Imagine you met a robot on the street. He is walking around and talking to people trying to understand the songs that inspire a feeling of love among human beings. Would you be comfortable talking to her? Let’s suppose you start talking to her and she tells you that she is working for a shop that sells greeting cards and that she is trying to discover the best words to put in a greeting card to make sure her firm puts out the best greeting cards ever. This is how the automated and robotic future of marketing might look like to us. Contrary to how it sounds robots are not going to be mechanical in their conversations and interactions with us. They are going to be cute, friendly and fun to hang out. 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 is a semi-humanoid robot with the ability to read human emotions? Yes, Pepper is a cute robot created by softbank robotics with a purpose to “make people happy”. She can facilitate relationships, have fun with people and connect them to the outside world. Pepper is employed as a receptionist in several offices in the UK. She can identify faces using facial recognition and send alerts to meeting organizers. She can even arrange for drinks to be made and have a friendly chat in the meantime with the guests. She is also used in banks and medical facilities in Japan. She is amazing, but far from perfect as you can see from tech insiders interview of her(link). There is a lot to progress from here, but the trend is taking the pace and interactive marketing and social robotics look like a perfect couple of the future.
But before we unfold their love story, let us first understand ‘interactive marketing’.
The world of interactive marketing
Interactive marketing as the name suggests is all about interacting with your customers. It is a marketing strategy that uses two-way communication channels that will allow consumers to connect directly with the company. This exchange can take place in person but in the last decade has been increasingly taken place almost exclusively online through email, social media and blogs. This is also not a recent phenomenon, the success of interactive marketing was predicted as far back as 1995 with people calling it as ‘the future of e-commerce and digital advertising’. This can be clearly seen from the fact that only nine per cent of digital ads are viewed for more than a second. That means most ads are not even opened let alone be noticed. The reason for this behaviour is that customers don’t like to be told what to buy or ads being forced down their throat. They like to explore their options by understanding what the brand is and the product they have to offer is and making an informed choice afterwards. 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 creates relevant ads and marketing messages that hit the mark. Now you might be having a sarcastic question in mind :
But how can robots help?
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 centre 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, it already happening with the Los Angeles times using robots to create reports on earthquakes : they use an algorithm that pulls in data on magnitude, place and time from a US Geological survey website. The introduction and application of robotics and artificial intelligence to marketing will save money and time for companies. It will help marketing employees to free themselves from the mundane, repetitive and analytical tasks and to focus their energy on more important tasks like creative application and analysis.
The answer is not a yes or no, earthquakes:ied to show with this article. But increasingly robotics is entering the field of marketing making changes that will be reflected in the coming years. Artificial intelligence as of now functions in the field of marketing to help marketers become better at what they do. Removing from their schedule mundane and analytical tasks that marketers don’t want to do or can’t do like analysing big sets of data which was incomprehensible or inefficiently used previously.Robotics and artificial intelligence help the marketer to better identify and source potentially successful products and also to differentiate them from the competition.
In the beginning, I gave you a picture of social robots running around having conversations and analysing data to come up with creative ideas for successful marketing. This hasn’t happened as of now but we can hope it will happen soon enough seeing the rate of progress of robotics in recent years. At the same time, we should accept that robots are not full-fledged marketers as of now. But robotics and artificial intelligence have opened up a whole new world of possibilities for a marketer that will give him the necessary edge to outsmart his competition. Marketers live in a world of cut-throat competition where they will use every edge to beat his competition and robots is your next best bet and you should take it. Cause what could be worse than a marketer who came late to the market?