6 Simple AI Tactics To Boost Your E-Commerce Profits

If you’re a DTC brand interested in kicking the tires on artificial intelligence, this post will provide an in-depth look at six ways you can include AI in your operations.

There’s no escaping the recent hype around artificial intelligence. And most people who have spent more than a couple of minutes with tools like ChatGPT have gotten glimpses of the potential AI holds. Beyond viral tweets and silly memes, artificial intelligence offers a tremendous ability to drive actual business outcomes, especially for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. 

Whether that value comes in the form of increased sales or improved efficiency, there are lots of easy-to-implement AI solutions that can make a sizable impact on your company’s profitability with minimal effort. If you’re a DTC brand interested in kicking the tires of artificial intelligence, this post will provide an in-depth look at six ways you can include AI in your operations, and some of the best solutions to start with. We’ll cover how AI can assist with:

  1. Copywriting
  2. Audiences
  3. Paid media
  4. Creative production
  5. Keyword research
  6. Customer support

Tactic 1: AI Copywriting

Solutions: Jasper, Copy.ai, ChatGPT

Using AI to assist with copywriting makes it more cost-effective to connect with potential customers across platforms. Because it removes repetitive work, marketing managers can spend more time exploring new channels and thinking creatively, and less time staring at a blinking cursor.

How to use AI for copywriting:

  1. Identify the type of writing task and use the right prompt

Copywriting needs for DTC brands fall into two categories: brand-focused, or conversion-focused. Brand-focused copywriting is more creative, while conversion focused is more iterative.

  1. AI assisted brainstorming for brand-focused writing

Examples of brand-focused copywriting could include a thought-leadership blog post, organic social media content, or naming a virtual event. In other words, AI helps DTC brands tell stories in a way that effectively connects with customers.

For brand-focused copywriting tasks, AI can be extremely helpful in the brainstorming process, or to help a copywriter move a little faster from first draft to final version. In these examples, a writer or marketing manager is still the one controlling the input according to an established content strategy, but the AI is helping with the creative process. (For example, AI helped outline the very post you’re currently reading, and it was subsequently written by a human!)

  1. AI scaling for conversion-focused copywriting

Conversion-focused copywriting requires endless iterations and maximum scale. Whether it’s a landing page, email, or paid ad, the ability to A/B test incremental changes in keywords and positioning can be tremendously valuable—but it carries with it an insatiable appetite for more content to test. This is where AI has the opportunity to shine. A simple input like “Give me 25 headlines that speak to price, value, and selection” is all it takes to reduce an hour of work into a few seconds.

What to avoid:
  • Don’t publish without copy editing. Although AI is increasingly adept at grammar, what’s “proper” and what’s “natural sounding” are not always the same thing.
  • Longform writing is one area where AI really starts to show the algorithms supporting it. While AI can help with sections or structure, relying on it for longform content can be challenging if you’re keeping the reader in mind.
  • Highly visible written content (likely in the brand-focused bucket discussed above) shouldn’t over index on AI. For example, it would be detrimental if a leader’s blog post about the future of the company didn’t feel authentically human.


Tactic 2:  Predictive Audiences

Solution: Black Crow AI

Trying to create and manage a large number of custom audiences to deploy across channels like Facebook and TikTok is time-consuming and potentially inefficient. We couldn’t post about AI for DTC without mentioning our own solution! Black Crow AI is an ML platform for ecommerce brands that automates this with AI.

How to use AI for predictive audiences:

Predictive audience solutions are exactly what they sound like: using AI to analyze the data you’re already collecting to rate the likelihood of customers actually completing a purchase. It’s worth emphasizing the “already collecting” part of that definition, because without using predictive audience technology, brands are basically sitting on a treasure trove of untapped data. Once you know who your likely buyers are, you can avoid spending marketing dollars on prospects that probably won’t buy from your brand, and instead focus on those that will.

Predictive audience AI is extremely valuable in helping DTC brands determine where to focus their sales and marketing efforts. Prospecting, for example, can be a black hole of time and effort, so it’s extremely important to direct those efforts strategically. Another benefit of predictive audience tech is that machine learning can help improve the efficiency of retargeting ad spend, and identify which advertising channels lead to the highest ROI.

What to avoid:
  • Once a direct-to-consumer brand has invested in a predictive audience solution, it’s important to resist the urge to second guess the recommendations it surfaces. While some of the insights might seem counter-intuitive, they are worth testing in order to make the most of the technology.
  • Since the quality of AI is dependent on the data set it has access to, avoid trying to isolate specific channels or audiences. It’s best to allow it to see the complete funnel in order to surface the most accurate predictions.

Tactic 3: Paid Media

Solutions: Preflect, Smartly.io

Proactive, consistent testing is the key to increasing the efficiency of your paid advertising spend, and subsequently lowering your customer acquisition cost. By lightening the lift required to manage a robust A/B testing strategy, you give your team more opportunities to work on higher impact projects that can further bolster your bottom line.

How to use AI for paid media:

  1. Easy A/B testing

The effectiveness of paid media spend is directly correlated with iterating and testing over time. This includes A/B testing ad creative, keywords, audiences, CTAs and more. While any marketing manager worth their salt is likely doing some A/B testing, the testing capabilities unlocked through AI are far beyond what even the most capable multi-person team is able to achieve. Modern AI platforms can generate hundreds of graphics to split-test on Instagram, for example, a task that simply would be impossible otherwise.

  1. Explore new platforms

When it comes time to migrate an existing ad strategy to a new platform, AI is invaluable. Since different platforms carry with them different specifications for ad creative, AI can overhaul your existing ad copy and imagery without requiring weeks of time to make all the updates manually.

What to avoid:
  • Don’t immediately incorporate AI suggestions for ad targeting and creative without giving them a quick review. AI isn’t perfect, so it’s worth double-checking recommendations before committing actual budget.
  • Related to the suggestion above, avoid allowing your campaigns to run on auto-pilot. While AI can be a powerful tool for improving the effectiveness of a DTC brand’s ad campaigns, overall direction should come from someone with the experience to build a broad, effective strategy. 
  • Scaling up advertising efforts also means any subsequent mistakes become more costly. As you use AI to scale, also determine a thorough process for creating, updating, and reporting on paid campaigns.

Tactic 4: Creative production

Solutions: Pencil, AdCreative.ai, Albert, Midjourney

Compelling visuals are an essential ingredient of content that resonates with potential customers. By using AI to narrow down which designs get the best response, you can improve engagement metrics on organic content, up the efficiency of paid content, and increase your rate of returning customers.

How to use AI for creative production:

  1. Embrace multi-platform strategies

AI design solutions remove much of the friction in designing for multiple platforms or channels. This duplicative, time-consuming work is the bane of many designers, and removing it from their plate provides a great opportunity for them to be able to focus on higher visibility, more creative projects.

  1. Performance-driven designs

One of the other powerful parts of AI design solutions is that their output can be informed by the performance metrics of previous designs. If you’re A/B testing two different designs, and one of them emerges as a clear winner, AI can identify the differences (the use of a certain color, for instance) and iterate on the design to provide additional ad creatives to add to the test.

  1. Generate dozens of designs in seconds

AI design tools make it easy to create endless variants of existing art for use across different ad campaigns, in brainstorming, or to expedite internal branding decisions.

What to avoid:
  • Don’t allow AI design tools to override your DTC brand’s established visual identity. Consistency is a key part of effective branding, and that applies even when artificial intelligence is doing the design work.
  • Don’t allow creative to run on auto-pilot without at least spot-checking the outputs. Off-brand or garrish designs can be embarrassing, and when part of a paid campaign, costly as well.

Tactic 5: Keyword Research

Solution: ContentDistribution.com, ChatGPT

Search engines visibility can be one of the most cost effective long term marketing tactics. But starting and scaling your keyword strategy is a daunting task. By opening up your DTC brand to new potential customers, platforms, and targeting options, AI assisted keyword research can increase your brand’s reach with less effort. Not only does this expand your potential audience, it may also enable you to reach them with a lower paid advertising cost.

How to use AI for keyword research:

  1. Go beyond traditional keywords

While all traditional SEM platforms include tools to aid in keyword research, AI can take that functionality to the next level. Beyond simply identifying similar keywords or related keywords, AI has the potential to also identify keyword opportunities that defy convention upon first glance.

  1. Identify new positioning

Not only can AI keyword tools be tremendously valuable when it comes to increasing the efficiency of SEM spend, but the recommendations surfaced can also help your DTC brand identify new ways to position your product in the market.

  1. Surface new targeting

AI keyword solutions can help surface overlooked demographic or behavioral targeting, which can open you up to a whole new audience of potential buyers.

What to avoid:
  • Steer clear of keyword research tools that exist in a silo. Ideally, the solution you pick should integrate with established (non-Ai) keyword research tools like Ahrefs and Semrush.
  • As is always the case when implementing new keywords, test into it.
  • Don’t overlook keyword suggestions from proven tools in favor of AI recommendations. Both have an important role in your overall keyword strategy.

Tactic 6: Customer support

Solutions: Drift, Intercom

Better customer support in the pre-sale phase means fewer abandoned carts and higher order value. Better post-sale support means fewer returns, and more repeat customers. And when these benefits come without having to staff up a support team, it’s even better.

How to use AI for customer support:
  1. Pre-sale support

Being able to offer responsive, helpful support is a key part of the pre-sale phase of the customer journey. For prospective customers who are still toward the top of the funnel, or those who are on the fence about making a purchase, quickly addressing their questions or concerns is critical to increase conversions.

  1. Smart content suggestions

When people think of AI customer support, they often think of chat bots. While that is one value proposition, AI can also help with so much more. It can make helpful recommendations of video content to address their questions, and help uncover trends across many conversations that can inform if a formal FAQ is needed to address a common concern.

What to avoid:
  • Few things are more annoying than feeling trapped in an annoying chatbot support conversation. Make sure that the solutions you vet offer an easy way for users to request a human connection instead, and that they route the conversation intelligently based on what was already said in the conversation.

Final recommendations for using AI as direct-to-consumer brand

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the DTC space, you know there are no shortcuts to success. Despite all the promise that it holds, AI isn’t a magic, silver bullet. It should be seen as an additional tool—albeit an extremely powerful one—to add to your belt. But it won’t single-handedly make all of your problems disappear.

Don’t get distracted by shiny objects

As with any new technology, it’s important to look beyond the hype and look toward solutions that can make a true impact on the profitability of your business. Just because you might have advisors or colleagues asking, “When are we going to include AI in our operations?” doesn’t mean you should rush the vetting process or adopt a solution just to say that you have.

Build on what already works

Artificial intelligence should be seen as an effort multiplier. It’s good at helping teams scale their efforts, increase efficiency, and do more with less. It’s not, however, inherently strategic. AI should help you build upon your established sales and marketing strategies, not define them or replace them. With so many effective solutions that touch all different parts of the business, the question becomes, “Where do I start?” And while the first piece of your AI tech stack will vary based on the specific needs of your business, it’s a good idea to get started sooner than later. So much of the power of AI comes from its data set, which becomes even more valuable with time.

Double check the math

One other important consideration is cost. While the upfront expense of some AI solutions can seem like an obstacle, it’s worth weighing the actual savings that building out an AI tech stack can offer. When compared to the price of hiring a team of employees, paying consultants, or outsourcing to agencies, AI quickly becomes more affordable than it might seem upon first glance.

Ultimately, the power of AI lies in its ability to help smaller teams compete with teams that are much larger in size. It makes it possible to iterate faster on marketing ideas, scale sales efforts, and easily adapt to the valuable data that is already being collected.

AI helps DTC brands increase profitability, boost sales, and ultimately win in the market.

Own your intelligence.
Win your category.
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