The terms ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘machine learning’ have been thrown around a lot in recent years, often with the two being used interchangeably. You’ve probably heard people question whether the use of these new technologies to automate marketing processes signals a new era of robot marketers and in turn the loss of many jobs in the industry.

While marketing automation is a way of completing thousands of processes and tasks simultaneously that would not be physically possible for even the largest marketing teams, this shift is not towards unemployment for marketers, but rather the opposite. Marketing automation isn’t putting marketers out of business; it is giving us the tools needed to further improve the way we do the work we do. The transformation of marketing in 2019, with artificial intelligence and machine learning at our fingertips, is a positive and exciting one.

Machine Learning v Artificial Intelligence

Before we go into the transformation of marketing thanks to these amazing new technologies, it’s first important to understand exactly what each brings to the table and what makes them different.

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t a new concept; it has been around since the late 1950s. The technology is designed to replicate (to an extent) human intelligence. For example, solving a logic problem or understanding language.

Machine learning has also been around since the late 1950s, and while it operates in a similar way to AI and possesses the intelligence required to interpret and solve problems, it is also constantly evolving and “learns” from new data and experiences all the time.

How AI and Machine Learning Are Transforming Marketing

There are many areas in which we can use AI and machine learning to expand the scope of our marketing efforts. Here are just some of the ways these new technologies are impacting marketing in 2019:

SEO: The Rise of RankBrain

One of the areas where marketing automation is having a huge impact right now is search engine optimisation (SEO). With Google’s RankBrain now in control rather than human search experts, the algorithms are constantly learning and adapting to the way users search in a much faster timeframe. The impact of RankBrain on rankings and site visibility is huge and it’s only going to keep increasing in importance. Voice search is the latest wave of change in the way we search, but it isn’t the first and won’t be the last, so marketers need to stay ahead of the trend and use machine learning themselves to keep on top of the changes.

Whereas in the past keywords have been one of the most important ranking signals, we are seeing these decline in relevance while new ‘human’ signals take precedent, such as the time spent on a page, the bounce rate and scroll depth. These signals all indicate how the user interacted with the content, therefore indicating how useful it was to them.

Customer Service: Intelligent Chatbots

There is a rise in the use of chatbots, AI-driven computer programmes that allow customers to get answers to their queries and issues online without the need to chat to a real person. Chatbots have evolved a lot in recent years, with the ability to understand natural language and deliver ‘human’ responses to queries. They’re increasingly used not only on websites but social media channels such as Facebook and Whatsapp, where there is an increasing flow of customer service traffic from a generation that has grown up with social media.

And the use of chatbots doesn’t have to end with customer service. They can also be used throughout the sales journey to prompt users and guide them to make a sale or complete a relevant action.

Content marketing: Your AI Assistant

If you’re a content writer, there is no need to panic. Artificial intelligence isn’t coming for your job just yet. But what it can do is make your life a whole lot easier. Think of AI as your assistant or junior. While you take care of all the creative side like writing valuable content and making it entertaining, informative and worth reading, AI can do all the tedious admin tasks like metadata tagging and recommending linkable content to improve the SEO ranking factors of the post.

Another way AI can help you to develop better content for your audience is by analysing the evolving way that users are searching for and consuming your content. Reporting on user behaviour factors such as search trends, on-page user interaction and more can give you the insights needed to improve the content you create and therefore rank higher and keep users happy.

You can read more about the opportunities for AI in content marketing in Content Marketing Institute’s useful guide .

Email marketing: AI and Personalisation

Email marketing is one of the golden oldies, and contrary to popular belief it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. An eye-opening 61% of consumers want to receive marketing emails on a regular basis from brands and conversion rates for email marketing are higher than search and social media marketing put together according to Smart Insights .

With that in mind, it’s important to make those email communications as targeted and relevant as possible, because the reason people enjoy receiving marketing emails is because they have value. That’s where AI and machine learning come in. You can use AI to offer a personalised email to every single person in your database (“Hi Sarah…) and with machine learning you can keep evolving the communications they receive that based on their behaviour and what content they have previously engaged with (“Sarah, we think you’ll love this…”).

Marketing automation uses a combination of AI and machine learning to create more sophisticated drip campaigns, using triggers (“If Sarah does this then send her that”) to create a complex range of personalised journeys for users. This level of personalisation leads to increased value to the user and therefore increased sales and loyalty.

In Conclusion: AI and Machine Learning Are A Marketer’s Best Friend

There may still be some worry around machines making us obsolete, and who is to say that in the future that won’t be the case? But for now, in the present age of marketing these advancements in technology spell great things for marketers. AI and machine learning are increasing the number of tasks and processes we can automate, which lead to benefits for the customer and the marketer. We are freed up to step back and view the bigger picture, spending more time being creative and developing new campaigns and understanding our customers thanks to the data that marketing automation can provide us with.

And the end goal of marketing is increased sales, which is exactly what AI and machine learning can help us to achieve. By offering a better, more tailored experience for the customer on every possible channel, they are more engaged with brands than ever and are finding it easier to make the journey from awareness to sale. Higher conversions and happier customers; that’s how AI and machine learning are transforming marketing .