The robots are taking over. It’s finally happening. Brace yourself!

Ok, so it’s not that dramatic, but artificial intelligence (AI) is here and it’s not going anywhere. If anything, it will continue to grow in both popularity, applications and functionality.

If you ask a group of people what AI is, most would reply with something related to robots, but AI is being used more than most people know, especially when it comes to marketing online, which is something most people are exposed to throughout the day.

So, how exactly does AI apply to online marketing? There are several applications, with the most popular being related to:


  • Predicting decisions before they are made


  • Calculating the probability of a consumer action


  • Voice and speech recognition (voice search, voice commands, etc.)


Why should you be focused on AI as a digital marketer? Well, as the technology becomes more advanced, large brands that have more resources will own their niches, similar to how Amazon dominates the e-commerce space.

To remain competitive in coming years, artificial intelligence will need to be accepted and a main focus when it comes to your online marketing strategy. Since it’s not going anywhere (and will only become more important), I decided to put this blog post together.

Here is a list of ten skills that online marketers must possess in order to survive and be successful in the Artificial Intelligence age.


1. Knowledge and full understanding of web security.

As AI advances, so do the clever ways cyber criminals are accessing data and hacking into systems. There seems to always be mention of a scandalous data breech in the news these days, with financial institutions and social networks the main targets simply because of the sheer number of users and the black market value of the data available.

This doesn’t mean that small companies shouldn’t worry, because they are a target as well. With advancements in AI, hackers are able to create programs that use machine learning to attempt to login to your backend and take control of your website.

Sometimes it’s not data or financial information they are after. It could be something as simple as gaining access to your WordPress website in order to drop links throughout your content in an unsuspecting manner.

You should want to have a basic understanding of web security for your own peace of mind, but even more so if your business stores or records sensitive information. Most credit card processors keep that information, so it’s not often financial information you need to worry about. But a breech that releases email addresses, phone numbers or any other personal identifying details about your customers can be a PR nightmare, as well as a legal issue.



2. Ability to analyze big data.

With more technology comes more data available to analyze, study, and use when altering or scaling online marketing efforts. AI has impacted even the most commonly used marketing platforms, like Facebook ads for example.

Facebook’s entire advertising platform uses AI in numerous different ways. If you want to utilize automatic bidding, Facebook will attempt to display your ads to an audience they feel will best interact with your content, helping you achieve your desired cost-per-action or cost-per-conversion.

This is all done by utilizing artificial intelligence. You could put your entire Facebook campaign in the hands of Facebook’s AI engine, and while appealing, it’s not something I would suggest. I like to have full control over the campaign spend.

Automatic and manual bidding aside, AI is responsible for giving us access to all of the deep data within our advertising accounts. This applies to Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Google AdWords, etc. Google Analytics is also now far more advanced than it was years ago thanks in part to AI.

You have to be able to look at data and be able to break it down, analyzing it to discover holes to plug, areas to scale, and what to avoid in the future. Reading and understanding data isn’t an option — it’s a necessity.


3. Desire to learn.

With AI comes a steep learning curve for some (most) that are not deep in the technology space. When you think about online marketing, you tend to assume the majority of people come from a tech-based background, but that is not the case at all.

A lot of online marketers migrated over from the old school public relations industry, or have billboard or more traditional advertising backgrounds — they just saw the writing on the wall and wanted to migrate to the digital world before they were left without a job.

To most, artificial intelligence is a new world they don’t understand, but just like you had to adapt from offline to online, you now need to learn how AI impacts marketing now and what can be done to leverage its abilities to deliver the best results for the campaigns you work on.

You don’t have to take classes or devote hours to studying. Instead, just have an open mind and soak up all available information like a sponge. Follow tech blogs and influencers on social media and try to read the more popular online marketing blogs a few times a week to stay ahead of the curve.


4. Strong communication skills.

As artificial intelligence advances, it eliminates a lot of in-person communication. Remote teams, brands that no longer have retail storefronts, and customer service that is handled entirely through chatbots are just some examples of how AI is changing how we communicate.

Now, it’s not replacing communication all together, but it’s changing how we communicate, requiring even better communication skills than were required in the past. Before, it was easy to understand someone even if their presentation skills were off or they didn’t fully explain, simply because you were sitting next to them and things like body language and facial expressions contributed to their delivery.

Now, if you are communicating with your team through Slack, you need to be able to describe actions or give instructions very clearly, as there is no room for misunderstanding or miscommunication. While AI is designed to make things easier, you almost have to work harder to communicate effectively these days.



5. Long-term vision and ability to see the big picture.

A lot of online marketers are ignoring AI because they are focused on the present, and what works now, not even concerned about being ahead of the technology curve. This is the wrong approach in my opinion and I will relate this back to about seven years ago when SEO really started to change just for comparison sake.

Years ago when it was still possible to rank with low quality spammy links, many SEOs were ignoring the content marketing trend and focused on the “now money” without taking into account what they would do if their current strategy suddenly became extinct.

Well, that’s exactly what happened, and it saw many SEO companies disappear almost overnight. They never adapted or had the long-term vision, so when Google released their updates and essentially crushed the blackhat SEO world, they were left scrambling.

The SEOs that took time to learn how content marketing worked were able to adapt with the industry and remained above water (including ourselves), while many others sank.


6. Understanding of coding and web development languages.

Understanding how to read and write HTML, JavaScript and other computer languages has always been a great skillset to have, and with AI advancing quickly, it’s even more of an advantage. There are so many plug-and-play add-ons, apps and tools that use AI and seamlessly connect to your existing website and software to provide extra value, but you need to be able to install them correctly.

Sure, you can assign the tasks to a developer or freelancer, but as a marketer that can quickly make coding changes and install pixels and tracking code, it allows you to work at a much faster pace. Often times you have to make changes and tweaks on the fly and can’t afford to wait 24-hours for a developer to complete the work.

I understand most marketers have a full plate and are busy, so taking time to sit down and learn these languages isn’t ideal, but what you should do is try to solve your coding needs yourself first, and Google is a great place to start. Little things like installing code or altering a functions.php file might sound intimidating, but there are several great resources on Google and YouTube. Self-education is usually the best way to learn because it’s hands-on.


7. The ability to quickly adapt (or die).

Just as I mentioned long-term vision and the ability to see the big picture, you have to be able to quickly pivot and adapt, as AI will continue to evolve at an alarming rate, completely changing how we market and how consumers search for products and services online.

Again, the state of SEO seven years ago is a prime example. Those that adapted to the shift towards content marketing and delivering value were awarded, and those that were reluctant died. I will be the first person to tell you that I was not sold on content marketing at first, as it was still possible to rank and bank using automation and spam tactics, but I also saw things changing first-hand, so I began to blog.

I was able to scale my agency to seven-figures because I adapted. This same mentality applies to AI, because it will continue to get smarter and more advanced.


8. Content creation across multiple platforms.

One thing about AI that you need to remember is that it’s very new and its future is uncertain. While it’s a fairly safe bet to assume it will continue to advance in a successful manner, there is one saying all marketers should live and die by:

Never put all of your eggs in one basket.

Remember when Google’s updates back in the day completely eliminated websites from the SERPs? Those that were focused 100% on SEO lost all traffic and sales overnight. If they had been running PPC and social media ads they could have simply scaled those efforts to keep the train rolling.

So, while AI is promising, you need to also continue to publish content in multiple formats and on multiple channels to ensure that you have several streams of traffic, sales, and revenue.


9. Financial forecasting, budgeting and allocation.

A lot of marketers and marketing departments have avoided AI because of the costs, but rather than simply avoiding it, you need to instead learn how to budget and allocate your marketing budget properly.

Sure, investing in voice search optimization might pull some funds away from your PPC efforts or your content volume, but you need to circle back to long-term vision and adaptation. The time and money spent now can help ensure your business is found when the majority of consumers are speaking into their mobile devices when they want to find something or make a purchase.

Even something as simple as Facebook ads now requires more budget focus, as you can quickly blow through your daily allocated spending if you are not properly optimized. As AI becomes more intelligent, ads can be served much faster. If you notice that your conversion rates on Facebook are higher than other options and your cost-per-acquisition is lower, then you need to allocate more money here and less in areas that aren’t producing as well.


10. A competitive personality and desire to win.

I can promise you that the new wave of AI is not going to be smooth sailing for online marketers. There are going to be struggles and hurdles, and constant frustration. Google’s algorithm will only get smarter, making SEO even more difficult.

Facebook ads will become even more targeted, with increased costs and deeper competition. Local SEO will be flipped on its head when voice search takes the market share. There are numerous examples of how AI will make what we do more difficult, but those that are in this game because they love a challenge and the sweet success of victory, will remain on top.

I love the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” and it applies to the online marketing industry. Year after year we are faced with new challenges and find ways to overcome and beat them.




The AI (artificial intelligence) era is here and we are experiencing it first-hand. While it is an exciting time, the key is to, as online marketers, figure out how to leverage AI and use it as a major advantage.

AI has become so popular and streamlined, that there are applications being used in almost all marketing verticals, and it’s important to dive in and get accustomed to how the industry is trending, rather than being left behind. I can promise you that if you ignore artificial intelligence, your competition will not, leaving you at a major disadvantage.

The suggestions above just touch the tip of AI, but they are the basics, and a great place to start.

What are some ways that you are using AI in your online marketing efforts or what are you planning on implementing in the upcoming year? AI assisted marketing is fascinating to me, so I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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