Where will artificial intelligence help marketing and sales first?

Igor Pauletič / / Sales

Despite all the clever solutions modern marketing has come up with, the comment that John Wanamaker made over a century ago still holds true—that is, that half the money spent on advertising is wasted. The only progress we’ve actually made is that now, in the digital world, we can much better determine which half hasn’t produced any results. Let’s say we can measure our successes and failures significantly more accurately, but we still respond reactively. Despite all of the technology and because the digital and physical worlds are interconnected, many businesses are incapable of piecing together an individual customer journey so they measure the effects of their promotional activities in terms of clicks or even ad views. Media buyers that fulfil their customers’ needs this way are dying out, even though they themselves may not yet realize this.

Where does martech see its big opportunity?

I often say that technology will swallow marketing sooner or later. And I mean it. Those that will help companies detect and also prevent in advance the wasted half of funds for winning new customers (not just advertising), will clearly make a big breakthrough in the industry. Investors invest enormous funds in companies that want to take up this challenge. I think that in some way even Microsoft justifies its recent purchase of LinkedIn along these lines. And let’s say that Salesforce knows what a big opportunity it has lost with LinkedIn.

Technology will swallow marketing sooner or later, for sure. Click To Tweet

We can only see the true picture from the end of the customer journey

If we want to act intelligently in designing a marketing strategy and outline reasonable promotional activities, we always have to look from the end of the customer journey towards the beginning. This is the only way to really understand the starting point well: who, when, where, and why buys the company’s products or services. We can only find the answers to this with our existing customers. If we don’t do that, we only guess and take greater risks than necessary, even though the answer is right there in plain sight.

You want to win attention but also build trust. And you’re not alone in this!

To put it more simply, a company investing in promotional activities buys two things: the public’s attention and the trust of individual prospects. Advertisers are pretty good at buying attention because many things can be saved by a big pile of money. On the other hand, buying trust is often a critical point in winning new customers. What is funny about it, though, is that we often don’t know who blows it when it comes down to trust. Was it the marketing communication specialists that designed the campaign that made the fatal mistake or was a mistake made while switching to one-on-one communication with the prospect? I personally think that the latter is usually more fatal, especially because customers are considerably more engaged during one-on-one communication and because they expect to receive personal treatment tailored to their needs. But here we might have a problem if we only see “the average customer.”

One-on-one communication must be credible and personalized so we can maintain the customer’s trust. Click To Tweet

We might successfully win attention based on a sample of average eyes and ears, but in order to build trust, every customer hears the story his or her own way. Customers can even hear (and understand) the same story differently depending on who’s telling it to them. The more they trust the narrator, the more credible they find the story and the more attentively they listen to it. You probably often say it yourselves that the best advertising is word-of-mouth and that your good reputation precedes you. Yes, it does, but not all by itself.

Who influences whom to what degree?

Here I’d like to talk about an opportunity, where machine learning and later also artificial intelligence may soon lead to revolutionary changes in winning new customers. We can now use publicly accessible data to identify connections between people and the strength of this connection, shared interests and experiences, and so on. The frequency of their communication is only one of the indicators and certainly not the most important one given that only a small percentage of people conveys a large majority of content in the social media. The majority of participants are merely passive observers.

The frequency of communication in the social media is just one of the indicators of influence between people. Click To Tweet

Let’s say we’re close to the moment when technology will be able to use complex algorithms to calculate the level of influence between connected individuals based on publicly accessible data in the social media and business directories. Your sales staff will be much more successful during their first contact with the prospects because, in addition to the contact information that your marketers have obtained from them because the prospects responded to you or because you’ve managed to win their attention, you’ll also obtain information on which people that are already your customers or are one of your customer’s employees your prospects have a certain relationship with and how much they trust them. Would you be able to use such information? I imagine this could be some sort of a business directory of the future. Can you see that we’re on the verge of marketers and salespeople obtaining the tools that will allow them to finally start selling things using people’s connections? Plus, there’s a bunch of others that could use this. Can you imagine the HR department receiving reliable information on how much the individuals applying for a position of a salesperson can influence the decision makers at companies you want to reach? I sure can.


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