Most companies have to come to accept pretty low conversions from their marketing efforts. The average email marketing click-through rate is lower than 3 percent, while good engagement on Facebook is considered to be anything over 1 percent. That’s right; 99 percent of fans ignoring your ad isn’t catastrophic, it’s actually a pretty standard goal.
While the eventual converting customers are the ones that fuel your business, it stands to reason that improving these numbers would help your business grow exponentially.
And it turns out that beyond automation, chatbots and robotic technology, AI is innovating in the B2B marketing space as well.
It can increase your bottom line by providing smart marketing insights to shorten sales cycles, empower your team with actionable intelligence and send your CTR and conversion rates through the roof. I recently sat down with Raz Choudhury, Founder of SAM.AI to discuss the the current state of B2B marketing. Here are some trends to look out for:
The creation of martech silos
Instead of powering your business forward, marketing technology can do more harm than good. You may be using three or four different programs to give your marketing team insights. Maybe Hootsuite, Salesforce, SemRush, and Google Analytics. But flitting from platform to platform to check out data on your customers can take a lot of time and bring up conflicting results.
With over 5,000 marketing technology solutions on the market in 2017, the choice can be overwhelming for any business, sifting through the pros and cons of all the software they come across. According to a study by the the 2017 MarTech Industry Council, the average business today has road tested at least 16 marketing technology solutions; and the largest organizations round out at almost 100!
An excess of information is causing your marketers to fall upon their swords, rather than hold them high and march into battle. Martech silos are created, leaving blind spots and missing information. You end up getting lost somewhere left of customer relationship management (CRM), and right of marketing automation, content management systems (CMS) and analytic reporting.
Instead of priming your business to beat out the competition, you’re creating chaos. And worse than that? You’re shelling out marketing dollar after marketing dollar to do so.
Multiple platforms cause blind spots
When you rely on different platforms, you’ll receive different information. Let’s say, for example, your sales rep is about to call a prospect and wants to glean as much information as possible before making contact.
She logs into SalesForce and gets an idea of approximately how sales-ready her prospect is and sees some basic social media integration. She then hops over to another platform to verify what nurture campaigns this prospect has interacted with. Maybe she does a little further analysis on some other tool to check social media engagements, or look at time spent on certain pages on your site.
She may be arming herself with more information, but she’s also wasting a lot of time. On top of that, each platform was built on the idea that their insights and data are the most important. It’s like a government meeting with hundreds of lobbyists vying for their cause.
You get conflicting information and have to make a judgment call to decide which one is right, or piece together the best parts from all those voices. At best, your sales reps are going into their calls with gaps in the story; at worst, they’re completely off point and exhausted before making a single call.
All this data meant to reduce manual work has only served to increase it, which is both inefficient and inaccurate. According to Walker Sands’ State of Marketing Technology 2017, “88 percent of marketers use more than one martech tool on a regular basis and 42 percent admit their technology is fragmented or piecemeal.” Multiple platforms are causing blind spots in your marketing efforts and this can harm your business.
Full marketing integration through AI
According to marketing technologist, Scott Brinker, the number of public APIs has grown from 186 in 2005 to 15,799 in 2017. Seeing as APIs pretty much exist to promote integration between one platform and another, this should be creating greater efficiency. But, unless your chosen marketing technology has all the right functions integrated, you’ll still be seeing multiple reports from each platform. The data may flow between platforms, but you’re still not seeing the big picture.
AI and companies are eliminating the need for multiple platforms, offering integrated marketing solutions that work for your company. You no longer have to bend your marketing strategy around someone else’s technology stack. Capabilities like machine learning mean that previously inaccessible data is tracked, analyzed and made useful.
Not only can you harness an untapped wealth of customer information, but AI goes beyond the data and delivers actual insights. Having AI built into your martech stack is like having a data scientist constantly available. You can inquire about what’s most important in the moment, such as the top 20 prospects to call on a given day, or what keywords your competitors are using.
Also, given the fact that AI is getting smarter all the time, soon you’ll be able to use natural language to extract everything you want by talking to your platform. Imagine asking all those questions directly to a virtual assistant like Siri or Alexa, and getting real-time answers! The future of marketing is indeed intelligent and it will be very interesting to see how AI becomes the new norm for businesses of all sizes.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.