February 23, 2022
We all know AI is marching toward the enterprise, bringing massive disruption and promising outcomes to marketing operations. We just didn’t know how quick the pace — until now. While marketers were slowly adopting AI prior to the pandemic, there’s no question it’s surging now.
Revenue marketing consultancy Demand Spring released a new report showing that 41% of B2B marketers plan to use AI tools this year, a leap from 18% last year. Demand Spring’s findings echo a McKinsey 2021 study showing a steady rise in AI adoption across the enterprise: 56% of companies reported AI adoption in at least one function last year, up from 50% in 2020.
What’s driving this sudden surge?
Demand Spring cites the emergence of the digital channel, as well as leaner marketing teams, as a result of the pandemic. But the bigger picture is that there’s more riding on marketing outcomes than ever, which is why marketers need AI and machine learning to help them make better decisions.
“AI allows marketers to use their intuition and have it backed by data to make predictions about what’s actually going to happen,” said Ehren Maedge, general manager of North America at MoEngage, during a recent webinar hosted by CMO Council. (Check out the replay here.)
Top use-cases for AI in marketing are budget allocation and spending effectiveness. AI solutions can help estimate ROI in advance of a campaign or promo, thus greatly impacting campaign planning, media buying, targeting and personalization. It’s not a stretch to envision AI someday creating content, including advertisements, without the involvement of human marketers.
Marketing has always been important, but now it’s seen as a path to purchase. Given the rapidly emerging digitalized customer journey and many fragmented customer touchpoints, the traditional sales model has been upended. Sales is now a team sport involving marketing, sales and customer service.
“This year’s report discovered that 72% of marketers are executing ABM programs, which increased 20% from 2021,” Demand Spring says. “This growth suggests that marketing and sales are realizing that the buyer interacts with both departments in a non-linear manner throughout the buyer journey.”
In fact, marketing may be more important than sales in some cases.
Even before the pandemic, Forrester Research found that 62% of B2B buyers can finalize selection criteria or vendor list solely on digital content. No doubt this figure has grown, thanks to the self-service nature of the digitalized customer journey. McKinsey says 65% of B2B companies across industry sectors offer e-commerce capabilities, up from 53% in early 2021.
Consequently, marketing is now responsible for revenue growth. Nearly 80% of CEOs look to marketing leaders to drive revenue growth, according to McKinsey. In Demand Spring’s report, 82% of marketers indicated that they are primarily measured on sales pipeline initiated, an increase of 12% since last year.
With so much at stake, marketers are turning to AI to plan and execute their critical marketing programs. But this is just the beginning. AI’s ultimate goal is to “find the optimal combination of the right product at the right price, promoted in the right way via the right channels to the right people,” says Jim Lecinski, co-author of The AI Marketing Canvas.
(If you’re feeling a step behind the AI learning curve, we highly recommend The AI Marketing Canvas to get up to speed. While the book geeks out a bit in data science and statistics, nodes and networks, it’s chock-full of real-world case studies showing AI in action.)
Tom Kaneshige is the Chief Content Officer at the CMO Council. He creates all forms of digital thought leadership content that helps growth and revenue officers, line of business leaders, and chief marketers succeed in their rapidly evolving roles. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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