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While producing quality video content may seem too complex for smaller businesses, you don’t need an in-house video production crew to create audio-visual content worth sharing. In 2017, all you’ll really need is a smartphone and maybe an affordable tripod from Amazon. As for getting eyes on your videos, there’s several different ways to promote…
As we come upon a new year, marketers everywhere are considering their marketing strategies for 2018, and many are finally thinking about pursuing personalization programs. If you have put off personalizing your customers’ or prospects’ digital experiences thus far, it may have been for any number of reasons: you haven’t felt that your company was […]
There’s been a lot of buzz about the December 14th Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hearing and an outpouring of public opposition to the proposed repeal of net neutrality. But how is this discussion relevant to the marketing world? And what could the end of net neutrality mean for digital marketers?
In case you missed all the chatter, we’ve provided a quick recap on the debate and how it could affect the digital marketing strata.
Where did the idea of Net Neutrality come from?
Since the mid nineties, Internet service providers (ISPs) have been subject to rigorous federal regulation due to their classification as “common carriers”— a legal title that prohibits ISPs from engaging in site prioritization, throttling (intentionally slowing broadcasting speeds) or site blocking, under penalty of law. This standard was voted into effect in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which amended the existing Roosevelt-era Communications Act in order to classify the Internet as a Title II telecommunications entity.
Since Title II entities are held to higher federal regulatory standards, classifying the Internet as such set the tone for its evolution. Under FCC standards, all for-profit ISPs (such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, to name a few) must function as neutral communication portals — a clause which has maintained the freedom of information on the Internet for over two decades. The Open Internet Order of 2015 served to enforce the idea of net neutrality in the face of mounting debate, maintaining that the internet remain classified as a Title II carrier in order to protect consumer interests. Under the 2015 net neutrality rules drafted by the Obama administration, an internet provider cannot offer preferential treatment to any websites or enforce any bias with regard to internet accessibility or site quality.
On what grounds can Net Neutrality be repealed?
Although notions of freedom and openness feel integral to the Internet’s identity today, the original goals of the 1996 amendment were not as idealistic as they were practical. The intention of the Telecommunications Act was to promote the convergence of broadcasting and telecommunications markets by allowing all communications businesses to compete freely in a common market. What it produced was a complex web of intermodal competition between service providers — some that function under different regulatory statutes. Two years ago, the Open Internet Order made it clear that, no matter our previous intentions, net neutrality was something worthy of government protection and preservation.
In the eyes of ISPs in favor of repealing net neutrality, current FCC regulations are seen as too heavy-handed and discouraging to potential investment opportunities. If net neutrality was repealed, for example, ISPs could lawfully pursue new ways of making money that are currently prohibited under the 2015 Open Internet Policy. Examples include ISPs directing users to their own apps or allowing affluent businesses to pay higher premiums in exchange for faster loading speeds — in essence, disrupting the equality of the digital playing field. By repealing net neutrality, the FCC would rely on ISPs to self-report on their own practices and behavior (rather than the FCC conducting regular reviews) — something that gives a majority of Americans cause for concern.
How would the end of net neutrality affect online marketing and consumer interests?
The end of net neutrality would mean that ISPs would no longer be required to provide unlimited or unfettered access to the internet. That means that larger businesses who can afford to pay for preferential treatment can easily eliminate their smaller competition simply by funding partnerships with ISP providers.
Digital marketing represents an eighty-billion dollar industry — one that is inherently linked to the existence of a free and equal internet. Currently, net neutrality stimulates competition between businesses of all sizes and types, creating a demand for digital marketing services that inspire organic web traffic. Services like SEO, content marketing, social media marketing and pay-per-click promotions all fall under this umbrella. Net neutrality also supports a consumer-centric marketing model which strives to offer online audiences’ reciprocal value for their time and attention (that’s why you’re here, after all). If non-neutrality is adopted and the internet becomes dominated by top-paying sites, the digital marketing industry will have less influence on the form and direction of online traffic — with potentially devastating results for small-to-medium-sized businesses, marketers and consumers alike.
Although ISPs claim that a precipitous departure from current operating standards isn’t the goal of the non-neutrality push, the end of net neutrality has great potential to negatively affect consumers. Most Americans fear that non-neutrality will give ISPs too much control over the freedom of information, thus threatening the future of the internet as we know it. But ending net neutrality also opens the door for ISP services to resemble complex mobile plans, where people are asked to pay more for better app quality, differential data access and video streaming speeds. Bah Humbug.
No matter what decision is made on December 14th, however, recent debate has brought the notion of net neutrality to the forefront of the American psyche — where it should stay. If net neutrality is revoked, there promises to be increased pressure on Congress to supersede FCC authority and enforce regulation on Internet providers.
Starting a new business can be stressful. Your to-do list continues to grow longer by leaps and bounds. It seems like you’ll never see the end of the slog and the stress monster is right on your heels and you can’t outrun it. Sometimes it feels like you just get one stressful thing settled and…
Artificial intelligence is starting to become a big part of our industry. Machine learning tools are allowing marketing and sales professionals to be more productive, and enabling them to be more effective with their strategies. In this post, I’ll recap HubSpot’s Master Class on Marketing in the Machine Age with Paul Roetzer, founder of the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute, in a way that details the current state of AI and what kind of opportunities will arise from this disruption to inbound marketing.
The Current State of AI
To quickly summarize the state of AI, let’s consider content planning. Right now humans are the ones who actually write content, but machines have the ability to tell data-driven stories at scale. In a few years there might be some overlap. Machines may be able to help us write a narratives given parameters and utilizing data. For example, if you write a certain report on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis, look at the capabilities of machines for writing narratives using data.
This is just one way the AI revolution is changing the priorities of marketing and sales professionals, and shifting the agenda of many B2B companies. Looking at how this might affect our day to day lives can help us benefit from this disruption.
How AI is Changing Inbound Marketing
Although a lot of marketing is automated today, it is still very human and manual. Incorporating AI into the inbound methodology will enhance and optimize it even further. The top ways that AI is changing inbound marketing are:
- Content strategy will be less about targeting specific keywords, and more about building groups of topics that can help us build inbound campaigns. Hubspot’s Content Strategy Tool gives us an idea of how machines will be able to automate the process of content creation.
- Segmenting down to the individual level will be the norm. This means having an optimal email send time for each person, and knowing how likely they are to convert. Hubspot’s new Sales Professional Product encapsulates this concept.
- Chatbots will allow us to implement messaging with prospects and consumers across channels and at scale. Intelligent bots like Growth Bot give us the foundation for where this technology is headed.
How This Will Affect The Daily Lives of Marketers
The idea of “hyper-personalization” at scale is within reach.
For example, you might normally send an email out on Thursdays at 2 PM with recipients in different time zones and varying preferences. If you have a machine that can leverage data about these recipients, it could learn to find the best time to send individual people that email, with content that is specific to their interests — all with their preferences in mind.
AI could work for sales, too. For example, Kemvi’s DeepGraph tool is already helping salespeople verify leads more quickly, identify the best time to reach out to prospects, and recommend content to their leads, all by analyzing scores of public data, around the clock.
A/B testing is another example of a perfect job for a machine. In today’s world, a human does the creative and uploads multiple variants of it, then checks on the performance of those variants. Now there are tools that can autonomously run infinite variables of your creative, and adapt which version works best with which channel. This means more efficient budgeting and more effective testing.
It’s important to note that AI isn’t here to take jobs away, but rather to transform jobs and eliminate time-consuming tasks, to allow us to focus on more high-revenue activities. Embracing this technology and using it to your advantage will set you apart from those who are afraid of it.
Like any technological innovation, people become used to it over time, and even grow to expect it. Consider your expectation that analytical tools provide you with the reports you want. We already hold AI to a high standard, and in the B2B world, clients are starting to raise their level of expectation. B2B marketers will have to get up to that level of expectation for their prospects through timing, relevance and personalization if they hope to be competitive during this period of disruption.
Limitations and Trends
So what are the limitations of AI? What kind of things would stop you from being able to implement this into your business? The biggest barriers are data, time and resources. It’s also a constant training and supporting process, not a switch-flip maneuver. However, intelligent algorithms have infinite potential. If you want your business to truly benefit from AI, you need to invest in collecting clean, organized data in vast amounts.
So where can you find the most value for artificial intelligence in your business? When trying to see where AI will have a hand in process enhancement, just ask yourself which tasks are time-consuming and data-driven. Over time, a machine will perform these tasks better than a human will.
One example is the process of determining how to spend a budget. We use our previous decisions coupled with our past experiences, but this method isn’t always reliable. Artificial intelligence can use data and tons of stored experiences to optimize that process.
How to Stay Current with AI
So how can you stay current with this disruption? Start by learning what AI can do at a basic level, so you know what is possible, and understand the potential impact it can have. Keep looking for processes that are time-consuming and data-driven, and see if there is already a tool that can optimize them. AI will enable us to be better marketers, but only for those who choose to embrace the technology and use it as a competitive advantage.
Are you leaving money on the table…er, I mean, on your website? In today’s competitive landscape, best practices around pricing are always changing: how to price, how to present pricing, when to discount, how to show a discount, whom to show a discount to, etc. Mastering these elements that dictate what people ultimately pay for […]