ENHANCING BRAND EXPERIENCE is increasingly reliant on identifying emerging trends, technologies and needs that can unlock potential. Then there’s the matter of exploiting that potential once it’s been recognised. Affiliate marketers can help businesses to navigate this terrain and define campaign strategies.
But with so much excitement around tech — both emerging and evolving — there is also the challenge of forming a genuine connection that encourages sustained activity.Below are four prominent technologies that influence marketing strategies where a human touch is both encouraged and achievable.
1) Machine learning
In a world of trendy tech terminology,machine learning (ML) has a marketing challenge: it sounds less accessible than ‘big data’, lacks the excitement of virtual reality and, although technically a branch of artificial intelligence, it doesn’t engage the public’s interest in quite the same way. ML is even more challenging when it comes to assessing how it can strengthen brand marketing and customer relations.
An accurate appraisal likely rests somewhere between those who specialise in ML-based solutions and others who have long-standing careers devising smaller-scale marketing campaigns and strategies.
DataScience, a tech firm in Culver City, California, supplies its clients with an enterprise data science platform.
In one blog post, 6 Common Machine Learning Applications for Business, the practice of customer segmentation is highlighted: “Rather than relying on a marketer’s intuition to separate customers into groups for campaigns, data scientists can use clustering and classification algorithms to group customers into personas based on specific variations among them.
These personas account for customer differences across multiple dimensions such as demographics, browsing behaviour and affinity.”In affiliate marketing, we’re continually looking to improve efficiencies without sacrificing customer care.
The competitive nature of the industry also means that we require more thoughtful ways of segmenting and clustering those customers to achieve results.
However, impressive as the intelligence may be, without a customer-centric mindset these insights risk being wasted along with the resources devoted to acquiring them in the first place.
“Humans understand context in ways that machines can’t. AI technology has capabilities that are data-focused, but humans have a depth of context that you can’t necessarily program,” wrote Chaitanya Chandrasekar, CEO and co-founder of Quantic Mind, in an article for eMarketer. “Sometimes there are reasons that a marketer just knows something will or won’t work, but machines don’t have gut feelings.”
2) Artificial intelligence
Forecasting future job losses because of artificial intelligence (AI) can be a distressing pastime. It may also prove unnecessary, given that our status within the global workforce doesn’t preclude us from reaping the benefits of AI. Despite their sophisticated learning capabilities, AI platforms are not able to draw on emotional experiences or familiarity with the human condition — essential traits for a strong marketing professional.
For marketers, the true value of AI is how, when leveraged accordingly, it can facilitate an array of content marketing activities (such as social media, chatbots, content curation, etc).
Contributing to Curata’s company blog, Paul Roetzer, founder and CEO of B2B content marketing agency PR 20/20, recently wrote: “Human beings… have a finite ability to process information, build strategies based on that information and create content at scale.
Artificial intelligence systems, in contrast, have an almost infinite ability to process data and deliver predictions, recommendations and content — better, faster and cheaper.”Roetzer is right and affiliate marketers can’t spend hours sifting through data and identifying actionable insights to optimise acquisition strategies.
Engaged in a profession that requires a fondnessfor data points, affiliate marketers can absorb the statistical findings of AI platforms and use them to more effectively deliver on their role as communicators.
Demand Metric’s 2016 study on hyper-personalisation and automation showed that 80% of respondents believe that personalised content is more effective than ‘unpersonalised’ content. And, although affiliates can allocate resources for retaining top-tier acquisitions, it’s unreasonable to expect that same philosophy to be applied across an entire database without detracting from other marketing efforts.
If AI can help to minimise the time dedicated to tasks of this nature, which are still central to a robust affiliate operation, it will help liberate resources for activities where AI is less proficient.
3) Live video streaming
There are innumerable instances of a brand’s reputation suffering the consequences of irresponsible social media management, tone-deaf creative or a simple lack of foresight. No marketing tactic, however, combines opportunity and peril quite like live video streaming.The uniqueness and immediacy of online video was made apparent in May, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the addition of 3,000 new hires to help monitor violent footage posted to the site.
The move came after two disturbing videos had appeared earlier in the year. And a year earlier, Facebook Live, which launched in April 2016, suffered embarrassment of a more innocent nature, when the video feed for a BuzzFeed interview with President Barack Obama stalled. In fairness, BuzzFeed and Facebook Live, along with several other companies, including Dunkin’ Donuts, Tastemade and Tough Mudder, have all experienced great success with subsequent live streaming initiatives.
It’s widely accepted that online video will dominate the future. A 2016 Cisco report predicted that online video would be responsible for 80% of global internet traffic by 2019. That figure puts marketers in a challenging, albeit familiar, position where resource allocation needs to be complemented with messaging that rises above the noise.
Savvy affiliate marketers will recognise the potential of live video streaming, which comes from its flexibility, dynamism and ease of implementation. Furthermore, it offers a more earnest method of engaging audiences and building brand reputation.
Kathy Klotz-Guest, founder of Keeping It Human, highlighted the potential to humanise via live video streaming in an article for Convince & Convert. “Use streaming to create conversations, give customers important information and highlight fans, partners, employees and new technologies (and share the spotlight),” she wrote. “Sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses is yet another way to thank your biggest fans and enable them to help share your brand story.”
4) Virtual reality
All the tools exist for marketers to interact with audiences more fully. The challenge is amplified, however, as the number of marketing channels grows beyond what marketers can reasonably be expected to
With that in mind, can these professionals also justify diving into the burgeoning realm of virtual reality (VR)? VR, like live video streaming, is a test of a marketing team’s creativity, drive and resources. A successful VR initiative, perhaps more than any other technology mentioned here, is reliant on a strong collaborative relationship between affiliates and the companies they are affiliated with.
Although businesses can and should be evaluating what VR could mean for their brand marketing, affiliates are similarly equipped with the ingenuity to bring new ideas to the fore.Defining the objective behind those ideas is another challenge entirely. As Michelle Greenwald, CEO of Inventours, said in a recent Forbes article, From Storytelling to VR ‘Storyliving’ , “Consumers take VR messages and stories to heart in deeper and potentially longer-lasting ways.
The more multisensory communication enables viewers to better see, hear, feel and identify with what others are experiencing.
”There are already innumerable examples of inspired marketing and engagement using VR. Whether it’s HBO’s Ascend the Wall experience at SXSW, the New York Times experimenting with storytelling and distributing Google Cardboard glasses to loyal subscribers, or the Guardian’s 6×9: A Virtual Experience of Solitary Confinement, the evidence clearly shows that the possibilities are limited only by imagination.
At first glance, most would understandably think that igaming couldn’t possibly offer the same level of excitement as a trip to Westeros — maybe it can’t. But to say that igaming is devoid of storytelling potential would be false.
Although some verticals may have more organic paths to implementing VR, each invites affiliate marketers and businesses to collaborate on inventive campaigns and experiences.Conclusion Technology is changing how marketers do their jobs. However, the way in which they tell stories and make connections via technology is still their decision.
And although igaming may not offer the same ease of execution for affiliate marketers as do some other industries, it remains an industry that promises to entertain, surprise and push boundaries.“Most would understandably think that igaming can’t offer the same level of excitement as a trip to Westeros — maybe it can’t. But to say that igaming is devoid of storytelling potential would be false”
At first glance, most would understandably think that igaming couldn’t possibly offer the same level of excitement as a trip to Westeros — maybe it can’t. But to say that igaming is devoid of storytelling potential would be false. Although some verticals may have more organic paths to implementing VR, each invites affiliate marketers and businesses to collaborate on inventive campaigns and experiences.
Technology is changing how marketers do their jobs. However, the way in which they tell stories and make connections via technology is still their decision. And although igaming may not offer the same ease of execution for affiliate marketers as do some other industries, it remains an industry that promises to entertain, surprise and push boundaries.