7 Ways Smart SaaS CMOs are future-proofing their digital marketing in the Age of AI
Let’s face the facts…
The lifespan of Fortune 500 companies has been reduced four-fold since the 1960s. Fortune 500s used to enjoy an estimated 60-year lifespan on average, just 80 years ago.
Now they’re lucky if they survive past 20.
The new data trends clearly show their life-span will continue dropping below 20.
The obvious questions here are why and what’s happening?
Is it AI taking over jobs and killing industries?
The answer is complex, but one thing is clear from the big tech giants that survived the Armageddon. They understood the need for AI and Machine Learning early on.
They know very well that we’re no longer approaching the age of AI.
We’re now living in it and benefit from it in many ways.
We’re all living in the age of self-driving cars with Robo-taxis from Tesla just around the corner.
Tesla isn’t the only company driving innovation at light speed.
Looking at Facebook and Google, they are clearly at the forefront of the tech world, driving innovation through AI.
Facebook and Google understand the need to make sense of structured and unstructured data in the context of big data.
They innovate quickly and effectively by leveraging AI to make sense of big data.
For example, Facebook uses a textual analysis tool called DeepText. It’s used to extract meaning from words we use on the platform and analyze them within a specific context.
This approach allows them to process big data in a way that makes their advertising extremely relevant for almost every user.
Did the user suddenly start researching and posting about a potential vacation? Maybe they forwarded an email about vacation plans.
Facebook will pick that up immediately, at scale and serve an ad.
So, once you’re back on your newsfeed or scrolling through Instagram, here come the vacation-related ads.
What about the big G?
Google, is now successfully leveraging machine learning to build out In-Market audiences. In-market audiences are users who are actively researching to buy a particular product or service online.
If you’re looking for a used car on various sites, Google will identify that behavior and tailor the ad experience.
This allows smart marketers to go after users who show signs of high-buying intent on a specific device, specific time and serve context-relevant ads.
This also means that Google through the power of AI is at the forefront of relevant advertising. This helps marketers cut through the noise and reach their perfect audiences fast.
It also makes Google the perfect platform for marketers to stay relevant as they fight “banner blindness” in the attention economy.
So the main question here is how can your CMO future-proof their digital strategy in this fast-changing landscape of AI?
Let’s first talk about integrating AI mar-tech into your existing stack.
As we just discussed how some of the tech giants survive and thrive in the age of AI, let’s discuss what your CMO can do.
1) Get the CEO’s mandate to add AI tools to your arsenal.
Several platforms exist today which can help you future-proof your digital marketing and take it to the next level now.
Phrasee.co – Phrasee is AI that does something many thought only humans could do. Phrasee has developed a world-class natural language generation system. It can generate millions of human-sounding, brand-compliant copy variants at the touch of a button.
If you’re writing ad-copy, email headlines, looking to save time and make more money while maintaining brand voice, this platform can help.
Phrasee learns what your audiences respond to and makes copy recommendations based on data.
Atomic Reach – helps you identify and rewrite the most important sentences in your content to boost conversions.
This platform’s capabilities include blog posts, email copy, search ads, and product descriptions.
It understands user sentiment and delivers content recommendations based on how well it performs.
Using AI-driven insights it analyzes content and customer data to find gaps between your content’s emotional tone and readability, based on the user’s preferences.
This means you can optimize content by adding words or phrases that compel your customers to engage and convert.
Ultimately, it can help fuel and deliver predicable growth based on your KPIs.
Market Muse – is another wonderful AI-powered tool that can help your content reach the top of Google faster and stay there longer. This tool is perfect for SEOs, content strategists, editors and growth markets.
The platform identifies missed topics, helps increase rankings and measures content quality objectively. Ultimately it supercharges your content initiatives substantially with a user-friendly platform.
It reduces research time, drastically cuts time spent on content planning. MarketMuse helps your content get a competitive advantage, by analyzing competitor’s links and topics.
Acquisio – This particular tool isn’t new in the PPC space, but they’ve retooled themselves big time. This company helps simplify digital advertising with AI.
They work with Google, Facebook, Instagram, TheTradeDesk and Bing. Their platform easily integrates with the big media giants and helps you manage your campaigns a lot more efficiently.;
If you’re looking to reduce CPA, get more out of your budget, predict outcomes from PPC, optimize and report on performance this platform will help.
If you’re like any media buyer, you’ve experienced sharp CPM increases on Facebook, rising CPA/CPCs on Google in recent years.
To future proof, your media buying and maximize performance at scale, you will simply need AI.
Despite heavy price tags on some AI platforms, as we move forward, we’ll see increased adoption of digital marketing by laggard companies.
It’s going to be difficult to compete with human power alone in the near future.
These types of platforms can make calculated decisions a lot faster, better and find users more efficiently.
Typically platforms like these are focused on specific goals that you set, like lowering CPCs, hitting a certain CPA, bidding higher or lower on specific audiences. This means you can get more performance on a similar budget.
Evolv.ai – is a marketer’s dream. This particular tool can help you win and grow faster, as the backbone of CRO.
If you’re driving sites to poorly optimized pages, you’re leaving money on the table. This tool will run multivariate testing and quickly help you discover what colours and messaging work best.
Unlike typical A/B testing solutions that take a long time, this tool lets you test all your ideas at once. It is actively finding top-performing designs that win significantly faster.
To take it further, the tool allows for full-funnel optimization.
Crystal.ai – is an AI-powered advisor for business intelligence. One of our favourite features that Crystal.ai offers is the ability to accurately predict your prospect’s personality. This is ingenious for your sales team when it comes to prepping for your prospects.
For instance, if you’re about to pitch a potential CEO you met on LinkedIn, this tool helps.
It accurately analyzes your prospect’s social data and gives suggestions on how to speak to them.
Are you about to have a conversation about numbers?
Perhaps, their personality isn’t data-driven, but they’re focused on big ideas. This kind of insights truly helps elevate your sales process to the next level. This helps your sales team tailor demos, conversations, and pitches in a new way.
2) Get CEO’s mandate to disrupt traditional ways of advertising.
Many companies are doing many marketing activities without having a way to measure effectiveness. Stop doing marketing you can’t measure effectively!
This means unifying different data sources into one system. Once you can start to unify data you can begin to measure different channels and how they work together.
Start using data science to gauge the real business impact of how print, direct response, TV or Radio truly affect your brand’s bottom line.
Let’s say you’re running branded paid search campaigns and then for a month you run TV or radio ads. Look at the spike of branded searches through paid search within those regions.
Was there un uptick?
Did you see more conversions in digital than you would otherwise?
Was there a noticeable difference in other offline conversions given your sales cycles?
If so, how much?
Using data science methods, you can start to piece data points together to understand the influence each channel has on other ones. Ultimately, you can piece it into one big puzzle that tells a story.
This is truly insightful because adjusting different channels can truly impact your bottom line.
Once you understand the effectiveness of your channels, you can make them more efficient. Most CMOs don’t have unlimited marketing budgets, so you have to be smart were to spend every dollar.
Keep in mind brand lifespan cycles in 2019 vs 60 years are shortening.
Thus, as you move forward, your room for error will decrease as more competitor’s come into your space.
That all rolls up to the simple idea; you must begin to unify data to maximize marketing budgets properly.
3) Institute Data Privacy and Protection Measures Within Your Growth, Acquisition, and Opt-In Approach
The whole world saw what happened with Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
With personalization on the rise, user privacy will be even more important for brands as they think about data privacy.
- Ensure your organization has data protection measures in place today. Double-check safeguards that you can collect data with the user’s consent.
- How you collect data is changing today and affecting many advertising giants. Apple’s anti-tracking features are complicating the changes. This battle between tech giants will continue, as data privacy leaders emerge and force others to follow their rules.
- Smart CMOs are looking for ways to secure data collection and ensure they’re compliant with GDPR, as they get ready for CCPA and LGPD.
Don’t let your organization fall behind, as you work with your compliance team to put proper data collection practices in place.
4) Institute a flywheel methodology in your content marketing
It’s not a new concept, but Hubspot has revolutionized the idea of a funnel turning it into a flywheel. Attract, Engage, Delight and continue this process virtually forever, with the customer in the center of it all.
This method applies to all new and existing customers. The main idea is to grow a very loyal customer base and retain them for as long as possible through customer success managers. This is especially utilized in the SaaS world and helps massively reduce churn.
The flywheel has changed the way marketers will approach content marketing in the new age, especially with AI.
Smart content marketers, backed by data-informed insights about the user’s journey, will supercharge their marketing content by creating highly personalized experiences for different types of users.
Without a doubt, this all comes from a well-established data pipeline with the right marketing stack.
So what’s next?
5) Organize your data pipelines in a meaningful context-driven way
The important thing marketers need to get back to is having a richer context around a user’s journey. This comes from having high-quality, owned data that’s organized in a meaningful fashion and can tell you a story.
This could be, evaluating what makes people open to clicking on a performance-based ad. Understanding how the user behaves at the start of the funnel and how they move from point A to point B and so forth.
Will you know, what’s slowing them down during their buying process?
Is it a technical problem on the site, weak offer, poor ad-scent, lack of engagement or poor targeting?
The key here is thinking in terms of audience management in the consumer journey and sending uber-personalized messaging.
Tracking the user throughout the journey and personalizing messaging improves conversion rates significantly. This means you need to have the right Martech in place to align all data from different sources within a CDP.
Here is why having a CDP is critical to understanding user behaviour.
A customer data platform (CDP) is a data management solution that imports customer data from many sources. CDPs can integrate, clean and organize data, to create a unified profile for every single customer that engages with your brand. CDPs take structured data and push it out to other Martech platforms and web systems.
This allows the platform to enable advanced customer-focused functionality like personalization. Understanding data in a unified way can help you maximize your marketing budget.
CDPs can act as a centralized hub of your customer experience efforts. This includes collecting user data from emails, social media, advertising efforts, CRM, loyalty programs and in-store visits.
This allows you to understand your customer’s behavior far beyond the sale. For instance, it can enable you to understand their motivations, likes/dislikes, and tendencies.
Soon marketers and publishers will need to find a way to use data to deliver 1-1 messages to the right user, at the perfect time and on the right device.
This seems like a tall order for any CMO, so how do you achieve this? One answer is to break down organizational silos and focus on alignment.
6) Break down organizational silos to get analysts, sales, product and marketing in one room.
If a marketing manager is empowered by not being siloed with marketing dollars, they can define and analyze audience behavior across channels much faster. This puts them in the driving seat when they want to activate data for competitive advantage.
In a nutshell, marketing needs to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the product, hear the issues sales teams have with specific types of prospects or audiences, and focus on aligning their marketing dollars based on analyst’s insights.
Once CMOs start to get a 360-view of data insights, understand sales roadblocks, see product strengths, they become more efficient.
7) Create a culture of continuous growth, testing, and optimization.
Creating a culture of growth isn’t difficult when you have the right people and systems in place. Here are some things to consider.
Hiring the right team is critical to successful growth. Start by becoming a project champion by providing full support for The Pioneer. The pioneers are typically disruptors who are full of ideas and want to test everything. Give them your full support and let them roam free by testing their ideas.
- Engage cross-functional SMEs to assist in testing, measuring and refining your approach. This team could consist of a media buyer, analyst, creative and engineer.
- Before you start, outline a simple roadmap to follow that has specific goals and KPIs. Set expectations that testing is continuous and doesn’t end.
- Do put in place an apples-to-apples measurement framework across all channel types.
- Start small, simple tests as you get into multivariate testing using AI tools. As you gather learnings, start to scale media budgets across different market segments.
- Share results across your organization and talk about how you can scale winners.
- Test everything from CTA buttons down to personalized home pages.
- Ensure that your team is equipped to run multivariate experiments with clear KPIs. The goal of the experiment is to drive specific and measurable actions on the site.
- Don’t be afraid to fail fast, but gather data and lessons fast.
- Analyze your data fast, to pull out meaningful insights that can tell a story to drive the bottom line.
- Test, test, and test again. Test daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. Some tests need to run longer while others have a shorter cycle.
- Collect the data, analyze and remember to take meaningful and impactful action. This will help you own the end-to-end customer experience for your brand.
- The most important part is to take real action, so design a digital roadmap and action it right away.
The main takeaways here are integrating AI into your Martech. The next step is to align your data silos and team silos. Make sure the CEO is on board with your action plan and lets you institute a flywheel methodology along with data privacy laws.
Remember to institute a culture of growth and testing along with the measurement.
Keep in mind, this is an organizational effort and not a one man show, so don’t forget to keep everyone engaged as a CMO.