The concept of computers understanding human speech used to belong in the realms of science fiction, but recognition to advances in artificial intelligence (AI), it has become a reality.

Natural language processing is a branch of AI that enables computers to learn and interpret human language. It is being used today by digital marketers to analyze customer intent and improve customer experience in ways that weren’t possible in the past.

1. How natural language processing works

How natural language processing works

Vast amounts of data exist today that can be mined for useful information. A large number of this data, consisting of emails, images, audio, social media posts, text messages, etc. is unstructured data.

Computers can go through data and analyze it to find patterns, but the problem is that machines find it difficult to understand human language. It is bound together by almost arbitrary rules – intonation, context, grammar, syntax, etc.

NLP uses algorithms to teach a machine to identify the intent of a speaker. The algorithm is trained based on examples. Historically, the algorithms were pretty bad at interpreting human language, but they have improved considerably. Now, when you open a website, you will often find a chatbot that works based on natural language processing and can understand and answer your queries.

As conversations can now take place between humans and computers, many things have benefited, and some examples of natural language processing include automatic text summarization, entity recognition, speech tagging, and topic extraction.

2. Applying NLP in digital marketing

One of the first requirements of using NLP is to have systems in place that can take advantage of the data as well as systems that can pass it on to yet other methods that can take action using it.

Coming together, NLP might run behind the scenes as a spam filter, a spell-checking app, a translation tool, or a chatbot. An NLP application that is probably most useful to marketers is sentiment analysis, which can provide them with actionable customer insights.

3. Sentiment analysis

Assume you are speaking to a friend about a product you bought. Sentiment analysis has advanced enough that it can give insight not only into what you are saying about the product but how you feel about it.

Most use of NLP in marketing revolves around social media. Social listening is a mainstream feature enabled by NLP. The technology is used to sift through millions of mentions about a given topic, pull out the most important ones and identify the overall ‘feeling’ about the subject, i.e., whether it is positive, neutral, or negative.

Marketers know that not all mentions are positive ones, and NLP can help to find negative remarks. Marketers can then address these to mitigate any negative consequences. Likewise, sentiment analysis can help marketers to identify people with a clear intention to purchase so they can take the necessary actions to make them aware of their brand.

Some NLP-enabled apps focus on specific social media platforms, and others are built into social media management apps, such as Hootsuite.

4. Search engine optimization (SEO)

Google BERT is the newest Google algorithm update that leverages natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to improve searches. How does this affect brands and the content they produce going forward?

Any content that’s precise, well-written, and relevant will rank well, and brands that have already been creating high-quality content may see a boost. In creating content, it is essential to ask the questions an audience would ask and then proceed to answer them.

The popularity of voice shopping continues to expand, and when people search using voice, they use longer sentences than they may use when doing a text-based Google search. This means that varying keywords and long-tail key phrases become important in written content.

For a while now, writers have been able to use NLP in real-time to examine content as it is being written and get suggestions for improving it. It is possible to optimize average writing in this way highly. MarketMuse is one AI content intelligence and strategy platform that claims to be able to transform how you research, plan, and craft content.

5. Customer experience

Marketing and customer experience are not the same, but they’re closely related. Stress-free customer interactions are vitally important for overall company success.

Improving the performance of chatbots using NLP can improve the customer experience. Chatbots can respond to queries around the clock; they are objective and never in a bad mood. They can handle simple questions, and those they can’t deal with are passed on to humans who can answer them.

Customers must be able to access the information they need quickly and interact naturally with these tools that can help them. Automatic categorizing and tagging of customer support tickets based on sentiment analysis, for example, is a way for companies to ensure that the most critical queries are handled first.

Email marketing is still beneficial, and using NLP can help its ROI to improve even further. For example, NLP can measure how often users respond to specific keywords, which content attracts new users, and which headlines work better for individual users.

Chatbots can even offer significant marketing benefits in terms of conversions and sales when combined with targeting and marketing psychology. Retailer Asos found that their orders increased when they started using a Facebook Messenger chatbot, Enki, instead of a traditional ‘boring’ gift bot. They reached more people and saw a 250 percent return on spend.

Conclusion

Many new NLP-enable apps use actionable data to achieve a particular purpose. The degree to which companies move into using them will influence how NLP affects digital marketing in future years.

NLP-powered tools are continually evolving, and it’s essential to keep an eye on those that are being made available. No matter whether you are a small or large business or what you’re marketing, they offer some of the most practical and exciting uses of the big data available to marketers today.