The future of marketing is bright with opportunity. AI gives us the ability to create incredibly customized messages for our audiences. And consumers will continue to expect more personalized content and advertising as they engage with brands they love and those they’ve just discovered.
The algorithms and technology used to serve those unique experiences will continue to become more sophisticated and advanced. Content and marketing teams must level up to keep pace with the changing landscape of consumer expectations.
The future of marketing has already started
This isn’t the first time marketers changed their operations and team functions to stay relevant. Before the 90s, no one knew about “digital marketing.” And who could predict that, with the birth of Google in 1998, words like “SEO” and “social share” would be top-of-mind?
In a 2022 survey from Marketing AI Institute, over 51% of respondents said that AI is critically important to their marketing success over the next few months. And 74% said they’ll be intelligently automating more than a quarter of their tasks in the next five years.
It’s time to face the music. The future of marketing’s team structure must undergo significant restructuring if it’s going to survive the disruptive shift AI will cause.
But is AI genuinely on track to take over the world in some SkyNet nightmare? How can we reassure our team—and ourselves—that we can be relevant despite the coming changes?
Training is crucial
While most of us agree that AI is critical to future success, many marketing teams have yet to adopt it. Marketing and content teams are behind. So, why aren’t we leading the charge in embracing this new world?
One of the biggest fears facing marketing teams? Not having the knowledge and education to integrate new AI tech successfully into strategy and process. Nearly half of the Marketing AI Institute’s survey respondents said they consider themselves beginners in AI, and most companies don’t have AI-focused training for their employees.
Those marketing teams seeking to outpace their competition will need to ramp up their AI education starting yesterday. While we could get a certification in a topic and call it good a few years ago, that’s not the case with AI. As technology adapts and changes, so must our knowledge and training. To stay relevant and ahead of the curve, ongoing AI education and training will become a “must have,” not just a “nice to have.”
It’s a unique partnership
While we’re learning how AI can improve and accelerate our customer relationships, we need to start thinking about this tech differently. AI, while incredibly predictive and intelligent, isn’t perfect. It’s only as smart as the data it receives.
While its ability to predict and deliver a fantastic customer experience is scarily accurate, it has its moments where it’s wildly off-brand or gives the wrong message to a section of an audience. That doesn’t even begin to touch on the legal and ethical conversations around the intersection of AI and customer privacy.
To keep your AI tools on the straight and narrow, someone needs to ensure the data and parameters given to the machine are accurate. In addition, a human must watch those outputs to ensure the deliverables are just as solid.
Division of labor
In the future, AI will be a strategic member of your marketing team. As you look at all the strengths that your team possesses, you’ll need to decide which ones fit into “Team Human” and which ones fit into “Team AI.”
We like how AI for CMOs: The Real-World Playbook for Digital Transformation put it:
“Human marketers understand best what consumers are looking for in comprehensive, compelling content, and give them what they want. AI understands best what search algorithms are looking for when ranking search results and gives them what they want. It’s the perfect marriage of human and machine.”
As you assess the functions of your team, look at the specific tasks within the 5Ps of marketing intelligence to determine where AI might fit best: planning, production, personalization, promotion, and performance.
Some of the things AI tends to excel at include:
- Data-driven, repeated tasks
- Creating personalized experiences
- Providing better, more actionable data
- Generating greater ROI
- Predicting consumer needs and behaviors
How do teams shift?
As you’re looking at how AI sits at the marketing table, you also need to look at how the structure of your marketing team may need to flex. Are your teams currently siloed? This may be the time to readjust into cross-functional teams that can respond and bend more nimbly.
Sadly, you can’t flip a switch tomorrow morning and have AI back your operations. As you move from “how you do it now” to “how we’re going to do it,” you’ll want to create a pilot program with a minor team that focuses on a specific project and puts your AI model to the test.
You want to prove the model works before you try to scale up. The team you create for this project can be influential in training the rest of your team about how your AI works and what it means to use it as a true partner.
A plan for long-term success
It’s a complex and uncomfortable fact: Teams’ roles will change. Anytime a job held by a human for decades is threatened, it causes people to reach for that bottle of heartburn pills.
Yes, some traditional positions will be replaced by AI, and some will be modified. But new jobs will also be created. How nice would it be to add “marketing AI specialist,” “AI ops leader,” “director of deep learning,” or “VP of AI” to your LinkedIn profile?
The future of marketing will house different roles. AI will do repetitive tasks and even some level of data interpretation. Future marketers will focus on strategy, testing what AI delivers, and optimizing AI to perform better tasks.
Humans will still be at the wheel. We’ve just got a new navigator.