Typical one-way methods of customer service and advertising generated little or no response. However, the methods still ruled the market. B2B marketing and sales lacked an interactive dialogue before the Internet; potential customers used to face difficulties in identifying the correct solutions. This is because there were no social media platforms to review brand experience in words.
Today, however, things are completely different. Customers are now able to identify and choose their favorites quickly, along with controlling their purchase journey. The fast and fluid online media now provides continuous and relevant services to the customers.
Customers tend to use ad-blocking software to avoid irrelevant information, and this is what Artificial Intelligence aims to change. With the implementation of AI systems, marketers will use an informed approach to reach the customers with the right content at the right timing.
Hence, desperate and ineffective digital marketing will end, reducing brand abandonment and spoiling of brand image.
Influential Marketing Content
In order to communicate with the target audience, marketers aim to use gathered insights for designing creative ads and effective e-mail campaigns. For this, the content writers need to be smart enough to make precise guesses on what content would the customers relate with. On the other hand, Natural Language Generation allows content curation to be automated according to the demographics and user preferences.
With the integration of Artificial Intelligence in marketing, the process of creating effective content pieces for the relevant audience so that they move through the marketing funnel will be much more streamlined.
Different algorithms are run to gather and collate customer/user data to determine what they like to read, and what are their current issues with regards to your service offerings or products, etc. After collecting this highly personalized data, marketers create and curate relevant content that answers the users’ queries using outreach systems such as social media or emails or adding chatbots that are capable of directly interacting with potential customers. Along with helping the sales team with their communications, integrating intelligent chatbots will significantly increase customer engagement and conversion rates for any advertised campaigns.
Optimized Marketing Campaigns
One of the most distinguishing features of the 21st century is the vast amount of data pertaining to all fields, marketing being one of them. Often we feel like being surrounded by a pool of values and numbers, wishing it all made some sense.
As far as marketing is concerned, the inability to change data into information could result in losing valuable insights on why or why not the marketing campaigns work. Missing out on this information may lead to losing existing as well as potential customers.
Fortunately, Artificial Intelligence is here to help again. For instance, Google’s new Attribution tool can assist you in getting much deeper insights into your marketing strategies and campaigns than ever before.
What does this bring to the table?
Earlier, you would only able to get data about the last touch point of a customer before they make a purchase on your website. For example, if a user makes a purchase on your website after clicking on a paid ad, the only information you will get is that you should invest more in paid ads as they lead to conversions. This data does not incorporate the entire journey that the user may have covered before they clicked on that ad. You would never find out if they read an article about your brand before clicking on the ad or found your company profile on Facebook. They might have already been ready to make the purchase when they were clicking the ad.
These details change the picture, don’t they? Google’s Attribution is now available to us for providing the customer’s entire journey and giving all the relevant data.
Sales Leads Nurturing
The process of lead nurturing involves developing a relationship with the sales leads during every stage of the sales funnel to maximize the chances of conversion. Lead nurturing is focused on listening to sales leads and providing them with the answers and information that they need.
As a marketer, you should know that an average potential customer will not come to your store or online website and just buy what they like. Instead, they will browse through the multiple products that you have and consider many things before making the purchase decision. This is where lead nurturing comes into action. At this time, you look to turn the lead into a customer by providing them with offers and additional information.
What is the role of Artificial Intelligence here? In the past, e-mail segmentation, preset e-mail messages, and manually messaging sales leads were the methods used for lead nurturing. The goal is to give a personalized touch to each message that you send out to the sales leads. When done manually, this can be a laborious and tiresome task to carry out, especially when you consider that you can have thousands of leads.
Artificial Intelligence streamlines this process and makes it simpler to send personalized and effective emails to prospects. Let us take chatbots for example, a chatbot can communicate with prospects that visit your online store or social media profile. This means that a chatbot can provide information, ask questions, and even send coupons to prospects.
A research by DigitasLBi shows that 59% of Americans are happy to receive special offers from a chatbot. The fact that chatbots reply almost instantly and never ‘forget’ to send additional information to a lead, they are a prime example of how Artificial Intelligence can help in nurturing sales leads.
An ideal situation for lead generation would be when you would be able to segment prospects on a granular level. This would enable you to learn about the needs and requirements of individual sales leads to send them personalized messages. This is how segmentation enables marketers to improve the buying journey of each prospect.
However, for segmenting customers according to factors such as preferences and location, you need to acquire this information from the customers. When done manually, this can be a time-consuming and repetitive task. You can automate the process of segmentation and targeted marketing through the use of AI and chatbots.
Chatbots can ask customers questions such as their preferred color and also collect information such as the user’s current location to build a prospect profile. Once a profile is ready, chatbots can then send personalized offers and recommendations to each prospect. For boosting conversation rates, we can fully automate the entire process of segmentation through chatbots.
Successful Brand Examples
In the section above, we discussed the role of Artificial Intelligence in finding sales leads. We now take a look at brands that have successfully made use of AI for lead generation.
H&M’s (Hennes & Mauritz) is a multinational clothing company which is based out of Sweden. The fast-fashion retailer makes use of its own bot for finding and engaging leads. The H&M’s bot deployed on Kik, makes use of a set of questions which it asks the customers. These include questions such as what is your favorite outfit and what is your favorite color. Based on the answers of these questions, the bot automatically generates a user profile. This user profile is then used to send custom outfits and offers to individual sales leads. Though available in limited markets right now, the strategy is very effective. H&M’s is likely to expand this in the future.
DigitalSTROM is a smart home electronics company which is based out of Switzerland. The company makes use of their own customized version of Wordsmith for delivering on-demand and unique reports to their customers on their request. This enables DigitalSTROM to send out information on topics in a personalized and insightful manner to customers. The automated insights option helps prospects weight the benefits of products provided by DigitalSTROM over their competitors. This is an effective technique for providing information on relevant topics to prospects for improved conversion.
To Sum Up
Artificial Intelligence can be a formidable tool for marketers when it is used to its potential. From helping in automating data processing to sending out personalized messages to customers, Artificial Intelligence can help out in various domains of marketing. Lead generation is one such domain. In this article, we have presented a thorough guide on how Artificial Intelligence can be incorporated in a marketing campaign to find sales leads. This includes generating real-time customer profiles, lead nurturing, segmentation, and automated query responses through the use of Artificial Intelligence. Towards the end, we take a look at how successful brands such as H&M’s and DigitalSTROM among several others are also making use of Artificial Intelligence for finding sales leads. In conclusion, Artificial Intelligence is the next step forward for marketers who are looking to improve and streamline their lead generation process.
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