The rise of Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Behaviour

7 min read
Jonny Pathan
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We’ve been more than used to Artificial Intelligence popping up in sci-fi films, novels and scaring the hell out of us for decades. Warnings about our use of new tech in the likes of WestWorld and Black Mirror aren’t subtle and you’d be forgiven for thinking our robot uprising is just around the corner.

AI is more than a reality now, it’s changing the way we live work and play. With more and more customer data being collected and processed, predictive analytics allows brands to generate insight and take action.

And companies are using AI and machine learning to optimize business efficiency – clever computers are learning about customer behaviours on a deeper level to help businesses deliver better products and services. Tech can recognise patterns in data much quicker than humans, so to get the most out of big data, AI is becoming a valuable tool.

Dashboards and reporting are probably the most common use of predictive analytics within businesses.

How else is AI impacting the web, changing the way we shop and becoming a key player in numerous industries?

Making Recommendations

One of the easiest ways to show someone how they’re interacting with AI-inspired tech is to get them to think about a few simple tasks they carry out online.

Sitting down on the sofa with some ice-cream and Netflix is a way of life and when you’re browsing through which true-crime documentary to binge watch next, the recommendations that pop up are all based on predictive analytics. A clustering algorithm is used to continually check and improve suggestions for users by analysing their behaviour and what they watch.

A couple sitting on a bed using a laptop
Recommendations that pop up are all based on predictive analytics

Like most other examples we’ll look at, AI is being used to win, retain, and serve customers in a more useful way.

This is similar to product recommendations when customers are looking to buy – a tool like IBM Watson helps businesses to match up user data with third-party data to suggest products and advice. Users can be retargeted with relevant ads everywhere they go online.

Protecting Data

Online frauds and data breaches are increasingly common, so when banks and security companies use AI to analyse usage patterns for cards and transactions, this can help to spot online fraud when it occurs. Spotting point-of-sale (POS) fraud effectively is a way of positioning a business to customers as robust and secure.

Predictive analytics can really benefit security analytics, especially people working on large-scale data protection for big companies. There are lots more occurrences of high profile data breaches over the last few years e.g Uber, as fraudsters become more sophisticated.

A close-up image of a compter keyboard
Online fraud is only going to get more serious and sophisticated

When AI can analyse unstructured data too, it helps to minimise the ways that fraudsters can hack into companies, without stronger authentication measures.

Online fraud is only going to get more serious and sophisticated so using AI and predictive analytics to protect consumers is vital.

Accurate Product Pricing

Clearly, businesses want to price products at a level that appeals to customers but also makes a profit and achieving this balance can be difficult.

Predictive analytics can help with price optimisation by analysing data that provides info about pricing and sales trends. AI enabled tech can help to match this up with inventory levels too.

A trainer advert with changeable pricing
Predictive analytics can help with price optimisation

Pricing processes can be simplified with AI by providing key insight into how revenue and units are likely to change if the price is altered, as well as the types of prices that will maximise revenue.

Targeting Users with Ads

Deep learning gives businesses even more detailed insight into user behaviours. Delivering ads to users is a form of recommendation, just in a different context to suggested products etc. For many industries, adverts provide a key source of revenue and a way to get in front of more users.

It’s possible for businesses to run more cost-effective advertising that gives them the best ROI. Algorithms can optimise ad bidding and find the best cost per acquisition ads for businesses.

Incredibly detailed targeting can be organised too. AI and machine learning can create different ads for specific users to increase the likelihood that they’ll click on an advert. For example, there can be hundreds of variations of the same advert that are created, with different pictures colour schemes and texts based on the individual user and their customer behaviour and demographics. Customer data can form an identification model for finding new prospects as well.

A set of stats on a screen
For many industries, adverts provide a key source of revenue and a way to get in front of more users.

We’ve seen this happen over the last couple of years with political advertising. Detailed micro-targeting has been used to target voters, but the fact this is unregulated does rings alarm bells for many. The IPA has called for a suspension of micro-targeting ads in political campaigns, due to the covert, secretive nature of ads that do not have to be listed for public display like other political advertising. It creates a culture that lacks openness and can be vulnerable to abuse.

Language Recognition

Development in neural networks has led to lots of progress being made in language and speech recognition tools over the last 5 years. What does what you’re saying or writing mean? This is used by search engines to try and align what a user is asking for with the most relevant and appropriate search results.

Brands are using AI and machine learning to take the unstructured information they’ve gathered from customer interactions etc to turn it into actionable insight that they can use to improve a user experience.

Ariel shot of lots of people walking around on a numbered grid
What does what you’re saying or writing mean?

This helps to personalise experiences for customers based on their data and behaviours – it could be using different images, recommendations or text based on info about the user.

Customer Service

Being able to allocate adequate resources to your customer service provision is really important if you want to retain customers and improve engagement.

If a company can analyse thousands of interactions across platforms then they’ll be able to work out how people are contacting them, what problem they usually have and also how to personalise their customer experience.

The demographics of users that a business sells to might not be interested in telephone-based customer service and are more likely to engage with chatbot-based tech or social media platforms – this can help businesses to build and provide more relevant service.

Little girl holding a robots hand
Being able to allocate adequate resources to your customer service provision is really important if you want to retain customers and improve engagement.

Chatbots analyse natural language and a brand’s datasets in order to respond to requests and allow customers to take action. This can end up being a more seamless and effective customer service format; because it’s quick and waiting time is minimized. Getting in touch with a business through chatbots or social media might end up being the main and most cost-effective way for a business to operate its customer service offering.

Planning resources is a big part of maintaining a productive and efficient business and making sure time isn’t spent on interactions and questions that can be solved in a better way with a better service is important. Predictive analytics using data generated from CRMs can give more clarity.

Inbound communication can be analysed and filtered too, so the appropriate action is taken based on past customer correspondence and behaviour.

What should your Business do?

Data, analytics, and digitisation bring lots of opportunities to use AI and automation to improve business efficiency. Start-ups that invest in new tech will be able to adapt more easily as the business landscape continues to change at a rapid pace.

What can your business do to prepare?

  • Making your workplace more technology-enabled can help to boost productivity. Invest in hiring employees with up-to-date capabilities when it comes to AI. If you have a skills gap then invest in training and help everyone to get to grips with new tech. Combining human intuition and imagination with tech can create beneficial results.
  • Invest in tech and futureproof your business by introducing digitization initiatives that look at changing the processes in your business. Encourage everyone to look for ways to use analytics and AI to disrupt your business in a positive way. Processes can be changed and streamlined by using new tools and data.
  • Test out new tools and tech and carry out experiments to see the impact they can have on your business before you roll them out. You can use the results and info to scale up your ideas and benefit other areas of your business that could benefit from AI and predictive analytics too.

We’ve only scratched the surface because it’s difficult to quantify just how many AI applications are being used by marketers, businesses and customers.

Spoiler alert: it’s probably a lot.

Predictive analytics tools and techniques are redefining how we buy, do business and they’re here to stay.

A cartoon robot with speech bubble

Bow down to your robot overlords!

Predictive analytics tools and techniques are redefining how we buy, do business and they’re here to stay.

Social Media Management Software

In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.

By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.

In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.

At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's homepage

We recommend: Hootsuite

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Website Tracking Software

We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.

By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.

There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.

Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.

Screenshot of Hotjar's homepage

We recommend: Hotjar

Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.

Hotjar tools include:

  • Click, move, scroll, download and share heatmaps that can also be split by device type
  • Visitor recordings that allow you to replay sessions of real site visitors
  • Conversion funnels that identify on which page and at which step the most visitors are leaving your site
  • Form analysis that can help you to discover which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank and why your visitors abandon your form and page
  • A customizable widget that allows you to create pop-up feedback polls
  • Responsive surveys that can be distributed through web links and emails, or featured your site just before your visitors abandon the page in order to discover what their concerns are
  • The ability to recruit test users in order to get instant feedback on your site

Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.

While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.

For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.

Remember

Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.

What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.

If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.

Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.

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