Artificial intelligence may have once been the stuff of science fiction, but businesses across industries are now using this budding technology to make their operations more efficient. For example, companies may use chatbots to engage current and potential customers, freeing up human agents to do more strategic work.
But chatbots are only the beginning. Every day, companies like Google, Microsoft, IBM and Amazon find new ways to help businesses of any size use AI to gain an edge over their competitors.
Below, 11 communications executives from Forbes Communications Council share how marketing and PR professionals can best leverage modern AI capabilities in creative ways. From improving the user experience to increasing productivity, here's what they had to say.
1. Use chatbots to begin the customer journey.
Chatbots can help businesses connect with users at the beginning of their journey, providing guidance and offering new features. If a purchase is straightforward, bots offer an inexpensive, convenient way to move customers toward transaction completion. The key is not to forget to provide an easy way to transition to human customer service when conversations or requirements become complex. - Holly Chessman, Holly Chessman Marketing
2. Automate everything that isn't creative.
I started developing marketing automation to cover for me while I would be on maternity leave. Through AI, I ruthlessly removed any and all manual tasks from my plate, leveraged third-party tools and improved our own internal tech to get my job done. The result was that things ran smoothly while I was out and when I returned I was freed up to work on higher value and more creative projects. - Lauren Alexander, Neurohacker Collective
3. Let the data drive you.
Through the use of AI, data-driven PR efforts are easier to develop and implement. AI allows you to sort through big data by creating efficiencies that fine tune brand voice from controlled communication channels to reputation management efforts. Utilize a monitoring tool like Meltwater to analyze real-time conversations and extract key phrases and insights to raise awareness for your brand. - Alysia Gradney, Vision Source
4. Track trends and find opportunities.
Marketers should use tools that scan thousands of data points and surface relevant or trending topics, like Hootsuite's sentiment analysis tools, BuzzSumo or Google Trends. These AI tools can help marketing and comms professionals spot rapid response PR opportunities, surface relevant influencers in the space and suggest new ideas for campaigns and content. - Nadja Blagojevic, Axiom
5. Combine AI and human teams for better service and sales.
Integrate AI into your human customer service team. Computers and humans can learn from each other to create better service and sales. Pick your top 10 sales agents and have your AI learn the best responses and actions from these overachievers. AI will then use that knowledge to coach underperforming agents on what to say and do, raising their level of performance. - Eileen Canady, SYKES
6. Optimize the consumer's journey.
Creating personalized site experiences is something beyond human capabilities, but easily accomplished with AI. Marketers should leverage data collection tools to gather useful data about each customer. We can use those critical data points to provide a highly personalized consumer journey with AI. Consumers, on the other hand, appreciate the white-glove service and elevated digital experience. - Lu Chen, THINX
7. Use AI bots to save time and resources.
A little-known secret of PR professionals is news-writing bots that produce stories and press releases using artificial intelligence. You can feed data and basic template information into the AI platform and watch it crank out draft stories while you focus on higher-return items. Using these bots takes some practice, but they‚??re a great tool that can help streamline your PR efforts. - Brandie Claborn, McAfee
8. Use conversational AI to move from push to pull.
Research shows consumers don't mind talking to a bot if it's helpful. Consumers do mind, however, being bombarded with intrusive marketing messages. Conversational AI can work to your advantage by creating personalized, timely experiences that add value beyond a sale. In our digital economy, loyalty is king and customers reward relationships. Conversation is one of the quickest ways to get there. - Jennifer Kyriakakis, MATRIXX Software
9. Benchmark against your industry peers and predict the future.
The best use of AI for marketing and PR professionals is leveraging benchmarks from anonymized data to see how their organization‚??s performance stacks up against industry peers. AI can also use anomaly detection and correlate events to identify patterns that are likely to result in a future issue. I don't know a marketing or PR professional that wouldn't like the ability to predict the future. - Laurie Ehrbar, ServiceNow
10. AI is only as good as the data that goes into it.
Focus on the AI your customers use - things like voice search and assistants. AI is only as good as the data that goes into it, so make it better by feeding it the highest quality data about your business. To do that, start by creating a central source of truth inside your organization because there's no way for the AI to know the answer if you don't. - Elizabeth Walton, Yext
11. Give your bots a personality.
You've worked hard to develop a unique voice that is consistent with your ad campaigns, marketing materials, social profiles and in-person interactions. Automation opportunities abound, so giving personality and identity to your bot while honoring human connection is paramount. AI experiences should be an extension of your voice - an opportunity to showcase your personality to an engaged community. - Andrew Caravella, Sprout Social