Artificial Intelligence for Real-World Marketing

Robot Running FastWhen we hear the phrase “artificial intelligence,” what comes to mind is often the stuff of science fiction movies. Robots that take over the world, computers that drive cars, and robots that become our friends.

In the world of business, however, artificial intelligence is the next big thing in digital marketing, but its uses are a little less romantic. First, what exactly is artificial intelligence? According to Wikipedia, “Artificial intelligence” (AI) is intelligence exhibited by machines…. when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving.”

So what are a few ways AI is used in real-world marketing?

  1. Chatbots, or bots, are basically computer programs that allow people to chat with computers. Businesses can use them to provide automated, human-like customer support, e-commerce recommendations, and other interactive experiences. One bonus is that it’s available any time of day or night. The bot can be programmed to provide product suggestions based on the conversation, or even display relevant ads during times when the “agent” is “researching” an answer to a question or finding a solution to a complaint.

 

  1. Speech recognition is something AI can be programmed to do, which can translate (pun intended) into widening a company’s customer base. When more people can talk to a search engine or communicate with customer service using their native language, business can be enhanced.

 

  1. If you use Facebook, you’ve already likely noticed ad targeting. Advertisements relevant to your last comment or “like” almost magically appear in your newsfeed. AI is used for ad targeting, and Facebook is just one platform where it’s used effectively.

 

  1. Website design is an exciting, new way that artificial intelligence is being used by businesses. One company, Grid, boasts that companies can have a website that builds itself and evolves as content is added over time.

 

  1. Finally, and maybe obviously, AI is put to good use via search engines. Users are just regular people asking regular stuff, and they may not know the most eloquent way to get good results. Artificial intelligence can help figure out what people are trying to ask, and can quickly get them the search results they probably need. This technology can help businesses when they use search engine optimization (SEO) to build their sites. And with websites that build themselves, SEO is seamlessly integrated.

 

Want to take your company to the next level? Spend some time researching artificial intelligence and how you can apply it to your marketing ventures. If you don’t, you’re sure to miss out on this soon-to-be essential digital marketing tool.

 




Mobile Optimize your Website in 2017

Man with mobile phoneBranding online is never a “one and done” endeavor, at least not for businesses who want to stay relevant, and certainly not for those who want to grow. In 2017, digital trends are going to drive how businesses compete. One of the top trends they’ll need to embrace is optimizing their mobile presence.

Connecting with potential customers online has been par for the course in this new millennium. But with smartphones becoming progressively universal, any serious competitor needs to embrace them. Smartphones are fast becoming the primary way consumers research companies, buy products, and use services online.

Whether sitting in a store parking lot trying to decide what to buy, or even shopping online while taking a quick break at work, consumers always keep their smartphones on and readily available.

But smartphones are challenging for businesses to optimize: They have smaller screens than computer monitors, and the user experience must be quick, relevant, and effective.

Quick

Traditional online marketing, where the user is at a stationary computer, may include a site heavy with graphics, clickable options, or even video. If mobile users have slower downloading speeds, a site that takes too long to load may prompt the user to search elsewhere. When a site does load, if it takes too many clicks to get to the desired information, the user may opt to close the site. Video and audio can be attention-getting, but when they interfere with the customer’s need to make a quick, silent online search, the customer may move on.

Relevant

When a user wants to know the specials for the week, the hours of operation, or how to contact customer service, no one wins when the information is difficult to find. Mobile searches work best when the navigation makes relevant information clearly visible, and when little to no scrolling is required.

Effective

So, the user navigates quickly through the mobile site, and they find relevant information easily. But for an on-the-go customer, does the website invite the customer to act? Finding the right product is great, but mobile marketing is even more useful when customers can use technology to make purchases. Whether it’s Google Wallet, a link to PayPal, or a way to charge the cost directly on the cellphone bill, there must be an effective, obvious way for customers to take the next step. Phone numbers should be written optimally so the user can simply touch the number to activate their phone’s calling feature. A clickable “directions” link should open in the phone’s map application.

Reaching potential customers and clients through mobile devices is non-negotiable. Research the best tools and technological tricks of the trade to get your company mobile-ready.

 

 

 




Using Social Media as Internet Marketing

icon-set-social-media-contact_default

Any serious Internet marketing strategy should include social media as critical to its success. While having a website is the bare minimum, it’s unlikely to get much traction without social media. Just like any other marketing technique, however, there are several choices of platforms and methodologies to consider.

First, you need to know who your audience is (or who your audiences are). Where do they prefer to hang out online? Each platform has a mixture of users, and your business may also have a mixture of audiences. But without this information, you may wind up focusing on the wrong platforms, missing out on others that would be better for your business.

Research whether or not your audience uses a platform to take action or just to find information. And decide if this aligns with your company’s goals. While many users may be on one platform, they may be just hanging out for entertainment purposes. You may have to spend more money to place ads or maintain a presence there than with another.

This article just touches on some of the major social media platforms for marketing, but it’s only a start. If your budget allows in-depth marketing trials and analyses, thoroughly investigate each one. If not, try a few that make the most sense. Just start somewhere.

Facebook

Facebook is a household name, and most major companies have a presence. Businesses can put up a simple page or launch full on campaigns. Surveys, polls, daily (or even hourly) postings, conversations with readers, and even Facebook apps are all examples of ways to enhance a Facebook presence. Even though there should be a link to your company’s website, some companies use Facebook as a makeshift website.

Twitter

Millions of readers use Twitter to find out about news as it happens. Having a Twitter account lets companies interact almost immediately with their customers and prospects. From writing witty content during major events to using hashtags for people to follow, Twitter is a major player in marketing businesses. Like Facebook, written content is the main way it connects with readers, though images and video are quickly gaining favor.

Instagram

Instagram’s platform uses primarily images/photos and videos to communicate messages to its users. This works really well with a company whose products are interesting, or those who have a message that is enhanced with the spoken word. It’s growing in popularity, and it is often shared to other platforms.

LinkedIn

What’s notable about LinkedIn is that many of its users don’t use Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn caters to businesses, so if your company is B2B, this is the platform for you. Like the others, it can be connected to other platforms, but don’t overlook its power as a marketing and networking tool. And LinkedIn is always testing new ways to build its brand and increase its value.

Blogs

The last platform we’ll cover here is blogs. Blogs are just websites that post new content on regular basis – sort of like an online newsletter or magazine. Businesses can teach readers about their field, give them tips, entertain them, or even converse with them in the comments section. Other bloggers share blog articles, search engines rank them just like any other website, and they are a great resource for keeping customers coming back for more. Regular websites tend to be more static and out-of-sight/mind.

Finally, though there are other platforms to consider, this is a good list to get started. As other social media platforms gain in popularity and influence, research their pros and cons. Give them a trial run when time and money permit. Most of all, good luck in the world of Internet marketing. It’s truly a web – easy to lose your way but not hard to find a connection.




Internet Marketing Tips for Online Businesses

template-1599665_960_720

Internet marketing means telling the world you’re in business. It’s the equivalent of putting a huge sign on your brick and mortar store, placing ads in local newspapers, and activating rotating spotlights in the sky. Getting new customers is tough if they don’t even know your company exists.

The bare minimum of Internet marketing is having a web presence. Search engines list websites if the user types in just the right combination of terms. But your company’s site may nearly impossible to find otherwise.

If you want to increase your audience (which can translate into increased sales), you can use a variety of marketing techniques, but there’s so much you can do while still focusing on just the website.

Keep Your Website Relevant

When was the last time your online presence was updated? The content and the design should get tweaks from time to time. If it has flashy images or popups, make sure they’re comparable to other websites’ techniques. Change the copyright at the bottom to reflect the current year. Research your competition and keep up with the latest technology. The online world changes so quickly.

Mobile-ize

Websites users aren’t stuck at their desktops anymore. In fact, according to comScore, mobile has overtaken desktops in media and website use. Is your website optimized for mobile viewing? Do you know how it looks on a tablet or smartphone? Does your site load easily if the device isn’t connected to Wi-Fi? Are the icons easy for fingers to tap? Does it navigate intuitively? How does it look in different browsers and with different operating systems on mobile devices?

SEO Best Practices

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of making a website rank higher in search engines. When someone enters search terms into their favorite browser, the hope is that your site shows up on the first page. Sure, this can be a lofty goal when there are millions of websites out there, but that’s the whole point of SEO. Understand what your prospective customers are looking for, and hopefully your SEO expert can help your site rank higher for those terms. As with the rest of the Internet, SEO is constantly changing. Do your best to keep up.

Analyze Constantly

Do a baseline analysis of your company’s website using analytics tools (e.g., Google Analytics). Then set some benchmarks and re-analyze the initial markers. Has website traffic changed? Are visitors coming back repeatedly? What pages are popular?

Analysis can also come in the form of surveys or other direct feedback methods. Numbers only tell so much of the story. Pay attention to reviews, ask your visitors what they think of your website, or even test things out using your employees as reviewers.

Improving your Internet marketing doesn’t have to be mind-boggling. While you can employ a variety of strategies, concentrating on your website alone is a sound way to make progress. Keep informed and keep up with the times.