Artificial intelligence (AI) has played an important part in B2C relationships over the years. There are thousands of applications, ranging from the recommendation of TV shows to the fraud detection systems deployed across many commercial establishments. The current rise in the use of chatbots is just another level in the use of AI in the B2C space. Perhaps surprisingly, however, the uptake of AI in the B2B world has been rather slow.
Interestingly, experts in the B2B niche are aware of the need to embrace AI. 80% of marketing executives in the B2B niche expect AI to transform marketing by the end of the decade. This is why it is intriguing that only 10% of them currently have AI deployed in any form around their business. The statistics are as damning as the research data from Forrester which shows that around 75% of B2B professionals prefer to purchase goods and services online, but only 25% of B2B establishments have an active online commerce presence.
The reluctance to adopt AI and online marketing in the B2B niche is a window of opportunity for fast-moving companies. Early adopters are set to enjoy quick results and probably remain ahead of the competition for the foreseeable future. Here is a look at how AI can benefit your B2B Company today.
It takes around six people on average for a corporate buying decision to be made. In the B2C environment, the ultimate decision comes down to one or two individuals. In B2B, uniformity is required across different policy makers before a consensus can be developed.
With AI, a company can quickly determine the buying team and target them for a B2B campaign. At FreeParking, for example, a leading New Zealand tech company, uses AI platforms that can analyse organisational charts, working out team members to target for a campaign, and establishing the types of offers that will be of interest to them. This helps them to generate business in an intelligent, efficient way.
B2B marketing processes are more streamlined, targeted and higher converting with AI driven data intelligence.
Better Management of the Customer Journey
B2B sales cycles are more than 20% longer than they were before. Six-figure deals can take up to 8 months to complete from start to finish. This means that selling companies have to align marketing and sales to compliment the customer journey. This involves providing product information, price comparisons, offers and revised offers at the right stages of the sales process. Some businesses have processes in place that help them know when target clients are in the market for goods and services that they offer. This is, however, not enough. Intent signals are just one part of the customer journey and businesses with the right tools to monitor and respond to the rest of the journey will have a better shot at closing out a sale.
One of the strong benefits of AI in B2B marketing is data tracking across all the relevant silos. AI simplifies the monitoring of numerous variables such as correspondence between sales and marketing, white paper downloads, email exchanges, site visits, intent signals, profile attributes, and collates tracked data into a combined score.
The importance of data tracking in B2B cannot be overstated as there are many decision makers to keep track of over the lifespan of a particular campaign and beyond. The B2B sales and marketing process is complicated from first contact up to the point of payment, with data scattered across a large field. AI brings it all together by the careful and structured handling of unstructured data, allowing your business to make more informed decisions.
A report in 2016 showed that nearly 60% of B2B customers would look at other brands if a company doesn’t accurately anticipate their pain points. Today, there is a lot of buzz about how it is all about the customer. More companies are seeing the need to ensure that their clients and prospects are at the centre of their marketing strategies. Only businesses that can achieve this will hit target KPIs in the current environment.
AI will help businesses source the right type and quantity of data, which will, in turn, help them to better craft strategies that will help them anticipate customer needs at every turn. AI can help B2B companies to analyse the behaviour of their clients, immediately working out pain points and delivering possible solutions. The improvements in machine learning mean that results can now be achieved using AI without loss of cost-effectiveness and efficiency.
There is no overstating the fact that useful technologies have always been at the forefront of increased productivity. The age of artificial intelligence is no different. Sales and marketing teams across B2B vendors can improve productivity by just deploying the right types of AI technology.
A carefully planned sales process involving the use of AI tech can free up hours, days and weeks that would have been otherwise spent on prospecting. Before now, marketing executives have to spend valuable hours on who clicked on an email, who engaged with a blog post and working out the relationship between contents that have generated user interest. The scope of the job meant that most of the time, the analysis was largely subjective.
Today, however, a smart programme can be used to analyse the data, making it more actionable and removing subjectivity. The immediate benefit is that B2B marketing teams can now expend more energy on the things that matter: building more meaningful relationships and holding real life conversations with customers and prospects. This is a perfect recipe for anticipating and addressing client problems.
B2B vendors can no longer treat AI-infused online marketing with kid gloves. Now is the time to get on board the paradigm shift and get a head-start on your competition.
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