How AI Can Be Leveraged in B2B Marketing
It’s one of those “trending terms” that we often see these days: AI in B2B marketing. When leveraged the right way, AI can help to increase efficiency, improve performance, take over mundane tasks, and enable marketers and their sales counterparts to analyze data, generate the relevant insights, help in the lead pre-qualification process, and more.
Join us as Christian Klepp (Co-Founder/Director of Client Engagement, EINBLICK Consulting Inc.) releases his first solo recording, where he discusses how AI can be utilized in B2B marketing. Christian talks about the benefits of using AI in marketing, what tools to use, what marketers should consider before investing in AI, and highlights situations where AI and automation should not be used. He also elaborates on the importance of having a strategy for using AI in marketing and how AI impacts other facets of B2B industries.
Topics discussed in this episode:
Companies & links mentioned in this episode:
Christian Klepp 00:00
Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for B2B marketers that helps you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry, and take your marketing to new heights. Each week, we talk to B2B marketing experts who share inspirational stories, discuss our thoughts and trending topics, and provide useful marketing tips and recommendations. And now, here’s your host and co-founder of EINBLICK Consulting, Christian Klepp.
Christian Klepp 00:27
Welcome, everyone to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where your weekly dose of B2B marketing insights. This is your host, Christian Klepp. And this is my first solo recording. You heard that right, ladies and gentlemen, today I am the guest of my own show. I’ve decided to do this episode to discuss a topic that’s becoming increasingly more relevant in the world of B2B marketing, whether we choose to accept that or not. Right, so I’d like to talk about how the adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning is impacting the world of B2B marketing. So I’m going to cover the following points in this recording. One is some of the key challenges that B2B marketing faces. Another is how AI (Artificial Intelligence) adoption has impacted productivity in B2B marketing, which AI tools are important for B2B marketers to use. Why AI requires a human touch. Shocker. Situations within B2B marketing where AI and automation should not be used. What B2B marketers should think about before deciding to invest in AI. And finally, I’ll briefly touch on how AI has impacted other facets of B2B industries. So let’s jump in, shall we?
Christian Klepp 01:49
So, how important is AI adoption of B2B marketing you might ask. So there’s an article in the Harvard Business Review that shed some light on this topic. So that article says, marketing has the most to gain from AI out of all the functions within an organization. And that’s actually quite interesting. So why? Well, marketing needs to be the bridge between the customer and the company, and to be that bridge, market research needs to be conducted. So think of activities focused on understanding customer needs, finding ways to link them to products and services based on specific requirements, and convincing members of the target audience to make a purchase. So all of these are factors that AI can, in fact, help to influence. In fact, the American Marketing Association, or AMA conducted a survey in August 2019. Right. And that survey showed that AI adoption actually jumped 27% in the previous year and a half, which is really interesting. So, moving on to some other points, right. So there are a few challenges that B2B marketing faces that AI can help to address. So for starters, it can help to automate or take over mundane tasks, which is nice. But it also helps to improve efficiency and reduce delays and human error. But let’s remember one thing, okay, AI is not just about automation, we also need to consider how AI can take the analysis and the handling of big data that humans alone can’t process or have the capacity to examine. So we have to take that into consideration as well, because AI can do that within a shorter period than it would take a human to do. There’s an article in Forbes that also mentioned some other ways that AI has impacted B2B marketing. So for one, it can analyze data from websites, social media accounts, databases, and other platforms, and generate those insights that will improve the lead generation and as well as lead pre-qualification for both marketing and sales efforts. And it can be leveraged for marketing campaigns. So just think about personalization at scale. And it can be done in a way that the relevant content can then be sent to the right target groups in the right channels at the right time. Which is obviously very helpful, right. And in terms of like improving the customer experience, especially in the in the digital landscape. So thanks to chat bots and AI enabled systems of that nature. It can actually help to improve customer service and be made more available, right? So you almost have this like 24/7 customer service function available. So and that alleviates some of the burdens from the customer service teams.
Christian Klepp 04:50
Then recommendations in AI is another powerful component of the mix. So that’s giving customers more of what they’re looking for. Just think of the way that, you know, if you go on Amazon, and it recommends products for you based on based on your previous search, so AI is able to provide highly personalized product recommendations at scale. Right. And that delivers a better customer experience through these personalized recommendations. So, so I suppose at this stage, you might be asking yourself, so yeah, this is all well and good, but there’s so many options out there. So which AI tools should marketers used? The answer isn’t very straightforward. But you know, there are, there are a few sources out there that help point you in the right direction. And one of those sources is an article written again in Forbes. And that was written by the CEO of Demand Science, a man by the name of Peter Cannone, so he offers three recommendations. Okay. So the first recommendation is automated integrations of data, processes, and external events, intelligence, that help you to make decisions faster in real time. So the second one is intelligence that organizations can act on, which is propelled or driven by a powerful platform for developing insights. And those insights are obviously to help you make decisions, right. And then there’s augmented intent data. So let’s break that down a little bit, because that sounds like a very complicated term. So basically, that’s where AI comes in and assists with data preparation analysis, that it helps to generate the insights and provides explanations on how to augment or to augment rather, how people explore and analyze data within business intelligence, and analytics platforms. So that augmented intent data accumulates multiple data types per market. And it helps to ensure that marketing and sales teams can easily understand and use because wouldn’t it be great to have this type of data and information at your fingertips or at your disposal, that can help you better understand your customers and anticipate, you know, what it is they’re going to purchase next, or you know, or even understand where they’re at, in their buying journey, right? So that you will be able to better help and support them, right. So with all that said, it’s still important to remember that AI and machine learning are still in a state of continuous evolution. So this implies that even though these technologies undoubtedly bring many benefits, they still require a human touch. In fact, I would even dare say there are certain situations where marketers should avoid using AI. Alright. So at this point, I will say let’s, let’s backtrack a little bit and talk about why AI still requires a human touch. And then we’ll go to highlight some of those situations, right? There are at least three reasons I can think of so one is, and this is based also on discussions I’ve had with people, you know, some of the guests on the show, who are experts in the field of AI and machine learning. So one of the things they all said is, you still require people to train the algorithms, since AI is at a constant state of development. So while AI can perform many tasks already, there are others where it still requires guidance, right? The human factor needs to be considered when it comes to improving the overall customer experience. Yeah, you cannot digitize all of that. Right? And AI is not at that stage. And it won’t be for a long time, where it can fully replace people or the work they do. Right. So don’t worry on the machines are not going to rise up and take over the world anytime soon. But from a more practical perspective, here are some situations and B2B marketing where AI and automation should not be used. Right. And, and I’d thrown this caveat that is by no means limited to this list. Okay, so here we go. So the first one is more complex copyrighting or content development. There are probably some people out there that might disagree with this, but I’m gonna just state my case, right? Because AI can help you with conducting the research, analyzing the data, generating insights, and identifying relevant keywords to be inserted into, for example, content that you’re producing. It can provide headlines and blog ideas, but the actual writing of the complex content should still be done by a person.
Christian Klepp 09:51
So that’s one. Number two is market research. And it’s for the same reasons that I just mentioned previous, but it’s also with regards to the qualitative aspect of the research. Which means conducting in depth interviews with customers. That definitely should not be automated. Point number three is conducting outreach to prospects. Don’t even get me started on this one. So there, there are parts of outreach to especially cold outreach that should not be automated, right. And don’t take my word for it. Because we get pitch slapped, and prospected on platforms like LinkedIn, pretty much on a daily basis, you know, we receive messages that are sent by people who are clearly using automation, right? Dear first name. And basically, the reason why they’re doing this is because they’re trying to do outreach at scale. They’re trying to reach as many people as they possibly can within a short period of time, and they’re playing that numbers game. And unfortunately, that leads to the whole theory of probability approach, right? If I reach out to 1000 people, maybe 100 will accept the invitation and maybe I can book a meeting with 10 people. Does it make sense to do it that way? I would argue that it doesn’t. Target marketing the wrong way. So what do I mean by this? And, and this happens a lot like it happened to me a few days ago, I was on a call with someone, we had a great conversation. And that person said, they get back to me one or two days. And not only did they not do that, but they immediately added me to some email list. And I get all this, like, you know, their company newsletter and their emails that are not relevant to me, or my business or my industry. Right. So I mean, if people already shared their contact details with you, try not to mess it up by spamming is where I’m going with this right?
Christian Klepp 11:58
Handling customer complaints. So we’re talking about the improving the customer experience piece. Now granted that AI and technologies can help. I wouldn’t say fix, but it can help support certain elements within that ecosystem, it cannot replace people entirely. And let me just give you an example. Anyone who has tried to call a bank here in Canada knows exactly what I’m talking about, right? It’s almost as if the customer experience system has been configured in such a way that they’ll try to do everything they can to prevent you from talking to an actual person. So you’re thrown into this complex phone tree system. And you know what I’m talking about, press one for this, press two for this. And then after you press that, then you just keep going further down the rabbit hole, right. So now that I’ve highlighted some pros and cons, there are probably some of you out there who are considering if you haven’t done that already, investing in AI for your marketing initiatives. So what are some of the things that you need to consider and think about? In yet another Forbes article by a gentleman called Pekka Koskinen. I hope I pronounced that name properly. CEO and founder of Leadfeeder, so he offers some advice in how you can go about doing this. So basically, he has three steps. Step one, is find out and identify what is slowing your workforce down. So what are your biggest bottlenecks? And what are your problems that are impeding your growth and limiting your ROI (Return on Investment)? Very important, right? So another step to to reduce the firefighting, you need to invest to improve customer experience and retention. So I brought up a couple of points earlier, right. So find technologies that can record, analyze, transcribe, and provide important insights from sales calls. And step three, always try to improve your attribution and analytics. And granted not not everything can be measured. But when you’re talking about AI and B2B marketing, I think it’s really important to measure the results and to monitor your progress, right. So find ways to leverage that data and the insights in a more strategic manner that will help your business unit, your function and your company to grow.
Christian Klepp 14:20
There’s one other important element that I’d like to add to this and that’s to I mean, it almost goes without saying, but it’s I do believe it’s worth mentioning, have a strategy for how you incorporate AI into your marketing plan. So how do you do that? Right? So one is to conduct an audit to see what’s currently working, what isn’t, what’s slowing you down, etc. Number two is to determine and understand how AI can help alleviate some of that burden or how AI can help address some of these problems. Number three, which is also really important. Determine how your customers and the customer experience will be impacted if you incorporate AI into the mix, right? Because there will be a change, there will be an impact. Hopefully it will be a positive one. But these are things you have to also investigate and determine. And point number four. And I cannot stress this enough. Once you have it, test often, see what’s working, and continue to iterate and adjust once you’ve decided which AI tools to use.
Christian Klepp 15:27
So I did mention at the beginning of this recording, how marketing as a function can benefit from AI adoption. And we’ve spoken about it in the past couple of minutes. But clearly, those benefits also spread to other functions within the organization, and in fact, to other facets of B2B industries. Alright, so here are some examples. And I won’t go into too much detail here. But like just from a very top level perspective. It helps to improve business processes, in a way that it reduces inefficiencies, delays, and also human error. AI and machine learning have also created massive advancements in productivity. So just think about like digital chip production, and how the use of AI, especially with electronic design automation helps to alleviate the burden on engineering things, right. And the third one is AI and machine learning have also helped to practically address manufacturing challenges, which has led to enhanced productivity, output, performance, and a reduction in delays and errors, right, anticipating customer needs and trends. So we spoke about that earlier as well. And also improving internal operations within organizations. So beyond just the marketing function, but also think about like HR and finance, right, and how they can use AI for their own purposes to make their work better and more efficient. So we’ve covered a lot of ground on this recording of how AI can play an instrumental role in B2B marketing. I’ve also recently written an article about it, and I talked about the productivity impact on AI in B2B industry. So there’s a link just below this video on our podcast page, if you should be so inclined to read it.
Christian Klepp 17:17
But in the meantime, I’d like to leave you with these thoughts. Okay, so three of them. Number one is the continued development of AI and machine learning has created and opened the door to many opportunities across B2B industry segments. Number two is we have come a long way. But we still have miles to go since AI and machine learning continue to be a work in progress. And number three, companies need to take advantage of this AI revolution that we’re currently experiencing to stay competitive and to grow sustainably. So here’s moving to being a more AI and ML enabled organization, and to have a future that there’s more AI and machine learning enabled, so the path is becoming clearer. Thanks again for tuning into this episode. And if you like what you’re hearing, please give us a like on our LinkedIn page. And this podcast is also available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google, and wherever you get your favorite shows and keep a lookout for my list of go-to AI tools for B2B marketing when I post about this recording on LinkedIn, so take care, stay safe and talk to you soon. I’m Christian Klepp, signing off.
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