AI alone won’t provide a competitive advantage without creativity

Look up a product on Amazon and you’ll find it haunting you in side bars and pop-up ads for days. This AI approach has become an experience synonymous with shopping at Amazon, but as technology continues to evolve it soon won’t be.

Using smart software and algorithms to propel marketing activities is becoming commonplace – especially in a competitive arena like eCommerce. So if you believe using this technology gives you an automatic advantage, you shouldn’t – your competitors will no doubt be using it too.

The advantage with AI actually comes from what you do with it. You may well have the technology to automate the basics. However, if you don’t have the marketers to customise algorithms to make the experience relevant and exciting, you’re never going to produce anything that’s inspiring enough to set you apart from the rest.

Essentially, AI depends on creativity to turn its insights into great marketing.

Personalised search functions and tailored content

Many companies – beyond just the big conglomerates – are now able to use AI because it’s becoming more user friendly. There are also more cost-effective options available.

Everyone from retailers, manufacturers, distributors and brands is now able to tap into amplification, delivery technologies and tools.

This uptake – as I’ve said – levels the playing field significantly. In turn customer expectations are raised, and those who were once seen as innovative in their marketing are now seen as average. To regain that innovative status companies will need to increase the complexity of their AI usage, as well as the creativity they use with that.

The next step for AI is personalised search functions and tailored content, which requires critical knowledge of your customers. What are their behaviours? What areas of your brand are they most interested in? What kind of content are they most responsive to? AI will help you answer these questions, but the insights will remain disadvantageous if you don’t act upon them.

The competitive advantage is only added to this AI activity when creativity is used to translate insights into a cutting-edge personalised experience.

For example, if you’re selling clothes, AI will help you map what products a customer has bought, and pull up products that are similar. A marketer will then be able to use this insight to send a creative campaign or piece of content centred around this style as opposed to one that would be completely irrelevant to that customer.

This proves that gaining the value from AI involves the perfect balance between the logic of technology and the creativity of a marketer. Those who have cultivated a successful working relationship with AI will be able to deliver on this because they can provide this equilibrium.

Understanding your brand

Your brand is what should tie AI and creativity together. You need to understand what it is about your brand that appeals to different customer profiles. And what about your brand should be consistent across all communications no matter what.

That means it’s imperative that you have a strong understanding of your purpose, audience, and advantages. Having this clarity is vital to portraying the right experience – from content to usability – to the right customers.

Companies should also assess their own company culture, to ensure it’s ready to work in a co-dependent relationship with technology. There’s a massive misconception technology is the replacement to human jobs. This is not the case: technology is there to enhance and inform. But if members of your organisation feel AI could be a threat, this should be addressed to ensure you’re able to cultivate that essential relationship between AI and creativity.

Ultimately, eCommerce success isn’t a matter of man versus machine. It’s about empowering the man behind the machine to drive superior customer experiences.