AI (Artificial Intelligence) Based Marketing is here!
We as digital marketers must prepare for assisted data analytics decision making powered by AI.
What a great podcast with special guest Zara Baker, cFounder, Integrated Marketing Consultant
Company: ZB Group LLC. A marketing consultant working at the intersection of technology, creative, media, and commerce. Helping Fortune 500 companies and SMBs achieve business goals through AI-powered marketing decisions.
"AI" gives the customer insights on the right content on multiple marketing channels and the "Automation" allocates tedious tasks to machines so you can focus on strategy!
Business owners often ask what would be the most successful platform for their business. Is it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or do they need SEO or paid ads. It is a bit of everything as we are relying on communicating with existing and potential customers in a digital ecosystem where everything is connected including today's hyper-connected users. Some takeaways include:
1. Let's have a strategy for your business before developing a digital marketing strategy. I firmly believe in the quote: "To err is human, to forgive is divine" but only when it applies to humans as machine don't make mistakes and today we are relying on social and search engines to successfully communicate with our customers in real-time. There's a dire need for re-thinking strategy and to make sure we are really developing products and services that solve problems.
2. Integrated marketing is a must. After having a robust marketing strategy in place make sure you provide a seamless and consistent experience across all channels whether it's social media, advertising or your website. This way you can also leverage cross-channel promotion and help your customers remember you in a highly crowded digital space.
3. Start incorporating AI into your business. Do you want to avoid human bias and gain competitive advantage? Use artificial intelligence to know what your customers are up to, see what your competitors are doing and identify gaps in your own strategy so you create the right solution and successfully communicate it to your audiences in their preferred medium.
Listen in for more great insights on AI Based Marketing
Transcripts are also below! If you would like to be a guest, learn more and schedule your podcast with Jeff Stanislow here.
Also, if you like this and want to up skill in digital marketing visit our courses.
The Host: Jeff Stanislow, CEO of Chief Internet Marketer
The Guest: Zara Baker (LinkedIN Profile) and website at zarabaker.io
Transcript of the Digital Marketing Podcast
Jeff S.: 00:01 Hi, this is Jeff Stanislow, The Chief at Chief Internet marketer. Today I'm pleased to be talking with Zara Baker. Zara is the CEO of ZB Group LLC, an integrated marketing consultant. How you doing today Zara?
Zara B.: 00:19 I'm doing great Jeff. How are you?
Jeff S.: 00:21 I'm doing wonderful. Thank you for your time today to spend with us. I'm looking forward to our conversation. We're going to dive in a little bit on Search Engine Optimization, search world, and then kind of shift your wheelhouse, which is a lot of the A.I. or artificial intelligence that you're working on. So tell me a little bit about yourself.
Zara B.: 00:43 Sure. So I basically have been helping clients achieve their business goals through A.I. based marketing, and when I say A. I. Based marketing, there are a lot of misconceptions in the industry because a lot of people say they are using A. I. based tools and they're using A.I. and search engine optimization where at ZB Group LLC views artificial intelligence to get more deeper customer or audience and sites. We can basically create programs that are targeted on these profiles. We use artificial intelligence to create micro-targeting and really target highly targeted social media content. Since I've started using the A.I. based marketing I have seen a huge improvement and results for my clients.
Jeff S.: 01:38 Thanks for clearing up some of the misconception in regards to A.I. Its kind of this broad topic that everybody is throwing around but you specifically do it a lot for, you said, social.
Zara B.: 01:53 I use A.I. for a lot of different things. I use A.I. to create that content that I already know. It's going to be a successful content because it's based on those audience insights. So there's a lot of micro-targeting involved there. And when you use those A.I. based tools you can actually get the search intent based keyword search that your audiences are actively searching for. So it's just basically making your marketing program more effective. But when I read about a lot of those A.I. based softwares that you would basically add some kind of content and A.I. will do its magic and things would be changed. That's not something that I really believe in. It's just to get a little bit more detailed custom insights. One of the most important things to get those insights is to basically get raw data. There is another thing that is important there. It kind of varies from company to company because if a company has not been actively collecting a lot of analytics and data, that A.I. would not be really successful there bcause we need raw data basically to take into consideration and then develop that type of micro-targeting where you're showing audiences what they want to see, what they're actually searching for. So you really know their pain points and you're constantly customizing your content, whether it's your social media content, or it's your Google PPC ads to what they are actively searching for. You can actually use some of that information into your print material as well beause all you are doing is kind of seeing what they're actively searching for and just providing them the right answers.
Jeff S.: 03:47 How much data does one need to take on a A.I. based initiative?
Zara B.: 03:55 Well, in my experience this is successful for a lot of startup companies too, but I would say more from and A.I. driven automation perspective. More for A.I. taking over a lot of your tedious customer services job. But I would say as far as the data collection is concerned and it also depends how much time and resources a certain company would like to invest in it. I think it's more successful for kind of like your medium to large size organizations because they probably have a lot more data than a company who is just a start up company and they would just like to have a new website. It also depends what kind of industry that company is in. Like, I have a wide variety of clients and some of them I always learn about these new industries that I wasn't aware of. So it also depends how much data exists within that industry. For example, we can take an example of e-commerce. So A.I. can create a lot of wonders when it comes to e-commerce because you can actually tap into user behaviors and see women of certain age, they like a certain color, they like a certain type of dress. Then you can conduct your cohort analysis and see what that particular group, what kind of color and sizes they would pick on. Then you can develop an e-commerce website that would basically show those customer cohorts the type of products that they would like to see and also similar products as well. The customer inside part of it is not as successful for some companies because if it's a unique service or if it's a brand new service, they don't have a whole lot of data for me to look into and develop those targeted insights.
Jeff S.: 05:47 If you were to recommend someone who is going to start looking at A.I. and gathering data, what data sources do you think they need to have set up to get started in collecting the data itself?
Zara B.: 06:07 Sure. So Google analytics of course is key. Raw data can be obtained from big query Google. But then at the same time, if you don't have a lot of Google analytics data, but you do have tracking parameters on every call to action on your website or landing pages, that data can be processed into a lot of important information as well. Because a lot of new tools like SEMrush or [inaudible] are actively using A.I. as well. All the data that you see there is in real time.
Jeff S.: 06:49 So, just like the collection of the data and the amount of data if you're an ecommerce store, how many sales and transactions do you think you're looking to do to have enough data to be effective in such an A.I. type of campaign?
Zara B.: 07:08 Sure. So I would say from a time period perspective, you need to be in the business for around six months. So for example, if I'm going to an ecommerce company and telling them that we are going to use A.I. to improve your sales, I would like to see how long they have been around. So if the website is just it's a brand new website and it has been around for one month, I know that that won't be successful because I don't have enough data about it. The only thing I can do is take a list of their competitors and do some kind of competitive intelligence and see where the content gaps are and what we could do to make them more successful by setting some kind of benchmarks. I want to make sure that if I'm helping an ecommerce company with A.I. I want to make sure that they have been around for six months to a year and they have been actively tracking all that information too.
Jeff S.: 07:59 What type of, I guess user base do they need to have again to be successful. I mean, do they need 500 visitors a month, 5,000, 50,000, where is it that you kind of see that sweet spot being where the data that you get can be transformed into actionable marketing initiatives?
Zara B.: 08:24 It depends from client to client and from industry to industry, because I have worked with a lot of brands where the website is just brand new or I help them develop a website and I was the one who set up the tracking as well and these people they understand and that's where I want to go to when we say artificial intelligence, but that neural network that we have and naturally our brain and our mindset and how much we understand our business, I think that knowledge is really important as well because if I'm speaking with a client or helping a client that knows a lot about their business they haven't used SEMrush to do competitive intelligence, but they know who their competitors are. They have all those facts and all types of information. They can clearly define what their customer base is, how their average customer looks like and, what are the demographics, what are the psychographics. Maybe they are not familiar with the term, but they actually know what they're talking about. I think that type of information, if the business can give you those types of facts and you use that information and plug it in into your competitive intelligence tool or any kind of A.I. based tool, you create a marketing program that's much more realistic and much more robust as far as sampling data or tracking data is concerned. I would say 500 to 1000 visitors would be enough to start getting some type of information but it all depends on how they were attracting their goals or if they actually came up with the right goals too.
Jeff S.: 10:03 Yeah. Coming up with the right goals is so important. Now, what I'm seeing a lot too in Google ads is offering recommendations and that's all A.I. based and what are your thoughts in regards to you seeing all these recommendations in your advice to clients? Do you just click on accept, accept, accept and it gets better and better? I mean, do you think that's a good strategy or where does the professional come in in regards to that?
Zara B.: 10:37 So Jeff, that's going to be a hard one because as a digital marketer or integrated marketer, I basically love Google. So it's going to be hard to make it as politically correct as possible, but I would highly recommend clients. And I actually had this very interesting discussions with one of my clients I started with this Google PPC project and they're super excited. This is the first time they're doing anything Google PPC and I just gave them this recommendation, keep it as manual as possible. Really common sense marketing. If you want to keep your cost per acquisition optimal at Google, make sure to keep it as manual as possible. Automation is great, absolutely love automation, it's all about scalability, but I've never recommend a client where ever they are spending a budget to make everything automatic. So I'm not a huge fan of anything programmatic buying or programmatic media because I think that can really lead to disastrous results sometimes. It's artificial intelligence, right? It's not human intelligence. So, it's completely different. The way we can understand, we can use artificial intelligence but to collect more information, but we need to have background information because there is one thing that we as human beings do that A.I. cannot and that's having historical information and understanding backgrounds, understanding challenges. Now that's something A.I. can't do. A.I. give us more detailed knowledge with machine learning everything is super fast. Information can be processed a lot more faster but when it comes to really understanding background information, what were our previous challenges. If we made some mistakes, be honest to yourself. So I would say that for Google PPC, all those updates that you get, it's always a good idea to take a look at it but you're using a wide variety of tool and having the right arsenal in place where youre doing competitive intelligence and you are using a wide variety of tools to kind of get data sets and kind of compare results is the best way to go.
Jeff S.: 12:43 Yeah. I was doing a training session for some digital marketers and one of the persons raised their hand and said they've been just accepting everything and all the recommendations and then all of a sudden things went sideways and they went to go try to figure it out and it just got so convoluted that they didn't understand what was really happening. I think there's a lot of benefits to some things but just to accpet all these recommendations you've got to make sure you know what happens if things get messy and try to fix something because it changes all your campaigns.
Zara B.: 13:24 Exactly. Exactly, because it's going off of what the active conversation or active keywords are. As human beings, we make errors and we make mistakes. We might not be using all the right keywords or search terms that we should be using, but a search engine wouldn't look at it that way. It would go after what's trending right now. Well, we might not have tapped into those trends accurately. So, it's really important as far as Google PPCs concerned that you kind of lead that strategy like a human being should lead that strategy. And that's I think one of the misconceptions with artificial intelligence too that a lot of people think that they should start from artificial intelligence based data and then present it to the client. Whereas I think it should be reversed engineered. When a client kind of shares their pain points or their challenges or my cost per acquisition is very high or I would like to get this much sales or this much marketing qualified leads. I think it's really important to have those discussions. And if they don't know how to initiate the right discussion, then a marketing consultant should ask them the right questions and kind of initiate those conversation, get all that information from the business owner or whoever is in charge of the marketing program and once you get that information, once you get their list of competitors from a human being, don't ever ask a competitive intelligence software what their enlist stuff what the list of competitors are for a certain rank. Ask the business what their list of competitors are. What have been their most successful marketing campaigns? Whether it's social media, Google PPC, they should ideally know what's their cost per acquisition and get all those numbers and get all those facts in place and then you can feed that information into an A.I. based tool or get raw data and process it and then give them a more robust program. But of course there was a lot of client education on the way to, because the only benefit to any type of A.I. based marketing or any type of data driven marketing is that clients see truth, they see facts and that improves their process. That makes them more efficient. In the long run it makes your job easier because you can make them successful. They will easily trust your recommendations. So that's how I see it.
Jeff S.: 15:45 When it comes down to resources needed for such an A.I. based campaign or in what you do, talk to me about the resources that a client might need to have from a staff perspective, there's expertise and how you work with them and then even like budgets like what can one say or to expect to make an investment wise in working with a professional like you and their immediate dollars and what have you? At what level do you think they start looking for professionals like you to help them with their campaigns?
Zara B.: 16:34 Sure. So I think it's a very broad question and I think I can speak for myself because I have a machine learning team in house and basically our first step is that human intervention having that one on one conversation with the clients. And since my consulting company is a new company right now, I'm trying my best to be involved in the first kickoff meetings as much as I can and not have a brand new account manager in place who has a script that he's reading off. So I would start, of course with the initial conversation and trying my best to be involved in every meeting I possibly can. Once I get that information, we kind of sit down and we discuss those goals with our machine learning team and then we come up with a plan. So as far as I'm concerned, that's a part of the monthly retainer. Basically the clients don't have to worry about anything. All they have to do is just tell us what the challenges are and then we will create a solution. We'll present it to them. I made sure that I educate clients on the way and I tried to avoid using a lot of buzzwords and just explain them the process and then it's our job to take it from there. So, as far as my side is concerned, its part of the monthly retainer, so I'm not expecting anything from the client. Since I'm offering these VIP services it's not that it would cost them more if I'm using those resources, if that makes sense, but as far as companies are concerned, if they were to build an A.I. based department first they need to have the right goals. Most of those companies are companies that are interested in some type of digital transformation, but that's a very misused term as well. I came across some clients that were just wanting to start a brand new digital marketing initiative. They had a website, but they didn't optimize it very well and now they think that they are driving a digital transfer mission initiative, which is a completely different strategy because there's a lot of cultural change, organizational change, mentoring and, really educating your organization in general what digital transformation really means. They are not using that as an opportunity. They are basically using it just starting with a brand new digital marketing department basically, and they think they are transforming the entire organization, but if a company were to start their own A.I. department then they need to have a machine learning team. It all depends on what's the size of the company, how many employees, how long they have been around in business, and what their goals are. What they are trying to achieve with that.
Jeff S.: 19:24 Yeah. The listener, the reason why I kind of asked that question, is just looking at like what their investing as far as the spend goes in their digital marketing campaigns not necessarily their human resources and capitals, but at what budget level do you feel engaging you in a retainer type solution that actually makes an impact? So when you sit down with a client and you say, "all right, what are you spending?" What's that number that says, well, I can make this effective for you and what number kind of scares you? Saying like, "oh there's not much I can do for you because your spend isn't enough. Because that's a real question that I think a lot of people need to know. So what are your thoughts on that and it doesn't have to be you in general, but just a rule or a client.
Zara B.: 20:30 Sure. So my rule of thumb is really flexible because it all depends on the clients and what their needs are. I mean, I work with a lot of startup companies. I work with a lot of medium sized companies. I work with some big companies as well. So it all depends on how long they have been in business. Some of my clients they are just starting with a website for example, and they have no idea where to go from there, and then I have other clients who have a robust digital marketing strategy or program or a department and they want to take it to the next level. They want to make their program more effective. It also depends, it could be a SEO project, it could be a social media marketing strategy, or it could just be an overhaul of the entire brand or the entire strategy. So of course the price or retainers vary. I would say I can give you an average price for a startup company as far as the retainer is concerned but it's pretty negotiable. I always listen to the clients and kind of try to help them as much as I can because I'm really passionate about making these businesses successful, not just taking a retainer and just going from there and there are no cookie cutter solutions as well. So the only reason why I would charge a bigger retainer to a small client is when I see there are lot of challenges or the business, basically the entire strategy needs an overhaul, and I need to spend x amount of hours figuring out the challenges and educating the client in the long run as well. So for small businesses, I could say it's from somewhere around between $5,000 for a month of retainer. For large businesses and medium sized businesses it all varies on what their needs are because some of them need just one strategy and others need a complete overhaul of their program. So the price really varies.
Jeff S.: 22:31 Certainly. Taking a little pivot here one of the things that I do, I've trained digital marketers and I validate and upscale them through digital marketing certifications. In the skills gap that's in the marketplace, I mean, what I'm seeing is that the digital marketer of today and in the future is going to be they have to be more savvy. They have to be more technical, they have to be a more analytical. Do you agree with that trend?
Zara B.: 23:14 I would say yes. Yes and no. And I would explain why I would say yes, of course. Digital marketer is basically a marketer who's driven by technology, right? And that's what my slogan is, as well as I'm driven by marketing and powered by technology. So of course they need to be tech savvy. Ideally they need to understand basic soft html as well, and html CSS Java script so they can help their clients with tracking. Because of course if you are, for example, if you're a business owner your marketing for a big company, of course you have department, you have team members to manage, and you would be driving strategy and you have a team to implement everything. But I think, if you don't understand, for example, coding or basics of programming, you can't create the right goals. You can't even lead your team in an efficient manner. So as a leader you need to know more than anyone because people will come to you and ask those questions. It applies on business owners like myself as well. I always want to make sure my team is very important to me, but I always want to make sure that I know more than them. Whether I go and ask them those questions and try to learn from them because some of my team members are amazing. They're my subject matter experts. They are my SEO experts, of course, they know SEO like no one else. And I would ask them those questions. If I have to make the point to go buy a book or read a blog article or complete a certification to make sure I can talk to my team and kind of we can connect and we're kind of on the same page or on the same level I would do that. But I would say I think the technical skills were really important before we started using artificial intelligence based marketing but I think A.I. has impacted marketing and businesses in a way where creativity would be more important because in the long run machines would take over a lot of tasks. So we will have that time to come up with creative solutions because creativity basically is based off of imagination and your power to create something based on certain type of background information or to understand human emotion and emotional intelligence. So you can create that type of digital empathy and you can relate to your audiences. I would see the digital marketer off tomorrow to be a more creative person since machines can take over a lot of those technical tasks.
Jeff S.: 25:51 Okay. Very good. Very good. As we kind of finish up our podcasters here, I want to appreciate your time. Two questions, one is what's the best advice they could give to someone that might be listening to our podcast today from your experience and expertise? Then if someone wanted to reach out to you, what's the best way to reach out to you and so they can connect?
Zara B.: 26:19 Sure. So basically the best way to reach out to me is come visit my website and then I have a submission form and if you have any questions you can submit your information and feel free to reach out to me. As far as the advice is concerned, I have a piece of advice for businesses and also for digital consultants. So for businesses I would like to advise small, medium size, even large business, just stay away from templates because in the world of today and the digital space, it's all about being attentive and unique. Be Creative, have fun with your brand, make your brand more fun and engaging with your customers. Do your competitive intelligence, see what your competitors are doing, but don't try to copy paste because we have billions of websites and millions of blogs and if you're not unique and if you're not authentic and if you don't understand your brand promise or how your product or service is solving someone's problem, you're not going to be successful in the long run. You will be lost in noise. Make sure that you are authentic and you are creating something that's unique that you can probably own it. This applies to small businesses, medium sized businesses and large businesses. This is how I, I try to help my clients as well, whether it's a small businesses and we introduce illustrations or create an illustration of their team. That's something cool. That's something fun audiences can like it. That can kind of puts a smile on everyone's face, or whether it's a high end brand, whatever it is. Try to make sure that you're unique with your branding and so you can own it. I would try to like to give the same advice to digital marketers as well to not use a cookie cutter solutions because we are in times where everything is changing and it's really dynamic and technology's changing and improving every day. So make sure that you kind of catch up with the learning process and try to learn new things everyday and just come up with turnkey solutions and be creative about them and think out of the box. Don't use cookie cutter templates because you won't be successful in the long run when you talk to a client, really try to understand. Taking trust in your clients as a human being, as a person as well. Just try to see what their pain points are and put yourself in their shoes for a day and then give them a unique solution to their problems.
Jeff S.: 28:59 And the website that one can do, and I'll also include it in the contextual portion of our page is...
Zara B.: 29:12 I'm sorry, can you repeat that question again?
Jeff S.: 29:14 The website you had mentioned that you want someone, if they want to visit you and fill out a form, what's the URL?
Zara B.: 29:23 Sure. So the URL is zarabaker.io. So, it's Zara Baker as in my name and then .io
Jeff S.: 29:31 Fantastic. Fantastic. Well listen, I really appreciate your time today Zara. There's so much in this world that's changing and that's one thing that I think we all love about being a digital marketer because there's always new opportunities and exciting ways to do it. And I think a lot of the discussion points today are of value to one that may listen to our podcast. So thank you for your time and I appreciate it very much.
Zara B.: 30:03 Thank you. Thank you so much. It was a pleasure.