By Chuck Leddy
The term “artificial intelligence” comes with a lot of hype, expectation, confusion, and a large dose of fear about robots stealing our (B2B marketing) jobs. But what does AI really mean for B2B marketers? How can B2B marketers leverage the opportunities AI presents, both now and in the future, to drive peak marketing performance and marketing ROI? Finally, how should marketers evaluate the potential implementation of (more) AI into their martech stacks?
This B2B Marketing webinar – How AI is Transforming B2B Marketing – hosted by Joel Harrison, its editor-in-chief, addressed these massive questions. Three experts, all of whom are using AI for B2B, approached the topic from multiple perspectives, discussing the present use of AI and how B2B marketers might use it in the future to better engage their customers.
The experts included Katie King, Managing Director of Zoodikers, who’s a consultant on AI and digital transformation. Ms. King is also the author of Using Artificial Intelligence in Marketing: How to Harness AI and Maintain the Competitive Edge. Expert Tom Salvat is Founder & CEO of Concured, an award-winning content marketing AI company that analyzes customer behaviour around content, then prescribes what content marketers should craft and deploy next in order to maximise engagement. Finally, Marcus Lambert is Chief Technology Officer of Omobono. Lambert has over 20 years’ experience in technology, including a stint at global consultancy Mckinsey & Company.
Current uses of AI in B2B marketing
“AI is already being used in various marketing technology solutions,” began host Joel Harrison, “including predictive analytics, sentiment analysis, CRM, sales automation, and more.” Salvat, CEO of Concured, added that “AI helps B2B marketers draw actionable insights from their data. For example, we help marketers understand how customers perceive their content and then advise them on how to make content that better addresses known customer preferences.” Lambert, CTO of Omobobo, added that “lots of AI is being integrated into martech tools, including chatbots, image recognition, and sentiment analysis. These AI-enabled tools are driving improved customer engagement.”
Katie King noted that “AI is impacting all areas of the business, not just marketing but HR, sales, operations, finance, and more.” King, who literally wrote a book on AI and marketing, was asked how marketers can most effectively deploy AI. “You need the right mindset to go with AI,” she said, “you need to be prepared for a journey of continuous learning, where you learn and iterate based on your data. If you’re ready for this journey, AI presents a great opportunity for any B2B marketer.”
Salvat got more specific about use cases for AI. “You can customize content using IP addresses,” he said, “you can build ‘interest profiles’ for your customers and then customize specific content for each interest profile. We’re doing this stuff right now, and are seeing more customer engagement and higher marketing ROI.”
What AI enables: More creativity for marketers
None of the panelists believe AI will eliminate marketing jobs, though all agreed that AI will transform jobs, enabling marketers to move away from manual, data-collection functions and towards higher-level, creative tasks. As Salvat put it, “marketers have traditionally made creative decisions based on anecdotal evidence or their own experience. AI changes that by enabling marketers to access loads of data to gain deeper insights into customer behavior and act upon those insights faster.”
The creativity of marketers will always be in demand: AI is simply making more space for that creativity to flourish. Lambert noted that AI will liberate more marketers to do the kind of creative work that attracted them to marketing in the first place, building that creativity atop a firm foundation of accessible data and easy-to-use AI tools. “Marketers won’t need to be data scientists to analyze and leverage data,” he said, but they will need to work creatively.
Confusion about AI abounds
We’re all experiencing the “Gartner hype cycle” in AI right now, noted King. “About 40% of what’s currently being marketed as AI isn’t even AI,” she said, “but are various forms of existing marketing automation. It’s no wonder people are so confused.” How can marketers get beyond the confusion and hype around AI? Salvat suggested learning on your own and also speaking to martech providers about how their offering are integrating AI capabilities in order to solve your specific challenges. “They should be able to explain exactly how their offerings use AI and how that use benefits you as a marketing operation,” he said. “If they can’t, run away immediately.”
What does an individual B2B marketer need to know about AI? “You don’t need to know all the intricacies about how AI works,” said King, “as a business organization and as marketers, you need to begin by understanding your specific marketing and business challenges, and then carefully consider how AI can potentially help you address them.”
What came across most clearly from the “AI in B2B Marketing” webinar was this: AI is already here, and its capacities will only increase within B2B marketing down the road. The three experts agreed that we’re seeing much AI-related hype in the martech space right now, so B2B marketers must stay calm and perform their due diligence in order to evaluate how they might deploy AI to solve their challenges. ”It’s not so much about AI as a technology, but about understanding how AI can bring positive impacts on your specific business objectives,” explained Lambert. As host Harrison replied with a chuckle, “that’s really good, non-technical advice coming from a veteran technology person.”
This bears repeating: “It’s not so much about AI as a technology, but about understanding how AI can bring positive impacts on your specific business objectives.” We couldn’t agree more, and realizing it can be applied across all martech is a key reason why we developed our Peak Performance Strategic Framework. We help B2B marketers consider strategy, people, process, customers, results – and yes, technology – as they continue to mature their marketing operations. Questions? Contact us today.