Contributing author: Ali Gwin, Senior Manager, Product Marketing, IBM Watson Advertising
Recently, we have seen an acceleration of consumer digital behavior catalyzed by the global pandemic and enabled by innovation. The rapid adoption of online grocery orders, remote working and learning, at-home exercise experiences and telehealth visits signal that consumers are adapting to technology across nearly every facet of their lives.
The same transformation likely applies to your marketing strategy as the pendulum swings further toward the digital-first economy. But this doesn’t mean consumer expectations have changed; if anything, they’re growing. People are increasingly demanding authentic connections, helpful information and personalized support from brands.
How can your team nurture this new consumer journey while gaining real customer insights amidst so much disruption and so many obstacles?
Case study: Conversational marketing, powered by AI strategy
Conversational marketing can allow you to create a sense of empathy and personal connection by scaling your brand voice, delivering valuable content and recommendations, and learning directly from your consumers in the digital ecosystem.
Let's take a look at one conversational marketing example. The Weather Company (TWC), which provides weather information to over 288 million unique users each month, recognized the confusion around which COVID-19-related data people could trust and where to find that information.
Striving to be essential to users, TWC pivoted its strategy to put IBM Cloud and AI technologies to work by developing and deploying a COVID-19 hub across our digital properties. These resources include local COVID-19 reports, an interactive tracker and an AI-powered chatbot called the COVID-19 Q&A with Watson.
The chatbot was trained on up-to-date information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. By optimizing Watson AI technology and natural language processing, The Weather Channel achieved tremendous success in a variety of ways:
- Within a few months, the chatbot answered more than 2.6 million questions about COVID-19.
- Consumer engagement drastically increased as the average user session grew from 3 inputs to 6 inputs.
- The Weather Channel team garnered valuable insights into our consumers, which helped to inform editorial strategy and product decisions moving forward.
What’s next for AI and conversational marketing?
Salesforce predicts that 95% of all consumer interactions with a brand will be facilitated via AI by 2025* as companies increasingly leverage technology to better understand user sentiment to anticipate their future actions.
As we look to the future, the relationship between brand-driven AI and consumers could become an indefinite presence. For example, an effective opt-in process might negate the need for isolated user-generated sessions and instead allow AI to initiate ongoing, personalized conversations with individuals across devices. This could also involve scenarios in which—given consumer permission—AI advertising solutions may incorporate health and wellness data to better empathize with users.
But how do people feel about machines understanding their emotions at such a deep level? We’ll find out soon. As long as brands implement AI in ways that are helpful and trustworthy, we expect the market to lean in and adapt to these emerging solutions.
Are you ready to future-proof your AI strategy? Get started with IBM Watson Advertising Conversations Builder today.
*"The Future of Marketing in 5 Stats," by Mathew Sweezey, Salesforce.com, March 13, 2019, https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2019/03/future-of-marketing-five-stats.html