by Andre Bourque

How marketers inflate customer results with cognitive technology

Oct 28, 2016
Consumer ElectronicsMarketing

Advanced marketers are using cognitive technology with the aim of creating delightful customer experiences and increasing revenue.

Deloitte explains cognitive technology as a product of “the field of artificial intelligence” and says that cognitive technologies “are able to perform tasks that only humans used to be able to do. Examples of cognitive technologies include computer vision, machine learning, natural language processing, speech recognition and robotics.”

Cognitive applications

Cognitive systems listen, understand, reason and learn as people interact with them. These systems understand context and intent. They learn, adapt and get smarter, gaining value with age by learning from their own successes and failures.

When integrated with marketing campaigns, cognitive systems help marketers make better strategic decisions by recognizing opportunities to create personalized experiences for the customer.

Applications of cognitive technology reside in three main categories:

1. Product applications: Use the technology in a product or service to make it more effective and valuable to the customer.

2. Process applications: Use the technology to automate or improve operational workflow.

3. Insight applications: Specifically advanced analytical capabilities are used to uncover insights for improvement or development.

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How cognitive technology can assist the digital marketer.

Cognitive marketing

Unlike conventional systems, cognitive marketing allows the development of real-time experiences based on the user’s current situation.

For marketers, the goal is always to delight the customer, and cognitive technology helps with the bigger strategic picture, and it can be used in any industry. Digital marketers understand that a) their customers operate in a super fast world, and b) because of that, consumer attention spans continue to shrink. In four seconds, the only thing that matters is relevance. Cognitive technology, together with actual human brains, can provide that relevance.

Imagine this: You own an e-commerce cycling store. A prospective buyer gets a thought to take up cycling as a sport, so she begins researching from home on the internet. As she clicks through your site, you know she’s a new prospect by looking at her web behavior, social media posts, and in-store activity.

You know she’s in the early part of the sales funnel, so you support her with the right content, like getting-started tips, beginner cycling routes in her area, etc.

As the prospect gets more “into” cycling, and interacts with your site more often, cognitive technology really kicks in to provide value and now she gets different content, such as racing timetables and DIY maintenance tips. The technology “understands” your new prospect, and puts the right content together in real time, making for an amazing, start-to-end experience.

A real life example is Domino’s, the pizza delivery chain that introduced a feature in its mobile app that allows customers to place voice orders with a virtual helper called “Dom.”

Dom guides customers through the ordering process with his computer-generated voice. The intention of the pizza chain is to increase revenue by making the ordering process more convenient, and it has already found that customers who place their orders with Dom tend to spend more and more often.

Forget traditional customer surveys. In another example, BBVA Compass Bank uses a social media sentiment (which is the analysis of feelings and attitudes) monitoring tool to track and understand what consumers really think about the bank and its competitors. The collected insights influence the bank’s decisions on setting fees and customer bonuses, as well as customer support methodology.

Marketing automation

Scott Brinker, CTO and co-founder of Ion Interactive, co-authored an article in the Harvard Business Review in which he stated, “Marketing is rapidly becoming one of the most technology-dependent functions in business.”

Not only can cognitive technology be used to boost the customer experience; it can also be used to automate time-consuming routine tasks, so that the tasks get done faster, better and cheaper.

Paul Roetzer from Marketing Land, argues, “Now, imagine if machines performed the majority of those activities, and a marketer’s primary role was to curate and enhance algorithm-based recommendations and content, rather than to devise them.”

Although you’d think that only conglomerates can afford to use cognitive technology, the fact is that even startups are using it in the form of entry-level marketing automation software like GetResponse with its website traffic tracking, shopping cart abandonment and email marketing workflow planner features. The marketing automation software uses conditions, actions and filters to plan automated processes to deliver an exceptional and relevant user experience.

For small businesses, this means improved communication and a drastically improved customer experience.

For e-commerce, the cognitive technology embedded in the marketing automation software can mean the difference between an abandoned shopping cart and a saved sale. If the statistics are correct, and two-thirds of sales are abandoned daily, cognitive technology can make a huge difference to your profits.

Intelligent insights

Cognitive technologies can generate data that provides exceptional insight to reduce costs, improve efficiency and effectiveness, increase revenue, or enhance customer satisfaction.

Organizations are able to use machine learning techniques to make predictions that are based on data sets that are too large to be understood by humans and too unstructured to be analyzed by traditional analytics.


Cognitive technology is used in three main areas:

1. To create products or enhance existing products.

2. To automate or improve processes.

3. To provide intelligent insights for product or service improvement.

Many startups have taken to marketing automation platforms which are powered by cognitive technology on a very light scale. At the same time, advanced marketers are starting to use cognitive technology in their marketing campaigns, with the aim of creating delightful customer experiences and increasing revenue.