How Marketing AI is Leveling the Playing Field
Brandon Andersen, Chief Strategist, Ceralytics
If your competition seems like a behemoth that has endless resources, it’s time to consider bringing in marketing AI to help you take a competitive advantage with a fraction of the resources.
A quick story about those big enterprise companies:
I talked to a large insurance company last year in an effort to bring them on as a client. I went through everything that we do and how our technology condenses months of manual work into something that runs in real time, at a fraction of the cost.
I got great responses from upper management, but once I got in front of the SEO, marketing analytics, and competitive intelligence teams, they gave me a polite but firm, “No.”
“Why?” I asked.
“We can already do what your software can do.”
“You can?” I replied.
“Yeah, we have a digital analytics department that tells us about website performance. Then we have the full SEO team that is always looking for optimizations we can do. Then we have a data vendor who tells us about our competitors. So, we we can do all of this already.”
They were right. Between two departments of people and an expensive third party vendor, they had most of the insights we could provide at Ceralytics.
Quite a few enterprise companies who invest heavily in marketing have something similar.
However, most small to mid-sized companies cannot afford large departments of analysts and expensive vendors.
Instead, they must adapt and seek out new technologies that level the playing field at a fraction of the price to make themselves a viable threat to the Goliaths in their industries.
A lot of talk has been happening around marketing AI and what it means for organizations. Examples I’ve seen pop up are from large enterprises like CenturyLink, or Under Armour. While some of these examples are really cool, they miss the biggest opportunity AI has to make a difference in the business world: leveling the playing field for the mid-market to really take on enterprises.
Currently, the biggest brands have the biggest budgets and the biggest data-heads in the industry. These enterprises invest heavily in software, data, and people to derive insights from the market so they can keep their competitive edge. The more they win, the more they invest, the more they get ahead.
In my experience, most mid-market companies don’t have this advantage. Many mid-market organizations have small marketing teams. Some may have an analyst or two, but many times those analysts are shared resources with other departments, such as sales.
This dichotomy gives enterprise businesses a huge competitive advantage against challenger companies that lack the same data-driven insights they need to identify new opportunities and guard against threats in the industry. Or at least, it did.
How can technology be the equalizer?
To see how marketing AI will change the future, let’s first look at how technology has changed the past.
Reaching an audience used to mean buying expensive ads in major publications. Enterprise brands were the only ones who could afford this type of exposure. This helped them get larger and larger, pushing competition out.
But that advantage went away when audiences could be reached via affordable online and programmatic advertising.
Sending massive amounts of snail mail and heavy amounts of telemarketing required high overhead, a mail room, a call center, high phone bills, and a lot of postage. Then email marketing and social media came along and gave companies of all size the ability to connect with their audience at a fraction of the cost.
Content marketing came to the Web and gave every business a publishing platform to build on, and reduced the barrier of entry to communicate directly with customers and prospects.
History has shown that technology is the great equalizer in marketing and business.
The result is more than just smaller companies getting a larger voice in the market. Their larger voices lead to more competition, better products, better service, and a better customer experience overall. It is the force that drives industries forward, away from stagnation.
Marketing AI is the next equalizer
Marketing AI platforms come in many shapes and flavors, and they are being added to every day. Each of these tools takes something complex and expensive, automates as much as it can, and then delivers results that once took an army of resources in a fraction of the time and cost.
One of the many marketing AI technologies that is leveling the playing field for brands of all sizes is content intelligence.
Content intelligence platforms like Ceralytics and Concured can analyze the content of your entire website, and the websites of all of your competitors at the topic level. By doing so, the platform identifies topics that resonate across your industry, which topics convert best, and where you have content gaps when compared to your competition.
Social intelligence platforms like Nuvi or Talkwalker, are bringing similar levels of insights to the social space. These platforms not only identify what is working and not working for you on social media, but benchmark all of your social interactions against competitors in near real time. It’s a social analytics team rolled up into a software platform.
As my experience with the insurance company showed, companies have a choice now: piece together teams of people and third party research or use one platform at a fraction of the cost.
Marketing AI is only as good as its audience
While marketing AI will provide insights that once took months, it alone cannot help small to mid-sized businesses compete against the Goliath’s of each industry. People still need to take the insights and act on them.
While many companies will invest in these new technologies, only those that really incorporate them deeply into their strategy will truly see their full benefit.
Again, this is where mid-sized businesses have an opportunity.
Shifting the marketing strategy for an enterprise brand can take months or years. Smaller companies can move more quickly to incorporate marketing AI insights into go-to-market strategies, aligning teams with newly found data-driven insights.
After all, it’s not about what you know, it’s what you do with that knowledge that counts.
Better insights, less cost, happier consumers
Thanks to marketing AI, the means to retrieve and analyze data that was once only available to the largest enterprise companies is becoming much more cost effective, and opening up new opportunities for small and mid-market organizations.
The result is going to be better marketing experiences, crafted for specific audiences. While mid-market companies will see their competitiveness increase against enterprise incumbent players, the true winners are going to be consumers, who get better experiences with more brands.