Best Customer Service Software

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

When your human team has trouble managing your customer service needs with sticky notes and cluttered inboxes, you need a new solution. 

Customer service software lets you keep all of your tasks in the right baskets without losing track of anything. It also boosts your customer satisfaction and lightens your agents’ load.

These customer service software options will help you organize your company, whether you’re a startup or a seasoned business owner.

The Top 7 Options for Customer Service Software

  1. Hubspot’s Service Hub—Best for Free Software and Deals
  2. Zendesk—Best for a Complete Support Suite
  3. Groove—Best for Small Businesses and Startups
  4. TeamSupport—Best for B2B Support
  5. LiveAgent—Best for Live Chat Service
  6. Salesforce Service Cloud—Best for Remote and On-Site Support
  7. Freshdesk—Best for a Streamlined System

How to Choose the Best Customer Service Software for You

Customer service software isn’t one size fits all. Choosing the right customer service software means considering your customer’s needs and what the software offers your business.

Features Offered

Do you mainly do customer support over live chat? Are your agents constantly fielding phone calls? Do you need software to connect with agents in the field?

When you get the right features in your software, you boost your team’s ability to create positive customer relationships and increase customer satisfaction. Getting the wrong features can be just as bad as having no software at all.

Customer Preference

Consider which support channels fit your customer’s needs. Offering call support alone to a Millennial or Gen Z audience will probably create some unhappy customers since both of these groups prefer live chat and social media.

Knowing your customers saves you money and helps streamline your customer service process.

Your Current Customer Support System

Your new software should focus on improving your current customer service practices. If you have a dedicated customer service team, make sure your software supports them, too.

If multiple people have their fingers in the customer service pie, purchase a system that clearly defines each person’s role, and prevents overlap.

All-in-One vs. Specialized Systems

Some systems offer several services for your customers, but sometimes you don’t need them all. If you provide online-only support, you don’t need the frills of phone, video, and other options. So don’t buy them.

All-in-one systems encompass different types of software, including:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM): CRMs focus on sales and interacting with people to bring them in as customers and retain them long-term.
  • Customer experience management (CEM): CEMs deal with the customer’s experience throughout their buying journey, from marketing to purchasing to customer service. In other words, you want them to leave positive reviews and become repeat customers.
  • Marketing automation software (MAS): MAS systems concentrate on marketing efforts, communicating information about products and services, and generating leads.

The type of software you get depends on your business and customer needs, so choose carefully.

The Different Types of Customer Service Software

Different types of customer service software fulfill various purposes and conform to specific customer needs. 

There are three basic types of customer service software.

Helpdesk

Helpdesk software functions pretty much as its name suggests. It keeps track of everything in one convenient location and can automate processes like ticketing and store canned replies, so you don’t have to retype the same response to all those customers asking the same question. 

Helpdesk software lets agents juggle different customer service actions in one place, so they have easy access to everything when they need it.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

CRM software gives you a more comprehensive view of customer service and related information. It builds a database for sales purposes and helps customer service agents manage various accounts differently depending on customer needs and habits.

CRMs are usually more comprehensive than helpdesk software. They’re also more marketing-focused than other customer service software and tools. If you don’t need too many bells and whistles, opt for something simpler.

Live Chat

Live chat sticks to online modes of customer service. It lets your reps respond quickly and conveniently to customer questions.

This type of software doesn’t offer anything as broad as CRM or even helpdesk software, but that doesn’t mean it can’t serve you well. I’d recommend it for any business that values efficiency and a streamlined approach.

1. Hubspot’s Service Hub—Best Free Software and Deals

Hubspot doesn’t just offer marketing services. Hubspot’s Service Hub gives you all the tools you need to organize your services. 

The best part is that you can get a free version of this software without worrying about it expiring. Most other software companies give you less than a month to try theirs. With Hubspot, you might not need to pay at all to get what you need.

Hubspot makes it easy for your team to communicate with a conversations inbox and team email, so everyone stays on the same page. It even has email templates, so agents don’t have to waste time crafting the same email over and over.

Live chat and chatbots save time and work to help customers in a way that’s convenient for you and your team. You can also connect the software with others from Hubspot, like their sales software and CRM.

If you need more than what the free plan offers, you can buy this software in three tiers:

  • Starter: $40 per month
  • Professional: $320 per month
  • Enterprise: $1,200 per month

Each tier offers different features and supports two, five, and ten users, respectively. The Starter package comes with meeting scheduling, agent productivity reports, calling, and canned snippets, so agents don’t need to repeat themselves for each customer.

With the Professional and Enterprise packages, you can get everything from automation, pipelines, and custom reporting to a knowledge base, hierarchical teams, and integration with Slack. While each tier has a significant price jump, the features that come with them make the cost worth it if your team needs the additional support.

Pros

  • Integrates with other Hubspot software
  • Established and popular brand
  • Offers more free software

Cons

  • Costly for the features and tiers offered
  • Limited number of users

2. Zendesk—Best for a Support Suite

One of the most established customer support software options available, Zendesk offers a whole support suite to give you all the tools you need to click with customers. 

It offers convenience with live chat and messaging, so you give customers a personalized experience. You can also connect Zendesk to your social channels without managing a ton of different platforms.

With a ticketing system that includes tracking, solving, and a priority system, Zendesk creates agent efficiency. Tickets don’t get buried in anyone’s inbox, and you know the status at any given time.

The software’s integrated voice system allows you to makes each customer’s voice experience unique. You can create a new phone number or use an existing one, so your call center works for you.

Zendesk offers solutions for businesses of all sizes with solutions like:

  • Answer Bot—An AI bot that suggests articles to help customers
  • Zendesk Guide—A smart knowledge base to help you find resources
  • Zendesk Gather—A forum for customers to connect with each other

You can get five software levels for smaller businesses, ranging from $5 to $199 per agent per month, including Essential, Team, Professional, Enterprise, and Elite.

Larger businesses will benefit most from the Professional Support Suite and Enterprise Support Suite. With these options, you get omnichannel support, social messaging, and dashboards, and reports. Reporting and analytics are vital to know how your agents connect with customers and your customers’ satisfaction with their experience.

Plus, with the Enterprise Support Suite, you have access to special features like multi-band support and 24/7 support for your agents if anything goes wrong. You also get a chat widget, roles and permissions, and content cues. The higher the tier, the more convenient Zendesk makes the customer service experience for everyone.

Pros

  • Many self-service options
  • Complete support suite
  • Can integrate social media with software 

Cons

  • Not many options for larger businesses

3. Groove—Best for Small Businesses and Startups

Groove is newer than many of the options here, but don’t walk away from it just yet. Its modern, intuitive design has boosted its popularity fast.

Groove is designed to learn quickly, so you don’t have to take time out of your day to figure it out, giving your customer support team the ability to get up and running quickly. After all, the whole purpose of customer support software is to streamline your operations.

This software doesn’t have tiers. Instead, you pay for the core software, which includes:

  • Rules
  • Tagging
  • Canned replies
  • Custom folders
  • Conversations
  • Performance
  • Customer reports
  • Mobile compatibility
  • Integration for almost any app

Because you pay for only the basic package, you can customize it however you want. Small businesses won’t get overwhelmed with a million options, but that does mean you have to think a little harder about how you want to set it up. Once you do, you can make it easy and intuitive for your agents to get in the groove. You can also try a free 15-day trial of Groove to test it out.

Pros

  • Intuitive interface
  • Works well for small businesses
  • Customizable
  • Integrates with most apps

 Cons

  • The basic package has fewer features
  • Takes more setup

4. TeamSupport—Best for B2B Support

Built for B2B customer support, TeamSupport lets you tailor your service options to business owners. You can group users into organizations, so you know who is part of which team and track common issues between businesses.

The Product Section feature allows you to put customers who use the same products together, so agents spend less time searching and more time resolving issues. With the Customer Distress Index, you can see how agents have helped customers and their satisfaction with their experience.

The Water Cooler brings agents together to communicate internally to resolve issues, but TeamSupport also has customer self-service options. The software only offers two price tiers, but they are cheaper than most other software.

The Support Desk version costs $50 per agent per month, and it lets you assign, track, and manage customer support requests using help desk operations. You can also customize and automate tasks to provide excellent end-user customer support.

The Enterprise package only costs a little more at $65 per agent per month. It works well for software and technology companies, allowing you to track products, support issues, and product defects, ideal for B2B customer service.

Pros

  • Used by industry leaders
  • Cheaper than many other options
  • Great for B2B customer support

 Cons

  • Only two tier options
  • Less adaptable for B2C support

5. LiveAgent—Best for Live Chat-Based Customer Service

LiveAgent is an award-winning customer service software that has been recognized for its B2B- and SaaS-friendly service and live chat interface. This helpdesk software focuses mainly on remote work.

LiveAgent includes a universal inbox and automated ticketing, so agents get assigned tickets and can also see what everyone else is working on. It eliminates overlap and uses gamification to improve existing customer service practices.

With a live chat and call center, your agents have the tools to respond to customers when they need help. Unlike other customer service software, LiveAgent also offers video calling support, rather than just phone and live chat. Unfortunately, its interface isn’t as intuitive as others on this list.

Your agents get the support they need with 24/7 customer support for all four of its packages:

  • Free
  • Ticket: $15 per agent per month
  • Ticket+Chat: $29 per agent per month
  • All-Inclusive: $39 per agent per month

With a 7-day ticket history, the Free package gives you one email address, a live chat button, and a phone number. It also offers basic reports, a knowledge base, and ticket options like merging, splitting, exporting, and mass actions. For a free package, it’s reasonably comprehensive.

The Ticket package upgrades you to unlimited ticket history and email ticketing, plus advanced reporting. You also get templates and canned answers, along with gamification to streamline the customer experience.

Ticket+Chat gives you all the features of Ticket, plus unlimited live chat, chat invitations, and chat satisfaction surveys. You can also keep track of who looks at your website with the real-time visitor monitor.

The All-Inclusive package does seem to give you everything you could possibly want in a customer service software. You’ll have all the features of Ticket+Chat, plus unlimited call center support, video call, and call routing and transfers. Essentially, any call feature missing from the lower tiers you can find in this one, along with social account connectivity.

You can add specific features for an additional cost with every tier, such as an additional knowledge base or time tracking. The same applies to connecting social accounts, which can cost anywhere from $5 to $39 each per month.

Pros

  • Great for remote support
  • Offers video calling options
  • Many tiers and features
  • Low cost

 Cons

  • Clunky interface

6. Salesforce Service Cloud—Best for Remote and On-Site Support

Many well-known companies use Salesforce Service Cloud to boost their customer connection.

It’s designed for field service so that you can answer customer questions anytime, anywhere. You can even tailor your software to your company’s location, which helps local businesses.

Salesforce Service Cloud uses AI, chat, voice, and field service to help agents customize their customer’s experience. As the #1 CRM, Salesforce focuses on all aspects of the customer experience, so agents can keep up with customer needs with less effort. 

The product has four tiers:

  • Essentials: $25 per user per month
  • Professional: $75 per user per month
  • Enterprise: $150 per user per month
  • Unlimited: $300 per user per month

The downside to this product is that the price sometimes more than doubles when you jump tiers without offering too many more features. With Essentials, you get case management, service console apps, a knowledge base, and phone integration.

While that might be worth the money for you, the only additional features you get with the Professional software are service contracts and entitlements. From there, Enterprise gives you web services API, and with Unlimited, you get 24/7 support and configuration settings.

Essentially, each tier only gives you one more feature. Whether you spend the money on them depends on how badly you need them. Nonetheless, Salesforce is a widely-known and trusted software, and many of your employees have likely used it before, which will cut down on the learning curve.

Pros

  • Excellent for field support
  • Most flexible software available
  • Has more AI options than other software

 Cons

  • High prices for few features
  • No 24/7 support for tiers below Unlimited

7. Freshdesk—Best for a Streamlined System

Freshdesk can help you streamline any inbox disaster. Alternatively, if your current customer service software looks more like a virtual maze, Freshdesk makes it easy to switch.

Freshdesk’s ticketing system comes with a team inbox, including agent collision detection. Its collaboration feature uses Team Huddle so agents can discuss tickets and share ownership when the project is too big for one person. Plus, with Omniroute, you can auto-assign customer service tasks to agents based on their bandwidth.

With multichannel support, advanced and custom reports, and field service management, you can cater to customers no matter where you are.

Freshdesk even helps customers help themselves with a forum, chatbot, help widget, and other features to guide customers before they reach out to you. These self-service features will help your customer service streamline even further and provide helpful resources.

You can get the Sprout package of this software free, but you can also get four other tiers:

  • Blossom: $15 per agent per month annually
  • Garden: $35 per agent per month annually
  • Estate: $49 per agent per month annually
  • Forest: $99 per agent per month annually

The Sprout package already gives you unlimited users along with email and social ticketing, ticket dispatch, and ticket trend reports. You also get a knowledge base, so no one stays out of the loop.

Once you upgrade, the Blossom package includes automation, collision detection, SLA management, and more. The Garden level comes with a multilingual knowledge base to enhance your ability to help customers. You also get performance reports, time tracking, and custom apps to personalize the customer service experience.

In the Estate package, this software gets serious about keeping your information together. With custom reports, dashboards, and roles, the software practically manages itself. You can even take advantage of versioning in the knowledge base, customer segments, service for multiple products, and dynamic ticket forms that include as much detail as you want your customers to give when they have a problem.

You don’t get any more high-tech than the Forest tier. From an audit log and agent scripts to auto-triage and an article suggester, the software helps agents and gives customers resources to help themselves. Forest even lets you maintain HIPAA compliance when you use it, and you can use up to 5000 Freddy sessions per month when you use live chat.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Can choose to pay monthly or annually
  • Versatile
  • Lots of features at all tiers

 Cons

  • May appear overwhelming with so many features

Summary

The right customer service software can make or break a business. That’s why you should evaluate every option and how it will work for your company’s specific needs.

Whether you need a CRM or just a live chat option, you can find a customer service software in this list that is right for you and customize it to fit your business.

The post Best Customer Service Software appeared first on Neil Patel.

How Can iPaaS Help Your Digital Marketing?

How Can iPaaS Help Your Digital Marketing?

If there’s one thing you need from your digital marketing toolbox, it’s efficiency. You need access to real-time data so you can quickly make the most effective decisions and convert those all-important leads into paying customers.  

You can start by deploying iPaaS, or “Integration Platform as a Service”. It’s a little tricky to understand at first, but don’t worry. I’ll break it down for you. So, let’s go over how iPaaS works, starting with some fundamentals.

What Is iPaaS?

Let’s be clear on some terminology before we dive into what iPaaS is.

Chances are you’re already using various apps, or Software as a Service (SaaS), across your organization. Statistics show that small businesses use 40 apps on average, and larger businesses use many more.

SaaS examples include Monday, Trello, Salesforce, and Gmail. You usually need to switch between these SaaS applications to complete tasks, whether it’s assigning someone a project in Trello, or responding to a customer in Gmail.

The problem? It’s time-consuming and inefficient to constantly move between these different systems. Since over 82 percent of customers expect almost instant solutions to their problems, this is time you can’t afford to waste.

How does iPaaS help? It’s simple. iPaaS integrates your SaaS applications and cloud services. In other words, it brings all these different apps together so they’re accessible from one place.

With iPaaS, you can read an email from a prospective customer in Gmail, and immediately assign someone a follow-up task on Trello. You can track inbound and outbound marketing in real-time and quickly update a lead’s status on Salesforce.

From a marketing perspective, what’s most important is why iPaaS can work for you. Here’s what you need to know.

What is iPaaS?

The Benefits of iPaaS

Whatever the size of your company, there are three key benefits of iPaaS:

  1. Cost savings
  2. Business efficiency
  3. Security and compliance

Let’s go over these one at a time.  

iPaaS Could Save You Money

If you’re looking to streamline your IT budget, iPaaS could be a great option for you. Here are three specific reasons why.

Flexibility of iPaaS

First, it’s flexible. It’s pretty easy to scale your services to suit your particular business needs at any given time without overstretching your IT budget.

For example, if you’re experiencing high seasonal demands, you can quickly scale up your iPaaS platform to handle the volume. You can ramp up marketing campaigns and manage high numbers of leads without sacrificing speed or efficiency.

How does this flexibility help you cut costs? Again, it’s simple. The more agile your company is, the quicker you can onboard new customers, and the fewer resources you waste in the meantime.

Autonomy of iPaaS

There’s no need to worry about scheduling software updates because iPaaS handles these updates for you. Automatic updates:

  • Helps minimize your maintenance costs
  • Enhances your system reliability

Put simply, automated updates indirectly reduce downtime. More than 17 percent of small businesses have lost customers through downtime, and 37 percent have lost revenue. The upshot? Automation helps protect your bottom line and your customer base.  

Simplicity of iPaaS

Many businesses find the whole concept of rolling out an iPaaS platform daunting.

My advice? Don’t be. iPaaS solutions are user-friendly. They’re designed with the “novice” coder in mind, so you don’t need specialist IT skills to set up the integration.

Since there’s no need to hire an outside developer to help you deploy the service, you can save money in the short term.  

  • All you’re doing is accessing a cloud-based service. There’s little technical installation required.
  • You can quickly install or delete app integrations without spending extra money.
  • You don’t need system permissions to make changes, either. It’s all designed with cost-effective efficiency in mind.

The best part? Since it’s easy to use, you’ll spend less money training employees on how to work the service.

Your Business Efficiency May Increase with iPaaS

Efficiency is a real selling point for these platforms. Here are the key reasons why.

First, did you know that 80 percent of customers expect consistent information when they speak with different members of your team? iPaaS makes this possible through:

  • Automatic data syncing across systems
  • On-the-go access to data
  • Centralized communications between departments
  • Streamlined campaigns
  • Improved access to real-time data for critical decision making

This means you’re improving your customers’ experience with your company and boosting operational efficiency, all at the same time.

This also makes it easier for you to see exactly what’s going on in your company at all times. Whether it’s tracking weekly targets or assessing customer behavior, you can access everything you need from one simple interface.

It usually takes far less time to deploy iPaaS than installing all your software tools separately.

iPaaS Can Help With Security and Compliance

Did you know that cyberattacks cost the average business $200,000? One of the best ways to avoid costly data breaches is by improving your cybersecurity. Here’s how iPaaS can help.

  • Automatic security updates keep your data and infrastructure safe.
  • It’s easier to protect data since it’s all stored in a central location.
  • iPaaS solutions generally include advanced security tools to find threats, like fraud detection and intruder alerts.
  • You can quickly cancel an employee’s user profile if they leave the business, meaning there’s less chance they’ll still have access to confidential data.
  • iPaaS security tools can offer the levels of protection you need to meet many compliance requirements across industries.

Essentially, iPaaS is great for cyber-safe functionality and connectivity because it makes it easier to perform day-to-day tasks, and it facilitates seamless communication across your company. Most of all, iPaaS helps you comply with various industry security standards.

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of iPaaS, you might think it’s the right option for your business. A key question remains: How do you pick the right iPaaS solution for your company?

Choosing Your Ideal iPaaS Solution

Choosing the right iPaaS integration comes down to these two things.

  1. Understanding your company’s specific data needs. For example, some iPaaS tools are best suited to automating contact and lead management, while others work best for automating day-to-day workflows.
  2. Finding a suitable iPaaS platform to meet these needs, at the right price point.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant is a good place to start your iPaaS provider research. But before you get started, here’s what you should do first.

  • Identify what you need from iPaaS, whether it’s customer analytics, employee management, enhanced security, or something else.
  • Set a realistic price point. How much can you afford to spend on iPaaS? Think carefully about your iPaaS budget, which we’ll cover later.

Once you’ve given those key issues some thought, it’s time to choose a suitable iPaaS integration for your specific marketing and commercial goals. Here’s my step-by-step guide.

Be Sure Your Favorite Apps Can Integrate With iPaaS

Let’s start with something simple: not all iPaaS platforms work with every app. With that in mind, the right solution for you should work with most (if not all) of your day-to-day apps.

First, just list all the apps you’re using right now, and decide which ones you need to integrate. This helps you narrow down your research so you’re only focusing on compatible tools.

To narrow your search even further, you need to think in the medium to long-term. Which apps do you plan on integrating as your business grows? What’s important for your marketing strategy?

Your iPaaS solution needs to work for you in the years to come, not just the short-term.

Decide What You Want to Do With Data in iPaaS

On its own, a piece of raw data doesn’t tell you much. Sure, you might have some customer analytics and a few employee reviews, but unless you translate this data into information, you can’t use it to improve your marketing efforts or grow your business.

Remember, that’s the whole point of iPaaS: integrating data from across your company so you’re turning it into useful information. Once you’ve confirmed which apps you’re using and which platforms are compatible, you need to think about where your data fits in.

  • Establish what data you have, whether it is names, promotional tickets, emails, reviews, or something else.
  • Confirm what data you need to integrate to achieve your business goals, because again, not every iPaaS can integrate all types of data.
  • Identify which apps contain this data, because these apps must be compatible with the iPaaS.
  • Check which iPaaS tool makes it easiest to migrate this data.

Make Sure the iPaaS Is Easy to Use

This one’s important. Some iPaaS solutions are more user-friendly than others, so be sure to consider your employees’ IT skills.

  • The more training your team needs, the longer it’ll take to get the system up and running.
  • Without proper training, your employees might accidentally corrupt or delete important data. If there’s no contingency plan in place to handle the learning curve (such as cloud or hard copy backups), you could suffer permanent data loss.

The real problem? Steep learning curves can affect productivity, which impacts everything from customer service to daily workflows. So, factor in employee technical expertise before you choose a platform.

As an aside, if you’re looking for a user-friendly tool to assess your recent marketing efforts, check out my A/B Testing calculator.

Find Out About iPaaS Security and Updates

Sure, iPaaS is pretty safe overall. However, it’s not foolproof, so here’s what to bear in mind.

  • Check the service provider’s track record. Are customers happy with the service? Does the provider have the experience to manage your sector-specific compliance requirements?
  • You should also check the vendor’s record for downtime and data loss. If it’s an unreliable platform, your data may be compromised, and performance may suffer.
  • Confirm how often updates are installed, and ensure they’re applied automatically.

Security is extremely important, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Figure Out Your iPaaS Price Point

iPaaS is a business investment, so you must get it right.

  • Go back to your IT budget and confirm what you can afford to spend.
  • Research the options in your price bracket. List the pros and cons of each platform.
  • Decide if you’re better off paying a fixed monthly or annual fee, or if you’re looking for a more flexible pricing structure. The same provider can sometimes offer different programs for different prices, depending on your needs.

Many iPaaS platforms offer free trials, so it might be worth testing one for 30 days or so before you commit. That said, if it’s a complicated platform, installing and learning it for a free trial period might be more trouble than it’s worth from a financial perspective.  

iPaaS Tools

Are you still wondering where to get started? Let me leave you with some examples of popular iPaaS tools to choose from.

Zapier

With Zapier, businesses of any size can design customized and streamlined workflows. You don’t need tech knowledge either, since there are plenty of premade templates to choose from and integrate as you wish.

For example, you can send notifications to Slack from other apps:

iPaaS Zapier

You can also quickly generate tasks without opening each app individually:

iPaaS Zapier2

The best part? Zapier is wallet-friendly and there’s even a basic free version available.

Oracle Integration Cloud

If compliance is a priority for you, check out Oracle Integration. It has iPaaS templates for many industries, from financial services to healthcare:

Oracle iPaaS

It’s also simple to track leads at every stage of the process from the one platform:

Oracle iPaaS example

You can pay-as-you-go or choose a custom pricing plan.  

Jitterbit

Jitterbit is designed to unify your workflow so you can easily track everything, from marketing performance to subscriber engagement from one location. It’s also compatible with popular services like Salesforce and Microsoft:

Jitterbit iPaaS

You can request a free trial or contact Jitterbit for custom pricing plans.

Conclusion

iPaaS is a great way to streamline data flow within your company, monitor conversions in real-time, and improve your customer response speed. It’s a solid addition to any digital marketing toolbox.

Remember, though, that what’s right for one business may not work for yours. That’s why it’s so important to spend time researching vendors, and ask as many questions as you need before committing to a service contract.  

One final thing: if you need help boosting traffic to your website and optimizing your content to improve conversion rates, don’t forget to check out my consulting services.

Have you deployed iPaaS across your business yet?

The post How Can iPaaS Help Your Digital Marketing? appeared first on Neil Patel.

Generative Media: The Future of Visual Marketing

Generative Media: The Future of Visual Marketing

Every minute, Facebook users upload 147,000 photos, and Instagram users post over 347,000 stories. That’s a tremendous amount of content entering the digital space every day—which may be a problem for digital marketers.

In a world where everyone seems to be creating content, it’s simply not enough to develop everyday content anymore.

You need to produce visually appealing, unique content at a high volume, all without overextending your marketing budget.

Let me introduce you to generative media and all its possibilities.  

What is Generative Media?

Generative media is computer-generated art or “photographs” as shown below. In other words, it’s not an artist drawing the pictures or creating the design. It’s all made by artificial intelligence (AI). Here’s how it works:

  • The artist “instructs” the machine to create content within specific parameters or algorithms.
  • Following these algorithms, the machine generates images.
  • The artist can change the parameters for creating content at any point.

You can see it as a collaboration between artists and machines—there’s still a creative process that could benefit from a professional artist’s eye. In this medium, the artist hands over some control (and labor) to a computer.

But if you’re not the artistic type? You can give the machine complete control. Here are some examples from Generated.Photos of AI-generated stock photos of faces:

generative media stock photos

Think of a conventional artist. They can spend hours, days, or even weeks working on the same piece. While this might be okay for personal endeavors, it may not be great for producing scalable marketing content.

Generative media lets this same artist create hundreds, if not thousands, of quality pieces in this same timeframe. All they need to do is set some rules for the computer to follow. The machine will then keep generating content within those parameters until the artist turns the program off or the program runs out of new possibilities.

This isn’t just a visual technique, either. You can use generative media to create music streams, slogans, dialogue, and marketing videos. Let’s take JustEat as an example.

JustEat is a platform to order food straight to their door from their mobile devices. The company collaborated with Snoop Dogg to launch a new ad campaign, and it wanted to extend this to its Australian subsidiary, MenuLog.

The solution? Use AI technology to switch out the name “JustEat” for “MenuLog” and make Snoop Dogg’s lips move differently.

Remember, generative media isn’t just about art or image creation. You can successfully use these techniques across various media to boost your marketing efforts.

The takeaway? Generative media is extremely diverse and works effectively across various mediums.  

Are Companies Currently Using Generative Media?

Yes—and far more than you may think! In fact, the worldwide generative media market is expected to reach almost $398 million by 2025. Here are just a few examples of other companies already deploying generative media:

Yelp’s Use of Generative Media 

Yelp is a popular website where people post reviews of businesses. As part of its marketing strategy, Yelp uses generative media techniques to:

  • Compile vast numbers of images
  • Identify textures, colors, and shapes in user-submitted photos and generate lists of places with similar features that might appeal to the same users
    • Examples might be users who visit a lot of kid-themed restaurants or relaxing bars

Malaria Must Die and Generative Media

The charity “Malaria Must Die” used generative media to allow David Beckham to speak in nine different languages across its campaign videos. They employed video synthesis technology to dub Beckham and made him appear to be speaking those languages.  

How Baidu Uses Generative Media

Baidu, a Chinese search engine, uses a generative technique called “Deep Voice” to create synthetic voices to communicate with audiences. The algorithm “clones” someone’s real voice to be used for everything from marketing videos to campaign slogans.

Where it took an extremely long time for even one voice to be created in the past, now it takes less than 30 minutes of data training for each—and they’re working on thousands.

Other Terms for “Generative Media”

You might see other terms like “generative art” and “code art” around the internet. They are just different names for generative media. Here’s a list of terms currently used for generative media:

  • Generative design
  • Generative art
  • Algorithm art
  • Evolutionary art
  • Synthetic art
  • Code art
  • Procedural art

This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it gives you an idea of how broad and varied generative media can be across different industries.

Why Should Marketers Care About Generative Media?

Generative media is not just about content creation in the strictly artistic sense. It’s about improving the overall user experience visually. Let me give you an example.

Say you’re hosting an event to showcase your brand. Rather than opting for static, unchanging backdrops, you may want eye-catching backdrops to draw crowds. Additionally, you could want people to engage with the display, whether it’s by taking photographs or videos to share on social media or merely immersing themselves in a stunning visual experience.

Generative media makes this possible because you can somewhat easily (and cost-effectively) program algorithms to generate new patterns, images, and videos on-screen.

The best part? There’s no need to draw all these patterns yourself or employ an artist to create them. The algorithm does the work for you.

What can we take from this? Generative media may improve your engagement levels because the technique provides an immersive experience.

Still not entirely convinced it’s worth checking out? Here are some statistics to bear in mind:

  • Over 70% of people prefer personalized ads. By combining generative media with other techniques like machine learning, you can customize everything from emails to videos with names and individual preferences, giving users a deeply immersive ad experience.
  • On Facebook, over 500 million people watch videos every single day. Customize your videos, use them to showcase your brand personality, and make them engaging to try to capitalize on this high traffic volume.
  • Including fresh, interactive content in your email marketing can boost click-to-open rates by 73%.
  • Around 72% of people prefer videos and visual content to text marketing, which means visual media should be central to your marketing strategy.

Identifying Opportunities for the Use of Generative Media

Speaking of digital marketing strategies, here are some tips for identifying ways you can use generative media across your business:

  • Does your marketing strategy rely on high volume content creation? Integrating AI or generative art can help you produce the quantity of diverse content you need—without compromising on quality.
  • Consider customer reach. If you’re trying to reach audiences across the world (for example, if you’re a vlogger or you frequently use videos), generative media may help you communicate in various languages by generating voice scripts, as we saw earlier.
  • Are you customer-focused? Using generative media to personalize ads and videos could help you build brand loyalty.
  • Use generative media to stand out and boost your brand profile at one-off events. For example, you can deploy algorithm art on jumbotrons or posters.

In other words, generative media may help you build the story behind your brand, expand your customer reach, and increase engagement levels by providing a highly immersive experience.

And it doesn’t matter what kind of company you run. Take Yelp, for example. At first glance, it’s not the kind of brand you’d commonly associate with generative media or machine learning. But that just shows there’s no limit to which companies can adopt generative media into their marketing strategies.

Creating a Generative Media Project

Whether you’re ready to tackle your own generative media project or you plan on outsourcing the work to a freelancer, you have some steps to take. Let’s take a look at both of these options.

Creating Your Own Generative Art

Want to flex your art skills and design your own project? First, you need to get some tools.

You can choose open-source software that lets you create your own coded art or assistive creative apps for building songs and icons. These tools are relatively cost-effective and easy to use if you have some basic coding knowledge.

Once you’ve figured out your way through the new tools, you can either let the computer “decide” what designs to create, or you can set your own parameters. Check out platforms like YouTube for hints and tips. You can also download premade generative art from websites like Generated Photos.

Outsourcing Generative Art Projects

If you’re not artistic, don’t have time to learn the trade, and there are no team members you can use, it may be best to outsource content creation. Hire a freelance artist to work with your team—check out platforms like Creativepool to find talent.

Alternatively, if you’re only looking for one or two pieces, you can buy some premade generative artwork from platforms like Etsy.

Using Generative Art in Your Marketing Strategy

Ready to use generative media in your digital marketing campaigns? Here’s how I’d move forward.

  • Be clear about what you’re trying to achieve. How will generative art support your marketing goals? Are you using it for a one-off event, or will it become part of your brand’s story?
  • Set a clear budget for how much you can spend. If you plan on distributing posters or creating pamphlets, don’t forget to factor in the cost of printing and materials. You’ll also need to cover artists’ fees or subscriptions to software platforms, if applicable.
  • Check out your competitors. What are they working on? How are they using social media?
  • Consider how you will promote your use of generative media. Will you take to social media to tell your customers about it? Or will you take it one step further and work on a press campaign?

Don’t forget to set a schedule for reviewing your progress and tracking your metrics, too. What are you looking for?

Marketing aims to convert leads to customers, so you need to know if your generative media is working for you. Consider tracking:

You could also try A/B testing, which lets you compare one version of an ad campaign against another. Does your generative media campaign outperform your other campaigns? My A/B Testing Calculator can help you here.

Popular Generative Artists

If you want to check out generative media for yourself, here are some of the most popular generative creators changing the art scene:

GMUNK

Bradley G. Munkowitz, or “GMUNK,” uses a blend of light projections, artwork, and other visual effects to create programmable displays and adverts for events, conferences, exhibits, and concerts.

gmunk generative media

With a client list including Dolby, Maserati, and Nike, it’s safe to say GMUNK is a top artist in this field.

Michael Hansmeyer

Hansmeyer uses generative techniques to create 3D architecture. His exhibits can be found across the world, from Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum to Design Miami/Basel.

hansmeyer examples from website | generative media

He uses generative art to explore the intersection between the unexpected and the expected and believes in the power of AI to speed up and enhance the creative process.

Taryn Southern

Taryn Southern is best known as the first artist to use AI to compose and produce an entire album. Named one of the Top 20 Women in VR, she’s performed at major events, including Google’s AI Summit and VidCon.

Mike Tyka  

A co-founder of Google’s Artists and Machine Intelligence (AMI) program, Mike Tyka is one of the first artists to “draw” portraits using generative media. They’re created by a neural network trained to “visualize” imaginary people and draw what it “sees.”

Tyka example generative media

Conclusion

From Instagram to e-commerce stores, generative media may improve the overall user experience and boost your marketing strategy. I believe whatever industry you’re in, it’s worth exploring.

How are you finding generative media? Have you tried it out yet?

The post Generative Media: The Future of Visual Marketing appeared first on Neil Patel.