So much of the conversation around AI implementation in business, including our last couple of blogs, focuses on customer service, and with good reason: chatbots and other digital agents have proven to be excellent resources for augmenting existing efforts and fielding basic customer resolutions. However, in an era of ubiquitous AI, with benefits readily available to anyone, we believe the easiest way to transition into an AI-augmented organization is to focus more on improving what you already have rather than creating something new. For that reason, we wanted to highlight an area where AI and automation has proven to make dramatic brand and organizational improvement: lead generation for sales and marketing. Here’s a list of the top five proven Digital Agent capabilities your organization can use to increase your sales.
I’ll start with the obvious: an agent, who isn’t limited by working hours or fatigue, will be able to manage a much greater quantity of potential leads than one who is. But an AI-powered Digital Agent takes it one step further with 100% coverage and productivity. Rather than have humans send out mass emails, and cross their fingers for responses, Digital Agents pore over analytics to engage buyers throughout the customer journey. From determining interest and activating unresponsive demand, to winning back former customers, Digital Agents achieve 33.4% higher email engagement than industry standards.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of full contact and engagement we conducted a small pilot program using an AI-powered Digital Agent to maximize a client’s outbound email efforts and sales opportunities for their membership and publication. In just over a month, the Digital Agent made a total of 33,929 engagements with a 50% average response rate from both groups. While interacting with these contacts, the Digital Agent also identified and escalated 158 new sales opportunities, 656 new phone numbers, new points of contact, and new customer support opportunities.
Just as automation allows organizations to handle a greater lead volume, it also facilitates better, more thorough lead management, organization, and prioritization. By intelligently interpreting lead responses and tracking the extent and method of engagement, Digital Agents can assess the lead’s level of interest, determine priority, and escalate to a sales rep when needed. With the support of an AI-powered Digital Agent, sales teams spend their time focusing on qualified prospects, not tediously dialing the phone, or sending emails.
One common pain-point we hear is that humans often fail to fully engage leads and they give up too soon. Most marketing teams generate more prospects than a sales team can handle, but even proven lead scoring techniques often miss high-quality leads, and even when the right leads are routed to the right team for engagement, they aren’t always easy to reach. After a few attempts, it’s human nature to assume they aren’t interested and move on, but research shows it often takes 7-13 touches to convert a lead.
As shown, personalized engagement can be difficult to achieve for high lead volume with a team of humans alone, but that’s where Digital Agents Digital Agents shine. Using AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP), Digital Agents initiate a personal interaction to determine interest using friendly, colloquial conversation. They’re polite yet persistent, reaching out more often than a typical sales rep. When the lead responds, the AI intelligently interprets the context of the email and takes the appropriate next step, whether responding for more information, alerting a sales rep, or updating the CRM.
By using AI to conduct what would be an otherwise tedious analysis, you not only free up your team’s time (thereby reducing operating costs), but you’re setting yourself up to benefit from your digital agents’ “actionable insights.”
An enormous benefit of AI technologies and automation lies in the paradigm shift they bring. While AI can certainly be used to solve existing problems in familiar but convenient ways (e.g. answering FAQs), it’s crucial to think outside the confines of our existing frameworks to unlock its near-limitless potential. Think for a moment about how much our world has changed in the last ten years (or even the last ten months): social media platforms have risen in prominence from a place to post pictures from college parties to a global institution regularly quoted by news outlets. COVID-19 has, over the course of a few months, irrevocably changed the way we conduct business. In short, to keep up with a radically shifting world, organizations must re-imagine how they connect with their audience.
With the help of digital agents, marketing teams can move beyond strategies focused on isolated campaigns and toward approaches that are “more about behaving as though you’re working alongside customers every day and helping as needed.” In taking marketing approaches that more closely resemble gentle streams than sporadic floods, organizations can take advantage of how people have become accustomed to receiving a steady flow of information through social media, mobile devices, etc. As noted by Salesforce Canada, you can even use automation to strengthen campaigns that are already underway by “tweaking the copy in an email to appeal more to a particular segment” or shining a spotlight on an ad that is performing better than another.
While all leads certainly have value (or at least potential value), one cannot simply approach every lead in the same way and expect success. However, tailoring marketing campaigns to individual interests and needs is extremely time-consuming, and if your lead evaporates, all that work is for naught. Thankfully, it’s easy to train AI to detect and/or predict these needs and respond accordingly. As mentioned before, digital agents can collect and use data to craft more successful outreach and follow-up messages. This same data can also serve as an indicator of which marketing approach or batch of content would prove more successful in not only capturing a lead but in keeping them engaged with your brand. Notice how these skills build on and play off one another. That’s the beauty of AI systems: they cross boundaries and systems, providing essential benefits at all levels.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to use a digital construct to humanize your brand experience (it’s called artificial intelligence for a reason), the reality is that digital agents are an essential tool in creating personalized (and personable) interactions without monopolizing your human’s precious time. AI technology is a tool, certainly, but it’s one that can convey a certain amount of care and attention to your customers, the care that went into its development. After all, digital agents are created by humans with the express intention of interacting and improving the lives of other humans.
Regardless of whether a prospect knows they are interacting with a bot, thoughtful design of AI systems will ensure a level of care and comfort is present in all digital interactions with your brand. This can be achieved by measures as simple as a digital agent recalling that a lead has visited your organization’s website before or something more complex, such as sending out personalized content based on earlier feedback/conversations. For more information about how to give your digital interactions a more “human touch”, I encourage you to read ‘How to Humanize Your Digital Interactions’.
According to a survey by Deloitte, 83% of organizations that adopted AI saw immediate improvement, “with 53% achieving moderate benefits, and 30% experiencing substantial” ones, so it’s no secret that AI has and will continue to have a profound effect on the business landscape. We’re still in the early days of AI adoption, so these kinds of improvements are just the beginning. If you want to accelerate your lead generation efforts or transition to an AI-augmented operation, I encourage you to check out some of our resources below and get in touch with one of our experts. We’d love to get your feedback!
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