How can machine learning enhance your digital marketing strategy?
The launch of Google’s new machine learning tool, RankBrain which contributes to search engine results, left many people wondering what impact machine learning would have in the realm of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
With the tech industry going crazy for all things Artificial Intelligence (AI), Natural Language Processing (NLP), machine learning, and chatbots, it’s important to know what the technology is, where it’s going, and what impact it will have on digital marketing as a whole.
This article will explain these concepts as well as share some tips on how to adapt to machine learning.
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The Growth and Popularity of Machine Learning and AI
Machine learning is, in fact, not new to the tech world. It first appeared as a concept back in the 1950’s and has now developed into a technology that builds algorithmic systems based on previous data trends, models, and patterns that it has learned from. With this data, machine learning simulates the human decision-making process by using predictive analysis.
While RankBrain has been the first to really make its mark in this space, companies of all kinds are starting to put a greater focus on data gathering and storing, making machine learning more relevant. And, that’s not to mention the new machine learning tools now being launched, which are making it more accessible. With that in mind, larger organizations have started applying machine learning to their sales and marketing automation efforts.
But, before going any further into the realm of machine learning and how it’s going to change marketing, it’s important to note that machine learning is not the same as AI. While they are currently being used interchangeably, they have some clear differences. Here are some of them:
What is the Difference Between Machine Learning and AI
AI is the broader concept of machines undertaking tasks in a way that us humans would consider intelligent. In other words, AI is when a machine can undertake a task as well, if not better than a human would.
Machine learning is a subset of AI, whereby we provide a machine with data and it then learns on its own. Instead of being programmed to do something, machines are given the information they need to do it themselves. Simply put, machine learning is one of the applications that is driving AI development. With that in mind, it is crucial that we get the machine learning right so that we can grow the AI side of things.
But what does this all mean for digital marketing?
Machine learning and Digital Marketing
Because machine learning is being used to solve a huge set of diverse problems with the help of data, channels, content, and context, as marketers, we stand to benefit from this information and phenomenon as a whole. But, as the information we gather grows, digital marketing as we know it is set to change.
Search Engine Optimization
From an SEO point of view, keywords could become less important. Search engines receive more revenue for ads when they provide users with higher quality content. As a result, the algorithm they use needs to be more focused on providing each user with content that will serve a specific purpose, rather than be packed with the right keyword density. You, therefore, need to start thinking about the quality of your content as a ranking factor on search engines.
Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaigns
With Google launching new “smart” features such as Google Smart Bidding, Smart Display Campaigns, and In-Market Audience to help businesses maximize conversions, it is clear that the future of PPC lies in machine learning.
To become more strategic and take your PPC campaigns to the next level you need to:
- Get to grips with the metrics that are most valuable to your business
- Understand obstacles that could get in the way of meeting your goals
- Know the underlying performance drivers to make more strategic decisions
Although still extremely important, the internet has become inundated with too much content. As mentioned above, to succeed, you need to be creating content that is valuable to your readers. To do this, you need to understand consumer trends.
Machine learning tools allow you to reduce the amount of time you spend tracking your data, as well as enable you to better decipher your data so that you can create actionable tasks that will lead you to success. It’s important to remember that this is also applicable to your email marketing campaigns as well.
After Google released the Penguin algorithm, many thought that link building was dead because Penguin penalized any business it caught buying links. But, instead of dying out, link building has evolved. As a marketer you need to look for brand recognition content, social signals that mention your brand, and content research for guest posts instead of simply buying your links.
The Problems and Opportunities Machine Learning Present for Marketers
While some machine learning tools can be expensive, the only other real factor that marketers may find hard to adapt to is the ever-changing algorithms launched by Google and other search engines. On the other hand, the opportunities machine learning present for marketers are virtually unlimited. Here are some of them:
Machine learning can gather data from a virtually unlimited number of sources. With this, you can adjust your brand’s message based on the most recent consumer behaviors. This allows you to automate and personalize certain marketing processes by letting your machine learning tools make decisions on content, call-to-actions, and even design, in real-time.
Customer segmentation is extremely important but also a full-time job in itself. Machine learning can be used to identify various segments of your target market as well as create micro-segments based on behavioral patterns you may not be able to spot. This data can help you create a predictive approach to your customer segmentation, allowing you to lead each customer individually through his or her buyer journey.
Customer Lifetime Value
Your customer lifetime value is calculated based on their demographic, purchasing history, their interactions with your marketing campaigns, as well as the actions they take on your platform, among other factors. Machine learning calculates your customer lifetime value more accurately thus allowing you to optimize your future interactions with them accordingly.
The Future of Machine Learning
Experts believe that machine learning will continue to grow across the mobile market space, acquiring an even larger presence within applications, digital assistants, and AI as a whole. It may even enter the drone and self-driving cars territory.
But, because the demand for more data and more algorithms is rising, you can expect more machine learning tools to become available. While this may be great news for some, it’s important that we learn from what we currently have in order to fine tune our marketing processes and avoid any errors along the way.
Tips for Adapting to Machine learning
Because machine learning is on the rise and new tools and algorithms are now being launched every year, it is essential that you, as a business, adapt your processes accordingly. The importance of content, link building, PPC campaigns, and SEO have been mentioned above, but to fully capitalize on these opportunities, you must also:
Make Your Website Responsive
Having a responsive website that has fast loading times, supports multiple medias, and is mobile friendly is crucial to your Google ranking. Research shows that improving your website design can significantly boost your traffic. Make sure you undertake multiple tests on your site and keep your user experience in mind at all times.
Optimize for Local Search
To rank highly on Google you need to optimize for local search. This means you should focus on listing your business with the correct name, address, website URL, and other company details across a variety of platforms, most notably Yelp, Google My Business, and Yellow Pages, among others.
Be Ready for Conversational Search Terms
The combination of machine learning and the proliferation of voice search has made conversational search terms a must have for businesses of all kinds wanting to rank highly on Google. In addition to ranking for long-tailed keywords, consider creating content that answers your customers’ specific voice queries.
Stay Up-To-Date With Industry Trends
As well as Smart Insights, SEMrush, Moz, and Search Engine Journal are just some of the search marketing blogs that can give you insight into AI and machine learning and their effects on the marketing world. Because machine learning is evolving every day, it is crucial that you stay up-to-date with industry news in order to fully capitalize on this growing trend and stay ahead of your competitors.
Thanks to Markerle for sharing his advice and opinion in this post. Markerle is Marketing Director at Soap Media
, a Premier Google Partner since 2005. Based in Manchester UK with over 12 years' experience as a digital entrepreneur, he is passionate about helping businesses generate more revenue online through innovative approaches to UX, digital marketing and automation. You can follow Soap Media on Twitter