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October 2017

Say yes to robots: AI in legal marketing

A quick search of recent headlines and blog posts suggests there is anxiety surrounding artificial intelligence (AI). One article shouts, “Robots will soon do your taxes!” Another reads, “Lawyers could be the next profession to be replaced by computers.”

Those of us involved in technology marketing strategy and communications are struggling to understand what the true impact of AI will be on our respective companies and clients, and on the technology-based products and services they provide. New AI applications in legal research, contracts management or e-discovery may fundamentally change the value proposition. For those AI solutions, marketers and communications teams must strive to effectively educate prospects and customers on the nature of artificial intelligence, separating the rumors from facts.  Marketers of legal technology are able to put AI technology in proper perspective for an audience of legal industry workers concerned that AI technology could eliminate their jobs.

Now here’s another headline to consider: “Artificial intelligence could change marketing forever.”

While AI is being integrated into legal technology solutions used in document management, legal research, e-discovery and other areas of interest to law firms and the legal industry, it’s also emerging in marketing automation, social media and publishing tools as well. Double whammy! Those of us who market technology in the legal industry face AI both in the products and services we market as well as in the marketing discipline.

Organizations of all sizes will feel the impact of the AI revolution. If you’re not using AI yet, embrace it and start planning now. The Fourth Annual State of Marketing research report, conducted by Salesforce, reveals that 51 percent of marketing leaders are already using AI, with more than a quarter planning to pilot it in the next two years.

TechTarget defines AI as “the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.” These processes include learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using the rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions) and self-correction. Particular applications of AI include expert systems, speech recognition and machine vision.  Personal digital assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa, are a good example of AI leveraging speech recognition. Some applications and tools for marketing, sales and support have AI engines so well integrated that you may not realize that artificial intelligence is at work. Following are some examples of platforms and applications that are leveraging AI for successful marketing, lead nurturing and sales.

AI in suggestion marketing. With AI, marketing applications can sift through large volumes of data to determine patterns and trends. For years we have used CRM tools, databases and SQL queries to confirm hunches or to pull targeted lists for cross-selling campaigns. With the help of AI, manual data analysis is greatly reduced or eliminated. AI identifies patterns that categorize target groups by areas of interest, allowing marketing teams to promote personalized solutions, products or programs to highly targeted audience segments. Well-known uses that come to mind here are Amazon’s “Recommendations for You” and “Customers who bought this item also bought…” features. These are examples of data-driven suggestion marketing. Amazon tracks search, browser and shopping cart actions, as well as actual purchases by millions of shoppers. The site analyzes and aggregates customer actions on the site and uses data patterns to make relevant recommendations to a visitor, based on their browsing activity.

In the legal arena, applications in document management, legal research and litigation management are using AI to help professionals quickly find relevant information, organize it and make decisions about cases, resources and budgeting.

AI in content recommendation. Marketing professional services and technology rests on sharing high-quality content with prospective clients. Content recommendation engines help personalize the lead nurturing process, resulting in a natural progression of the user’s experience and offering increasingly useful content based on their browsing and download history. Marketing automation platforms like HubSpot and Marketo can accomplish the recommendation process within a site. Tools in this category use machine learning and predictive analytics to identify and tag available content on the website to feed recommendations. For content-heavy sites, and those who seek to push topical content to publishing sites, recommendation engines provide targeting and management of content recommendations that you see on page borders of third-party media and publication websites, often labeled “related articles.”

In legal services or technology, content recommendation systems can find themes and topics of interest for a site visitor; the selection of a paper on multi-language e-discovery, for example, might spur the engine to recommend articles or papers on GDPR, translation or forensic data collection.

Google AdWords.  If you have used AdWords for digital ad campaigns, you may have pondered the process of keyword bidding and how to determine an optimal bid. Google recently integrated AI and machine learning technology to leverage information from millions of ad placements to help advertisers bid at a more informed level. The AI tool, called Smart Bidding, analyzes millions of data points and tailors bids to each auction across Google’s properties. Smart Bidding uses machine learning to optimize your bids to maximize conversions and conversion value across your campaign or bidding portfolio. This allows ad buyers to factor in a wide range of parameters including device, location, time of day, remarketing lists, browser, language and more. The payback for marketers in legal services or technology could be enormous, as smart bidding continuously refines ad placement to maximize ROI, and trend data provides insights about customer preferences and behavior.

LinkedIn Advertising.  LinkedIn has done an exceptional job of simplifying social media advertising while retaining strengths in targeting by industry, title, geography and other attributes. Data marketing firm DataSift recently announced plans to join forces with LinkedIn to provide greater insights for B2B marketers.

The company, a provider of “human data intelligence,” gives users various methods of increasing their engagement, from discovering new audiences for brands and products to benchmarking and learning which content works best with audiences. The technology processes LinkedIn’s news feed and the engagement around it, including clicks, impressions, shares, likes and comments, and then uses AI to get a firmer grip on the text, including companies and products mentioned. The data will increase the value of ROI and performance reports from LinkedIn ads. Keep an eye on LinkedIn advertising for new features enabled by AI.

Law firms and technology providers both establish credibility through expertise. With LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, you can share professional content with thousands of potential prospects, micro-targeting the ideal lead by location, title, firm size, industry and many other variables.  Based on your chosen parameters, your update will show up on the streams of potential clients.

Chatbots. Now, about those tax returns…

You might remember a commercial that appeared during Super Bowl 2017, featuring actress Kathy Bates sitting in a dark, creepy house full of zombie children. Bates used her cellphone to do a live chat with a support person at TurboTax. Her question? “There’s a bunch of creepy kids in this house that I moved into. Can I claim them as dependents?” The digital tax expert answering her question appears to be a chatbot—an AI creation that uses AI technology and a data store of tax rules. A chatbot (short for “chat robot”) is a computer program that maintains a conversation with a user in natural language, understands the intent of the user and sends a response based on the business rules and data of the organization.

An early example of chatbot use in the legal industry is the Do Not Pay chatbot, launched in 2015 as “the world’s first robot lawyer” to help people fight parking tickets. The company quickly enjoyed a high rate of success, winning 160,000 out of 250,000 cases.

So, there’s no need to fear artificial intelligence. You have already experienced it on some level, and as with most emerging technologies, there will be time for us as consumers to adapt and thrive.  For marketers in the legal industry, keeping on top of the changes in this amazing technology and selecting the right tools to support our marketing strategies will be the keys to success.

Megan Miller is a senior consultant with Edge Legal Marketing, assisting clients in development and execution of strategic marketing plans and implementation of marketing technologies. A global technology hound, Miller has built brands, trained teams and introduced successful products for global companies and startups. A certified eDiscovery expert, she has written on trends and topics in electronic discovery, consumer electronics and the Internet of Things. Her work has appeared in Attorney at Law, Legaltech News, US Tech, TechnoLawyer, ACEDS and other industry publications.

Original article: Say yes to robots: AI in legal marketing

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