Marketing is an always-evolving field, making it difficult for brands to keep up. Often insight into the next big trend comes from new technologies themselves. For modern-day marketers, those technologies are currently things like virtual reality, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI).

While those other solutions are still mostly on the horizon, AI is already being used in marketing campaigns across the globe. Even IBM's legendary Watson is contributing to marketing plans now. At World of Watson in Las Vegas this week, a company called Equals 3 highlighted how it's using several Watson APIs in its "Lucy" product. The portal handles a marketer's natural language queries, sifts through thousands of documents and other material provided to it, and then creates marketing plans and media strategies with the information.

This type of product, along with Apple's Siri and Google Now, is changing the way marketing teams and consumers are devising strategies and searching for things online. This all has a direct impact on the way campaigns are conducted. However, not everyone is able just yet to use really advanced programs that do 6 months of work in a day. Here are some more simple but effective ways you should be accounting for AI as you build your next marketing strategy.

Question and Answer

At one time, to get search results, a consumer had to enter a very specific keyword string. "Best bars San Francisco," for instance, or "bookstores for kids Chicago." However, search engine software has evolved over the years and now device users can simply ask a question and get an answer. "What is the best bar for singles in San Francisco?" will now bring a list of results that answer the question. For that reason, marketers must ensure their content matches each search engine algorithm's idea of the best answer to a given question. This could involve significant tweaking and testing.

Remember Voice Recognition

Device manufacturers are investing in technology to make their voice recognition features more sophisticated. These improvements are sure to improve consumer reliance on voice-based device use. In addition to smartphone-based voice recognition, consumers also use devices like Amazon Echo, which let them ask questions or request music while moving around their own houses. Eventually, through the Internet of Things, consumers will be issuing commands to their household appliances and fixtures, as well as interacting with their vehicles. This must be considered as businesses plan their marketing strategies and develop products and apps. When a business's creations are user-friendly, they're more likely to win loyal customers who will tell their friends about them.

Describing Products in Detail

Businesses of all types must be aware that customers are looking for specific information when they search. A seafood restaurant may get a visitor searching for the best raw oysters in a specific area. A fashion retailer may find that labeling a top as a "purple tunic with lace" gets clicks from customers looking for a very specific look. This means not just posting images of clothing or a PDF of their menu, but boosting your content by describing things in detail. Thse details increase your chances that your product will appear more highly in always-evolving search engine rankings. Customer reviews can often help with this, as well, so it's important to make it easy for customers to review your business on Facebook, Yelp, and your own website.

Using AI as Inspiration for Having Fun

Many customers turn to voice recognition for entertainment and fun. A person can ask a random question of Siri and get a hilarious answer, which means that person may show off the feature to friends and family. Think of ways you can incorporate this type of entertainment into your own apps and marketing efforts. If customers see something that brings a laugh or a smile, they may be more likely to share that information with others, which broadens your brand's visibility. Most importantly, though, if your social media accounts and blog posts incorporate a little humor or a few funny pictures, your own customers will see your online presence as one that brings enjoyment.

AI is still new to many devices, but technologists are constantly creating new, exciting ways to incorporate it into the software people use every day. It's more important than ever for brands to consider the way consumers interact with search engines and websites when they devise their content marketing strategies.

Published on: Oct 28, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.