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Use Artificial Intelligence to Build Relationships and Strengthen the User Experience

April 28, 2022

Artificial intelligence (AI), also known as machine learning, once seemed so far off and futuristic.

Today, however, it’s an increasingly core part of how organizations and associations function. And it’s no surprise, given that AI refers to the use of machines and computers pulling from data and analytics to learn and make decisions. After all, data collection continues to rise exponentially. Consider, for instance, that the amount of data gathered by companies and organizations rose as much as 5,000 percent from 2010 and 2020, explains Gil Press, a technology writer, in Forbes.

The onslaught of data opens the door to the growing use of AI on all sides of an organization, from marketing and communications to business development and operations. Yet how, exactly, are associations and organizations using AI to engage audiences and make their websites more user friendly? If you’re new to AI, what can you do to optimize your use of it—and build the relationships you want with diverse user groups?

Here, we answer these questions and share tips and strategies to make your use of AI, or your first steps into machine learning, a success.

Building relationships with marketing automation

With so much hype about marketing automation, chances are, you’re contemplating whether to take the plunge, if you haven’t already done so. Marketing automation platforms like Salesforce, Marketo, Pardot, and HubSpot allow you to automate some of your workflow (especially email marketing), as you build and nurture meaningful relationships with users and make the digital experience significantly more personalized. But marketing automation takes work—including a steady supply of content—to set up and maintain, leading plenty of organizations to underutilize its potential. How does it work?

Marketing automation software allows you to track and monitor what your users are doing on your website, for how long, and when. It lets you track what emails they read or ignore and what links they click on or bypass. With this valuable information, you can get to know and better gauge your users’ interests—and use what you learn to tailor your approach and messaging to each user or user group’s individual needs. The result is a personalized digital experience far beyond what was possible before.

Although the term “marketing automation” implies that the system runs on its own, automation platforms don’t exactly work that way. You can certainly automate email responses for visitors who, say, visit a certain page or section of your website, but closely monitoring your users’ activity can give you deep insight on when to reach out with a human touch, when to share a particular piece of content, and when to simply sit back and watch.

Just as in a face-to-face relationship, you don’t want to come on too strong, and you don’t want to do the opposite by overlooking or ignoring your audience’s needs. Marketing automation helps you know when the time is ripe, while giving you real insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your website and content—and in each individual user.

Stepping up customer and member service with chat

Many online retailers use the chat feature to make customer service available and accessible on the spot. If you’re wondering whether the pants that caught your eye run large or the tennis shoes can arrive before your weekend match, you simply need to start a conversation with a live agent or chatbot, who can (presumably) find answers to your questions or point you in the right direction.

Today, organizations and businesses outside of retail are starting to use chat, recognizing the appeal to a broad range of users, who enjoy not having to pick up a phone and experience long hold times. Yet many organizations aren’t optimizing their use of the feature, according to usability experts at the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g). What can help?

In 2019, Raluca Budiu, Ph.D., the director of research at NN/g, conducted a usability testing study in which individuals interacted with various businesses through chat. Among her study’s findings are that many businesses hide the chat feature under vague names or phrases like How can we help? or Ask a question. Budiu advises keeping it simple by labeling it Chat. Likewise, she says to align your chat feature on the lower-right side of your site and use a contrasting color so it stands out and doesn’t blend in with the background.

Other recommendations mentioned in Budiu’s study and endorsed by our team at Astriata include:

As more organizations and associations use not only chat but also marketing automation and other AI tools, those of us at Astriata see the move as a real step forward in customer and member relationship management and, especially, in usability. “Artificial intelligence and machine learning are fueling the ‘personalization movement’ sweeping website design and digital marketing,” says Aline Lin, the CEO and creative director at Astriata. “With these powerful tools at your fingertips, you can build and maintain meaningful relationships that enhance the user experience in significant ways.”

Looking for more tips on user-friendly web design? Read “Make Data Visualization Engaging and Compelling for Users.”


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