Why COVID officially killed old marketing that doesn’t work

A retelling of an article from the Unbounce platform website “ Conversion Intelligence – The New Era of Marketing ”. In one sentence, the meaning of the material can be summarized as follows: a business of any size will not survive if it does not start introducing artificial intelligence into marketing right now. Without AI, it will be ruined by PPC inflation, inefficiency of old digital tools and large corporations.

Unbounce executives also claim that:

  • COVID-19 has only increased competition in digital and there will be no return to better times;
  • AI without a human will not defeat marketers – the future belongs to the “cybernetic team”;
  • small business loses to large business, but AI can level the playing field;
  • personalization has not paid off – instead, you need to focus on the relevance of content and offers.

Corporations are killing small businesses, and the world urgently needs an equalizer

For the past two years, small businesses have not grown anymore. And it’s not about COVID-19: the pandemic has only exacerbated existing trends.

Reason: Small companies fail at large corporations. The giants run huge budgets and dominate the markets. Digital marketing needs an “equalizer” – it’s impossible to say more precisely.

The world just isn’t made for small businesses. Starting your own project is very difficult. Small companies have very few resources, and the owners “sit on a few chairs.” Most entrepreneurs don’t even have one day to analyze conversions, landing pages, and marketing campaigns.

COVID-19 has forced classic offline stores to go online urgently, which has made digital marketing competition many times tougher. In 2020, social media ad spend alone in North America grew 92.3%. Most companies talk about expanding and accelerating their digital transformation plans.

If Google were a country, it would be the most populous place in the world. In June 2021, there are 35 trillion pages in the search engine index, with another 500 thousand appearing every day. There are more opportunities for finding new customers on the Internet, but the competition is getting stronger every day.

Buying search engine traffic is getting more and more expensive due to CPC inflation . And this is not only about massive hot traffic, which was not available anyway. Even narrow niches are overheated: for example, the price for “meat delivery” for 2020–2021 has risen in price by 925%. 40% of small businesses say their biggest challenge last year was customer acquisition from online channels.

There will be no going back to the pre-COVID era. In a recent survey, 48% of small businesses say that even when the pandemic is over, they will continue to grow their online presence at the same pace they did in 2020-21.

The age where a simple internet presence meant “being ahead” for business is over.

The smart way: conversion intelligence

What do marketers want ? More conversions. But they  lack the time, budget, or other resources to analyze and test hypotheses. It’s a vicious circle.

Small businesses need to work smarter, not harder, to take their place in the market with digital tools. Unbounce suggests calling the smart path “conversion intelligence.”

Conversion intelligence is when a marketer’s unique expertise meets data gathered by artificial intelligence. Conversion intelligence brings together the best of both worlds: the know-how and creativity of a specialist on the one hand, the analysis of raw data through AI on the other.

“Human” marketing intelligence represents best practices, market research, creativity, past experience. AI is responsible for insights from data analysis, automatic personalization, accelerated testing. Source: Unbounce. Infographics: Maya Malgina / Skillbox Media

AI and human will collaborate in marketing just like in chess. The computer always beats the human grandmaster. However, the “human plus computer” team, in which the athlete is responsible for strategy, and the AI ​​for tactics, in most cases wins both grandmasters and the strongest chess programs. Even if the “cybernetic team” is run by a novice without impressive sports titles.

Conversion intelligence is like a chess AI helping the player. It provides data, but the decision is made by a person.

New AI marketing solutions appear on the market every month. For example, these are email marketing services that predict conversions based on past experience. Or advertising services that match images to text.

When I explore new AI services, I feel guarded optimism. As a small business, “bandwidth” is important to us. We don’t have a big team. If we understand that we can use AI to get the same results as if we were attracting specialists, or even better, we immediately begin to explore the possibility.

CHRISTIAN KROHN ,
owner of PatientClicks digital marketing agency

Relevance is the tough brother of personalization

We have come to the main question of the article. What separates Unbounce’s promoted “conversion intelligence” from existing digital marketing practices? Answer: The goal of conversion intelligence is relevance.

Relevance is the tough brother of personalization. Personalization has been hotly debated in marketers for nearly 10 years or more. But there is little benefit from it: all that has been achieved is the variable {name} in the promotional emails. But who knows how to create a truly personalized experience for the user? Almost nobody.

According  to Semrush, 80% of companies that have invested in personalization projects will stop investing by 2025 due to low ROI. But the fact that personalization is dead does not mean that it should be so. Personalization needs to be rethought as relevance.

Personalization is a signature in a letter. Relevance is when an email suggests a product that the user is looking for. Screenshot: Unbounce website

Relevance is when content or ads meet the user’s expectations and needs. It’s based on AI predictions, not what your customers tell you. {Name} in email is not relevance.

Large companies are already following this logic. For example, Netflix: the company does not show users something “roughly similar” to their interests. The platform offers everyone individual and most relevant content. This brings Netflix about a billion dollars a year.

Landing pages no longer sell on their own

When landing pages appeared in the early 2000s, they were revolutionary technology. They could be created quickly and were independent of the rest of the site. Landing pages increased conversions and shortened the user journey from click to application. Landing pages collected on Unbounce alone have received 1.5 billion submissions over the past 10 years.

But just having a landing page isn’t enough anymore. The digital marketing landscape has gotten more complex. Optimizing targeting and landing pages can increase conversions by 300% , but this requires continuous monitoring and testing.

This is where the chasm lies between small businesses and large corporations. For small teams with limited resources, campaign optimization is often not available. Unbounce numbers confirm this: less than half of users regularly update their landing pages to increase conversions.

It’s not that marketers don’t want sales. They just don’t have the resources to optimize their campaigns. Even for large teams that can run 36 A / B tests at the same time, scaling this practice can be problematic. This is where AI services come in, like Unbounce’s own Smart Traffic tool.

The need for optimization has always existed, but the barrier to entry into this game was high. Testing is a complex and time consuming process. In addition, marketers often don’t know what to test and how, so they don’t get results.

OLI GARNDNER ,
co-founder of Unbounce

At the end – a little about AI skepticism

There is no silver bullet to save your marketing. AI can make work easier and more efficient, but not all methods are suitable for every company. Someone needs full automation: the manager clicks a button and gets the result. In other companies, this is not possible.

But this does not mean that the train will slow down.

90% of Fortune companies invest in AI projects. Between 2015 and 2019, the number of businesses using artificial intelligence grew 3.7 times.

Which departments are more likely to implement AI services in large corporations? This is sales and marketing. Big business is armed with AI – and these are not just fashionable and “technocratic” statements. Artificial intelligence has become the main tool in the competition.

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