This week focuses on home turf. Marketing and specifically B2B marketing. It is on the cusp of a change twenty years in the making. The Internet triggered the last major change, this time AI combined with automation is in the driving seat.
Automation alone doesn’t win
I’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about automation this year and marketing has been no stranger to it for many years now.
Increasing adoption of the Internet a decade ago saw companies change the way they buy from each other with increasing contact between companies only happening after an initial research phase. This meant that sales teams were now entering the buying process later than before and directly led to the rise and dominance today of content marketing and inbound marketing. It has been so successful that huge swathes of content created by marketers is now unsurprisingly ignored. The quality content is lost in a cacophony of noise.
Automation worked hand in hand with these approaches and after nearly twenty years, the majority have implemented some form of automation. Thats a problem for marketers. Every year, marketers look to outdo each other with new ways to cut through this noise created by competition.
Increasing automation to stand out has not been working well in the same way as the uncanny valley in computer games, where games improve their realism but end up turning off audiences. Increasing automation has also led to people ignoring rather than engaging.
Most of us (all of us?!) are used to being bombarded with marketing messaging. We are bombarded by more than 12,000 messages a day and there is no way you can acknowledge all of them. We screen out expected messages where we can. Google keeps altering the layout of its adverts on search results so that they blend in more with the usual search results to stop this happening.
Instead our research shows that B2B marketers are looking to increased understanding thanks to data and greater personalisation of content to tailor their proposal to the customer.
This increasing focus on the customer is good for everyone. Some of you will know I set up Radiate B2B to deliver this and I spoke at the Account Based Everything conference a few weeks back. These techniques have coalesced under the account based banner.
The original approach has been around a long time but the current environment and technology breakthroughs have resulted in it seeing increasing attention.
The original approach seeks to have marketers build strategies for each potential customer. This completely customised messaging delivers an experience that connects to each individual customer and obviously works well but at a huge expense that rules it out for most companies.
For most companies, the only way to adopt these approaches has been to use automation combined with artificial intelligence and better insight to deliver the personal touch required. It is platforms which focus on this that are increasingly going to succeed in an account based marketing future.
Branding is not just for consumers.
Another technique being increasingly adopted within B2B has been a focus on brand. A staple in consumer marketing, it was extremely wasteful for B2B marketers and often required significant budgets. Now B2B marketers are able to place messaging in front of specifically chosen companies across the Internet so that companies can become aware of your product or service before they start researching giving companies an early advantage.
The earliest implementations of these approaches have been rapidly adopted by technology firms across North America and the UK is starting to see similar adoption and increasing budget allocation.
This combination of artificial intelligence and automation is leading to a tectonic shift in the way B2B marketers are spending their budgets.