The human race might be on the edge of a cataclysmic future as self-conscious droids will soon boot us out of our respective workplaces and eventually make us their unquestioning slaves. This is what the artificial intelligence-bashing futurologists desperately want you to believe. But before that happens, we are more interested in contemplating whether AI demands thoughtful consideration by B2B marketers. Looking at the disruptive capabilities AI can bring to the marketing functions; the technology might be worth every penny you invest in it.
A section of gutsy marketers have already taken the plunge. According to the fourth annual Salesforce State of Marketing report, 51% of marketing leaders are currently leveraging AI, while over a quarter (27%) are planning to do so by 2019. Same level of enthusiasm has been recorded by a joint survey from EverString and Heinz Marketing, where 64% of respondents have said they think AI is valuable for their sales and marketing strategy. And now the showstopper: Teradata reveals that worldwide 61% of enterprise decision-makers anticipate their organizations will employ a Chief AI Officer (CAIO) in the coming days!
So, the stage is ready and the time is the most opportune. It’s time to hit “GO” for AI. To stop you from sitting on the fence any longer, here are the top 5 ways how artificial intelligence can bring a phenomenal change in your B2B marketing initiatives:
Accelerated lead conversion with AI
Collecting data about your existing customers and potential ones is a smart move. However, mere accumulation will not be of much help unless you take pains to analyze that data and turn it into workable insights. That’s what AI-fortified tools are known for; they make your data pool meaningful. Not even the shrewdest industry veteran can guarantee you that all the leads entering your marketing funnel will get converted. Insights generated by AI empower you to establish closer engagement with leads, thus the rate of conversion increases at a quick pace. In a Demandbase survey conducted in the last quarter of 2016, 52% of B2B marketers stated that conversion of more leads is the fourth highest measure of AI’s success.
Intelligent customer segmentation and lead scoring with AI
Having a huge number of leads is not quite as great as it appears on the surface because quantity is not the crux of the matter here. Rather quality is. While handling leads or prospects, marketers have to carefully distinguish between the possibility of conversion and prospects who might not be eager to close the deal. Machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, does an excellent job of telling apart leads you are required to focus on and those that can be safely discarded based on the criteria you decide for your business. In other words, machine learning algorithms will score leads on the basis of convertibility. This becomes very important if the marketers want to follow account-based marketing tactics; they can increase focus and work dedicatedly towards converting those accounts that are most likely to turn.
The Salesforce report referenced earlier says nearly three-fifths (57%) of marketers expect AI will have a substantial impact on lead scoring over the next half a decade. Like accurate lead scoring, AI is also a powerful solution to segment customers in the most effective manner. To do that, AI relies on clustering. Since generic marketing messages cut no ice with the new breed of customers, clustering can do the trick by pushing forward context-aware content.
Hyper-personalized outbound marketing with AI
Customers tend to buy more from businesses that can provide products and services precisely tailored to their liking. Personalization has always been a challenge for B2B marketers, but now they too can personalize at scale with AI. Imagine a common situation: a busy executive’s inbox is bombarded throughout the day with hundreds of near-identical emails containing bland marketing pitches from over-zealous sellers and if your email happens to be one of them, will the executive even bother to open your missive? Most likely, your mail will land in trash folder and you will be designated as just another spammer. On the other hand, AI-backed conversations that are truly personalized for each recipient, will instantly strike the right chord. The good news is an overwhelming number (70.5%) of B2B marketers are showing interest in embracing AI for personalization, indicates the EverString and Heinz Marketing survey.
Better targeted content marketing with AI
Developing contextually-driven optimized content is not easy. So, can AI create on its own, engaging content that your customers love to read or see? Well, some large companies are having a whack at it by churning out basic content on a regular basis. Two individuals have gone one step further by letting AI author a film script. However, despite all these cool facts, AI is still no match for human creativity. Then what role can AI play when it comes to content marketing? First and foremost, AI is able to deliver the right content, exactly when needed, to the right persons. With AI as their ally, marketers can do effective and super-fast content curation that reflects the target audience’s sentiment. Another contribution of AI to marketing is the advent of chatbots: the non-human agents that imitate how humans talk. The queries and issues customers raise with chatbots can be used by marketers to make content more relevant.
Smarter marketing automation with AI
The premise behind marketing automation is that it will set marketers free from laboring away at repetitive tasks. When you add AI to the mix, automation gets a whole new meaning. From a rigorous content ideation process to actually creating content with NLG technology to testing content, AI has your back. Further, AI can manage your digital ad campaigns (media buying, cross-channel execution, and so on) and interpret a raft of analytics reports. Possibilities are endless.
Although, automating a significant portion of marketing with machines can take away the initial effort, the final conversion of a prospect into a long-term customer still lies in the hands of people, as B2B marketing is all about building trustworthy business relationships. Artificial intelligence is a modern technological prodigy that has many amazing use cases for B2B marketers, but it’s certainly not a deus ex machina to solve all your marketing problems without human interference. When applied along with the human element, AI gives the desired outcomes.