You’ve seen it everywhere. From early emerging AI marketing tools like Grammarly predicting tone and grammar mistakes to the recently popular ChatGPT taking the internet by storm–AI tools are here to stay.
In fact, the global AI market is predicted to take off in the next few years, accounting for 86.9 billion USD in 2022 and jumping to $407 billion USD by 2027.
If the rapid growth of ChatGPT is any indication, the future of AI begins now.
AI tools help digital marketing agencies streamline their processes, optimize campaigns, and deliver better results for their clients. However, with so many AI tools available in the market, it’s an overwhelming task to choose the right one for your agency.
Which AI tools will make life at a marketing agency easier? Which will make it more challenging? And which poses a threat to the marketing industry as a whole.
We’re unpacking everything your agency needs to know about AI tools to help you make the best decision when it comes to implementing them, which ones are the best for your specific needs–and most importantly–how they’ll help you stay ahead of the competition.
Plus, find out how other digital marketing agency owners feel about the subject–are they embracing the new wave of AI? Are they against it? What are the pros and cons of AI marketing tools they’ve experienced so far?
Let’s dive in!
Weighing the Risks of Using AI in Digital Marketing Agencies
What Are the Benefits of Using AI for Digital Marketing?
AI marketing tools have the potential to help your agency deliver more value to your clients in a number of ways.
Increased Efficiency: Working Smarter, Not Harder
Not only do AI tools have the potential to generate better results for your clients’ ROI but also for your agency.
The value curve and deliverable quantities for agency pricing models will change for a lot of agencies. It will more directly impact productized services and will have a lesser effect on more bespoke/consultative agencies.
– Austin Benoit, Founder of Search Prestige
Although there are costs associated with most AI tools, you’ll need to figure out the costs associated with how long it takes to complete a given project, the cost of hiring multiple employees, and so on. So it’s probably time to look at your agency pricing model.
Are there ways you can cover the additional costs of these new tools you’re using to boost your clients’ businesses? Are there repetitive or time-consuming tasks that can be streamlined using AI marketing tools, therefore saving your client time and your agency money?
Simply put, AI tools help your agency improve human efficiency. They identify and correct areas of inefficiency that are costing your agency money.
AI can reduce costs by up to 20%, with up to 70% of the cost reduction resulting from higher workforce productivity.
Enhanced Targeting: Hitting the Bullseye
Using AI tools helps your agency predict customer behaviors and trends to better anticipate customer needs. This could include everything from improved ad targeting, suggestions for campaign optimization, and even more personalized and relevant content ideas for your clients’ customers.
Scaling Up, Streamlining Down: How AI Helps Expand Your Marketing Reach
Efficiency is the most obvious benefit. But what does that mean for your agency? AI tools can help reduce the time spent on specific tasks without sacrificing quality because humans are still operating the tools. Saving time on daily tasks positions your agency to focus on other opportunities and scaling the business.
AI tools will certainly help with the speed and, ultimately, the quality of work that we do every month.
– Olu Ajanwachuku, CEO at GVATE
Consider how many billable hours your team uses to complete a daily task. For example, using a tool like Sprout Social helps bulk publish posts for clients, saving your social media manager tons of time every day. Similar to how AgencyAnalytics helps your team create client reports in minutes instead of jumping from platform to platform to showcase your clients’ marketing data.
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From fine-tuning content to streamlining your internal workflows, AI marketing tools continue to change the digital marketing landscape. For example, think about the opportunities AI tools offer to impact your agency’s pricing.
Even image ideation can be helped by AI, although–like an individual graphic designer–different AI tools will process requests in different ways.
To test these AI image creators out, we gave all five AI marketing tools the same prompt, and this is what each tool generated. For example, we used the same prompt in five different AI image creators and got five very different results.
DALL-E 2 created arguably the most realistic version of how van Gogh would have painted a Goldendoodle puppy. The other versions, while still cute, do not come close to achieving van Gogh's signature style.
How much time–and billable hours–would it have taken an in-house graphic designer to mock up five different versions of this concept? Probably much longer.
But saving time can, sometimes, be a double-edged sword.
Pricing will be impacted positively and negatively. Some services can provide more value or output for the same investment. Some services will have greater value and command a premium due to the use of AI to enhance the solution, speed up production/delivery, or quickly iterate through testing to find a campaign's peak performance.
– Bill Hipsher, President at Hurrdat
And, sometimes, these AI tools can go very, very wrong. Like when we asked DALL-E 2 to create a realistic image of an animal that was half shark, half horse.
Weighing the Risks: Potential Downsides of Using AI in Digital Marketing Agencies
Despite the paranoia about AI marketing tools taking jobs away from people, The World Economic Forum predicts that AI will create 97 million new jobs by 2025. So if you thought job security was a disadvantage, you should consider the opportunities AI and machine learning have to offer.
While there are many advantages to using AI tools in digital marketing, some potential disadvantages should be considered. Here are a few:
Like anything that’s new and shiny when it’s first released to the market, we recommend proceeding with caution. Bugs and other issues will still need ironing out, and of course, AI tools are simply robots at the end of the day.
Ask any of the AI marketing tools a question more than once, and you may get a different answer each time. There is no fact-checking option–yet.
Even ChatGPT recognizes that fact. When asked, “What are the biggest dangers of using ChatGPT to create content?”, here is its response.
Some of the other downfalls of even the best AI tools include inaccuracy, the potential for plagiarism, lack of creativity, and search engine algorithms preferring human-generated content. If you simply copy and paste AI-generated content as-is, others might get the exact same results and duplicate the content online, only hurting your clients in the long run.
As you can see in the image below, Word AI (an AI detection tool) conducted a test to see which AI content-generating tool would pass their AI detection test. So, it’s safe to say that you shouldn’t rely on AI marketing tools completely to replace the actual humans at your agency or to automate your tasks completely.
Similar to self-driving cars, a person still needs to be present to ensure pedestrians are safe on the road and that the vehicle is doing what it should be. The same can be said with AI tools. Yes, they make our lives a bit easier, but they’re not foolproof. Fact-checking and a set of human eyes are still needed.
Data Privacy Concerns
Because AI marketing tools use data to operate, you’ll want to ensure you’re not crossing any legal concerns for your client’s industry. Implementing ethical data practices when using AI tools is crucial, as you want to protect your clients’ privacy and not jeopardize any sensitive data.
Lack of Human Touch
AI tools can be used to automate repetitive tasks. However, they simply cannot replace the creativity and emotional intelligence of human employees. Some of the AI-generated content may feel emotionless–something that people will begin to recognize as more and more AI content is on the internet.
Think back to early email chain scams or telemarketing scams. When people increasingly gain awareness of these tactics as time goes on, you don’t want your clients’ businesses to come across as spammy.
Depending on the AI marketing tools your agency decides to implement, startup costs can vary. Considering the time it takes to train staff, technology costs, and any other resources, this is something to be aware of when making an investment.
Be sure to do your research and determine if your agency’s return on investment is worth it in the long run.
Impact on Agency-client Relationships
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns agencies are facing with AI tools is finding a way to position their services with and against AI tools. Clients may use the availability and use of AI tools to renegotiate their contracts on the assumption that AI tools will make content creation faster, easier, and cheaper.
For example, content marketing agencies may find clients shifting to AI tools to save money. Or significantly reduce their budgets altogether, thinking agencies are using less time to generate deliverables.
Agencies need to find that balance between utilizing AI to their clients’ advantage by leveraging the benefits and using their skills to offset the worst of the drawbacks.
Overall, while AI tools can provide many benefits for digital marketing agencies, it's important to be aware of the potential drawbacks and take steps to mitigate any risks.
I feel there will always be the need for a human to conduct the orchestra, whether it's all humans, humans, and AI bots, or orchestrating AI exclusively, the conductor will be human. I think there will be synergy between AI and humans.
– George Arabian, CEO of NVISION
How Is AI Used in Digital Marketing?
AI tools are used in various ways to enhance digital marketing from a client’s perspective but also as an agency owner. They have the ability to speed up internal processes like daily workflows and also save time generating deliverables for clients.
AI tools are being used to make smarter decisions related to campaign performance and reaching more accurate audiences. They can also help identify micro-influencers, reveal optimization techniques, and more.
For example, your agency could implement essential eCommerce tools with AI features to streamline forecast revenues, discover customer search trends, conduct competitive market research, and more.
AI can help marketing agencies become more efficient and effective. They can also help better understand our client’s customer base, measure the performance of their campaigns, and deliver data-driven insights based on AI-powered analytics.
– Anatoly Zadorozhnyy, Director of Search at Softline Solutions
Competitor analysis tools with AI capabilities have the potential to enhance human knowledge to inform the current strategies you have in place for your clients. This, in turn, gives your agency the upper hand against competitors who might be slow to the AI game.
Here are some of the ways AI is used in digital marketing:
Content Creation: AI tools generate content such as articles, social media posts, and product descriptions using natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms. When used correctly, they have the potential to save time and resources for agencies while still maintaining high-quality content.
Chatbots: AI-powered chatbots interact with customers in real-time, providing personalized support and assistance. They handle routine customer queries, freeing up human employees to focus on more complex tasks.
Customer Segmentation: AI analyzes vast amounts of data, identifying patterns in customer behavior, preferences, and interests. This information is used to segment customers into different groups and deliver personalized messaging and experiences.
Predictive Analytics: AI-powered tools use historical data to predict future outcomes, such as customer behavior, sales trends, and campaign performance. This information is leveraged to optimize marketing strategies and improve ROI for your clients.
Ad Optimization: Automate ad targeting, placement, and bidding based on real-time data analysis. This can improve ad performance and reduce costs.
Recommendation Powerhouse: AI surveys customer data and recommends products or services based on past behavior, preferences, and trends, improving the customer experience and driving more sales.
How Should AI Marketing Tools NOT Be Used?
AI tools use existing data for content. This means they shouldn’t be used for creating new, fresh content–especially for trending topics.
They also still lack common sense and do not understand human behavior or adjective meanings. So, it sometimes produces mixed-up descriptions or other blunders that sound silly. Although AI helps save time creating content, an actual human is still needed to provide the inputs (aka, asking the right questions), for editing, fact-checking, and quality control.
The biggest mistake agencies can make is relying on AI tools for the creative aspect of their work. The creative aspect of any marketing campaign should still be guided by an actual human being and not by a machine.
– Olu Ajanwachuku, CEO at GVATE
Although AI marketing tools seem to be all the rage right now, we’ve actually been using some variation of them for quite some time. From Grammarly to ChatBots to Siri and more, they are already part of our lives. And the more they gain in popularity, the more your agency will have to test them out to determine where they fit in your repertoire of tools.
They have the potential to make better predictions, improve scheduling and planning, and help you make the most of your clients’ budgets. At the very least, they’re worth a shot. And as Bill Hipsher of Hurrdat says, “it’s an exciting time that should be embraced, not feared. AI can help us digital marketing agencies look smarter and deliver better returns for our clients than we ever have before.”
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Richelle Peace is a joyful writer with a degree in Journalism. She loves writing web content, blogs, and social media posts. Whatever the topic, she’s fascinated by learning and sharing.Read more posts by Richelle Peace ›