How AI Can Change The Way You Talk To Customers

As a CMO or creative lead, do you really want to stake your career on gut-instinct decisions alone? 

That’s not meant as a knock to the tremendous talent of those who are inspired creatively. However, teams can do their best and boldest work when they mix creativity and data.

How? With machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Today's Creative Process 

Coming up with good ideas is hard work. As award-winning artist Chuck Close said, “I don’t work with inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work.” By “get to work” he means the push and pull and wrangling of ideas that work, and that’s where AI excels. AI is your new creative partner, and not just to automate routine creative tasks like finding the right images faster, but also for your marketing messages.

Yet many marketers continue to approach the messaging process without the benefit of actual customer intent and behavior data to inform their ideation. Customers want personalized and authentic experiences from brands but often feel that messaging is too brand-centric and doesn’t take into account their individual needs.

Today it’s possible to use AI to better speak to your customers and make creative messaging decisions based not only on what you think is the right approach, but based on a deep and data-guided understanding of what your customers actually want to hear. With AI, millions of different phrases, emotions, and tones can be tested to zero in on what works for a specific brand voice and customer segment, as well as the ideas and concepts the words we're using represent.

AI Arms Creatives With Better Ideas

We’ve seen firsthand across clients in multiple industries how AI is helping creative teams to do their best work.

For example, at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Spain, last November, Kristin Lemkau, JPMorgan Chase’s former CMO and now CEO of its wealth management division, detailed how insights from ML influenced the creative team's decision to change a headline and, contrary to conventional copywriting wisdom of using as few words as possible, add more words to say: “Congratulations, you’re on the right track. Come see if you pre-qualify for a home loan.” The previous, and shorter, champion message from Chase read, “Take advantage of today’s mortgage rates.”

All of that “extra language” recommended by the AI platform made the headline more human in its tone and language, driving an 82% increase in Chase’s actual mortgage applications. The company also used findings from AI to improve its customer service scripts and internal communications. 

These examples highlight the power of AI in understanding language at the atomic level.

Words Matter

Persado, which offers an AI platform that helps business leaders identify language that will resonate with their audiences, analyzed 18 million messages across 180 brands in 2019 to pinpoint the individual words that are proven to engage customers. The Chase example highlights two key findings from this body of research about how brands and companies use language, specifically.

First, imperative language tends to perform poorly, especially negative imperatives—for example, “Don’t miss out” or “Don’t wait.” Marketers overuse the imperative to say things that are not very specific or straightforward, or at least not as specific as customers want. That’s one reason Chase’s “Take advantage of today’s mortgage rates” didn’t perform as well as a more customer-centric, friendly phrase.

This brings us to the second and most important insight from our research: Customer-centric language, specifically the word “you” and you-centered phrases, is some of the most powerful and high-performing language to use. Every time we tested a concept that started with “you” against a concept that started with a verb or something else, the phrase that included “you” was very often much more effective. You’ll see much better engagement with your marketing messages by shifting your perspective—and language—this way.

The power of using AI for creative message creation is that it can help you understand why certain language elements perform the way they do. You can leverage those learnings across all areas of the business—well beyond marketing—to customer service, sales, and HR. AI can help you create a true customer-centric brand that delivers demonstrable business impact, with words at the heart of the experience. 

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