Artificial Intelligence (AI), the buzzword of the year, is becoming a growing influence in the marketing industry. And for better or worse, it’s poised to change your career.
Today’s marketers need to prepare for the AI revolution and understand how they can use it to enhance customer experiences in our increasingly digital world.
While robots will not replace everything and everyone, there are many new skills and functions that today’s marketers should explore. As more and more tasks become automated, it’s crucial to pivot and acquire new skill sets.
With that in mind, here are five skills you’ll need to survive the AI boom in marketing over the next five years:
About 10 years ago, when I worked at Intel, I jumped at the chance to work on a five-month social media project. This was back when social media was new, and most considered it a passing fancy. People thought I was crazy to take on such a professional risk, but it turned out that social wasn’t such a passing fancy – it was a way to innovate like never before.
I recognized that social was the future of business, but it was my willingness to soak up new knowledge that allowed me to be successful. I spent at least two hours a day reading, researching, talking to industry experts, and exchanging tips with fellow marketers who were also innovating in their own industries and companies.
With the world moving so fast, we all need to be self-learners. As the pace of innovation continues to accelerate, it will be difficult for even the most experienced marketers to keep up with the latest advancement and constant changes.
Because AI is a new frontier, it’s a game changer for everyone. We all need to stay curious and hungry for knowledge. Those who are passionate learners will be the ones leading the conversation and harnessing the technology most effectively.
Solving problems is obviously important for people in any industry, but with the advent of AI, there is a need to identify the sort of problems that the new technology can address not just for us, but for our clients and partners.
Take customer care as an example. Consumers increasingly expect a high level of personalized service when interacting with a brand, yet many companies aren’t capable of providing great experiences every time.
The marketers who thrive in the AI era will be those who recognize and understand the pain points that AI can address and pivot their marketing and business strategies accordingly.
In addition to honing the ‘soft skills’ mentioned above, marketers will also need to improve their technical abilities to meet the challenges and opportunities of AI. This may be a daunting prospect for more conventional marketing pros, but in a world full of data, it’s clear that everyone will need to build the necessary analytical skills.
Successful marketers will be able to take these endless streams of data and transform them into business insight. For example, brands will soon use AI (if they don’t already) to identify the most relevant groups to target with digital content.
Marketing strategists may produce the sharpest, most engaging content imaginable, but if they can’t grasp the data and understand how best to deploy that material, then it won’t be of much use to the business.
We may be entering an era of robot-written marketing materials, but we aren’t at a point where robots are consistently producing creative work that’s more creative than what real, live marketers are coming up with.
As AI expands to cover processes that aren’t necessarily rooted in data, such as copywriting, marketers would be wise to get back in touch with their imaginations. A sophisticated algorithm can generate a creative product, but marketers should be sure that they can produce something that’s more intuitive, accessible, and – well – human.
For decades, when brands and customers have interacted, it’s been a human-to-human exchange. These exchanges first took place in-person, then over the phone, and then via email or over social.
Now, using AI, brands are starting to deploy chatbots as their first line of contact with customers. For marketers, this can be a risky proposition. After all, what’s keeping a chatbot algorithm from misinterpreting a question and providing a completely irrelevant answer that turns someone from a customer to a vocal detractor?
While there will be some rocky moments along the way, marketers will need to be open to harnessing AI to handle processes that have stayed mostly the same for years.
Believe it or not, it’s worth the risk. Overcoming some hiccups in the short term will allow marketers to gradually automate time-consuming processes and instead focus on tackling more important and innovative tasks.
Get Excited, and Get Ready
AI is a fascinating development. Its uses – and repercussions – are only just beginning to emerge. But it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
To thrive in the coming years, business leaders across all industries have an obligation to understand what AI can (and can’t) do, and determine how they can harness it to provide value for their businesses. With that, though, must come the pivot in mentality, approaches, and skillsets.
Originally appeared in Forbes