How AI is already transforming B2B Marketing

15th April 2019

Our newsfeeds have been bombarded with tech buzzwords such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for a few years now.

But, finding any real value behind the hype has been difficult, until now. There is increasing evidence that AI has already changed B2B marketing forever. However, before we look to the future, maybe we should look at how we got here and why there is so much excitement across the digital landscape.

In 2006, Marketo was founded with a mission to create an entirely new marketing category called marketing automation. After perfecting their software, Marketo went public by 2013 and went on to be acquired by Adobe for an incredible $4.75 billion. If announcements at the recent Adobe summit in Las Vegas are anything to go by, the price tag was just a drop in the ocean.

Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella joined Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen on stage to reveal their open data initiative which will continue fueling the so-called experience economy. SAP have also been invited to the party and considering that 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system, it’s clear that big changes are on the horizon.

Marketers now have the mouthwatering prospect of leveraging the predictive modelling and automation function of Adobe’s Marketo to engage account profiling and plugin to Microsoft’s LinkedIn matched audiences service. Equally, the Adobe audience manager data management platform can also be used in conjunction with contact-based campaigns on LinkedIn.

The emerging relationship between Adobe and Microsoft is creating a seamless way to identify and target the right audiences on platforms such as LinkedIn with engaging content. It is hoped that by delivering the right message at the right time, it will dramatically improve the success of future campaigns.

B2B marketers can no longer afford to ignore the emergence of account-based marketing (ABM). Data is rapidly becoming the marketing currency and one of the main reasons why Adobe is securing so many data connections. The increasing list of data-sharing deals is all to accelerate its ABM capabilities.

By capturing data from every touchpoint across the entire customer, real-time personalisation becomes a reality rather than just another pipe dream. Get it right, and a dramatic rise in customer retention and sales will surely follow. Data and making sense of critical information that has been hidden away for decades is now the secret sauce to delivering a successful marketing campaign.

B2B marketers looking for ROI are also increasingly becoming attracted to ABM. A recent survey by ITSMA revealed 85% of marketers who measured their ROI found that ABM initiatives outperformed their other marketing initiatives. The biggest drawback has been the lengthy investment of time and resources needed to secure that ROI.

Adobe is attempting to remove this pain point by creating simple processes that any marketer can use to eradicate the need for data science experience. On the surface, marketers can target accounts at scale with one click. But take a closer look under the hood, and you’ll find sophisticated AI-based models along with over 500 million data points from across the Internet.

On the flipside of the coin, Gartner reported that poor data quality is responsible for $15 million per year in losses. The old adage of garbage in garbage out is equally as important as any shiny new AI software solution. But the data revolution is only just getting started. The impending arrival of 5G is expected to be responsible for a data explosion with a much higher throughput of information at a lower latency.

Data quality improvement is possibly the most significant priority for businesses serious about thriving in a digital age. Turning big data into big marketing is just one of the challenges that the dream team of Microsoft and Adobe are attempting to overcome. But many believe the partnership also have their sights set on Salesforce.

Could IBM, Salesforce, HP and Oracle respond to the current consolidation of businesses trend by also acquiring companies? Some even believe that Microsoft could purchase Adobe. It seems there will be an inevitable battle between Microsoft-Adobe vs. Salesforce-Google on the horizon, which also highlights just how much is at stake and why AI is much more than a buzzword.

When I say that AI will change B2B Marketing forever, I don’t say these words lightly. 85% of marketers who are using AI believe it will drive double-digit revenue growth within two years. B2B marketers have known for a long time the power hidden inside their own data. But unlocking real-time insights to meet the expectations of impatient customers? That’s the destination towards which businesses of all sizes are racing.

The ability to send personalised messages entirely based on our previous choices and behaviour will enable B2B marketers to engage in ways that resonate every single time. For these reasons alone, AI-driven account profiling is undoubtedly a game changer in the world of marketing.

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