From the beginning of the web to eCommerce to social media to Marketing Automation, we’ve seen wave after wave of digital transformation. We are now in the midst of that next transformation: Artificial Intelligence.
By: Scott Litman
After years of hearing about the potential of AI for marketers, the tech is finally becoming a daily presence in the workplaces of many agencies and marketing departments. Some of the early signs that AI is taking off can be seen in the rise of agency AIs. First Marcel was unveiled by Publicis over a year ago and more recently Omnicom announced “Omni”.
It is not just the agency giants who are realizing the importance of AI and the advantage of adoption; TGIF, Epicor and Virgin Holidays, for example, have been sharing the boost AI is providing to their businesses. In fact according to Salesforce’s State of Marketing” report—51% of marketing leaders say that they currently use AI in some capacity, with a further 27% planning to start using it over the next two years. With AI becoming commonplace, forward-thinking marketers have a huge opportunity at their fingertips to forge new paths forward, particularly when it comes to strengthening audience relationships.
So, what are some ways B2B marketers can take advantage of this. Here are three marketing use cases where AI is already proving its impact:
Use Case #1: Mass Personalization
In todays the “age of the customer,” the fight for the attention of the consumer has become more competitive than ever. For marketers, this has made the goal of targeting the right audience at the right time exponentially more critical. Before AI, “customer data” would typically include customers’ transaction history, demographics, location and web pages viewed. Marketers didn’t have the technology available to take the vast audience available to them and understand individuals intrinsically. The Martech Industry Council reported that 60% of B2B marketers were asking for a more accurate understanding of the buyer persona. AI delivers that. Marketers can take full advantage of today’s data-rich era, including social media footprints, client surveys and emails from customers to sales and service to analyze their audiences. There is finally technology that can analyze immense sets of data constantly in flux and draw detailed audience profiles explaining personality, needs, and values. With the help of AI, marketers can understand how different messages resonate with specific personalities. That’s knowledge that can advance personalization at scale to drive action and ultimately boost revenue.
Use Case #2: Workflow Automation
Whether it is an answering an RFP or reporting on competitive analysis, media spending, brand health, consumer behavior or web analytics—it can be common for marketers to spend huge amounts of time digging through tools and data to find the information they need. For more complicated datasets an expert is often needed to generate the results. These inefficient processes waste time and resources. Marketers tasked with reoccurring reports or repetitive research processes have little time left for real analysis by the time the data is captured and assembled. According to Harvard Business Review marketing analysts spend a majority of their time (80%) battling with data preparation, rather than analyzing it. One of the biggest advantages of AI is how it can automate the most time-consuming tasks—greatly reducing the amount of manual work and giving more room for in-depth analytics and strategic planning. In today’s world of machine learning, solutions are available where workflows can be automated around custom business processes and workflow needs. Complex reporting from multiple data sources or recurring reports are available instantly with the most updated figures—turning what used to take hours, or days, into minutes. By automating these repetitive tasks, marketers gain a boost in productivity and are able to use their experience and intuition to strengthen the strategic components of reports.
Use Case #3: Marketing Research
Brand marketers make their best decisions using a foundation of research—plus their own insights. Yet Dun & Bradstreet and Forrester Research found only 50 percent of B2B marketing and sales decisions are made based on data. “Despite the vast amount of data available and firms’ commitment to data priorities, the opportunity to use data for marketing and sales decisions remains largely untapped,” Why? Compiling research is often a painstaking, time-consuming process with research sources coming from so many different places. The information is spread across too many systems and there isn’t a consistent format. Plus, many organizations silo data based on organizational structure or job function. This means that functionally, there are a slim handful of people with the necessary access and experience to use some of the most valuable data sources. With AI, you end up with a single knowledge management portal for research across first-party and third-party data. These systems can read and understand a variety of data formats and comb through more data in a minute than an entire marketing team could sift through in a year—unlocking, democratizing, and making it instantly accessible to those who need it. When data is needed, any team member can immediately access the information, allowing marketers to leverage the entirety of the enterprise data to make quicker, more informed decisions across the board. Making smarter decisions, faster leads to outperforming the competition.
These above examples are just the beginning and as with all transformations, we see the early adopters and laggards. The line between new tech and now tech disappears fast and takes latecomers with it. Early adopters of AI can gain an incredible edge by tapping into new capabilities and the availability of data sources. And those who do, will win.
About the author
Scott Litman is the Founder and a Managing Partner at Equals 3, LLC. He is an entrepreneur in search of new ways technology can advance the mission of chief marketing officers, advertising, and media agencies. From the early days of the Internet and the first websites, to business portals of the dot com era to the latest generation of 1:1 marketing — integrating sales, service, and marketing — Litman has a broad history of building businesses that help clients, including Fortune 1000 marketers and large ad agencies, take advantage of cutting-edge digital transformation.