By Ericka Podesta McCoy, Chief Marketing Officer, Resonate
Love is an amazingly powerful force—and the research proves it. Love in the form of hugs has been found to reduce the effects of stress. It’s been shown to boost our immune systems and lower our susceptibility to illness. It even lowers our blood pressure.
What’s love got to do with AI and marketing? Hang with me, and I’ll get to that.
Love of brand is just like love-love. Its impact—as demonstrated by research—is profound, particularly when it comes to sales. Research has shown that the probability of selling to an existing customer—one with an established love of brand, that is—is 60-70 percent, compared to a new prospect’s 5-20 percent probability. At the same time, customers who have a relationship with your brand are 50 percent more likely to try a new product, and they spend 31 percent more compared to new customers.
Love of brand is built the same way any other loving relationship is built. Unbreakable love of brand—that fervent, passionate loyalty, the kind that contributes to customer lifetime value, the kind that we all want for our brands—is established by building a strong understanding of your customer. That’s why deeper, intimate customer understanding remains the holy grail for marketers—and an elusive one at that.
That brings us to AI—the transformative force in marketing that promises to deliver new efficiencies and also has the power to deliver the kind of understanding that drives true, passionate brand love. But not just any AI will do. Let’s look at what marketers need if they’re going to unlock true love of brand.
Unbreakable Love Requires Understanding
Love—among people and between people and brands—requires dialogue that fosters understanding. In the marketing world, that means massive amounts of customer and consumer data.
Brand-prospect and brand-customer dialogue happens all the time. There are obvious “conversations” during the buying journey. People speak with their wallets. They speak to customer service. They engage in dialogue with or about your brand in social media. All of these dialogues yield valuable data. But for most brands, these conversations are just the beginning when it comes to true understanding and fostering brand love.
That’s where third-party consumer intelligence comes in. Notice the emphasis on “intelligence”—because what’s really needed to foster brand love. Demographics and other basic third-party householded data sets are useful, but they’re not nearly enough. Brands that want to rise above their competitors and establish enduring customer relationships need sources of insights that can provide the following levels of understanding:
- Motivations and drivers: Beyond basic psychographics, marketers need insight into consumers’ attitudes, opinions, and personal values as it relates to how they make decisions in their daily lives. You want to know their “why.”
- How, when, and why customers change: People change quickly. There is a lot happening in the world, and the consumer is impacted by all that change. Marketers need data that captures those shifts in attitudes, sentiment, behaviors, intent, and preferences and empowers your brand to meet the consumer where they are now and where they are going.
- When and why they are going to buy: Consumers have a broad range of motivations when it comes to purchasing behaviors. Knowing if, when and why they will buy is critical, and there may be some surprising reasons they choose, buy, advocate, or abandon your brand, including…
- Consumer activism. Amongst the many drivers of intent is a subtle but increasing driver called ethical consumerism. If marketers don’t have insight into the issues that inspire their customers to action, they’re missing a massive dimension of their lives—and an important opportunity to foster a deeper relationship.
Brand love is built on relationships, and relationships are built on data that drives understanding. So, what does AI have to do with love? AI-powered data fuels more precise customer and consumer descriptions at scale. AI-powered data drives better understanding that leads to better personalization for customers and prospective customers. That’s why it’s more important than ever for marketers to understand how AI is transforming the data and analytics landscape.
How Brand Love Benefits from AI
The dawn of the internet was the biggest technological evolution to impact all of mankind. And even so, it’s just the foundation of what is possible with AI. AI is the skyscraper built on the foundation of the internet—and it will transform everything.
But not all AI is created equal, especially not when it relates to consumer data and analytics. While many players have entered the AI realm, most lack the experience to deliver precise scaled consumer data and intelligence.
Modern AI consists of two or more models. A strong foundation model trains on massive amounts of data—generally the entire observable universe for a domain. GPT4, for instance, saw almost every word written by a human for public consumption in its training. Then a secondary model intends to solve a specific business problem, like predicting churn or determining if someone is in-market for a product.
Effective large language models, or LLMs, require training on large data sets, and most players do not have the volume or diversity of data to ensure the needed precision of the types of predictions required for the consumer data use cases. The practice of training and optimization increases precision and accuracy and, in a consumer data application, provides more useful understanding.
To foster brand love, marketers need to employ modern AI ecosystems whose foundation models are built on massive amounts of data around consumer behavior and intent. Such a model is like a sponge, soaking up the vast ocean of consumer data. It learns intricate patterns, nonlinearities, and correlations. In doing so, it enables its secondary model to build on this wealth of pre-learned knowledge to provide marketers with specialized insights into who their customers and prospects are as humans, not just consumers.
Simply put, effective AI for marketers remembers the past, knows the present, and predicts the future. It’s trained on billions of histories representing trillions of signals, and it’s continuously improving.
Today’s marketers have to choose how they will employ AI in their efforts, and time is short. Companies that embrace AI today to foster brand love will be the winners—and they will not be reducing employee jobs; rather, their employees will be part of the long-term growth strategy. Laggards will embrace AI not to win, but to survive, implementing AI as a cost-cutting measure, not a growth strategy.
So, what’s love got to do with AI? Everything.