Artificial intelligence (AI) is making headlines across every industry these days, and marketing is no exception. According to the Salesforce Research 4th annual “State of Marketing” survey, conducted among 3,500 worldwide marketing executives, AI is expected to significantly impact marketing efficiency, personalization, and big data management.
Salesforce Research breaks the survey participants down into three classifications: high performers, moderate performers, and underperformers. High-performing marketing teams represent 12% of the overall survey population, moderate performers 76% and underperformers 12%. Full infographic at the end of the post.
AI in Marketing
The use of AI is being explored in virtually every industry, across a wide range of businesses primarily to improve operations. AI is helping marketing teams to learn more about markets and customers, make sense of large amounts of data, generate leads, perform predictive lead scoring, optimize campaigns and streamline operations. About half (51%) of companies surveyed by Salesforce Research revealed they are already using AI, with more than a quarter planning to test it in the next two years. Unsurprisingly, high performers lead the way with 72% reporting current use. As technology becomes more sophisticated, the use of AI will continue to grow quickly in the coming years. Marketers anticipate AI use will grow by 53% — a much higher rate than any other tech types, according to Salesforce Research.
AI Benefits and ROI
The marketing executives polled by Salesforce Research expect AI to have a substantial impact on their businesses in the areas of marketing efficiencies and personalization over the next five years. Internally they anticipate AI to improve efficiency in their overall operations, including productivity (59%), campaign analytics (59%), digital asset management (59%), lead scoring (57%) and better business insights across data and systems (59%). In terms of customer-facing benefits, most marketing executives anticipate AI to drive customer experience innovations, especially in the areas of hyper-personalization of content (61%), hyper-targeted messaging (61%), personalized product recommendations (60%) and customer segmentation & look-alike audience modeling (58%).
Challenges to Implementing AI
While interest in AI among marketing executives persists, many are grappling with the challenges they face executing a successful AI strategy. The Salesforce Research survey data shows that high performing companies have primarily customer privacy, data storage and budgetary concerns around initiating AI. Underperforming companies lack monetary resources, a defined AI strategy, and internal skill sets, e.g. too few data scientists. A separate, February 2017 AI Snapshot survey by Salesforce Research revealed that only 26% of marketing executives had complete confidence in their organization’s ability to define an AI business strategy.
Another December 2016 survey by Demandbase and Wakefield Research, among 500 B2B marketers in the US, reported that 60% of survey participants said that integrating AI with their existing technology could be problematic. Other potential barriers the marketers cited included training staff on how to use AI (54%), interpreting and acting on results (46%) and a potentially high implementation and maintenance cost (42%).
Consumers AI Awareness
2016 was not only an AI breakthrough year for businesses, but for public awareness as well. Many consumers have become aware of AI, and believe AI can help them solve problems, in addition to assisting them with any decisions they need to make. But 60% of participants in a Weber Shandwick and KRC Research survey said they were very concerned about the criminal use of AI technologies, and expressed little enthusiasm about chatbots. Others were concerned that AI would replace their jobs.