AI, Oh Why? Forrester Reports On What Brands Are Doing Wrong

If you’re using AI only to drive campaign decisions like email timing, you’re making a mistake.

It means you’re stuck in 2016 and are relying on AI for assistive or operating use, judging by Harnessing AI’s Potential, a Forrester Consulting paper commissioned by Albert.

AI use or marketing has grown from 43% in 2016 to 88% today, but “this spike correlates with declining brand reliance on campaigns,” the study notes. 

And marketing tech that focuses only on campaign deployment “is inadequate to effectively engage today’s empowered customers who expect highly personalized interactions delivered at the right time and place,” it adds. 

However, only 26% of Ai users describe their technology as “AI-autonomous, or collaborative in practice,” the study continues. The remainder are relying on AI for manual decision making to send campaigns.

What does autonomous mean?

It is a technological setup through which marketers focus “less on outbound communication and more on creating a continuous cycle of insight-driven personalized interactions.” That would include triggered email.  

Consider it this way. The two main attributes of assistive AI are that it:

  • Surfaces insights for marketers to consider during manual decision making — like channels to allocate spend against.
  • Supports isolated campaign decisions — like email timing or bid recommendations.

In contrast, autonomous AI provides these benefits:

  • Collaboration with technology instead of operating it.
  • Machine makes recommendations and requests of colleagues.
  • Entirely machine-driven campaign orchestration, execution, optimization, and evolution.

There is certainly a demand for the more advanced solution. Almost 90% of those surveyed say they need to “personalized marketing across channels, devices, and customer life-cycle stages (e.g., discovery, exploration, purchase),” Forrester reports.

Forrester clarifies that this should include making “broad decisions in instances where nuance is needed.”

So how are brands using AI?

Of those surveyed, 54% Say they are AI-assisted across more than one channel. Another 20% are AI-assisted in one channel.

Only 19% are AI-autonomous in more than one channel, and 7% are autonomous in a single channel. 

And how well are their marketing stacks supporting their key objectives? They say their technology helps them:

  • Gain more direct control over digital media buying — 50%
  • Improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns — 49%
  • Improve our customer experience — 43%
  • Increase customer retention — 39%
  • Facilitate efficient and agile marketing operations — 37%
  • Achieve better return on marketing spend — 36%
  • Increase customer acquisition — 33%

Pretty good, right? But marketers still face these challenges:

  • Wasted marketing spend — 30%
  • Operating quickly enough — 30%
  • Hiring, retaining, and organizing staff — 28%
  • Duplication of technology/vendors — 28%
  • Lack of integration among technologies — 26%
  • Difficulty translating insights into actionable outcomes — 26%

To end on a positive note, here are the outcomes AI-autonomous marketers have enjoyed:

  • More effective use of data — 58%
  • More effective marketing campaigns (i.e., campaigns that better drive KPIs) — 50%
  • The ability to provide continuous optimization to our marketing programs — 44%
  • Insights that can inform organizations outside marketing (product, stores, etc.) — 42%
  • Better coordination among internal stakeholders — 42%
  • Increased return on marketing spend — 42%
  • Cross-channel media optimization and attribution — 36%
  • Improved customer satisfaction — 36%
  • More time for strategic planning and execution — 33%

What’s more, 39% say AI can play a role in creative development, and 34% believe it can provide insights to other business functions, the paper says.

Forrester surveyed 156 marketing, customer intelligence, and ecommerce decision makers and decision influencers.



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