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How is artificial intelligence supporting digital marketing?

26th Sep 2016
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Artificial intelligence is an increasingly popular term that lacks a unified, concrete definition. Nils J Nilsson, one of the founding researchers in the field of AI gave us one. “Artificial intelligence is that activity devoted to making machines intelligent, and intelligence is that quality that enables an entity to function appropriately and with foresight in its environment.”

AI today is a buzzword in technology that has everyone sitting up to pay attention. With every other billboard in the Bay area talking about AI and machine learning, it appears like the time of Jarvis from Iron Man, Samantha from ‘Her’ and even the creepy ‘HAL’ from 2001 – a space odyssey is fast approaching. This idea always presents itself with a bit of fear. Are machines going to take over? Are we going to lose our jobs? Is Skynet going to unleash T800s and T1000s on the world? The answer: not for a while.

Does that mean AI today isn’t useful to us? Not at all. AI today is a burgeoning space that is growing across industries. The power of big data and efficient analytics combined inspires a whole new wave of intelligent automation that the human race is just beginning to tap into. Digital marketing is one of the many fields that this wave is disrupting. Artificial intelligence in digital marketing lets marketers focus on creating truly personal, relevant connections with engaged customers. 

Artificial intelligence in digital marketing: How can it make your life easier?

  • Natural language processing.
  • Semantic analysis.
  • Segmentation.
  • Search and filtering.
  • Website design and optimisation.
  • Chatbots and messaging.
  • Recommendations.
  • Content generation.
  • Sales process improvement.

Why do digital marketers need artificial intelligence?

The short answer: To make their lives easier. Marketers have depended on tools and technology to automate their work and reduce manual effort for a while. Yet, there has always been a gap in terms of effort and quantifiable results. Intuition on the right audience and time to send messages aren’t enough to answer a digital marketer’s basic questions.

Who should I reach out to? What should I send? When should I send the message? Over what channel?

The answer to these questions is the key to creating engagement and growth, fostering sales and building a brand. As these questions remain unanswered for marketers across the spectrum, there is another growing trend that can help them get these answers, and that is big data.

Data is everywhere. Every customer in the digital space brings with them an amalgamation of data and is constantly creating new data for marketers to understand, process and act on. The problem is this: big chunks of data don’t necessarily make things any easier. In fact, they can make things so complicated that the first instinct is to abandon the data and go by intuition alone – but this won’t give you the right results. This is where AI comes in.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can understand human behavior to the extent where not only are Big Data sets analysed, segmented and filtered, but meaning is also derived from them.

  • Which customers hate receiving your emails and delete them as they hit your inbox? 
  • How can I make sense of all this data I have on our campaigns?
  • Which customer would like a particular product?
  • How can I personalize the user experience and make it ‘sticky’?

Using artificial intelligence in digital marketing can not only help answer marketers answer these questions, in some cases it already is. This gives back marketers time to innovate and grow their brand, rather than worry about how to automate emails to millions of customers at a time. Here’s how AI is helping digital marketers create winning products, solutions, campaigns and brands.

What does artificial intelligence in digital marketing look like today?

AI in digital marketing not only exists, but it has started making the lives of users and marketers easier already. From texting to visualizing business insights, the merger of big data, machine learning and AI is creating smoother and smarter experiences everyday. Here are some of the areas that AI is integrated in to watch out for and try out to make your life easier.

Natural language processing (NLP)

Natural language processing is a field that focuses on the ability of a computer to learn, and be capable of processing a human language to the level where it can infer meaning and formulate responses. Understanding language, sentiments, feelings, opinions are the biggest step towards debating, challenging and collaborating. When a machine is able to learn this process, it makes it easier for brands to understand customers on a larger, more global scale rather than just as separate, local entities. values NLP startups at an average of $4.8 million

Ever tried the Swiftkey Keyboard on your phone? If so, you’ve already used NLP technology. The team at Swiftkey wants to create a keyboard that actually learns from your typing, and can predict responses, fix text and develop a vocabulary suited to your style of typing.



  • Stanford’s Core NLP suite: Works for English, Spanish and Chinese. 
  • Netbase: For enterprise social media analytics, real time, sentiment analysis for global products.

Semantic analysis

When it comes to humans and machines understanding each other, humans are in luck because they already know how machines talk. Machines however, have a lot of learning to do. This is where semantic analysis comes into play.


 A crucial part of natural language processing, semantic analysis is how machines identify the basic, logical form meanings of sentences. Although this process is incomplete without taking into account context, this is still a big step for machine learning. Think of the potential of natural language processing and semantic analysis as the potential forefathers of Douglas Adams’Babelfish. The babelfish is able to translate conversations between people in different languages over voice in real-time. All the while, there’s AI and machine learning at the core. Semantic analysis is a part of artificial intelligence in digital marketing that is already used in spell checks, social media analysis, sentiment analysis, fact extraction, summarization and more.


  • Datumbox: Powerful, open source machine learning framework.
  • Lexalytics: Sentiment analysis, categorisation & named entity extraction.
  • Bitext: Text analysis for marketing and CRM.


One of the most essential ways for businesses today to understand their customers is by categorizing them as cohorts or segments. Segments may vary depending on location, interests, browser and operating system, engagement with a brand or product and more. Target audiences are no longer an age or gender group alone.

Target audiences can be extremely specific and combine multiple criteria to offer customisation and personalisation. The artificial intelligence in digital marketing trend today is all about the ‘segment of one’ and how products and services are marketed to the individual or to a smaller group with more specific interests and goals in mind.


  • SAP Hybris: Marketing to the ‘audience of one’.

Search and filtering

If there’s one thing you do almost every day in the digital world it is a Google search. As of 2015, RankBrain, Google’s AI engine is instrumental in processing your results. From RankBrain answering your search queries and Facebook’s Deep Text creating your newsfeed to Klevu’s smart ecommerce search, neural networks and machine learning are changing the way online search works.


It wasn’t long ago that Google’s search algorithms worked on rule-based metrics set by humans. These were easier for engineers to tweak to boost certain signals over others. With machine learning, engineers have less control on search signals and results. It also reduces the amount of human guidance involved in steering the search algorithm, as the algorithm can almost steer itself. Artificial intelligence in search is definitely here to stay.


  • Klevu: Self learning search powered by NLP for ecommerce stores here.

Website design / optimisation

Self designing websites? Yes, that is actually a thing now thanks to artificial intelligence in digital marketing. Although Grid still hasn’t officially launched (as I write this post), and is possibly far from making website designers obsolete, the idea of a self designing website is pretty amazing. Here’s a link to a personal trainer’s website that was designed entirely by WIX ADI. Does this mean the website will take care of its own SEO strategy too? Unfortunately not. Or rather – not yet!


  • Grid – The first company that promised the ‘self designing website’  Has been in private beta since 2014, and still is at the time of publishing this piece. 
  • Wix  – Artificial intelligence designed websites. 

Chatbots and messaging

Messaging platforms are all the rage right now. Whatsapp Messenger to talk to friends, Facebook Messenger to reach out to your local business, or an in-app messenger on your website to talk to customers. Conversational commerce is predicted to rule the roost in the next couple of years. This means you can look forward to doing everything from catching up with a friend to shopping online, booking a movie ticket and checking in to your flight on a messenger. But if you’re messaging away all the tasks on your to-do-list, who is going to be chatting with you on the other side? Chances are it won’t be a ‘who’ but more like a ‘what’: AI powered chatbots are being built across industries using open APIs to support specific tasks that you need to get done. Fun times ahead.

See how the Dutch airline KLM integrated a Facebook messenger bot to make life easier for their travellers.


  • Boomtrain Messenger: Live, real-time AI powered in-app chat and messenger for you to recommend products and content personalised for every customer. 
  • Drift Bot: A bot to help you direct customer queries and conversations to the right teams in your organisation.


What are the brands you engage with the most everyday? Facebook? Netflix? Amazon? If you haven’t already figured out what makes their offerings so awesomely addictive it is this: recommendations. Machine Learning and AI powered algorithms that understand every user’s behaviour, activities and make recommendations based on the understanding. On Facebook, every story on your news feed is a recommendation. Amazon and Netflix are more overt, offering a ‘recommended for you’ option that you can explore. Brands can now incorporate recommendations into products and content to drive engagement in email newsletters. Artificial intelligence in digital marketing can revolutionise the content of your email inbox and make your daily emails something to look forward to rather than a task to strike off the to-do list. 


Content generation

Natural Language Generation is the process by which, you guessed it, a machine system produces articles, summaries and other content for users. LA times has a bot called the ‘Quakebot’ that writes news about earthquakes, Forbes and Associated Press use similar natural language generation tools to create financial reports and the trend is only growing. AI bots seem ideal to handle the smaller news pieces on sports and business that involve compiling simple facts. Associated Press has reported using upto 3000 bot-generated stories in a single quarter, and that number is expected to increase.


Sales follow ups and process

The brick-and-mortar store, the online store, the e-commerce store, the product, the SaaS – they all have one thing in common: A sales team. Innovations that help sales are innovations that help the entire organisation. Anything that makes the sales team’s process more fluid and streamlined is a boon to kickstarting the customer journey and giving customers a better bond with your brand. This is why the power of AI goes beyond digital marketing to create a difference for anyone in sales. Automated sales assistants can now help you keep track of leads that may otherwise slip through the gaps, identify leads at risk of getting cold, create dashboards to help you understand your team’s performance and a whole lot more.


  • Conversica: AI power for your sales process, integrates with Salesforce, Eloqua and Pardot.


This article adapted from an original post on Boomtrain's blog


Replies (1)

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By gnjrjdm
26th Sep 2016 18:46

Outstanding article

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