In a culturally diverse place like India, it is no surprise that there are massive celebrations around most parts of the country all year round. The biggest cluster of festivals, however, comes within the period of August to January, where several major occasions occur over a period of a few days, and some even overlap with each other! Be it Onam, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja,Dussehra or Diwali, you will find streets buzzing with people rushing out to shop and prepare for these grand get-togethers. Similarly, with a wider reach, online retail witnesses a humongous jump in the number of consumers each year around this time, with an expected 40% surge in consumer traffic. This also means cut-throat competition, where marketing and sales teams are doing everything within their power to ensure that their deals and campaigns are better than the rest, as well as take what they did last year up a notch.
In 2018 alone, it was reported that the festive season saw a 71% rise in the number of online consumers due to aggressive marketing campaigns, offers and discounts by brands across the spectrum. So, how do businesses obtain a fool-proof method to make sure that their campaigns and strategies stand out from the crowd and direct consumers to choose them over others?
The answer? Artificial Intelligence. AI and advanced analytics tools are proving to be the helping hands that marketing and sales teams require. They are able to takea deep dive into data, identify new opportunities, and provide accurate insights to effectively target consumers with unique and personalized experiences, leading to more sales and higher retention rates. Moreover, they can do all of this whilereducing the opportunity for human error to ensure that the efforts aren’t in vain. Here’s how AI-powered tools are giving marketing and sales strategies a significant boost:
More accurate, granular insights at an instant:
With the large amounts of complex data that companies are dealing with on a daily basis, it is often impossible for human teams to unearth deep insights on every bit of information, given the limited time and bandwidth. This is where AI tools come in handy, as they can examine vast datasets at an instant to not only deliver key insights but also to make accurate recommendations for current and future practices based on the findings.
Additionally, AI can eliminate redundancies and keep only what is relevant, thus helping teams know when and how to use each bit of data. It achieves this through technologies such as machine learning and predictive analysis, which store and analyze the data to identify patterns and present integrated results. This helps marketers evaluate consumer preferences and behavior against set targets, from the first enquiry/click to the completion of a purchase.
The findings can then be used to understand and profile customers better, enabling brands to alter and tweak existing strategiesin real-time to improve the expected outcomes. This includes factors such as varied pricing and promotions for different demographics or consumer segments. With this, companies can be more confident of positive conversions through targeting the right customers at the right time with tailor-made offers.
For example, makeup and beauty brand Sephora is using AI to create personalized profiles for each of its customers based on their previous purchases and preferences. Using this data, AI predicts the products that customers are more likely to need and presents them on a customized section called “Recommended for You” on the home page of the company’s website.The brand also predicts customer loyalty by using data on how much they have spent in the year, and sends them personalized offers and rewards based on the information. Using these methods, the company has revealed that 80% of its customers have remained loyal to the brand.
Using data from the past to enhance present and future campaigns:
The festive season brings a great degree of volatility as a result of the sudden surges and changes in buying behavior of customers. This is where past data can prove to be a goldmine for brands to take a cue for their present and upcoming sales and marketing strategies based on what worked previously and what didn’t. By analyzing and comparing historical data such as that pertaining to advertising and sales, AI can guide marketers to a strong strategy for their upcoming campaigns.
In addition to the consumer data-points, the insights gathered by the AI tools enable brands to gain an all-round understanding of their products and services as well as the channels that they are using to present/deliver them. As the strategy for each one tends to vary, AI plays the role of simplifying the information and helps teams with crucial decisions by giving them a preview of the potential results with different combinations for each element.
Conversational AI to boost consumer engagement:
AI-backed tools such as machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) are self-learning, meaning that they get ‘smarter’ with each new piece of information that they process. Here is where brands must make sure they feed in relevant data to set up a strong foundation upon which these tools can build and function to deliver the desired results.
Visibly, one of the most popular versions of these tools that companies across industries are depending on today is conversational AI, more commonly known as ‘chatbots’. This is because chat is one of the most popular mediums people use today and, with ML and NLP algorithms, chatbots can hold human-like conversations with consumers while collecting and analyzing the data from the interaction. As per research by Acquire.io, 40% of millennials have stated that they chat with chatbots every day.
Based on what a brand programs them for, chatbots can answer basic consumer queries as well as use historical data for individual customers to make recommendations, send offers and promotions and gather feedback. Additionally, they are available 24×7 and are programmed to work on most ofthe popular messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, thus helping to maximize a brand’s reach.
For instance, clothing and accessory brand Tommy Hilfiger has a Facebook Messenger bot which, upon initiation of a conversation, greets the user before instantly sending them the clothing collection with three options for the direction that they would like the conversation to take, viz. style advice, browsing or a look into the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of the brand’s latest fashion show. It then goes on to deal with customer queries via reacting to keywords, letting them browse by looks or categories, and delivers solutions accordingly to guide them towards making a purchase.
In order to make the most of their marketing and sales efforts during the festive season, businesses must chart out the ‘what for’ and ‘why’ factors before they decide to deploy an AI-backed tool or system. It is only with a carefully-built foundation that they will be able to tap into the benefits and large-scale impact that an intelligent system can bring about, delivering key insights and customized offerings for individual consumers. This gives brands real-time, actionable insights which they can use to create a superior buying experience for customers, thus leading to increased satisfaction and retention for the long run.