Marketing is one of the areas where the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is growing rapidly. This marketing revolution is happening due to many reasons, but mostly because of a growing amount of customer touchpoints, combined with increasing data volumes that make it hard for humans to crunch the numbers. Secondly, micro-moments and fractured buying journeys make it necessary to optimize the marketing message in real time, something that simply cannot be done manually.
AI and ML augment already existing marketing technology, and at the same time, create completely new ways to make marketing more efficient, from real-time personalized merchandising to chatbots that can answer customer questions and take orders. The use of AI and ML within marketing is evolving and is rapidly shifting from early adoption to broad acceptance. Most modern "searchandizing engines," eCommerce platforms, and e-mail marketing tools already use some AI and ML to optimize marketing and sales effectiveness. Voice recognition services like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple's Siri, and Google Home are already assisting us with everyday tasks, including shopping.
Most companies want to sell more products and increase revenue. To do that they need to be more relevant than their competitors when presenting their products to customers in each micro-moment. Relevancy is no longer just about adapting to customer personas; it is about the person. What makes things even more complicated, it is also about the customer’s intent, as some shoppers are prepared to buy and some are only in research mode; some are looking for a birthday gift, and others a solution to a problem. You have to be relevant and tell the right product story to all of them, in their context, in real-time.
The answer to achieving real-time relevancy is not to simply just buy all the new shiny pieces of hyped-up software—especially if you do not have the content in place that can act as the fuel for the AI and ML engines. If you do not already have the content, you need to start by producing it before you can create better customer experiences by reaping the benefits of the new marketing technology. To keep up with new product launches and increasing customer expectations, creating the content is not a one-off thing either. It needs to be an ongoing process that continues to churn out high-quality product stories.
This constant production process of product stories, continuously improving itself to produce more content with higher quality is what I call a "content creation factory." Its sole purpose is to create better customer experiences, fuel all the new initiatives and take advantage of the enormous possibilities that the new AI-powered marketing technology brings. So the time has come to say goodbye to "Product Information Management" because it is no longer enough just to manage information. It needs to evolve into "Product Marketing" as the new purpose is telling better product stories that increase the customer experience by fueling and taking advantage of an AI-powered marketing tech stack.
Johan Boström, Co-founder and Evangelist, inRiver
Let me introduce you to my new best friend. Yes, in a household with three active children, a busy, distracted husband, and two “unruly” dogs (as described by my curmudgeonly neighbor), my Amazon Echo is my dearest friend. She actually listens to what I say and acknowledges my requests!
Yesterday, I had Alexa read me the news. The day before, she set a timer for 25 minutes so I wouldn’t burn the muffins. She plays my favourite music on demand and adjusts the volume to my liking. If she had arms, I would hug her—every day.
But there is more to Alexa than meets the eye. Did you know that she is also the ultimate shopper? Yes, indeed! Assuming that the items that you are seeking are either commodity—such as pet food or packaged goods—or easily described, such as a book or a song, Alexa can do your buying for you—at the sound of your voice.
This is your newest retail channel. We will be discussing this and more in our upcoming webinar on February 15.
As retailers and manufacturers, who are targeting consumers directly, strive to get the right offer to the right consumer at the right time, an additional channel can open up new opportunities, while also adding operational complexity. In the case of voice, the ability to utilize the technology and the channel effectively is key. And to do this, you need great product information.
Since consumers who order products via Amazon Echo, Apple’s Siri, Google Voice, or other voice-activated apps are likely not looking at a mobile device or laptop at the same time, they are not seeing product images or reading descriptions and specifications. It is imperative that your product information is complete enough for the service to recognize what the consumer is trying to order.
Not only that, but also your product description needs to utilize the key words that a consumer would use. Chances are, a consumer will order a “blue phone case for Samsung Galaxy S7” not an “aqua ombre glitter sparkles” S7 phone case. Your product information needs to tell appealing product stories using common, everyday terms.
Because consumers will be able to review a shopping cart to ensure that their order is correct, your product information needs to be discrete and concise enough to select the needed product with a superior level of accuracy. Basic information such as product titles, brands, and SKU numbers needs to be exact. In addition, your product information needs to be consistent across channels so that your consumer can view a product online and then be able to order the product later via voice with a high degree of confidence that the selection is the same product.
The advent of voice shopping can help retailers truly meet shoppers where they are, in those “micro-moments” when a product need crosses their minds. However, to make that great first impression and keep shoppers coming back to you through this channel, it is critical that you serve up the right content and product options. Keep this new channel in mind when you are crafting your product information. It might mean telling a simpler, more concise product story.
In the meantime, join inRiver and our partner Absolunet on February 15, 2017 at 2PM CST for a webinar on this and other eCommerce trends affecting retailers. Register here for this informational event!
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager North America, inRiver