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How to Effectively Use AI in Your Building Materials Marketing

Discover how AI can supercharge your building materials company's marketing strategy, from enhancing customer experiences to forecasting demand, and find the perfect balance between human ingenuity and machine automation to stay ahead in the ever-changing digital landscape.

Beth

Conversations about artificial intelligence (AI) are happening around every corner, but what does it mean for your building materials company? While it might not be able to shortcut your production line or ease your shipping woes, AI does have the potential to supercharge your marketing strategy.

Some of the ways you can apply AI in your business include anticipating customer needs, adjusting pricing in real-time and developing more effective campaigns to help you move more product. Here’s a closer look at AI’s potential, and the key considerations you’ll need to keep in mind before pursuing it.

Understanding AI

AI may feel like a new thing if you haven’t been keeping up with it, but early iterations of it date back to the 1960s with chatbots and intelligent robots. By the early 2000s, people were interacting with AI in their homes with devices like the Roomba — a robot vacuum cleaner that learns the layout of your home and continuously re-learns it as obstacles, like furniture, to avoid collisions.

When the conversational AI tool known as ChatGPT was released to the public in November 2022, people began to take note of how rapidly AI’s capabilities were developing. These advancements are happening faster now not only because of increased human input but because of advancements in cloud computing and other key technologies that enable AI to “learn” at rapid speeds.

While we often use AI as a blanket term, there are a few different types to be aware of:

  • Natural language processing (NLP): A branch of AI that helps computers process information (like questions) delivered in spoken words. Amazon Echo and similar devices use NLP.

  • Machine learning: This is a type of AI that gives a machine the ability to “learn” by feeding it large amounts of data, often in real-time.

  • Deep learning: A type of machine learning inspired by how our brain works. It uses artificial neural networks to create its own connections between the data it's fed.

Benefits of AI in Building Materials Marketing

Across industries, AI has proven that it has a strong capacity to streamline research and simplify convoluted processes. When it comes to your marketing strategy, implementing AI can help you:

  • Enhance customer experiences: From helping your support agents answer questions faster to creating self-serve tools like materials calculators and product finders, AI can greatly improve the customer experience.

  • Target campaigns with greater precision: In addition to helping your marketing team research your changing audience and competition, AI can also help you analyze the performance of past campaigns to improve the targeting of future advertising and marketing campaigns.

  • Personalize campaigns at scale: Whether you’re sending emails or designing a landing page, AI can help you personalize the content shown to viewers, leading to higher engagement and conversions.

  • Forecast demand: With predictive analytics, AI can help your company forecast demand based on historical data, current performance and industry trends, all the way down to shifting buying behavior amongst builders, DIYers and other key customer bases.

Practical Ways to Implement AI in Building Materials Marketing

Using AI for content creation is a widely talked about way to implement it into your marketing plan. Finding a qualified human writer, planning content, waiting for drafts and editing articles is time-consuming, so if AI can effectively speed up the process for you or your writers, it’s worth using. However, AI still has limitations.

GPT-powered AI content creation tools such as ChatGPT and Bing Chat are two of the most widely used at the moment. Using these tools is as easy as plugging in a topic, describing the type of content you need and the voice you’d like the content to be in. There are obvious benefits to the process:

  • At a fraction of the cost of a human writer, these tools can produce thousands of articles in a day, allowing you to target more keywords.

  • Being able to produce content at speed in a variety of forms means that you can scale your marketing to new platforms.

  • With the ability to write headlines and subject lines, AI tools can help you rapidly split test email and ad campaigns.

With these perks in mind, it’s essential to remember that anything that sounds too good to be true often is. As it stands now, AI content can often sound dry and lack flow. Getting AI-generated content to match your brand’s voice would be difficult, even with a lengthy description of how you want it to be written.

Additionally, while AI can produce content in great volume, it sometimes grows redundant — especially when asking for longer form pieces. To dig deep into a topic, you might try taking it one sub-topic at a time rather than giving it an entire outline. On that same note, you should always carefully read through the content it pumps out, checking it for factual accuracy.

Limitations aside, if you want to pursue AI-generated content, here’s a look at the do’s and don’ts to remember.

Key Dos When Using AI in Content Creation

  • Do use AI for routine and repetitive tasks. AI excels in automating content generation tasks that are repetitive or data-driven, like product descriptions or social media posts.
  • Do use AI to assist with SEO. AI tools can help identify the right keywords, optimize metadata and improve search engine rankings.

  • Do personalize content with AI. AI can analyze data to understand user preferences and behavior, helping create highly personalized content.

  • Do use AI for data analysis. AI can analyze vast amounts of data to provide insights that can guide your content creation, such as trending topics or audience sentiment.

  • Do constantly monitor and adjust. AI tools learn and improve over time. Regularly monitor the performance and make necessary adjustments to get the best results.

  • Do ensure ethical use of AI. Always prioritize user privacy and data security. Obtain necessary permissions and comply with relevant data protection laws.

Key Don’ts When Using AI in Content Creation

  • Don't use AI as a substitute for human creativity. While AI can create content, it lacks the human touch. Use AI to augment human creativity — not replace it.

  • Don't ignore quality. AI-generated content might need proofreading or editing to ensure it meets your quality standards.

  • Don't solely rely on AI for content strategy. AI can assist in strategy formulation but should not be the sole driver. Human oversight is necessary to align content with your overall marketing and business goals.

  • Don't forget the audience. Even while using AI, keep your audience at the center of your content creation process. AI should enhance the user experience, not alienate users with overly robotic or irrelevant content.

  • Don't overlook data privacy concerns. Even though AI requires data to function effectively, don’t overlook the ethical considerations and privacy norms. Only use data you have permission to use.

Remember, AI is a tool to assist, augment and enhance your content creation process. It is not a replacement for human creativity, insight or scrutiny.

Steps to Implement AI in Your Building Materials Marketing Strategy

If you’re thinking about implementing AI into your building materials marketing strategy, start with these steps.

Evaluating business needs and areas of potential

If you’re enthusiastic about AI, it might be tempting to delve into full force and start optimizing all sorts of business areas with new AI-powered tools. However, this is a surefire way to burn out your team and cause major disruption in your business’s existing processes and workflows.

When implementing AI, consider your existing priorities and challenges to determine where it could best be utilized. Then, plan out an implementation project, being certain to set goals and establish metrics to ensure you get the payoff you’re after.

Choosing the Right AI Technology

Once you have identified a business need or area of potential, you need to thoroughly research the various AI technologies available. Even for a seemingly simple task like content creation, you have a thousand tools to choose from. Many are built upon major projects like GPT-3 and GPT-4, but others have their own proprietary systems, and you’ll need to compare them in detail.

Working with AI Developers and Service Providers

While experimenting with AI tools directly is a good way to start the research process, the ultimate goal is to minimize human input in the areas where AI can step in.

For most businesses, this means working with AI developers to create custom solutions — like chatbots trained on your own datasets — and service providers who can fully integrate third-party tools into your tech stack.

Implementing AI Tools in Your Current Marketing Workflow

There’s a good chance that your existing marketing personnel have mixed feelings about AI, just like everyone else. This is why it’s important to involve them early on in your decision process to try AI and make it clear that you value their unique contributions.

Once you have drawn boundaries around your AI implementation, you can move forward with educating your marketing team on how AI is going to be integrated into your existing processes and collect their feedback on how it could go more smoothly.

If you fail to gather support for your AI adoption from the start, the project is bound to fail just like any other internal change. Appointing someone experienced with change management would be a wise move to get everyone excited and involved in your new AI endeavors.

Monitoring and Tweaking AI Applications for Optimal Performance

Like any other business investment, it’s essential that you find ways to continuously evaluate your adoption of AI and change things that aren’t working.

If your team is heavily editing the AI-generated content, for instance, you might want to step back and re-evaluate. Is the team being overly subjective or does the content actually need that much re-work? These are the questions you have to answer.

There’s always room for improvement, especially with AI advancing so rapidly and new tools popping up on the market, so schedule check-ins where you can speak with team members and review real-world business results to determine what can be optimized in your AI implementation.

Challenges in Implementing AI in Building Materials Marketing

While AI has a wealth of potential for your building materials marketing strategy, adopting it is going to pose some challenges.

  • AI is still in its infancy. Tools you buy into, especially those made by private parties, may not last for more than a year or two. Consider this before making long-term commitments or substantial investments, like with custom integrations.

  • Because AI is evolving so rapidly, you should be vigilant about the timeline of your AI projects. You don’t want to spend months integrating a tool just to learn that the landscape is completely different by the time that tool is actually in action.

  • There are ongoing copyright disputes over generative AI, especially regarding written content. All the datasets being used to train AI incorporate content owned by private parties, from art to articles. Additionally, AI doesn’t cite its sources, worsening plagiarism accusations.

  • Many people have mixed feelings about AI — not just on your own team, but in your target customer base. Some companies have come under fire recently for not properly tagging AI-generated content. If you plan on publishing AI-generated content, consider being transparent about it.

  • Training your own AI chatbot or other AI-powered tool using your company’s own data (or cherry-picked data sets) is a great way to improve the results you get from AI, but this is a major undertaking. Investments in AI need to be carefully assessed for ROI like any other business use case. Still, the tough thing is that figuring out the ROI for such an unprecedented project is going to be very difficult.

Future of AI

Artificial intelligence holds great promise for the future of marketing and business process optimization as a whole. Some of the ways we expect AI to gain traction in the future include:

  • Increased AI Integration: In the future, AI will be more seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, both at work and at home. We can expect AI to play a bigger role in decision-making processes, automation of tasks and providing personalized experiences, from recommending products based on personal preferences to providing tailored learning experiences in education.

  • Advancements in AI Ethics and Regulation: As AI becomes more prevalent, there will be an increased focus on developing ethical guidelines and regulations. Topics like data privacy, bias in AI algorithms and the impact of AI on jobs and society will become important areas of research and discussion.

  • Hyper-Personalization: With advancements in AI and data processing capabilities, marketers will be able to achieve hyper-personalization in real-time. This means delivering the right message, at the right time, to the right person, taking personalized marketing to a new level.

  • Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics: AI will play a larger role in predictive analytics, allowing marketers to forecast future trends more accurately. Moreover, the rise of prescriptive analytics will enable AI to recommend specific actions to optimize marketing outcomes based on the data analyzed.

Final Thoughts

AI is one of the most impactful technological developments of our time. No matter how you personally feel about it, implementing it into your business’ marketing plan is a wise way to keep your competitive edge sharp — just make sure you don’t go overboard.

Finding ways to experiment with AI to improve your internal processes and enhance the customer experience is a must-do. However, the best use for AI will depend entirely on your business and team. Get your stakeholders involved and start up a conversation about ways AI could improve your processes and then start implementing.

If you can find the balance between human ingenuity and machine automation, your building materials company can be one of the first to evolve in this ever-changing digital landscape.

If you have any more questions about implementing AI into your marketing, why not talk to the experts at Venveo? Contact our team today to discuss AI and other marketing strategies to help grow your business.

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