16th February 2018

AI and its impact on B2B marketing

But what is AI? How is it being used in B2B marketing and what social impacts will we face as the technology develops?

What is AI?

In the 1950s, artificial intelligence was seen as any task performed by a program or machine that, if a human carried out the same activity, we would say that the human had to apply intelligence to complete the task.
This is a very broad definition. It’s now typically seen as a system that demonstrates some behaviours associated with human intelligence, such as planning, learning, reasoning, problem-solving, knowledge representation, perception, motion and manipulation and, to a lesser extent, social intelligence and creativity.
AI is already part of our everyday lives without us thinking twice about it. Programs recommend what we should buy online, recognise voice commands to a 95% accuracy and identify who is in our photos.
B2B is one of countless industries that are taking advantage of the emerging technology, with the list of benefits it brings to B2B marketing growing at a substantial rate.

AI and B2B marketing

B2B marketers have been turning to AI to improve the effectiveness of their campaigns and accelerate business growth.
Improvements in lead generation have been a key focus around AI, but this is only the beginning. Technology has the potential to revolutionise the marketing and sales lifecycles by distilling data into actionable insights. The ability to predict consumer behaviour and automate areas of the buyer journey means that AI is helping B2B marketers make smarter decisions and improve efficiencies across the board.
The world of B2B marketing has, so far, been focused on lead scoring when it comes to adopting AI. The modern business has vast amounts of data about their customers and leads at their disposal. Machine learning algorithms are now able to harness this data and predict the best leads and most important accounts to target, allowing sales and marketing departments to prioritise their efforts and maximise their returns.
Personalisation is now evolving thanks to AI. Traditionally, customers have been targeted based on attributes such as title, location and company. AI allows for further targeting based on what people do. We can collect insightful data on sites people visit, content they view and how often they engage with said content. With this insight, data can be harnessed to deliver highly personalised customer experiences at a scale that was impossible until very recently.

The future of AI

The adoption of automation and AI in marketing isn’t just for automation’s sake. If we can improve and speed up processes, we become more efficient and deliver better results.
There have been a lot of discussions regarding how AI will impact us. Some believe that it will bring the end of human civilisation, others are less pessimistic!
A more credible risk in the near future is the increase in unemployment. There are many people who do routine and repetitive jobs which, unfortunately for those people, technology is excellent at automating.
For instance, as we see self-driving vehicles being introduced, haulage, courier and taxi services will no longer require the current number of staff. On the other hand, with the reduced risk of fatalities on the road due to the removal of human error, are we morally obliged to use driverless vehicles?
In terms of marketing, some interesting discussions are taking place around whether advancements in AI will change the concept of who we are and how markets will interact with humans. Smart programs may become an extension of how we represent ourselves online, so will marketers start to target those programs once they reach a certain level of sentience?
There are many areas that need to be explored as AI becomes more advanced and present in society. Whatever the future holds, we have an exciting time ahead as technology opens doors to new ways of thinking, working and living.