This is the fourth installment of my blog series on the 5 hard truths. I’ll examine why AI alone won’t save you — and how the right foundations must be put into place before marketers can use it. If you haven’t already read the previous three installments, you can do it here: Truth #1, Truth #2, and Truth #3.

Hard Truth #4: AI alone won’t save you

While we’re all (rightfully) excited about the potential of AI, many marketers see AI in an unrealistic light. AI is often talked about as a silver bullet; with the assumption it will automate all the processes we do manually today. But it’s not that simple. Before marketers can use AI, the right foundations must be put into place.

Brands need the right data, and the right data structure, to be able to feed AI technologies, which is a huge lift. Forty percent of brands, for example, don't trust the data they have. And 67% say they're not capturing the right data or don't have access to the data they need to drive personalization. In other words, most brands are nowhere near ready to take advantage of the benefits AI can provide.

This lack of preparation is reflected in the adoption rates: while 86% of executives believe AI is the future, only 21% have actually adopted it.

To begin the journey toward AI-readiness, brands need to take three key steps.

  1. Identify where AI will go: As with personalization, it’s best to start small; use test projects to determine where AI will deliver the most business impact.
  2. Get your data in order: Begin building an actionable foundation by cleaning up your data, and understanding which data moves the needle.
  3. Put the right team in place: We saw a similar challenge with the big data phenomenon, which is still in full force. With sudden access to troves of data, nobody knows what to do with it. Build a team that can handle data, and you’ll be ahead of the curve.

Carter Jonas: AI-infused personalization at scale

When it comes to an AI-fueled approach to personalization, Daniel Fulbrook, Head of Digital Marketing at Carter Jonas, offers an example that we can all learn from.

Due to the complexity of their business, Fulbrook has his work cut out for him. He explains that Carter Jonas has “over 100 and extended services for both B2B and B2C clients, which would make a traditional website incredibly cumbersome in terms of the user journey and the user experience.”

To bypass the complexity of their services and target the right audience – which ranges from first-time residential property bidders to industrial real estate moguls – Carter Jonas “placed the customer at the center of the [strategy], and focused on what the objectives of the customer were, like buying a property, for example, regardless if they wanted residential or commercial.”

“We avoid personalizing based on just one interaction,” Fulbrook explained. “Instead, customers are assigned points as they move through the website and visit different pages. And when you reach a certain [point] threshold, the website begins to personalize content pieces and case studies.”

Fulbrook’s team uses AI to do the heavy lifting: “For instance, following the launch of our new website, we’re seeing tremendous amounts of data coming in, and we’re using AI to help us collect that data from various sources, and analyze it through reports and graphs.”

Carter Jonas’ proof is in the digital pudding: tripled conversion rates, doubled qualified telephone calls coming in from the website, and a 15% increase in their Net Promoter Score.

Own the experience®

As excited as we are about AI, we need a sturdy data foundation to capitalize on the current technology. To help you make the most of AI and machine learning, we’ve created an eBook that contains all the practical advice you could need. Read it now to put the fundamentals — people, processes, and data — in place to augment and empower human intelligence with Sitecore.

Download the CMO Truth #4 eBook: “AI alone won’t save you.”

Paige O’Neill is the Chief Marketing Officer at Sitecore. Find her on LinkedIn.