Do you have an artificial intelligence strategy yet?

August 6, 2015

As we careen towards the inevitable singularity, have you considered your artificial intelligence (AI) strategy yet? In 2015, business people cannot make the mistake of missing the importance of focusing on AI. You should stop everything you’re doing right now and think about this for a second…

OK mea culpa. This title is click bait in its purest form, my apologies. Please refer to this video for an explanation. The real goal of this post is explore how smart leaders can avoid shiny object syndrome & focus on results. Artificial intelligence is definitely an important trend but its real applicability is still relatively limited for companies today.

This post is written more for myself than anything else. I tend to read too many articles on AI, driverless cars, etc. instead on focusing on what really moves the needle.

Some key questions I always ask myself:

  • Am I making use of all the best practices that are at my avail?
  • What did I do last year that worked well and I should continue doing?
  • Conversely, what should I stop doing?
  • How can I include new tactics quickly and apply the learnings to other channels?

How does this relate to your marketing?

If executed properly, high converting channels are remarkably resilient. In the classic customer acquisition sense, the channels that work well and produce the highest ROI do not vary significantly. TV advertising is still the blunt force hammer than it used to be. Email marketing has the highest cost vs. return ratio. This is of course a generalization, tactics vary based on the industry & company.

Before exploring untested acquisition channels, ensure that the basics have been mastered.

Where do I start?

I love this picture from Smart Insights (it’s a great tool in case you don’t know it)


Look at your existing sources of revenue and see what’s currently working right now.

Typically, email, search and video are top driving sources. Mastering those are a great way to achieve quick ROI.

This is pretty basic stuff I know for advanced digital marketers but most large organizations don’t take advantage of these basics. My very unscientific survey of top Canadian companies has shown that they don’t fully follow this principle.

Infusing adaptivity in your planning

How do you incorporate new channels into your planning? Using a copy/paste approach from last year will not drive incremental growth. Adaptivity to changing conditions needs to be instilled within your organization.

A quick way to achieve this is to take a percentage of your budget and focus on new areas of growth. Wanna try periscope? Why not? Don’t simply focus on the new channels are a priority, experiment on a small scale before making a more significant investment.

A key nuance with the previous section is that you can’t get caught up with only doing what you did last year. The search for new growth must be constant and ongoing.

If you love buzzwords, hire a strong digital marketing expert(s) and name them the ‘growth hacker’ of your team. This really boils down to having people on your team constantly on the lookout for new pockets of growth while maximizing existing channels.

p.s. If you did read this far and feel betrayed by the lack of any AI related content, check out this brilliant post on Wait But Why