Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is the new thing in terms of B2B marketing trends. OK, granted, it’s not so new, and as we’ll see, it’s not even one specific thing… but with the sweeping popularity of products like ChatGPT and a whole host of other practical applications of AI gaining traction, the technology is increasingly transforming our lives – including B2B marketing. This post will dive into how this tectonic shift will likely affect B2B marketers’ work and how you can use it to your advantage.
What exactly is Artificial Intelligence?
Let’s take a step back to first understand the topic at hand! With a history dating back to the early 1950s, AI systems have had a few decades to reach maturity – which is what’s happening right now, a process dubbed by some as the AI revolution.
The goal of Artificial Intelligence, in essence, is to develop computer systems that mimic the abilities that human intelligence gives us. That covers a variety of aspects, including speech recognition and natural language processing, machine vision and the interpretation of visual input, the capacity to learn, and more.
That last part is key as it helps us understand how Machine Learning (ML) comes into the picture. AI systems are considered intelligent because they can ingest tons of data and “learn” based on that to make predictions. ML technologies enable that learning, essentially putting the intelligence in AI. And that’s what makes Artificial Intelligence such a useful tool for B2B marketers.
Use cases of Artificial Intelligence in B2B marketing
If you’re thinking all that sounds quite abstract, you may be right. The reason Artificial Intelligence is so front-and-center these days, however, is that those abstract ideas are increasingly being realized in very practical applications. Gartner predicts that 75% of enterprises will shift from piloting to operationalizing AI by the end of 2024. AI is increasingly making its way into the standard marketing technology stack, with applications and benefits including the following.
Enhanced customer insights and supercharged lead gen
Part of the fun (and by that we mean the challenge) of B2B marketing has always been the generation of high-quality leads, getting as much data about them as possible, and driving them through the funnel to close sales. All of those steps are data- and effort-intensive processes.
Using cloud-based solutions (think technologies like Customer Data Platforms) to capture and synthesize both online and offline customer data and unleashing AI-powered solutions to make sense of all that data gives B2B marketers a powerful tool. Accurate and real-time data insights help generate more leads, better segment them, implement sharp lead-scoring strategies, and identify buying intent at just the right moment. Letting Artificial Intelligence find patterns in your customer data results in more efficient segmentation and can also help pinpoint user groups ripe for ABM (account-based marketing) strategies.
Better recommendations, personalized customer journeys
But it’s not just about better tailoring your approach to customer groups. AI helps you get even more granular by enabling you to provide personalized experiences for individual users throughout the customer journey. In fact, with AI-powered solutions, you can craft both individual customer interactions as well as entire customer journeys. From personalized email campaigns to dynamically offering website content or products based on customer preferences, Artificial Intelligence can help tailor-make experiences for your customers to facilitate sales. Recommendation engines specifically have been a hit in e-commerce and are increasingly being applied in content management to optimize engagement.
Enhanced interactions and customer experience
AI doesn’t just support you in the part leading up to closing a sale, either. It can be leveraged to support your customers, too, both before and after-sales. This could mean indirectly relying on AI (like optimizing your website for voice search) to actively using AI-backed chatbots that can actually answer real questions and solve problems for the customers visiting your website, with full access to that customer’s purchasing history and prior interactions.
Note that it still pays to be careful with customer-facing applications of Artificial Intelligence: as powerful as the technology may be, it’s still not at the point where it could completely replace a human team member genuinely doing their best to support a request. AI is currently best suited for low-priority and low-complexity, early customer service touchpoints.
Facilitating Search Engine Optimization
While we’ve certainly heard AI tools such as ChatGPT being applied in the academic context to deliver “original” content by students looking to cut a few corners, AI-generated content still tends to be subpar when it comes to engagement. As appealing as it may be due to its simplicity and affordability, using Artificial Intelligence tools to craft unoriginal copy for web content is not the key to success – especially considering that filtering out AI-generated content looks like the next item on AI developers’ priority lists.
Yet Artificial Intelligence has promising use cases in simplifying the process of boosting human-written copy for SEO, tackling typos (think Grammarly), helping marketers identify trending keywords of relevance, and uncovering niche topics to test in their communications.
Measuring & optimizing marketing performance
Everything from website analytics (Google Analytics Intelligence) to campaign performance measurement and the optimization of digital advertising can benefit from AI-based tools. Once again, the ability to gather real-time data and collate that with other data sources at scale to mine insights is made simple by Artificial Intelligence. Tracking the performance of increasingly granular and personalized campaigns requires marketers to rely on smart AI solutions, which can also offer recommendations in an automated manner to optimize B2B marketing performance.
Adapting to AI in B2B marketing
Artificial Intelligence is here to stay. It’s already a powerful tool in the martech stack, and the growing number (and complexity) of emerging AI products suggests that marketers will have a lot more AI tools at their disposal. As always, staying on top of tech advancement is key to B2B marketing success – but so is knowing when and how to efficiently apply these technologies.
Certain applications of Artificial Intelligence have already reached maturity and are easily applied as features in off-the-shelf products without requiring much expertise. Others are still in a development phase and may require a great deal of care regarding the quality of input they are given (as well as thorough validation of the outputs they provide). B2B marketers should do their best to stay informed about relevant use cases of AI, and rely on the help of specialists to harness the power of AI in a range of applications that could give them a competitive edge.
In terms of B2B content marketing, despite the raging success of ChatGPT, our advice is that you use AI carefully to support the research phase and to keyword-optimize content. But relying on AI to actually write the final copy that makes it into your communication risks diluting your brand voice. Your best bet is to work with a professional content development agency like Contentim and to get informed about how AI can support your content marketing activities.