AI-driven marketing may be one of the most misunderstood technologies of our time. And with marketers of all stripes looking to outperform the competition and get results, many an exaggeration of MarTech capabilities has been uttered in the boardroom.

When it comes to  artificial intelligence in this brave, new world, marketers have fallen victim to marketing themselves, and it pays to know where the hype about AI-driven marketing stops and the functionality kicks in.

So, before you go ahead and incorporate AI-lead platforms into your martech suite, here are five things you need to know.

1. AI-Driven Marketing is Different From Intelligent CRM

There are a lot of false claims out there when it comes to AI-driven marketing. So, you need to be sure that you can differentiate an intelligent CRM tool from one that is powered by AI. But, how can you tell? Essentially, any time the software makes an intelligent decision without human input, it's driven by AI.

Jeremy Epstein, CEO of Never Stop Marketing and former VP of Marketing at Sprinklr, explains, "The key thing to look at when trying to determine CRM vs AI is how the relationship progresses. For example, when you call your cell phone provider, they might know who you are based on your phone number and say 'Hi, Mr. Smith, let me look up your record.' That's CRM. Alternatively, when you go to Amazon, they say (basically) "we saw you bought these five items and based on that, how often you come here, we suggest these books."

AI-driven marketing uses machine learning to uncover customer preferences and make smart suggestions and targeted offers; CRM tools do not.

2. AI-Driven Marketing Depends on Good Data

If you've ever heard the expression "garbage in, garbage out" (GIGO), perhaps never was it so pertinent than when it comes to AI-driven marketing. While marketers have relied on data for a long time now, making patterns and targeting offers, there is always room for human error and interpretation. However, thanks to AI, data driven marketing in its purest form is now a reality. But there's a caveat; the quality of the data is crucial. After all, what use is it generating smart responses and triggering machine learning patterns over time if the data being fed is inaccurate?

3. AI-Driven Marketing Won't Steal Your Job

If you've been following the headlines with trepidation, relax and take a deep breath. AI-driven marketing won't steal your job, not yet, anyway. Actually, marketers are not the only ones scared of being made redundant: two thirds of Americans believe that robots will take over their jobs in the next 50 years.

But while there isn't cause for alarm just now, AI might not steal your job, but it will certainly change it, and you'll need to learn new skills to stay in the game. Instead of analyzing data and sifting through reports, you'll be free to focus on more creative tasks, (such as figuring out how to keep your job when those 50 years are up!).

4. It Will Change The Way Consumers Purchase

While AI-driven marketing isn't going to make marketers redundant, it is going to impact how things are done. But more interestingly, it will change the way that consumers purchase and interact with your brand. Consumers can make use AI to take the hassle out of shopping, by using bots to run virtual errands, carry out product research, and even purchase products.

And that's going to have an interesting affect on your content. You're probably tired of hearing about writing for readers first and search engines second. But in the not-too-distant future, the content you put out there is going to be consumed by bots, and not humans. So, your fabulous prose will need to appeal to the algorithms of bots who have been trained to look for certain characteristics. Talk about SEO on steroids.

5. Not Everything Needs to Be Automated

While much of the focus of AI-driven marketing is that it will automate the mundane tasks and leave the creative stuff up to us, it's important to remember that not everything needs to be automated. According to Andrew Stephens of Forbes, "automation works best when the software has an advantage over humans."

That might mean where it can purchase ad space in a matter of milliseconds or personalize direct marketing campaigns at scale. But just because AI could theoretically be used to automate even creative processes, that doesn't mean that it should. We still need real people on our marketing teams to better relate to customers and make strategic decisions.

For the meantime, anyway.

The Takeaway

You might assume that all of the cool kids are nailing this whole artificial intelligence thing, but the truth is, we're all still working it out. That being said, now is the best time to educate yourself about AI, so that you are well prepared when smart technology assistants are taking over your marketing department. And if current trends are any indication, they will.