C-Suite Advisory

The CEO’s Primer on How to Use AI in Digital Marketing

How do companies fully take advantage of AI’s magic when it comes to marketing efforts? Although this is traditionally in the domain of marketers themselves, CEOs also need to have a basic understanding of how to use AI in this realm. Here’s a high-level overview for the C-suite on what this budding technology can do for digital marketing — and why companies who aren’t using it will get left behind. 

The role of a CEO is multifaceted. All at once, an effective CEO must be strategic, financially savvy, communicative, and innovative in order to set and realize the long-term goals of their organization. Yet up until very recently, many CEOs lacked a true understanding of the benefits of artificial intelligence in business. That being said, if the COVID-19 pandemic taught us any business lesson, it’s that you need to be prepared to bob and weave at any moment.

AI offers your organization the agility you need to adapt to market trends as quickly as possible. Without it, companies will fall behind and lose their competitive edge. Perhaps that’s why a recent Appen survey discovered that 71% of executives are now directly engaging in AI initiatives compared to just 39% in 2019. That’s a pretty significant jump.

Clearly, more CEOs are waking up to the fact that they need to possess a basic understanding of how AI is used in marketing if they want their companies to establish and maintain a competitive edge in the future.

How to Use AI in Digital Marketing

Lack of AI-related support often means companies move slower when producing actionable consumer insights, messaging, and — perhaps most importantly — customer experience efforts. Customer experience is everything. In today’s market, there’s more to business than just selling a great product or service. In order to truly be successful, brands must offer a stellar customer experience that draws audiences in and creates the loyalty that keeps them coming back for more.

Sure, people switch brands for a variety of reasons (ranging from political ideology to price), but data shows that 1 in 3 consumers would abandon a brand after a single poor experience. That might sound harsh, but it’s reality. When CEOs don’t fully understand how to use AI in digital marketing, they’re less likely to invest time and money in these types of solutions. As a result, they lose customers to competitors that better understand modern consumers’ wants and needs and how to offer those consumers the experiences they expect.

To start, let’s dive deeper into the ways AI is used in marketing.

For one thing, AI helps you understand your consumers on a deeper level. Manually analyzing all your data is not only inefficient and time-consuming — if not impossible — but it also takes marketers away from big-picture responsibilities. When you leverage AI solutions to analyze that data, you can take a step back and see patterns in consumer behavior, many of which humans are simply incapable of identifying on their own. As a result, you’re able to retain a human element because your consumers become more than the last action they took on your website.

Using AI also allows you to act more quickly on those insights, consumer behaviors, and dynamic preferences. For example, marketers can manually personalize messaging for around 10 to 15 audience segments, but going beyond that is just not feasible. With AI, your brand can curate thousands of variations of emails and SMS messages as well as personalized web experiences based on a consumer’s individual preferences. That means marketers can spend less time writing copy and more time focusing their efforts on things such as strategy and innovation.

Another benefit of AI in digital marketing is that it helps you create more relevant consumer experiences through dynamic content and personalized product recommendations. That might be as simple as only recommending products that are available at retailers near the user’s current location, but these kinds of updates can have a significant impact. According to Accenture, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that offer relevant product recommendations tailored to them.

Now that we’ve discussed a few key benefits of AI in business, here are three recommendations for CEOs who want to use AI to drive measurable results:

  1. Start now.
    The best time to integrate AI into your digital marketing efforts was yesterday. The second-best time is today. It might sound daunting, but you shouldn’t wait to implement these tools until you consider yourself a quote-unquote expert in AI-driven marketing. After all, AI is constantly evolving; therefore, learning how to use AI in digital marketing is a continuous journey.

    The important thing is to determine where to start. Then, take small steps. For instance, take inventory of your data. Ask yourself: How do we collect data, and how do we use it? Is our data tagged correctly? Is it siloed? Slowly chip away at the process — you can build momentum and expand your efforts from there.

  2. Research AI trends and industry use cases.
    Look for big data and research-driven insights that are related to your company’s industry specifically. Consultancy firms such as McKinsey and Nielsen are great places to start. Then, work to understand the technology you need to implement to realize the benefits of AI in your business.

    Realistically, if you don’t understand it, you aren’t going to invest your time and money into it. That said, don’t put too much pressure on yourself — you’re not going to understand everything about AI and digital marketing overnight. If you need a frame of reference, look to other industry leaders. Where are they getting their information? Are they conducting their own research about AI?

  3. View AI implementation as a journey.
    Implementing AI-powered digital marketing personalization is a business process — and not simply a task to be checked off your to-do list. There are three main stages to this journey:

    Collecting relevant consumer data.
    Drawing insights from that data and optimizing the consumer journey through simple personalization.
    Rolling out fully dynamic and predictive personalization at scale.

    Each stage will have its own set of challenges and initiatives, so don’t try to move on from one stage before you are ready.

Ultimately, AI can help your organization improve sales, boost engagement, reduce churn, and deliver a better return on investment. And now, more executives are realizing the benefits of AI in digital marketing. If you’re one of the last holdouts, it’s time to start learning more about AI and how it could make all the difference in the success of your digital marketing initiatives.


Written by Diane Keng.

Track Latest News Live on CEOWORLD magazine and get news updates from the United States and around the world. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow CEOWORLD magazine on Twitter and Facebook. For media queries, please contact: info@ceoworld.biz

Diane Keng
Diane Keng is the CEO and co-founder of Breinify, an AI and predictive personalization engine helping brands curate dynamic, meaningful experiences for consumers at scale. Diane is on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for enterprise technology.


Diane Keng is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on LinkedIn.