Marketers: Basics Come Before A.I.

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Navigating the funnel is tortuous enough. Robots may not be the answer at this time.

For all the excitement AI has generated in marketing circles lately, there's a strong possibility that marketers may not be ready to actually employ these new technologies.

Marketers have an unprecedented opportunity to engage with customers and influence the increasingly fractured funnel. But it's exactly the industry's challenges in addressing evolving shopping habits that led to a lack of understanding of the modern funnel to begin with.

This disconnect inevitably begs the question of how advanced machine learning technology can be applied to fix a problem marketers are still struggling to tackle at a foundational level.

“We're seeing a huge trend to the idea of machine based learning; chatbots, AI-enabled customer service, zero UI things like the Amazon Echo, Siri or Google Home. [Marketers] are still thinking linear, when it's now so much more infinitely complex,” says Greg Ng, VP of digital engagement at PointSource.

Marketers can hardly gauge the touchpoints customers are engaging with before they finally make that first contact with the brand. Trying to wrangle this complex web of customer dynamics into a linear funnel is supremely inefficient. But the challenges marketers face in this regard are well known and much discussed.

We know that just 54% of marketers have actually connected their marketing to their customer's journey, according to a 3Q Digital report. We know that marketers are still constrained by misaligned company silos, and we know that data collection continues to be an issue.

Machine learning might help when it comes to sifting data. But aligning various departments within the organization? Not likely. It might help marketers gain clarity into the nuanced customer journey of today: But probably not without a solid strategy in place at the outset; a strategy that encompasses the multiple interlocking elements of marketing that directly impact the organization's ability to deliver customer centricity in the first place.

“The tools to actually execute those marketing messages are there, but marketers need to understand that it extends way beyond the idea of ‘does it work?''' Ng says. “To scale it for the future, you have to put all the non-sexy things in place. Returns warehouses, customer service, accepting blockchain stuff. Doing all of that is where it becomes infinitely complex and they aren't ready for it.”

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