An algorithm is a process or set of steps to follow to solve a problem. For AI and machine learning for marketing, there are a number of different algorithms for solving complex problems -- your choice depends on the question at hand (are you making predictions? finding patterns? looking for connections among bits of data?) and the type of data you have available.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, refers to a computer's ability to process information, find patterns, make decisions, and even predict future outcomes – in essence, to function similarly to a human brain. Marketing teams can use AI to process enormous amounts of customer data to deliver customized user experiences and to predict customer needs and behaviors.
BlueConic uses collaborative filtering to drive its content and product recommendation systems. Collaborative filtering sifts through vast amounts of data to find patterns among similar users, in order to predict the best matches or items for users who exhibit similar habits, behaviors, or choices.
Data processing for AI
Before data can be used for training a model, it is processed. For example, numbers are normalized to increase the performance of the machine learning algorithm. One cool thing about doing this with BlueConic’s AI Workbench is that data scientists don’t have to spend nearly as much time processing the data as they would normally have because a lot of the data is already transformed. BlueConic gives you a single view of the customer so you don’t need to stitch data from different files together to try and create that view.
Since you can also use the full power of the Python programming ecosystem with AI Workbench, complex transformations are easy to apply to BlueConic profile data. There are instances where you will still have to spend time transforming data – like converting a date to the number of days since that date because that’s more complex.
In BlueConic, the AI Workbench uses the Jupyter notebook environment for creating and running machine learning models against BlueConic data.
Learn more about Jupyter notebooks.
AI Workbench notebooks are connected to a Python3 kernel through the Jupyter UI. A kernel executes the notebook code and returns results. The kernel and the notebook remain active while you are actively working in them. The kernel will be automatically terminated after 36 hours of inactivity, or when a BlueConic user manually terminates them. A kernel will be automatically terminated when a notebook is opened without running one or more cells (once you navigate to another notebook). Learn more: Scheduling and running AI Workbench notebooks
Machine learning is a branch of AI that uses algorithms and models trained on thousands or millions of pieces of data to help businesses to make better decisions or predictions. BlueConic uses machine learning marketing algorithms to determine optimal product and content recommendations.
In AI and machine learning, a model is a data structure that represents a real-world process (for example, the relation between visits, page views, and propensity to buy). You’re basically codifying your hypothesis of how (a small part of) the world works. Let’s say, for example, that your hypothesis is ‘the number of page views and visits of a customer determines how likely that a customer is to buy something.’ In that case, the relationship between page views, visits, and whether the customer bought something is the model.
AI marketing models are at the heart of an AI and machine learning workflow for marketing teams:
- Building AI marketing models: In AI Workbench, data scientists build a custom model or import one from a Python library. Using the embedded Jupyter notebook environment, teams can build their own models, or tweak any existing models within the BlueConic library. If you're not familiar with Python, you can also use the built-in example models BlueConic provides for propensity scoring and calculating customer lifetime value. For example, learn how to calculate CLV and RFM using AI and machine learning in BlueConic.
- Training AI marketing models: Typically, you train a machine learning model by giving it an initial set of representative data to train the model to recognize patterns, calculate scores, etc. Next you test and validate the model, and then apply it to larger datasets to test your results.
- Optimizing AI marketing models: A key step in the workflow is to optimize your AI marketing model once you've seen how it runs with real customer data. Using Jupyter within BlueConic gives you access to unified customer data – which updates as the customer’s attributes change. Your model can access to the most up-to-date data because it’s pulling right from BlueConic's persistent, dynamic profiles. Use the insights from your AI or machine learning model to create smarter segments based on the model's output, for example, prediction scores.
- Deploying AI marketing models: Deploying a model means you’re sending the outcome of the model to your external marketing systems. Because models are being run in BlueConic, you can deploy the model across all your marketing system because BlueConic is already connected to all your activation channels. With AI Workbench, you can attach scores as profile properties to activate segments in real time. It also enables you to do look-alike modeling based on changing behaviors, for example.
- Scheduling AI marketing models: To schedule an AI or machine learning model in BlueConic means you can determine the time period in which the model is run. Currently, it’s difficult for data scientists to ensure predictions are kept up-to-date because their models operate on static data. With AI Workbench, marketing teams can schedule a BlueConic AI Workbench notebook, which automatically ensures they can use the latest machine learning predictions in their customer segments and marketing applications.
AI Workbench provides prebuilt AI models and examples for marketing teams to gain insights into their BlueConic data in real time. Data scientists can also write custom Python code in Jupyter notebooks, which defines parameters and what type of value they accept (string, integer, BlueConic profile property, BlueConic segment, etc.).
Marketing teams use the AI Workbench UI to supply values for the parameters of the machine learning models and analytics – without ever having to write any code. For example, to run an AI model that predicts customer engagement levels, you might feed order history and recency into the model as inputs. The profile properties 'order history' and 'recency' and the resulting output are parameters in AI Workbench. Marketing teams can easily update these values in the Parameters tab, without having to know Python.
Predictive analytics for marketing
Predictive analytics models examine customer data to make predictions about future customer behavior or events. For example, you can use AI Workbench to calculate a customer's lifetime value, or CLV, based on a customer's past spending behavior. You can also calculate RFM scores that measure recency, frequency, and monetary value to create better customer segments to target customers based on past behavior or spending. With the Advanced A/B testing notebook, marketing teams can apply AI marketing to their A/B tests to find the optimal content variants.