It is likely that by now, many of us have sat through a futuristic TV episode or film which has portrayed the potential threat of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on some aspect of life. Digital marketing is no exception, and it cannot escape the wrath of AI.

Designed to mimic human actions and understand our ways of thinking, AI is the simulation of human intelligence in machines. If this is news to you, you may be backing away from your computer screen, desperately searching for the nearest exit...but you shouldn’t necessarily be afraid. As cautious as we should be about the impacts of AI on our online behaviour, it certainly has its benefits. Continually learning from us and progressing, AI is able to analyse data and provide us with the answers we’re searching for in an instant. It can do far more than that (including driving a car), but how will AI change the future of digital marketing?

Uses of AI and machine learning in digital marketing

Adding a personal touch

AI allows you to increase customisation, helping to improve customer experience. For example, you could use AI to send customers personalised automated emails or even revamp your ad targeting on social media. According to Shopify, offering a customised shopping experience can improve customers’ overall buying experiences, helping to boost conversion rates.

Lead generation

With the ability to filter through immense amounts of data, AI can pinpoint the ideal prospective customers, staff and clients with the information it has. An example of this in action is LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool which allows users to find leads for employment.

Social media and ad targeting

AI is able to dive deeper than typical audience settings on social media platforms to understand current and prospective customer behaviour. AI targets customers effectively by delivering relevant content at optimal times, working to boost the success of your social media campaigns.

Content writing

With the help of AI, you can identify your best ranking pages and website performance. This will allow you to improve existing content, plan for future content and optimise your pages. AI can also write content for you! But we all know our feelings on that...

Chatbots

Chatbots are essentially the new front of house. For many online users, a chatbot (interactive automated tool) will be on hand to answer questions or forward queries on to the appropriate department. The addition of chatbots on company websites, both large and small, is on the rise and they are a great tool for responding to customers quickly. That said, it can be argued that we are losing that ‘human touch’ and Forbes even reported that 86% of consumers would prefer to interact with a human representative opposed to a chatbot.

Progressive learning

AI learns from each experience and it does so without being programmed each time.

Here are some of the impressive things that AI can do:

  • Identify search trends
  • Refine search queries, improving the relevance of organic search results
  • Provide overall performance insights
  • Target appropriate audiences based on a website’s content, location etc.
  • Interpret images and understand their visual content (Facebook in particular makes use of this ability)
  • Tailor search results and news feed on social media platforms

So, as AI is always learning from humans and advancing, there are many benefits it can have for digital marketers and online audiences. Being able to predict what users may want to read or purchase can make life easier. For instance, people don’t have to waste time scanning through the internet to find that perfect outfit, as AI can suggest a website based on their recent searches and apparent interests; this is, of course, equally as beneficial to those trying to sell these products.

We are also seeing a rise in high-quality content. While ensuring that content is meaningful and useful in the eyes of Google’s AI (RankBrain) can be more time-consuming for digital marketers, their efforts can really pay-off. Audiences will be far more pleased to find that your content answers their queries and if the page is relevant, the bounce-rate will be reduced and you may also see improvements in your conversion rates.

AI and SEO

AI has brought both benefits and challenges to the world of SEO. SEO professionals now have access to more analytical data and reporting tools than ever before, gaining a thorough insight into a client’s website performance and customer behaviour. Ultimately, SEOs can provide results quicker with AI and work to increase ROI efficiently. However, there are also aspects of AI which can negatively impact SEO. For instance, Google’s algorithms change frequently and are, therefore, unpredictable. This makes an SEO’s job that extra bit harder as clients’ websites will always need reviewing in order to protect their page rankings. Further to this, the personalisation of searches (such as tailored search results based on a user’s location) mean that we may receive different results to others when searching for the same thing. So, there are instances where AI actually works against SEO’s efforts.

Useful AI tools and techniques for SEOs

There are lots of useful tools out there which allow SEOs and AI to work in perfect harmony together. Here are just some ideas for you to consider in order to improve content and online visibility:

Find content ideas and identify keywords

Before creating content, you will want to identify keywords...and Google’s Keyword Planner will do just the trick when looking for search trends! You can also use the tool Answer the Public to discover popular topics and pinpoint the questions that people are asking.

If you want to take it a step further, Can I Rank? is an SEO software which uses AI to make recommendations such as content ideas, link opportunities and ranking changes.

Analyse your topics

Using an AI platform such as ContentGeniusFX to analyse your content will provide you with useful data, including: related keywords, ideas for title tags, recommended word counts and more!

Automate SEO tasks

Automating SEO tasks with a programming language such as Python will speed up repetitive SEO tasks. With Python, you can:

  • Identify user intent
  • Analyse internal links
  • Optimise images
  • Map URLs before a migration
  • Review online visibility
  • Identify SEO issues and opportunities (for example, you can identify if a page has a good title tag)

In short, using an interactive programming language such as Python will allow yourself and your team to invest more time in strategy to improve your organic search results.

AI and PPC

PPC managers are also still learning to work alongside AI and in some instances, PPC can’t work without AI’s involvement. For example, if you are setting up a PPC campaign, you will be able to choose whether you want manual or automatic bidding, and the latter is powered by AI. So, with many tasks now being automated by AI (rather than being manually set up and monitored by PPC managers) there is more time for those working in PPC teams to focus on strategies and other important responsibilities.

Whilst some PPC managers may be concerned with how quickly AI is rising, it has become essential for them to embrace automation in order to optimise e-commerce PPC campaigns. Aside from automated bidding, where search engines such as Google will automatically change bids to help in the endeavour to reach objectives, here are some other ways that AI can benefit PPC:

  • Dynamic advertisements - For example, users on social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook will be shown different advertisements based on their search history. This means that online users are seeing ads which are more likely to appeal to their interests (there are, however, ethical concerns surrounding this but we will get onto that later!)
  • Keyword research - It’s now easier than ever for PPC managers to discover keywords and phrases that are being searched at high volumes.
  • Advertisement delivery optimisation - This enables you to adjust settings so that your ad targets the right audience at the right time depending on the goals you have set.

There are, of course, other ways that AI can benefit PPC agencies, however, it is important to remember that PPC managers are still at the heart of implementing creativity into any campaign and are responsible for overseeing projects, as well as presenting and explaining performance to clients. AI might be advanced enough to tackle optimisation tasks, but it still requires the management of humans to ensure that marketing campaigns are successful.

Issues with AI and digital marketing

Now that we’ve noted some positive impacts that AI can have, let's cover the difficulties it presents.

Audio/visual elements may need adjusting

As mentioned, AI also interprets images from a given page and whilst images can be a good ranking factor, they may require a few adjustments to ensure that they work with AI, not against it. Here are some ways you can optimise your audio/visuals:

  • Reduce the file size - this will both help the webpage to load faster, allowing AI to scan its relevance quickly and contribute to better user experience.
  • Include descriptions containing keywords and relevant tags - You can improve your page rankings when visuals such as images and videos are associated with keywords. Additionally, if your audio/visuals take a while to load, users will be able to see what is supposed to be there rather than a blank box.

Ethical concerns

As Uncle Ben once said to a young Peter Parker, “with great power comes great responsibility”. In the context of AI, it is important to note that there is a dark side of customising searches and tailoring news feed, and the increasing powers of AI are sparking debate over ethical concerns and responsible use of AI.

When we search for something online or browse through our Facebook feed, we may be blissfully unaware that what we see is no coincidence. Through the data we have provided online about ourselves, combined with search history, tracking and purchases, AI probably knows us better than we know ourselves. Therefore, AI presents us with the information it assumes we want to see. Whilst this may supply us with more dog videos, there is evidence to suggest that it could unknowingly influence our core beliefs, such as political views.

In the marketing world, ads which are specifically targeting us will creep up on our webpages, potentially leading us to make a purchase on that company’s site. This truly can be an amazing feature, as in theory, we are being shown exactly what we want to see. That said, AI may not be showing us alternatives or the full story, if you will. It is for this reason that many tech professionals are now expressing concern over the power of AI.

The future of AI in digital marketing

Whilst we don’t know how advanced AI will become years down the line, it is safe to presume that digital marketers will need to adapt and work with AI, so as not to fall behind competitors.

If you’re looking to improve your business’s online visibility to bring more organic traffic to your website and see your webpage rankings rise, why not take a look at our SEO services.

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Meet the author ...

Olivia Gilchrist

SEO Executive

Liv works in the SEO team and loves blending creativity with technical strategies to help our clients' webpages reach the top of the rankings! Having recently graduated from ...