Imagine you met a robot on the street. He’s walking around and talking to people, trying to understand the songs that make people feel love. Would you feel at ease talking to her? Let’s say you start talking to her and she tells you she works for a greeting card shop and is trying to figure out the best words to put in a greeting card so her company can produce the best greeting cards ever. This is how we might imagine the automated and robotic future of marketing. Contrary to popular belief, robots will not be mechanical in their interactions with humans. They are going to be cute, friendly, and fun to hang out with. You don’t have to look far into the future to see it in action though, cause it is happening right now.
Did you know there’s a semi-humanoid robot that can read human emotions? Yes, Pepper is a cute robot designed by Softbank Robotics with the goal of “making people happy.” She can help people form relationships, have fun with them, and connect them to the outside world. Pepper works as a receptionist in several offices throughout the United Kingdom. She can use facial recognition to identify people and send alerts to meeting organizers. She can even arrange for drinks to be made while engaging in friendly conversation with the guests. She is also used in Japanese banks and medical facilities. She is incredible, but far from perfect, as evidenced by her interview with Tech Insider (link). There is a lot to progress from here, but the trend is taking place and interactive marketing and social robotics look like a perfect couple for the future.
The world of interactive marketing
As the name implies, interactive marketing is all about interacting with your customers. It is a marketing strategy that employs two-way communication channels to allow customers to interact with the company directly. This exchange can take place in person, but in the last decade, it has become almost entirely online via email, social media, and blogs. This is also not a new phenomenon; the success of interactive marketing was predicted as early as 1995 when it was dubbed “the future of e-commerce and digital advertising.” This is evident from the fact that only 9% of digital ads are viewed for more than a second. That means that the majority of advertisements are not even opened, let alone noticed.
The reason for this behavior is that customers don’t like to be told what to buy or ads being forced down their throats. They like to explore their options by understanding what the brand is and the product they have to offer and making an informed choice afterward. The skilled marketer understands this and is keen on learning the specific preferences and needs of the customer. He achieves this through interactive marketing by establishing a two-way communication channel and then creating relevant ads and marketing messages that hit the mark.
Interactive marketing and robotics: an untold love story
I have already mentioned above how Softbank’s pepper is working in reception offices interacting with people. So before you assume that social robots are going to sit in a meeting with you and suggest new ideas to target customers, let me list out where robotics and artificial intelligence might find applications in the world of marketing soon or already have started to:
- Website content creators and copywriters
- Customer service & marketing reps
- Call center staffers and outbound callers
- Trade show entertainers & performers
These are repetitive and mundane tasks that will be automated by robots in the near future; in fact, the Los Angeles Times is already using robots to create earthquake reports: they use an algorithm that pulls in data on the magnitude, location, and time from a US Geological Survey website. Companies will save money and time by introducing and applying robotics and artificial intelligence to marketing. It will enable marketing employees to shift their attention away from mundane, repetitive, and analytical tasks and toward more important tasks such as creative application and analysis.
The answer is neither yes nor no, as this article demonstrates. However, robotics is increasingly entering the field of marketing, causing changes that will be visible in the coming years. Artificial intelligence is currently used in marketing to assist marketers in becoming better at what they do. Removing mundane and analytical tasks from their schedules that marketers don’t want or can’t do, such as analyzing large sets of data that were previously incomprehensible or inefficiently used. Robotics and artificial intelligence assist marketers in better identifying and sourcing potentially successful products, as well as distinguishing them from the competition.
In the beginning, I painted a picture of social robots running around having conversations and analyzing data to come up with innovative marketing ideas. This hasn’t happened yet, but given the rate of progress in robotics in recent years, we can hope it will happen soon. At the same time, we must acknowledge that robots are not yet fully-fledged marketers. However, robotics and artificial intelligence have opened up a whole new world of possibilities for marketers, providing them with the necessary competitive advantage. Marketers live in a cutthroat world where they will use any advantage to beat their competition, and robots are your next best bet, which you should take it.