Should We Embrace AI in B2B Marketing?

The subject of Artificial Intelligence in marketing is something that is often lost in the background of day to day tasks. Many marketers seem to be against it, or even afraid of it. A recent report even stated that marketers graded their understanding of AI as low as a C+. This is something that needs to be rectified since it is already changing the way we market.

The real question is: should we be afraid of the ever-present feature of integrating AI in our marketing tasks and techniques?

AI and the web

Before this question can truly be answered, we need to identify where we are already using AI in our marketing. Rest assured, we are already using it on a daily basis. For example, SEO is essential in the marketing of your website, as you strive to fill in certain criteria to help improve the organic ranking of your company’s site. This is not always as simple as it sounds, but you can find some tips here. While this used to be carried out by Google Search Engineers, they created an AI called RankBrain, which proved to be more accurate at identifying the pages that would rank highest.

The use of RankBrain for SEO purposes is something that should be celebrated. It effectively recognises which pages to rate at the top with consistency. So now, marketers can learn how RankBrain searches the criteria for this and then aim to target what the algorithm deems essential for a reliable, trusted site. It could not be simpler.

AI, your sales assistant

One new form of AI poses more questions about how it can be used and whether there are any negative effects to this. For example, Conversica can be used to help businesses generate leads faster without sacrificing hours of time. Not only does it identify leads, but it can also quantify your leads to tell you which ones the AI believes you should focus on. The moment the software identifies a lead, it will immediately notify your sales representative with the relevant information for them to chase the lead. 

Saving time, quantifying leads, identifying your best opportunities all sound great, right? Well not exactly. There have been some major concerns regarding the way that the AI can interact with your leads. There can be many ways that your leads aren’t converting, but your AI doesn’t know them. The Conversica software can send human-like personalised emails that will go out to your leads. They have found that, currently, 35% of these emails receive a response from leads. While this seems like a real time saver and can boast results, we need to ask: will we lose consumer trust? 

It now poses a real issue if this type of software becomes the norm in B2B marketing. If you received an email that you suspected to be composed by an AI, would you then question the intent of that company if they weren’t willing to take the time out to contact you directly themselves? In sales and B2B marketing, it is essential to build client relationships, which takes time to nurture and build a rapport. If we try to skip this necessary step, will we eventually see a gradual decline in responses once people are more aware of AI emails?

Well, we may not need to worry about that just yet – as a case study of Epson using Conversica proves. Epson began using Conversica to help with their sales and was met with astounding results. Epson was able to report a customer response rate increase of 240%. Of these leads, they received a 75% increase in their number of quality leads. This is astounding, considering Epson typically receives around 60,000 leads per year. If these numbers are anything to go by, then everyone would be using it. So why aren’t they?

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Making marketing personal

There is the worry of breaking personal relations between you and your clients through the automation of your email composition, but there is also the worry that AI will eventually replace some staff, as it can generate quality leads faster using an algorithm. However, at this point in time at least, this is simply not true. Yes, an AI system can generate quality leads, but it won’t hold the personal relationships that are built with leads, meaning that it will not have the knowledge of the lead and how best to approach them. This is another reason for how it can achieve early results but may lead to a lack of quality over time.

Currently, only 18% of marketers are directly using AI in their work, with 66% beginning to integrate AI into their office in the near future. A recent survey by account-based marketing firm Demandbase found that 85% of marketers currently using AI believe that it will provide a double-digit increase in revenue growth within the next two years. If these marketers are so confident about the use of AI, shouldn’t we be confident too? It appears that the use of AI could actually aid and improve our marketing, rather than replace us altogether. 

The influence of AI on social media

Another reason that AI could be pivotal in marketing for years to come is how it plays a role in social media. Social media has become so important in the world of marketing that we often look for new ways to improve how to market on it. As we strive to create unique content while using relevant, catchy hashtags, we seek to find ways of making things simpler. We all know that marketers could do with more hours in the day, so why not make better use of those hours that we do have? 

This is exactly what Vestorly had in mind when they began integrating their AI to work with social media content management site Hootsuite, in a bid to make personalised content that engages the user’s audience faster. Vestorly claims to save marketers around 8 hours a week as they save them from sourcing content, along with a 300% increase in engagement across social media, emails and the web. To see such a dramatic increase while saving time is unprecedented. Surely we can agree that this type of AI would benefit a marketer and be something to embrace? After all, the easier we make one aspect of our job, the more time we have to spend on other tasks.

How will AI affect marketing going forward?

It appears to be fairly clear that AI certainly does have a place within marketing. We can see the various ways that it can aid us in day-to-day tasks, evaluate and rank our content, and even attempt to imitate human-like responses. The one thing that is left to be answered is: do we want to keep progressing with AI in marketing? How far can it really go?

Have you come across any use of AI in marketing that has either aided your work or perhaps had a negative impact? Do you think we should opt for the ease of AI assisting us or would you take a more personal, tailored approach?

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Bekki Barnes

With 5 years’ experience in marketing, Bekki has knowledge in both B2B and B2C marketing. Bekki has worked with a wide range of brands, including local and national organisations.

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