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Why Using Generative AI is the Newest Skill a Retail Marketer Needs to Master

Successful marketers adapt. They adapt to changing customer behaviors, to new technologies, to shifting markets. And great marketers learn new skills to keep up with these changes. Today’s newest skill to learn? Artificial intelligence.

Nearly every industry is learning how AI can improve their business. In 2018, McKinsey predicted that AI will bring the greatest value to marketing departments. Marketers today are using AI to create engaging content, talk to their customers, orchestrate their journeys, and learn more about them. And 66 percent of marketers using AI have seen a positive return on investment — up to three times the return.

But AI must be treated as a skill to master in order to maximize its benefits and see that positive ROI. Here’s how to do it.

Powering Your Marketing Efforts With AI

You probably already use AI in your data analysis to look for patterns and give you insights. But today’s next wave of generative AI tools go one step further. Using that data, they can create new ideas, content or actions. It learns, and then does, and keeps learning as it works.

Generative AI offers a number of possibilities for marketers. Use AI to power your chatbots and scale your personalization efforts. Use it to analyze your data and find ways to better target your customers. Use it to orchestrate your customer journeys, too.

AI offers the ability to scale your one-to-one personalization. Customers are looking for brands to offer them experiences based on their unique interests and preferences. Generative AI won’t just help you craft your messaging for each segment. It will help you orchestrate the entire journey as well.

A marketer’s best friend is data. With AI analysis, you won’t need a data science team or complex modeling anymore — you might not have had the budget for them in the first place. Let generative AI analyze your data, find patterns, and make real-time recommendations for next customer interactions. It can help build your entire personalization logic, messaging and timing. It can ingest and analyze data far better than you can to optimize moments of engagement.

Another reason to learn how to use AI? Job security. AI won’t replace you, but a marketer who uses AI will. Not only can it help you better execute your retention strategies, it can handle your repetitive, manual work, freeing you up to focus more on your strategy, creative and messaging.

How to Develop Your Skills in Generative AI

With all the benefits AI can bring, you may want to get started rolling out AI-powered initiatives immediately. However, treat AI like a skill that needs to be learned and cultivated. How can you start honing your generative AI skills? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Be clear with your use cases and applications.

If AI is a skill, then you want to learn that skill and apply it where it’s needed — don’t just try to fit it in everywhere. This means having clear use cases or applications you want AI to help improve. You may want to scale your personalization. Maybe you want to leverage your customer data more. Maybe you need help with automating manual tasks. Identify your use cases first, which will help clarify where you can fit AI in.

2. Get to know the technology and the tools.

There’s a lot of buzz about what generative AI can do. Once you actually start using it, you’ll begin to learn what benefits it can really offer to your marketing efforts. Learn how the different AI models work and how they’re trained, especially if they’re public. Learn their drawbacks as well, like generating inaccurate content or how much it “hallucinates.” As you evaluate the various AI-powered tools out there, learn more about what their capabilities are, what AI they use, and how they might benefit your efforts.

3. Learn how to train it.

Using AI takes practice. AI doesn’t come pre-programmed with knowledge about your brand. Train your AI by feeding it data, prompts or other content that will help it generate the responses that you need. For example, if you’re using AI to power your chatbot, train it with scripts, customer intents, and examples of brand voice so that it talks to your customers in a specific way. Give it feedback so that it can improve. And practice your prompt engineering so that you can receive more precise and accurate results.

4. Be aware of the caveats.

AI is still a new and evolving technology, and isn’t 100 percent reliable. Always check AI’s work for inconsistencies or errors. Because it’s trained on vast amounts of data from across the internet, its answers may not be what you’re looking for, so keep training it. Stay away from having public AI models talk directly to your customers since it may give them inaccurate, inappropriate or biased responses. Be aware of data security as well, as public AI models won’t keep your data private. However, knowing all these caveats means that you can create guardrails to protect your brand, your data and your customers.

5. Test and measure.

As you start using AI, test your efforts on small groups to see its impact. All of your testing helps train your AI as well. As you begin to get more comfortable and see the results of your testing, start rolling out bigger efforts. Track and measure your efforts so that you can see the impact, and share your results with your organization as well.

Marketing’s Newest Skill

Successful marketers adapt. And today’s new generative AI tools can help you accelerate your output and create impressively personalized experiences for your customers. Start ramping up your AI skills today to see this new technology’s impact on your customers and to lead the way ahead of your competitors.

Max Koziolek is the co-founder and CEO of Spectrm, the leading conversational marketing automation platform.

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