How Are You Leveraging the Most Valuable Commodity? (Hint: It’s Data)
If you haven’t enjoyed the Netflix documentary, The Great Hack, you’re going to want to sit down and ensure you’ve done your homework. In this documentary, they unpack how Cambridge Analytica played a major role in getting Donald Trump elected in the US and to persuade key voters in the UK the vote for Brexit.
What startled the journalists interviewed in the documentary (but may not come as a surprise to you as a digital marketer), is that Cambridge Analytica was bragging about the fact that they had in their database 5,000 different data points on just about every American. That’s a truly terrifying stat for most people who are blind to the fact that so much data has been collected on them.
Data Has Surpassed Oil as The World’s Most Valuable Commodity
As the Economist pointed out, the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data and “concerns are being raised by the giants that deal in data, the oil of the digital era.” Today, the bulk of the world’s most valuable companies all deal in data: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Netflix.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling goods (such as Amazon, Apple and Microsoft), delivering ads (such as Google and Facebook) or streaming tv and movies (i.e. Netflix). These companies are crushing it because of the data they have collected on us.
So what data have you collected on your customers? While most large enterprise companies have scrambled to keep up, smaller and medium sized companies have fallen woefully behind. That’s can’t continue in 2020. Simply put, if you’re not mining your customer’s data already, you’re at a stark competitive disadvantage.
That’s because of relatively new legislation including GDPR and CCPA that will impact what data you collect, how you manage it and how you empower your customers to take back control (all as part of these new regulations). Assuming you do have data to work with, you may have a very different problem: too much data and not enough insights. That’s where artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots come into play.
For Your 2020 Digital Marketing Look to AI & Chatbots
Think about the massive impact that E-Trade had on brokers and dealers of the stock market. Before buying and selling stocks was as easy as buying something from Amazon, we had to call (and have a relationship with) a broker who would buy and sell stocks for us on massive trading floors.
Today, the NYSE is more financial theater than place of business. Companies still go there to ring the opening or closing bell, but that’s all a PR stunt. No one needs the NYSE real estate -- just the electronic exchange.
It’s only a matter of time until the same thing happens in marketing. We’re already seeing it with programmatic media. Today, you can go directly to Facebook or Google to buy ads.
Otherwise, every other ad purchase is done on an exchange and the only way to compete is to use programmatic technology to help you buy and sell inventory efficiently. That’s only the beginning. Where the real value will be when the AI algorithms become the dominant way we send email, create content, build web pages and provide customer service.
All of this is available today, but far too few companies have adopted these technologies as primary.
Marketing in 2020 Will Require AI to Be Effective
In order to compete effectively, we need AI. Think about it. As the Netflix documentary, The Great Hack, pointed out, having 5,000 individual data points on every person isn’t all that useful unless you can make sense of it all and act on it. That’s what Cambridge Analytica did.
They were, in essence, a propaganda machine. They figured out which voters were most susceptible to messaging, then targeted them as a means to sway their opinion in the direction their political clients wanted.
Without the ability to sift through data and make sense of it in real-time, how can anyone hope to capitalize on it? Did Cambridge Analytica go too far? That was essentially the case the movie was making.
But the larger context for marketers is that we’re all swimming in a sea of data. Without technology to make sense of it all, we’re hopelessly lost.
What AI does is allow individuals to clearly state what they are looking for and then allow the technology to figure out these complex data models as a means to deliver outcomes whether as an SEO services company or a Digital Advertising firm.
AI empowers marketers to understand the difference between The Signal and the Noise (to coin the book title from Nate Silver). Any predictive modeling requires a clear signal and the ability to ignore the noise (i.e. all the other data that isn’t relevant to the problem you’re looking to solve).
Chatbots Are the Very Real Extension of All This Intelligence
In terms of consumer benefit, we’re seeing the continuous rise of the chatbot as a means to leverage a company’s warehouse of information. According to research by Innovation Enterprise, chatbots will power 85 percent of customer service by 2020. Why is that? Because of the top benefits of chatbots:
- 24-hour service (64 percent)
- Instant responses to inquiries (55 percent)
- Answers to simple questions (55 percent)
Oh yeah, and chatbots are expected to cut business costs by $8 billion by 2022, according to Impact. You can sift though all the research and marketing insights yourself, but the bottom line is that chatbots provide real and tangible value to consumers while cutting costs for business. It’s a win-win and they are here to stay.
You can launch your first chatbot on your website or your Facebook page -- wherever your customers spend the most time with you. Pro Tip: if you end up launching your chatbot on your Facebook page, you can get permission to quickly and easily build your customer list with opt-in buttons and permission for future communication.
On your website, you can add buttons to your chatbots to support fast responses and feedback and limit the amount of typing from your customers.
What’s next? Natural language interaction with your artificial intelligence responses (think Siri and Alexa) where the text responses are spoken. In the not-so-distant future, we’re not going to need our keyboards to interact with our AI platforms.
It’s all fine and well to have Alexa play music, but what’s coming up soon is asking Alexa to help you launch and manage your next marketing campaign.