There’s a lot of talk about artificial intelligence (AI) related to marketing tools, trends and tech. But my latest obsession is how it can help build relationships between brands and customers—and how the current and coming changes will influence people’s behavior. As the AI revolution accelerates, how we interface with the internet itself stands to change. How will this be reflected in brand websites, apps and other platforms?
We’ve all seen and heard how generative AI can supercharge creative content production by creating large volumes of images, video and copy in just seconds. This is only one sliver of AI’s potential, because conversational interfaces that learn from us will profoundly transform the way we search for and discover products and information. And we’re already seeing it happen before our eyes: Instacart offers contextual advice for grocery shopping, Zalando created a virtual fashion consultant, and Intercom launched a GPT4-powered business messaging solution that can solve 50% of customer questions instantly. AI is changing the way people interact with your brand, and this is igniting a paradigm shift in brand interfaces and product design.
For many brands, this creates a challenge. How do we connect people with the right answer, content or product they are looking for? The examples above hint at an answer: AI and LLMs go a long way in making consumer experiences more intuitive. Here’s how we’re thinking about it in our Platforms practice.
New search behaviors will elevate the role of the dotcom.
One area that will drastically influence consumer behavior is search. Search is already the default starting point for consumers, but Google’s new AI-powered results page will soon be the only place a user needs to visit, bringing comparison and conversion onto one screen.
This brings some urgency to how brands approach their own platforms, because to bring their products to the top of search, they’ll need to think less about keywords and more about context and intent. What context would users search for around your products? What would they intend to do with it? What values do your offerings deliver to people?
No one yet can say how to solve SEO in the future. But we can help brands begin to integrate this layer of information into their catalogs and user experiences now to prepare for that kind of change—because in this new world, I see an elevated role for the brand dotcom. Think of Google as the department store that carries all brands, and your platform as the expressive branded spaces users will choose to go to connect and build a relationship. Delivering on this expectation will be the key factor to success in the age of AI.
AI is elevating the brand experience.
I’ll extend the department store analogy a little bit further to illustrate the role of AI on modern digital platforms. A good store employee only asks if they can help at the right moment, and AI will likewise be to gently and organically nudge users through conversation. The difference is that AI will be fully trained on your brand, products and services and can represent those perfectly. Think personal product advice, answers, cross- and up-sales, all in the context of a user’s intent.
A restaurant chain, for example, might use natural language to transform its ordering platform, especially for catering and large orders. Rather than scroll through a menu, users could describe an occasion, like “I’m throwing a birthday party for my 5-year-old son. We’ll have 15 people, mostly children.” The system can then take that information and recommend a customized party package. Any allergies among or dietary restrictions in the group? Not a problem—the AI can edit the order for the customer to review. Think of AI as a butler for your brand and its customers.
More personalized experiences give more opportunities for relationship building.
These little details—why you’re ordering, when you need it by, plus any additional personal requests—go a long way in getting to know your customers. The results are both better customer experiences and the ability to forge hyper-personal relationships, ultimately fulfilling the original promise of digital.
We are finally moving beyond segments and personas. A properly programmed AI understands every user’s personal sentiments, curiosities and needs, because it’s able to pull from and connect different pieces of data from across the consumer ecosystem. It can remember those facts and become more personal with every interaction, like offering personalized promotions and loyalty incentives honed to every user’s context. This new type of personalization shows great promise for conversion.
It's also great for building customer loyalty, because AI unlocks interactions that are designed specifically for building longer lasting relationships with them. As customers engage over time, their interactions across the platform produce greater and more detailed insights that can be used to further optimize the experience and deliver upon their unique needs.
Start with a sprint, then optimize and personalize.
AI will continue to shape consumer expectations and behaviors, underscoring the need for platforms that can pivot with speed and agility. It’s more important now than ever to be able to listen, learn and adapt to how your customers are engaging.
On the flip side, that means your implementation of AI is also always a work in progress. If any of the above sounds interesting to you, rest assured that you don’t have to make a full overhaul of your website. It starts with looking at what you already have and seeing if your tech stack can support these hyper-personalized experiences. Innovation sprints or experimenting with building better experiences—on the main dotcom or maybe in a separate domain—are great places to start, as are smarter search functions that are fairly easy to implement. Then optimize continuously to perfect your toolkit and extend your ability to personalize.
It's too early to say with utmost specificity how AI will shape customer experiences years down the line. But by realizing how recent AI developments are serving pre-existing marketing goals—more personalized user flows, greater customer loyalty, and an elevated brand experience—it’s clear that now is the time to lay the foundations for AI-powered customer journeys.
Want to learn more about how our platforms team can support you in building more personalized experiences?
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