What's Your AI Strategy For Scaling Segment-Of-One Marketing?

Champion versus challenger has been the basis for finding lift and proving marketing value for decades. But we are way past the slower, high-cost operations needed to test direct-mail pieces or even direct-response TV.

To find the right offer, message, or call center interaction on an increasingly personalized basis for digital channels requires multivariate testing on a massive scale.  Even the fastest “war rooms” for rapid test and learn, operations I’ve helped many companies build, suffer if you need analytic experts to create every test matrix, copywriters to draft every word for every variation, and operations managers to coordinate layers of simultaneous tests. And would you even be able to find all the talent you need at an affordable cost?

New optimization tools, powered by artificial intelligence, have already infiltrated the media buying process, as I cited in an earlier article. And there is an overwhelming range of tools to turn first- and third-party data into targeting plans.  But now we can use AI tooptimize the personalization of the CONTENT of an interaction. Offer design, words, pictures, conversational interactions, tonality, and hundreds of other descriptors become data that can be measured, matched, and modeled.



The power of content to drive growth may prove to be even more powerful than the excessive granularity of targeting, since it aims to take reach at scale, and optimize interactions across a broad population.  Reliance on targeting can rapidly get into an exercise in reduction, focusing on “high performing deciles.” But what if you could turn this all on its head, scramble the concept of deciles, and go after much more of an audience, by tuning the contact to each person?

These AI services are not necessarily an efficiency play to cut FTEs. They efficiently scale personalization to create relevant interactions that drive more effective interactions. There will certainly be issues raised about what personal data is used (and every company has to find its own line on privacy), and whether the AI drives fair and equitable interactions, but the reality I,s we can now look at how people actually behave, and what they respond to, at a level that is way more personalized than broad demographics, and then design micro-personalized, branded experiences that resonate.

Companies offering content-driven AI capabilities are changing how we think about segmentation, focusing on a data-driven view of emotional connection.  And the analytics behind them constantly generates multivariate testing needed to prove incremental lift. Some examples:

Persado has built a knowledge base of a million words and phrases, scored for emotion, to generate and optimize personal messages. The company is taking the subjectivity out of content creation by combining behavioral economics, the emotional nature of words, and the fit with other content someone engages with to drive what is presented.

OfferFit (disclosure: a client) uses self-learning AI to optimize who gets what promotional offer, driving much more innovation, since you can test new offers rapidly and see which specific audiences respond. It also eliminates broad discounts, targeting the right incentive that hits the threshold for motivating an individual.

Afiniti brings modeling to the concept of pairing a customer with a call center rep.  So much of the success of caller interactions depend on the momentary chemistry between two people talking. Now, brands can build predictive models of what will drive success for someone calling in, and match them to the best rep for that profile.

This is all opening a wide range of new variables one can personalize across a customer’s journey, doing so with a speed and scale that makes agility a reality.

Again, as cited in earlier articles, these capabilities challenge most marketers’ operations. They require rethinking roles -- more focused on strategy, data science, and tech management, and less on repetitive tasks or manual management of complex processes. And they also raise the bar for innovation in product, service experience, and yes, still in creative, because any optimization can only squeeze so much juice from a lagging value proposition.

Reach can expand if you can tailor the interaction for best impact, instead of narrowing down one’s targets more finely though purchased data. Value proposition breakthroughs will matter even more, as new tools enable marketers to connect with the broadest audience possible on each person’s own terms. Now that’s how you drive growth.

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