2017 is just about over. It’s been a year of a lot of political and societal commotion and change.

In the midst of it all, the retail and e-commerce space has seen its share of changes, too, as companies have been focused on:

  • Speed and ease. Most retailers have been focusing on eliminating unnecessary steps for customers (e.g. frictionless customer experiences). Amazon Prime is setting the standard for quickness in terms of delivery – and companies like Target and Walmart are following suit.
  • More digitally-focused (as opposed to in-store). For the first time in 2016, online Black Friday sales eclipsed in-store sales. The trend continued this year with U.S. retailers generating $7.9 billion in Black Friday sales (up 18% from last year). The majority of progressive brands have prioritized the online experience – making it swift, pleasing, painless, and personal.
  • Personalized (customized on a 1:1 level) experiences. Many consumer brands are beginning to understand that mass email distribution, static web product recommendations, and manual segmentation of data are no longer cutting it. They’re going beyond those, using marketing automation software to scale personalized marketing.

With all of this change, it can be difficult to stay on top of what’s happening in the world of marketing technology, and AI marketing (and, most importantly, what it all means for you). So, I’ve curated a list of several of our favorite articles from 2017, plus even more “must-read” articles from elsewhere on the web. It’s all to help you end the year informed and ready to take on 2018.

During your downtime during this year-end holiday season, sit back (perhaps in your plane seat, recliner at your in-laws, or cozied up by the fire), and enjoy.

Bonus Tip: Want to get to all these articles eventually, but don’t have the time now? No problem… there’s an app for that. You can download Pocket to easily save content for later. With Pocket, all of your content goes to one place, so you can view it anytime, on any device. Ideal for subway commutes, flights, or anywhere else you’ll be ready to read!

Top Emarsys Articles:

1. Most thought-provoking – The Clear and Present Dangers: An E-Commerce Operation Without AI. Adopting new AI-enabled tech may seem scary… but have you ever thought about the consequences of NOT using it? Without AI, your marketing team’s output and performance will suffer. Learn how.

2. Best infographic – How to Convert First-Time Buyers into Active Customers. This stat-packed infographic shows you how to turn one-time buyers into loyal brand fanatics. The highest performing marketing teams aren’t just thinking about conversions — they’re hyper-focused on retention, too.

3. Most impactful for the industry – 10 Top Takeaways: Forrester AI Readiness Study [New Research]. In conjunction with Forrester, we released new research earlier this year looking at the current (and projected) use of AI-enabled tools among digital marketers. If you’re interested in how AI is being used today and how it will impact marketing down the road, this list-style piece is for you.

4. Most “telling” piece – How to Combat 4 Major AI Myths & Misconceptions [Plus Expert Insights]. My squad at Emarsys has spent the past year trying to relentlessly dispel this misconception among marketers that AI is all hype. Hesitantly believing that it is can hold back your business, and ultimately hurt the bottom line. AI is here to stay for marketers! This piece takes you through common myths, busting them one by one. This infographic sums up the findings really nicely, too.

5. Best email-focused pieceUltimate Checklist: The 15 Most Important Email Marketing Metrics. Email is the furthest thing from dead. In fact, it’s the centerpiece from which every one of the most successful digital marketing strategies eventually flourish. But simply “doing” email marketing isn’t enough… among a myriad of possibilities, you have to choose and execute against the most meaningful KPIs for your business. I got some of the leading email experts in the world to help me identify just which metrics those were, and exactly how to calculate them.

6. Most timely – 20 Ways to Generate More Online Sales During the Holidays. Though we ran this back in early Q3 as you were ramping up for the Holiday season, I think it’s worth including in this round-up. Just in case you missed it (and since we’re smack dab in the middle of the Holidays), here’s 20 highly-actionable tactics to boost your sales this winter.

Related Content: Looking for more statistics and best practice advice around not just Christmas and New Year’s, but also Valentine’s Day, Singles Day, and more – and from a truly global perspective? You’ll want to read this.

7. My personal favorite – 3 Guaranteed Ways to Increase Conversions with a Customer-Focused E-Commerce Hub. This recent article presents three tangible ways – website experience, traffic generation, and prediction/personalization – for digital marketers to instantly boost conversions. It showcases numerous examples, and has lots of actionable takeaways (plus was a lot of fun to put together!).

Top Articles Elsewhere:

8. The 5Ps of Marketing Artificial Intelligence

Why it’s so great: Paul Roetzer, CEO and Founder of Marketing AI Institute, lays out, in layman’s terms, everything you need to understand about what AI is, how to get started with it, and the five Ps of marketing AI. Especially valuable if you’re just starting to think about AI.

9. AI Is Changing Marketing As We Know It, And That’s A Good Thing

Why it’s so great: This article on Forbes covers how the AI marketing revolution is affecting business, marketing, and CX. Author Andrew Stephen also reveals how AI allows marketers to spend “more time allocated to areas where human input and focus is needed the most.”

10. 15 examples of artificial intelligence in marketing

Why it’s so great: If you’re looking for tangible examples of AI in action, look no further. Ben Davis, Editor at Econsultancy, showcases the spectrum of ways in which AI can be used in marketing — complete with examples and images.

11. The non-techie’s guide to machine learning

Why it’s so great: Kanaan Chandra boils down AI and machine learning to the very, very basics — so us marketers can try to get a grip. This colloquial piece is literally the first-day-of-college “AI 101” introductory course. Kanaan, a software developer, takes us beneath the surface at times, but always comes back up for a breath of fresh air and uses comic relief throughout. One of my faves on this list.

12. Artificial intelligence — have expectations exceeded reality?

Why it’s so great: Laura Cain of Thomvest Ventures discusses how her investment firm thinks about AI. She describes its current and projected impact on several key industries and ultimately concludes that “the AI wave is here to stay.” Pound for pound, one of the best pieces on this list.

twitter Best round-up of #AI #marketing articles from 2017 across the web, ft. @paulroetzer, @herrhuld, @kannanator, @erikbryn, @andjdavies, & more CLICK TO TWEET

13. The Business of Artificial Intelligence: What it can — and cannot — do for your organization

Why it’s so great: HBR’s July cover story puts all the pieces of this giant AI puzzle together. It steps back and recognizes the historical evolution of AI, but takes an in-depth exploration of what, exactly, AI and machine learning can do for us today. Authors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee conclude that those “organizations that can rapidly sense and respond to opportunities will seize the advantage in the AI-enabled landscape.” Most comprehensive and detailed article here.

14. The Future of Marketing is Predictive

Why it’s so great: Andrew Davies, Co-founder at Idio, penned one of my personal favorite narratives of the year in the June edition of Chief Content Officer. He relates his personal anecdote to AI and then to why and how enterprises need to start thinking about trying AI.

15. The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond

Why it’s so great: Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum discusses how AI is truly the Fourth Revolution of our time — a blending and “fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” This article expands my thinking about AI — it’s truly more than just a technological phenomenon… AI is inspiring a paradigm shift on a global scale as a new era is upon the human race. Cheers to a great 2017 – and here’s to a prosperous 2018! Get started by checking out our content and resources for more valuable information.

Cheers to a great 2017 — and here’s to a prosperous 2018! Get started by checking out our content and resources for more valuable information.