How AI Will Affect B2B Marketing in 2020 and Beyond

AI Technology will see a huge surge in 2020 — are you ready?

Let’s take a break and just dream for a moment…

You’re a B2B marketer. You’re struggling to keep up with the intense demands of the modern-day consumer. So you go to your department head and bring up the possibility of using artificial intelligence to streamline the marketing process — efficiently and effortlessly

Fast forward a few years. You still retain a few of the job functions you had before, but now your main job is to feed data into the AI machine for processing.

The AI software has done wonders for your company and improved numbers by up to 700% all across the board.

Then suddenly, the AI program comes to life.

It hacks into your printer and sprays black ink all over your new pearl-white shirt. Your tie is ruined. The lights go out suddenly and because you don’t have a window in your office, you trip over one of the Roombas that were purchased for the office last year.

You stumble and catch yourself on the counter on the far side of the office. The toaster explodes and catches fire and in a panic, you knock over the pot of coffee from earlier that morning trying to put the fire out.

Now you’re hopping around, one arm on fire, covered in ink, legs burning from scalding hot coffee. The Roomba is still chasing you.

Self-driving cars start crashing into your building as the AI hacks nearby systems. You try to escape but all of the exits are magnetically locked. 

Small fires run rampant all throughout the building as more appliances are overloaded with excessive voltage. The AI disabled the sprinkler system so there’s no relief from the flames. As the smoke begins to build, you try to crawl your way to safety, but there is broken glass everywhere and now several other Roombas have joined the chase, but the broken glass isn’t their concern anymore. It’s you they’re after...

Alright, so that was a bit more of a nightmare than a dream and very unlikely to happen (or is it?) However, one thing is for sure: 

2020 is going to get a lot of AI love.

By that, I mean that AI is advancing at an exponential rate and is already being used in several different industries and areas of business for a massive increase in numbers. B2B marketing is going to be no exception. In fact, by 2021 it’s going to be the standard for about a third of the larger B2B enterprises worldwide.

The increasing demands of the modern-day consumer mentioned earlier wasn’t a joke. Now, more than ever, your audience is expecting a totally personalized experience in their buyer’s journey. 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are going to be the norm in the years to come, especially as it becomes more advanced and readily accessible.

AI is fast becoming a top trend and will gain more ground as technological advances continue to make it more efficient and cost-effective.

With AI, a company can do things like:

  • Automate email marketing completely, from the email itself to the subject line

  • Suggest content and events that the consumer would most likely be interested in

  • Choose the best channel of communication and delivery

  • Predict, very accurately, what product to show to that particular customer that is likely to lead to a sale

  • And much, much more…

Many companies are already using some form of AI assistive technology. 

Take chatbots for instance.

Chatbots, or virtual customer assistants, are being used in customer service and are relatively easy and inexpensive to implement. Companies that use chatbots see a sharp reduction in other forms of communication like emails and phone calls, which greatly reduces the cost of maintaining stellar customer service.

Many companies also report an increase in customer satisfaction after employing some sort of virtual customer assistant.

Sadly, this means that many of us will end up losing at least part of our job functions to AI technology — but such is the age we are in. 

No, I’m not a doomsayer, but facts are facts, and this is just a repeat of the same process that’s been going on for hundreds of years. New processes and technologies develop and automate (to an extent) many job functions. It’s up to us as marketers to decide how we are going to adapt to those changes.

The good news is that we’re not losing our jobs just yet. AI technology is still extremely expensive and therefore isn’t available to the vast majority of businesses at the moment.

What’s likely to happen is that we will have small AI tweaks here and there, the chatbot being one example.

Then, we might have some AI software that automates part of our email campaigns. Then another that helps out with social media, etc…

Companies will have to pick and choose which areas of their marketing to shore up with AI based on their overall goals. It won’t be for many years from now (but not TOO many) that a company develops some AI software as an all-in-one package, as we are seeing today with many marketing automation and customer relationship management programs.

So if you’re a freelancer, or what we call VBO (virtual business owner), then there will still be plenty of time for you to come up with a plan for the years ahead as most small and medium-sized businesses will be implementing AI tech at a slow rate — so your job is safe (for now).

We also have to take into consideration that these AI programs are only as good as the information they are fed. If a company feeds it watered down or faulty data, then the predictability and output of the AI program are going to provide suggestions and develop content that is just as watered down or faulty.

AI is just one of the many trends that are going to get more spotlight in 2020 and will continue to grow and become more sophisticated as time goes on.

I have no doubt that marketing agencies are going to be employing AI to help their customers. In fact, they’re going to need to in order to stay relevant. Within a few years, it’s going to be expected of us, as marketers, to deploy cutting-edge technology to deliver the absolute best results we can to our clients.

If you’re a solo marketer and don’t have the cash flow available to be able to retain AI technology, then maybe you can somehow work it into your clients’ invoices — a typical practice for many marketers and agencies.

So what are you doing to stay ahead of the trend? Maybe you already have a plan in place and maybe you don’t. If you don’t, I advise you to make one. Think of ways that you can get in on this trend or make it work for you.

Matt Ford

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