BrightEdge, the leader in enterprise SEO and content performance marketing, conducted a survey over a one-month period during February 2018. Over 500 search, content, and digital marketers were asked 8 key questions related to the future of marketing and topics centered around the challenges, solutions, and adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
This survey highlights the fact that Marketing is undergoing a massive transformation–the discipline is more data-driven than ever before. In the 2017 “Future of Marketing” survey, marketers showed the belief that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and voice search would rule the future.Yet, they had done little to incorporate these powerful components into their digital marketing strategies.
But 2018 has witnessed considerable confidence amongst marketers with regards to AI technology adoption and its application. This year’s “Future of Marketing” findings revealed 60 percent of marketers intend to use artificial intelligence (AI) to develop content marketing strategy. Also, the top three trends dominating the thinking of nearly 75 percent of all marketers responded require Artificial Intelligence.
According to marketers, the next big technology in 2018 is as follows:
Personalization – 29 percent of respondents
Artificial Intelligence – 26 percent of respondents
Voice Search – 22 percent of respondents
“Despite some of the hype surrounding artificial intelligence, this survey shows that AI is very real and marketers are adopting AI-first technology in search and content marketing sectors faster than most,” said Jim Yu, CEO of BrightEdge. “The insights that AI brings allows marketers to make smarter and faster decisions to deliver compelling customer experiences that perform.”
Finding #1: Marketers set to use AI to Personalise User Experience to a great extent
Nearly 60 percent of all marketers responded plan to use artificial intelligence in their content marketing strategy in 2018. In comparison, in 2017, only 43 percent of respondents said they were likely to use artificial intelligence or deep learning to develop their content marketing strategy, while 50 percent of respondents said they were “very unlikely.” This paradigm shift in marketing approach clearly indicates that modern data-driven marketers are adopting cutting-edge data science technologies to become decision-driven marketers and deliver highly personalised customer experiences to provide a great ROI to businesses.
- 42 percent of marketers responded they are somewhat likely to use Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning to develop their content marketing strategy in 2018
- 17 percent of marketers are very likely to implement AI and Deep Learning in 2018
- 4 percent already implemented AI and Deep Learning in 2018
Finding #2: Marketers are leveraging AI to Analyse Customer Intent, Drive Productivity and Create Efficient Content
There are many ways in which marketers are using AI to assist their current plans and devise new and engaging ways to capture customers’ mindshare and wallets. Understanding the customer and driving productivity are two key aspects where AI is expected to benefit them the most:
- 31 percent have a better understanding of the customer, helping to drive more personalised customer experiences
- 27.1 percent of respondents said it is driving more productivity and time-savings
- 14.5 percent indicated better-performing content
- 8.5 percent of respondents said it is driving an increase in ROI
Finding #3: Barriers to AI Adoption
As the hype around artificial intelligence (AI) is ramping up, businesses have started to look for ways to put this technology to work to improve their business results. Companies like Google and Amazon are transforming into AI-first companies and accelerating the pace of change. Following the same, some marketers are making the push towards AI-First. Others are not, and for now, implementation cost, lack of understanding and in some cases, scepticism have been major barriers to AI adoption.
- 37 percent of marketers have no plans to use AI and Deep Learning in 2018, especially around the development of their content marketing strategy
- 10 percent of respondents said they believe AI is all hype or lack an understanding of what AI is and what AI really does for a marketer
- In terms of barriers, marketers indicated confusion on what is/is not AI (30 percent) and limited budget (28 percent) as the greatest deterrents to adoption
Finding #4: 58 percent of Enterprises don’t have a Data Scientist to empower Marketers
One of the key challenges that marketers highlighted is the absence of a data scientist in the organisation. 58 percent of marketers surveyed said they did not have a data scientist with and additional 10 percent ‘not sure.’ It’s no secret that in absence of a data scientist, organisations often turn to advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve decision-making and uncover insights across business processes:
Finding #5: AI has become “Mission Critical” to Marketers
Artificial Intelligence has certainly become the buzzword of 2018 as brands increasingly explore how it will impact their business this year and beyond. When asked whether AI is mission-critical in current marketing technologies, a majority of marketers (54 percent) said AI is a must-have, mission-critical, or important to have in 2018. This is a tipping point. Additionally, 32 percent of respondents agreed marketing technologies must integrate AI into their current role, processes and workflow.
However, more than a quarter of marketers remain sceptical of the benefits of artificial intelligence, with 29 percent of respondents saying they see AI as a requirement not an added feature.
There are many technology vendors that can help marketers integrate AI into their strategies. For that, marketers can start by researching the technical capabilities of these vendors, measuring their understanding of AI to solve business use cases and alignment with current workflow, platforms and processes. However, the most innovative companies are natively integrating AI into their platform, making it possible for any marketer to be an AI-first marketer today.