Mastering Artificial Intelligence: How to Incorporate AI Into Your Site the Right Way

December 9, 2019// Category: Digital Marketing // Author: Caroline Ruhland

Artificial intelligence. Human head outline with circuit board inside. Technology and network concept. 3D Rendering

For the past few years, there has been a ton of buzz about AI, mastering technology, creating a data-driven website, and preparing your company for the future. Everyone raves about it, and companies are often told you gotta have it! If you don’t understand AI, your company will fall behind! Look to the future! Download this tech!

On the one hand, yeah, it makes sense. We know that tech is really important to stay relevant bla bla bla.

On the other hand, though, it’s hard to incorporate and a general pain in the butt. Working with the tech is complicated and cumbersome, there are millions of options out there, and it can be really confusing figuring out what tools to use, what advice to follow, how to maintain it – and where to even start.

So let’s take it from the top.

AI and Your Website: The Basics

The ultimate goal with AI is to have tools that will make your life easier and make your visitors love you. When done right, it can:

  • Lower costs since you’ll be spending less time overall managing your website
  • Help save resources because AI can do some of the jobs that you usually need your developers for
  • Improve UX and better handle your visitors’ needs since AI can analyze data to improve customer experience
  • Provide valuable information that you can use to improve strategies, exceed customer expectations, and save money.

In the big picture, it can also increase traffic, conversions, and ROI. And most businesses know this, which is why 70% of companies are expected to adopt some form of AI by the year 2030.

Think about it: if you meet audience expectations with a streamlined, personalized, and intuitive online experience, you’ll get more customers, increase brand loyalty, and get fewer bounces or lost sales to your competition. Because people love feeling special and understood, and they love getting exactly what they want in just a click or two. So great AI just makes sense.

The Broader Landscape Has Changed Expectations

And site visitors today really won’t accept anything less because they’ve been spoiled with the best. I mean, think about what you’re up against. The average iPhone today, for example:

  • Has Siri, a voice-enabled AI that can answer questions, fulfill requests, tell jokes, and more all at the click of a button.
  • Offers intuitive, thoughtful features – like “Do Not Disturb,” “Night Shift” and “Screen Time” – that make the phone fit with your lifestyle. “Do Not Disturb,” in particular, can be set to shut off your phone’s sound while you’re at the movies, when you’re driving, or whenever you want to be uninterrupted at home. Oh, and you can also set it to make sure that important people – like your family or babysitter – can get through even if your sound is off for everyone else. What’s more, you don’t have to think about any of this yourself. The phone offers these options to you with a prompt.
  • Has apps that can send you notifications based on where you are and what you’re up to. If you’re in a new area, for example, Yelp can offer “Hot, New Finds!” aka delicious food near you. Or if you’re in a particular store, that store’s app can let you know about any sales that you might be interested in.

And Androids are just as good. Then there are the websites that people visit on those smartphones, like Amazon. Amazon has completely rebuilt itself around artificial intelligence, and it’s basically taking over the world as a result.

Specifically, it uses advanced machine learning like natural language processing and image recognition to provide things like:

  • Spot-on product recommendations that get their customers spending twice as much as they wanted to.
  • Robot-powered, ultra-fast shipping times, because getting that toothbrush online should be as quick as going to the pharmacy yourself, right?
  • The ability to place an order with a single command using the Alexa voice platform – because toddlers placing huge Amazon orders should be made as easy as possible.

Now, you may be thinking Yeah, but that’s Apple and Amazon. Those are the biggest conglomerates in the game and they know how to take things to the next level. And you’re right. But here’s the thing – your visitors don’t see it that way.

They don’t go to your website and say things like Oh, this site isn’t intuitive but that’s ok because that company’s not as big as Amazon. Or shoot, shipping will take 10-14 days but I get it, not everyone can offer free same-day shipping.

No, it’s probably more along the lines of Are you kidding me? That sucks. Never mind…. I’ll just use Siri and Amazon instead. I mean – isn’t that what you say?

The point here: customers today are spoiled rotten. They have become accustomed to powerful AI making their lives easier, and they expect that same great AI-powered customer service experience across the board. Great for them – sucks for you if you don’t know how to do it.

In fact, it’s the most important thing to them, which is why one study says that, by the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Current Customer Expectations

Here are some stats to prove our point and explain exactly where these customers are at. First, some general information on customer service and customer expectations:

  • 95% of consumers cite customer service as important in their choice of and loyalty to a brand
  • Poor customer service causes consumers to abandon intended purchases, which translated to an estimated $62 billion in lost sales in the US in 2015 — a crazy 51% increase over the previous two years
  • 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions. Remember that one time the clothing store wouldn’t refund your money because of some obscure corporate rule? Yeah, so does everyone else. And they probably don’t go back to the offending store.
  • 76% of consumers think companies should understand their expectations and needs. Like Amazon.

Next, here’s what exactly customers are looking for:

  • 70% of customers have a more favorable view of brands that offer proactive customer service notifications
  • 49% of buyers have made impulse purchases after receiving a more personalized experience (think the “other items we know you’ll love” section you see on lots of websites today).
  • 91% of customers would use an online knowledgebase if it were available and tailored to their needs.
  • 71% of consumers want a consistent experience across all channels, but only 29% say they actually get it (like when the website works but it won’t load on your phone).
  • 72% of customers expect companies to know their purchase history regardless of what method of communication they used, such as chat, phone or email.
  • 9 out of 10 consumers want an omnichannel experience with seamless service between communication methods.
  • More than half of consumers expect a response from customer service within an hour, even on weekends.
  • 75% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a company that knows their name and purchase history and recommends products based on their preferences.

In short, customers expect you to know what they want – and what they want is fast, smart, omnichannel experiences. Like we said, spoiled.

On top of that, the reality is that outdated legacy systems make you fall behind in pretty much all senses. According to IDC, 85% of enterprise decision-makers say they have a time frame of only two years to make huge changes into digital transformation or they will fall behind their competitors and suffer financially.

Now, that’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself – but they’re not wrong. If you go another two years without AI or otherwise intuitive customer experiences, you will fall behind, and your numbers will take a hit. No question.

So your biggest goal right now is to find tools that help you reach those expectations, meet your goals, and improve your operations fast.

Tools That Work Today

Ok, so what kind of AI can you incorporate into your site that will complement your design and enhance UX without throwing the rest of your systems out of whack? Here are some top options:

Chatbots

Here’s the thing: about 80% of questions asked by your site visitors are low-level, repetitive questions that can be answered by chatbots. Incorporating the right chatbot to answer those questions can enhance customer experience by:

  • Answering those low-level easy questions (which means your reps will have their time freed up for interactions that matter)
  • Being available 24/7
  • Sending visitors to the correct section or page of your site
  • Sending them to the right agent when necessary Chatbots – help your customer service

This helps both with customer engagement and their impatience for instant service and answers. It can also increase conversions and ROI.

That said, you need to use a chatbot that’s actually smart and powered by AI. If it sends them to the wrong page, doesn’t understand their question, or sends them on a wild goose chase, they’ll be more frustrated than they were to begin with and you’ll lose the customer.

This is less likely to happen with AI chatbots, which can learn and improve interactions with your customers over time. We recommend Formilla: it responds right away, it can be programmed to match your company’s tone and communication style, and it can give you valuable personalizing information like what webpages the person has visited, how long they’ve been on your site, and what operating system they’re working with.

Visual and Voice Search

If visitors can’t find the information they’re looking for on your site, they’ll bounce. This in large part, needs to be remedied with intuitive design and straightforward, easy-to-follow, SEO-optimized copy – but you can also optimize your website for visual and voice search to take things up a notch.

Voice search, in particular, can improve mobile experience, while visual search can be particularly useful for eCommerce sites.

This shakes things up and provides a new way of communicating that can improve UX on your site and meet customer expectations.

Smarter Analytics

If you don’t know your numbers and how you’re doing comprehensively, you’ll never understand what’s going on or what you need to do to improve. That’s why having a handle on your data and generating meaningful, helpful analytics is so important.

Specifically, smart analytics can help you identify weak points in your marketing efforts and strategies so you can improve. It can also help you improve your customer personas and increase focus on strategies that are working so you can increase conversions.

On top of that, a transparent understanding of important information can help your whole team stay on the same page and working toward a common goal.

But this can be really tough to achieve. We recommend that you start with tools like Crazy Egg. It helps you understand the customer journey with heat mapping and A/B testing so you can analyze your site choices and stick to the things that work.

Social Listening

If you want to get ahead of your competition, you have to understand your customers’ minds, your industry, and what’s going on in the broader context. That means you have to be listening to what’s going on around you.

Specifically, there are tools like SEMrush that use AI to track you and your competitors’ brand’s mentions by listening to what people are saying about the companies online. The AI can then take these feelings about your brand and turn them into measurable data. Use this to understand what your customers are feeling and, if necessary, turn the tide.

Personalized Interactions and Targeted Follow-Up

Finally, we mentioned time and time again that customers want a personalized, intuitive experience from start to finish. Consider how much more effective your website would be if you could offer personalized recommendations, text, deals, and more—all triggered by the click of a link. Artificial intelligence makes this possible.

If you’re looking for a good place to start here, you can use AI to create personalized follow-up content for customers based on their engagement with your business’ email campaigns, website or social posts. For example, your eCommerce store could target customers looking at the sale section of your website by offering them a discount code in the next email they receive.

Avoid Common Roadblocks

This can be difficult to get right. Make sure that you avoid these common issues and AI holes that people fall into:

  • Getting seduced (or confused) by the options: There seem to be hundreds of thousands of tools out there. Some are not compatible with existing systems, some are extremely expensive, and some require lots of technological maintenance. This makes it hard for many companies to find an AI option that will work. Don’t get confused by the fancy AI out there and make sure that you implement a tried-and-true tool that you know will work.
  • Implementation and maintenance: Do you have a ton of developers to maintain your AI? Which options will work with your existing systems? How much money do you have to dedicate to AI? You need to understand your capabilities – and your limitations – and pick an AI tool that’s within your means.
  • Creating an omnichannel experience: Your audience uses many devices – your site and your AI needs to work on all of them.

In the big picture, incorporating some well-placed AI in your site can help you attract organic web traffic, engage visitors, and increase brand loyalty over time. Plus, it can save time and increase your revenue. You don’t have much to lose.

Need help? We’re here. Contact us and we’ll help you start optimizing your website today.

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