Freddie Marryat, Marketing Manager, EngageIQ
According to McKinsey, AI has the potential to unlock $2.6 trillion of value in marketing and sales.
That value isn’t limited to B2C and SaaS marketing, even though those industries receive all the attention. AI is already playing a significant role in the marketing of more traditional B2B companies.
Marketers aren’t going to lose their jobs to a robot, but you could be losing business if you don’t start incorporating AI into your marketing efforts soon. Because even if you aren’t using AI tools, your competitors probably are.
From nurturing prospects to improving lead quality to handling administrative tasks, AI can be used across your marketing and sales funnels to huge effect.
How AI is Affecting B2B Sales and Marketing
Put simply, AI is a huge competitive advantage. Those companies who can leverage machine learning algorithms and AI platforms will easily surpass competitors who don’t, all things being equal.
For starters, machine learning algorithms can help marketers understand their customers like never before. By analysing prospect buying habits and predicting behaviour, marketers can use this knowledge to create better, more targeted campaigns.
These algorithms can also dramatically speed up the time it takes to create those campaigns. While it can take days for marketers to pour over data, AI can do the same job in seconds. Rather than spending a week figuring out which markets to target, an AI platform could tell you immediately.
Analysing masses amounts of data doesn’t just let marketers make faster decisions. They can make better decisions, full stop. While humans can e overwhelmed by data, AI tools just get better.
Finally, AI tools also free up marketers to focus on the high-value tasks that can’t easily be automated. Their work becomes more effective, and marketing departments become much more streamlined as a whole.
How to Implement AI Across the Funnel
There as many ways to implement AI in your marketing funnel as there are benefits to doing so. From the top of the funnel all the way down to the very bottom, here’s how marketing and sales teams can implement AI tools today.
“AI is changing that. Smart tools are beginning to take the weight off marketers’ shoulders by offering suggestions themselves”
Optimise Inbound Marketing Campaigns
Let’s start at the very top of the funnel by looking at how AI can be used to increase the number of people entering it from your marketing campaigns.
Optimisation is the key, here. While AI can’t create effective campaigns from scratch — yet — it can help marketers optimise the campaigns they already have in place.
Regardless of the campaign they’re running, most marketers will have some sort of analytics platform that lets them measure success and track improvements. In the vast majority of cases, however, they still have to do the hard work of sifting through the data and working out which improvements to make.
AI is changing that. Smart tools are beginning to take the weight off marketers’ shoulders by offering suggestions themselves, says Bart Frischknecht, VP of product strategy at Vennli. It’s already happening in PPC advertising. Advanced AI tools are analysing the data they collect about campaigns and offering marketers suggestions on how to optimise bids and increase ROI.
The same thing is happening with sales copy. While marketers may wish that robots could write copy for them, they can use AI to optimise what they write for search engines. From identifying the right keywords to optimising content and creating backlinks, there are dozens of AI platforms and tools that exist to help marketing departments rank well in Google.
Nurture Prospects More Effectively
With people in your marketing funnel, the next step is to nurture them. Personalisation is the name of the game at this stage.
Altimeter Group principal analyst Brian Solis says that B2B personalisation is becoming the new normal. “Business buyers don’t go to work and forget what they do as humans. There’s a new normal that blurs the line between B2B and B2C. They just want things personalised. More successful companies are looking and prioritising things like understanding customers’ evolving behaviours and preferences to design more meaningful engagement opportunities.”
Personalised marketing efforts are tough to do by hand at scale. But AI makes it easy. From personalising your website experience, to identifying the most appropriate marketing materials, to responding to emails, AI platforms can be used to make your marketing messages hyper-relevant.
AI can even be used to automate responses to inbound leads. Silicon Valley startup Conversica is a leading provider of automated email solutions. Their software automatically engages new inbound leads in a two-way conversation by creating emails that look like they’ve come from a marketing professional. With a self-proclaimed 35% response rates, they’re pretty effective, too.
Qualify Leads Faster
The problem with turning users into MQLs is that marketers almost always rely on prospects taking action. Whether it’s downloading a lead magnet or attending a webinar, the ball is always in their court.
AI is changing this. Rather than relying on a prospect’s action to gauge intent, AI tools can be used to separate serious prospects from tire kickers. This is achieved by scouring your website and the wider internet to assess a user’s digital behaviour and identify which company they are from and where they are in the sales process.
With this information at your fingertips, marketing teams can either pass these leads directly to sales teams if appropriate or reach out and serve up content that best meets their needs.
Pass Better Leads to Sales
We’re now at the bottom of the marketing funnel where you hand over leads to sales.
You want to give your sales teams the best chance of success, right? Then start sending them better-qualified leads. A big part of your marketing team’s job will be assessing the quality of prospects in your funnel and taking them from a Marketing Qualified Lead to a Sales Qualified Lead. But AI can do all of the hard work for you.
AI platforms exist that analyse prospect data and identify the trends and patterns common in the best leads. Qualified leads can be sent to sales while unqualified leads can be sent back to marketing for further vetting.
Best of all, AI platforms can do this work constantly in the background. Every interaction that you have with a prospect, or every action they take, is instantly taken into account. As a result, leads get sent to sales teams as soon as they are ready; not when marketing executives have the time to sift through all of the data.
Trust us, sales teams will be delighted at the prospect of more qualified leads. But they’ll be even happier if marketing ranks those leads in the order they are most likely to convert.
Prioritising leads is a massive headache for salespeople — it’s one of the reasons we created EngageIQ, after all. AI offers the perfect antidote. Smart programmes can measure the intent of prospects using a variety of signals like how many times they’ve visited the website and the quantity of marketing material they’ve downloaded. Each lead is then given a score which sales reps can use to prioritise their outreach efforts.
How EngageIQ uses AI to Empower Marekting and Sales Teams
We’ve designed EngageIQ’s machine learning capabilities to be as valuable as possible to both marketing and sales team. Like the AI tools discussed above, EngageIQ can be used across the funnel.
Marketing teams can use our market-leading purchase intent data to build informed and effective purchase intent marketing campaigns and enter new markets with ease. By serving up the companies most likely to buy your product, marketers can identify how to increase total addressable market and find out exactly what these prospects are looking for.
EngageIQ can also be used further down the funnel by inside sales teams looking to work smarter, not harder. By providing information on the prospects most likely to make a purchase, EngageIQ helps SDRs to prioritise their outreach efforts, grow their pipeline and increase the number of conversations they have each week.
Find out more about EngageIQ and request a demo by getting in touch today.