Imagine knowing what email subject line always gets the highest open rate, what media buy offers the best value, and what combination of graphics, products, text, and CTAs produce the greatest results.
If you’re still skeptical on what you hear about artificial intelligence marketing or AIM for short, consider this post an introduction to help you understand what most are calling the “second industrial revolution.”
As more demands are put on marketers in the ultra-competitive firearms industry—an added advantage can mean the difference between who gets to market first and who doesn’t. We all know a great product goes a long way, but a great product with great marketing dominates.
For most of us, data can be a good thing—but it can also be a digital firearm marketer’s worse nightmare. With more and more data streaming in from social media, search engines, email marketing, automation, trade shows, banner ads, influencer platforms and others—data is or has become something of a curse. The term: “Paralysis by analysis” comes to mind.
That’s the irony with data-driven marketing. We have spreadsheets upon spreadsheets and dashboards upon dashboards—but do we really know what to do with it all? On any given day, you make a lot of small decisions that can have a significant impact on results:
- What time should I send my email newsletter?
- What topic should I write my next blog post on?
- Should it be a blog post, or should it actually be a video?
- And for that CTA in the conclusion, what color will actually make people click?
Thankfully, very soon, all of these questions will be answered by robots. Well, not robots, exactly … but artificial intelligence. (Source: HubSpot)
What is AI?
Artificial intelligence first and foremost isn’t what you’ve been led to believe in the movies. It doesn’t mean we’ll be under the rule of evil sentient beings i.e. the Terminator—or an army of robots seeking to take over the world. Even the best and brightest say that is an impossibility. (Source: GovTech) What it does mean is that man and machine will work together as a team.
Artificial intelligence is the “science of making machines smart,” says Demis Hassabis founder and CEO of AI company DeepMind (which was acquired by Google). At a basic level, “smart” means achieving a goal by mimicking human cognitive functions. That goal could be winning a board game, correctly identifying a cat in a photo, adeptly using data from sensors to drive a car or anything else a human can do.
There are many forms of AI already in existent. You might recognize a few already:
- Siri by Apple
- Maps by Apple
- Watson by IBM
- Einstein by Salesforce
- Alexa by Amazon
- Spotify Music Suggestions
- Facebook face/tag recognition
How AI will help you
How AI correctly can be applied to the firearms industry, for the most part, is still unchartered waters. Companies with large eCommerce stores like GalleryofGuns.com and GunBroker.com may be the ones to benefit most from AI to help them analyze user data and trends—if they’re not already.
Other cutting edge manufacturers like Beretta who was one of the first to adopt marketing automation can adopt AI to analyze trends through their programs to send cross-sell and upsell email offers to their contacts at the right place and at the right time.
Tools like Databox can aggregate data from your entire Martech stack and give you a way to improve KPIs across the board based on accurate and definitive data that can be understood. Perhaps even a print ad in Guns and Ammo may be possible to optimize by design bots in the future.
“AI is about automating known tasks without distraction. As humans, we get easily distracted. AI can operate without distractions and without wasting time, making AI teams more efficient,” says Digital Visionary, Kevin Kelly.
How AI can help you market more effectively
AI marketing assistants
If you’re looking to get started with AI, I recommend checking out Growthbot, a chatbot designed by Dharmesh Shah at HubSpot. Growthbot can help you discover keywords your competitors are using, top blog posts and other information that will inform you about your content marketing efforts. Here are a few sample commands of what Growthbot can do:
- What are top articles on recoilweb.com?
- What software does gunbroker.com use?
- Show me top posts from ammoland.com
- Company overview for sigsaurer.com
- Grade website walther.com
- Show me something funny
- Connect my Google analytics account
- How was organic traffic last week?
“Your marketing assistant in the future might well be an app that provides advanced analytics information to guide advertising or content-creation efforts to drive traffic to your company’s website,” says Dave Burnett of AOK Marketing.
These apps—most in their beginning stages—will continue to get smarter over time. They will help you save time, make smarter investment/media buying decisions and increase and accelerate revenue.
Imagine a website you speak to, rather than typing in a search or clicking on the nav bar. A future prospect may visit Springfield Armory’s website, tell the site what they are looking for and then the site serves them three pistols for self-defense along with some videos and training articles—specifically designed and tailored to that known user’s interests.
This type of work is already taking place with companies like grid.io where all you do is place content and the site designs itself.
Better content through AI
Artificial intelligence platform Acrolinx uses a unique linguistic analytics engine to “read” all your content and provide immediate guidance to improve it. “Our technology is transforming how the world’s biggest brands create high-performing content,” says Dr. Andrew Bredenkamp, founder, and CEO. Other companies you should start becoming familiar with is Motiva, Albert, and BoomTrain.
Will AI take away our jobs?
Some say yes, some say no, regardless, what you should be doing right now is learning all you can about AI. How to use it, how it works and how you as a marketer will fit into the disruptive changes coming soon to our industry and marketing as a whole.
As you start to drink out of the fire hose that is AI, it’s important as firearm marketers to think ahead about how we can continue to push the industry forward in terms of technology, attract younger customers, delight current customers, and how all this wraps into protecting our 2nd amendment rights.
I predict, like others—AI will soon impact us all. Regulated industries seem to run 5-8 years behind when it comes to new technologies. Companies who can get out in front first will have a head start on what is sure to be an very interesting ride.