Today’s marketers seek new ways to find and attract their ideal audience. But in the fast-paced and ever-evolving digital marketing landscape, reaching your people and getting results is getting harder and harder.
Enter AI in marketing.
What Is Artificial Intelligence in Marketing?
Artificial intelligence marketing (AI Marketing) is leveraging customer data and AI concepts like machine learning to anticipate your customer’s next move and improve the customer journey.
Advancements in artificial intelligence offer companies better ways to do that. AI can help build more effective marketing strategies, improve the customer journey, and change how businesses attract, nurture, and convert prospects. The graphic below shows how marketers can incorporate AI and machine learning into every customer lifecycle step.
Examples of AI in Marketing
Source: Smart Insights
AI in marketing may feel more science fiction than fact to many, but it’s not a far-off concept; it’s here right now. According to Salesforce, just 29% of marketing leaders used AI in 2018, which surged to 84% by 2020.
So it’s no surprise that the global value of AI marketing is set to climb from $12 billion in 2020 to an eye-watering $108 billion in 2028.
If you haven’t considered the power of AI for marketing, now’s the time to learn more. To help you get started, we’ve compiled ten impressive AI marketing examples.
1. Whole Foods Leverages AI for Tailored Messaging
Up to 36% of consumers believe retailers should strive to offer more personalized experiences — rising to 43% among households earning $100,000 annually. Yet only 12% of retail brands think they’re good at delivering personalized experiences to shoppers.
To overcome this apparent expectation gap, grocery giant Whole Foods has opened 24 Just Walk Out stores across the US. Dotted with sensors and cameras, these outlets allow shoppers to pick up their items and leave without stopping at the register. Instead, orders are monitored and charged through AI.
Unsurprisingly, the whole “leave without paying” element of Just Walk Out has won all the headlines. But from a marketing perspective, the most exciting part of the strategy revolves around data collection.
All purchases are tracked to an individual level, allowing Whole Foods to leverage AI to analyze shopping activity, identify patterns, and predict future behaviors.
This initiative also opens the door to hyper-personalized marketing: if a customer regularly buys pasta, basil, and tinned tomatoes, the retailer could serve them with a promo code for other Italian-related ingredients.
2. ClickUp Uses NLP AI to Boost Blog Traffic By 85%
There’s been no shortage of opinions (and controversy) about AI-powered content writing.
However, using artificial intelligence for content creation isn’t just about asking ChatGPT to churn out thousands of words of copy and posting it straight to your blog.
For instance, project management solution ClickUp uses Surfer SEO’s natural language processing AI tools and machine learning technology to:
- Identify opportunities for content optimization;
- Understand which keywords to include in articles (and at what density);
- Gain insights into the ideal article structure, from the number of images included to the length of subheadings.
Source: Surfer SEO
The results have been striking. Since using Surfer SEO, ClickUp has seen an 85% upturn in organic, non-branded traffic.
Not only that, but the organization has also been able to produce more efficient content, completing over 130 optimizations and publishing more than 150 blogs.
3. BuzzFeed Personalizing Quiz Content With AI
Sticking with the content creation theme, BuzzFeed — one of the world’s best-known content websites, generating over 100 million monthly visits — is taking its first foray into AI-driven content.
However, the publisher insists it isn’t looking to replace human writers with robots. Instead, it’s using tools from OpenAI to deliver personalized content at scale in a way that wouldn’t be possible without automation and artificial intelligence.
BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said the AI-driven approach will help with “enhancing the quiz experience, informing our brainstorming, and personalizing our content for our audience.”
We can see initial results through several quizzes in collaboration between staff writers and “Buzzy the Robot,” the website’s AI creative assistant. For instance, one quiz uses the answers to seven questions to craft a “new life” for the reader:
AI-generated results of BuzzFeed’s “Get a Fresh Start” quiz
This surreal chunk of copy might not feel like “the future.” Still, it demonstrates how AI can help a website like BuzzFeed instantly craft unique content personalized to the behaviors of individual users.
4. Euroflorist Uses AI to Drive A/B Testing At Scale
Website A/B testing is highly effective for optimizing various on-page elements, from images to menu layouts to CTA buttons.
But there’s an obvious problem: as the name suggests, A/B testing involves pitching two variants against one another to find the winner. It could take you months of testing to arrive at the optimal result.
Once again, AI in marketing provides a solution. Unlike traditional A/B testing, platforms like Evolv AI use “massively multivariate testing” to find the perfect combo from thousands of variants. And it goes even further by dividing experiments into “generations” and testing only the top-performing variants from each generation until it identifies the best possible combination.
One company to benefit from this AI-driven approach to A/B testing is Euroflorist, which ran an 11-week experiment that underwent four generations of testing.
Source: Evolv AI
The winning combo boosted website conversion rates by 4.3%, helping the florist generate more sales and revenue.
5. Interactive Investor Slashes CPAs With AI PPC Optimizations
Pay-per-click advertising is another digital marketing area ripe for AI input. In such a data-heavy environment, it helps to have artificial intelligence in your corner, making rapid optimizations to boost campaign performance.
Online investment service Interactive Investor is just one company to recognize the benefits of this approach. The brand wanted to drive more account signups and slash customer acquisition costs through paid search, so it turned to Albert, an AI tool capable of designing and managing self-optimizing campaigns across multiple marketing channels.
Interactive Investor provided a set of KPIs, which Albert used to make real-time PPC campaign improvements to demographic targeting, converting keywords, ad copy, campaign timings, and more.
The tool created nearly 10,000 different text ads and delivered a 286% increase in keywords, helping Interactive Investor gain an impressive 89% share of voice across the top 10 branded terms. This, in turn, resulted in a significant drop in cost per acquisition.
6. Imagine Business Development Sees 100% Conversion Boost With AI-Led Email Timings
The average person currently receives almost 350 emails per day — a figure that’s set to surpass 375 emails by 2025. With so much noise, wouldn’t it be fantastic to send emails when individual recipients are most likely to open them?
Of course, if you’ve got more than a couple of dozen names on your marketing list, that sort of personalization simply wouldn’t be possible for mere humans to accomplish. But AI tools can manage it with ease.
For example, HubSpot agency partner Imagine Business Development leveraged the Seventh Sense AI platform, which uses artificial intelligence to optimize and personalize email delivery times for every person in a database.
In other words, if one recipient is most likely to open an email at 9:30 am, that’s when they’ll receive it.
Email send time optimization
Before working with Seventh Sense, Imagine Business Development saw average email open rates of around 20% and click-through rates of 2% – 3%. Not bad, but certainly not game-changing.
Seventh Sense changed all that, helping the agency double its open and click rates and increase total email conversions by a spectacular 100%.
7. Heinz Launches Its First Ad Campaign With Entirely AI-Generated Images
AI-generated images often get a bad rap (in fairness, the hands never look quite right). But Heinz — with the help of marketing agency Rethink Ideas — decided to launch what they described as “the first-ever ad campaign with visuals generated entirely by artificial intelligence.”
As is often the case, the campaign stemmed from a simple idea. After playing around with AI image generator DALL-E 2, Rethink Ideas noticed that prompts related to ketchup (like “ketchup in outer space” and “ketchup scuba diving”) frequently produced results that look just like bottles of Heinz.
So the agency urged consumers to get in on the act by sharing their own AI prompts for ketchup-based imagery, with the best creations appearing in social media posts and print ads:
What does AI think ketchup looks like?
Source: Rethink Ideas
As Rethink Ideas explained: “It turns out that just like humans, AI prefers Heinz.”
8. Dept and Hello Monday Create AI-Powered “Shoe Mirror”
Vacant shop fronts are a problem for city centers, landlords, and neighboring businesses. Digital agencies Dept and Hello Monday came up with a solution: creating an AI-powered “Shoe Mirror” to turn empty stores into interactive, revenue-generating ads.
Here’s the idea: the Shoe Mirror analyzes what passersby are wearing, finds shoes that match their outfits, and places them on their (digital) feet through augmented reality, creating an experience personalized to each viewer.
The technology even uses motion capture to replicate the user’s movements — so when they walk past a store, the mirror matches their gait.
But this isn’t just a fancy creative piece; it also has a revenue-driving edge. The digital storefront incorporates a QR code, which users can scan to buy physical versions of their new digital shoes from within the display.
9. Coca-Cola Launches Creative AI Platform
Whereas other brands might be content with using existing AI technologies in their marketing, Coca-Cola launched its own AI platform, built exclusively for the brand by OpenAI and Bain & Company.
Dubbed “Create Real Magic,” the platform combines GPT-4 — used to produce human-like text from search engine queries — and DALL-E, which turns text prompts into images.
The resulting campaign saw Coca-Cola prompt fans to create their own digital artwork based on dozens of branded assets, such as the brand’s distinctive contour bottle and script logo.
Artists were allowed to download and submit their creations, with the best results appearing on digital billboards in New York’s Time Square and London’s Piccadilly Circus.
Sophisticated as it sounds, this campaign is just the beginning for Coca-Cola. Global chief marketing officer Manolo Arroyo explains, “We see many applications of AI — including content creation and rapid iteration, hyper-personalizing content and messaging for consumers and customers, and driving two-way conversations with consumers.”
10. Magnolia Market Bridges Online-to-Offline
Magnolia Market, the brick-and-mortar shop owned by Joanna and Chip Gaines, is known for its stellar customer experience. The mission of Magnolia’s physical location is to “inspire you to own the space you’re in.” To achieve this goal, they created an authentic brand experience combining food, games, shopping, and a garden.
Because not everyone can visit the Magnolia Silos, the team felt that its e-commerce operation also needed to deliver the same experience. Magnolia worked with Shopify Plus to create a storefront and an augmented reality app that allows users to view products in 3D and “place” them in their homes. AR allowed Magnolia to render its products with the highest possible photo realism. The results set Magnolia apart from the competition and strengthened its e-commerce arm, a key driver for company growth.
11. Chase Achieves More Humanity in its Copywriting
Chase Pairs up with Persado
Chase Bank signed a five-year deal with Persado, a New York-based company that applies artificial intelligence to marketing creative. After testing Persado’s solutions, Chase found that using machine learning in their copywriting helped them achieve more humanity in their marketing.
For example, one digital ad written by humans read: “Access cash from the equity in your home.” Persado’s version read: “It’s true—You can unlock cash from the equity in your home.” The latter version performed better with customers.
Chase is the first to engage in this type of large-scale machine learning copywriting, but other brands are planning to expand the use of Persado’s technology. Persado says the company already works with 250 marketers across retail, finance, and hospitality.
12. Starbucks Uses Predictive Analytics to Serve Personalized Recommendations
According to the research firm Aberdeen, companies identifying customer needs through predictive analytics can increase their organic revenue by 21% year-over-year, compared to an average of 12% without predictive analytics.
Starbucks is one example of a brand using its loyalty card and mobile app to collect and analyze customer data. They announced plans for personalization back in 2016.
Starbucks Personalized Recommendations
Since then, they’ve built quite the app experience. It records purchases, including where they are made and at what time of day. Starbucks uses predictive analytics to serve customers with personalized marketing messages. They include recommendations when a user approaches a local store and special offers to increase the customer’s average order value.
13. Alibaba Opens a FashionAI Store
Retail giant Alibaba opened a physical “FashionAI” store in Hong Kong to streamline the fashion retail experience through Artificial Intelligence. Alibaba equipped its stores with intelligent garment tags that detect when the item is touched and smart mirrors that display clothing information and suggest coordinating items. Alibaba also plans to integrate the brick-and-mortar store with a virtual wardrobe app allowing customers to see the outfits they tried on in-store.
Alibaba’s use of technology is a response to the consumers’ shifting expectations. According to a National Retail Federation survey, 80% of shoppers say retail technologies and innovations have enhanced their online buying experience, while 66% say the same about brick-and-mortar retail.
14. Unilever Helps Ben & Jerry’s Identify the Trend for “Ice Cream for Breakfast”
Unilever Uses AI in Marketing
Consumer goods company Unilever uses AI data centers across the globe to synthesize insights from various sources, including social listening, CRM, and traditional marketing research. Using this technology, Unilever discovered a link between ice cream and breakfast: at least 50 songs in the public domain include lyrics about “ice cream for breakfast,” and businesses like Dunkin’ Donuts are already selling ice cream in the morning.
Unilever took this insight and developed a range of cereal-flavored ice creams (including Fruit Loop and Frozen Flakes) for the Ben & Jerry’s brand.
15. Amazon Launches Personalize
Amazon was a pioneer in using machine learning to offer personalized product recommendations. Still, it has been a challenge for the brand to extend these capabilities to companies running their sites on Amazon Web Services.
In June 2019, Amazon announced the general availability of Amazon Personalize, which brings Amazon.com’s same machine learning technology to AWS customers for use in their applications.
The Amazon team has enhanced its functionality since the initial rollout. Personalize can now deliver up to 50% better recommendations across various fast-changing product types, including books, movies, music, and news articles.
Brands including Domino’s, Yamaha, Subway, and the wedding company Zola already use Personalize to highlight musical instruments and in-store catalogs, deliver ingredient and flavor recommendations, and devise individualized style combinations.
16. Sephora Chatbots
According to Drift’s latest State of Conversational Marketing report, chatbots are seeing faster growth than any other brand communication channel, with usage increasing by 92% between 2019 and 2020.
Beauty brand Sephora was an early adopter of AI. They began using a chatbot to dispense beauty advice on Kik in 2017.
Sephora’s chatbot helped consumers narrow choices, beginning with a quiz about their product preferences. Product preferences are beneficial in the cosmetics industry, where the options can be overwhelming and difficult to purchase without testing in person. Sephora gained valuable insights from its chatbot and saw enough engagement from that experiment that it’s since launched more chatbots on Messenger.
17. eBay Uses Brand Language Optimization to Drive Email Marketing Success
The global e-commerce marketplace eBay always strives to find new ways to engage customers. That means it’s got plenty of AI marketing examples to show us.
Since 2016, the company has been working with the artificial intelligence-powered customer experience platform Phrasee to enhance its marketing copy, focusing on email.
For an average brand, optimizing email marketing performance is relatively simple. A/B-test a couple of different subject lines or CTAs; see which works best; do more of it. But things get a little trickier for a company of eBay’s scale. With over 101 million email subscribers across the US, UK, and Germany alone, crafting impactful subject lines to drive open rates is a colossal undertaking.
Wanting to shift the creative burden away from its internal team, eBay turned to Phrasee, which uses a combination of natural language generation and deep learning to create copy at scale while dynamically optimizing performance.
Phrasee’s approach to AI content creation & optimization
Phrasee’s computational linguistics team built language models for eBay, allowing the e-commerce giant to generate custom copy tied to its brand tone, customer needs, and specific promotions at the click of a button.
In the years since it first teamed up with Phrasee, eBay has enjoyed substantial improvements in its key email marketing metrics, including:
- 16% average open uplift
- 700,000+ incremental opens per campaign
- 56,000+ incremental clicks per campaign
- 31% average click uplift
18. Marketing AI Helps AMA Boost Newsletter Engagement
Being a marketer at the American Marketing Association (AMA) can’t be easy. When marketing experts make up most of your audience, you simply can’t afford to send low-quality communications.
Everything needs to be personalized to the needs of individual members. But given the diverse range of the AMA’s content –– covering everything from written content development to UX design –– it was near-impossible to do meaningful personalization for each of its 100,000+ newsletter subscribers.
Impossible without AI in marketing, that is. By teaming up with the artificial intelligence-driven personalization platform rasa.io, the AMA used an AI engine that generates individualized subject lines based on member interest data, highlighting the most relevant and interesting content to each newsletter recipient.
Since joining forces with rasa.io, the AMA has seen its monthly subscriber engagement rate increase by 42%. As editor-in-chief, Molly Soat explained: “Our members and readers span many industries and specialties, so not every post about marketing will be relevant to all of our subscribers. The ability to personalize this newsletter for individuals within such a massive audience is invaluable.”
From valuable insights to personalized product recommendations and technology-enabled assistance, AI in marketing is already driving some of the biggest advances in overall customer experience. What impressive AI in marketing examples have you seen lately?
If you want to learn more about how new technologies can help improve your customer engagement strategies, check out our social media strategy conference!