How is AI going to shape the future of our marketing automation campaigns? From the latest announcements from leading platforms in the industry, to how AI could revolutionise lead scoring, Mike Maynard and Hannah Wehrly explore the latest news and developments in marketing automation. They also look at predictions on how marketing automation is expected to grow in the coming years and the role automation plays in customer retention and growth.

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Transcript: Marketing Automation Moment Episode Ten – The Future of AI in Marketing Automation

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Kelly

Hannah: Welcome to the Market Automation Moment Podcast. I’m Hannah Kelly.

Mike: And I’m Mike Maynard. This is Napier’s podcast to tell you about the latest news from the world of marketing automation.

Hannah: Welcome to the Marketing Automation Moment podcast. This week we talk about the growth in spending market automation, the new Einstein co pilot from Salesforce, act on AI, predictive lead scoring. And we talk about how marketing automation can be used to keep in touch with customers after they make a purchase. Welcome back to another episode of modern automation moment. Mike, it’s great to be back.

Mike: It’s great to be back with you, Hannah. It’s been a little while and I think we’ve got a lot to catch up on.

Hannah: Yes, we have a lot of exciting updates to catch on actually, because it’s been a really interesting last month in the market automation landscape. So I’m gonna dive right in. And we’ve talked about some figures before, but I’ve actually come across some reports from a marketer and allied market research. And they had some really big figures in there about the future of the mahr tech spending industry. So they believe that there will be a growth from 15 point 31 million USD in 2020, to 27 point 11 billion in 2024. For the martec spent, I mean, a lot of this is going to be through the driver, the growth and the craze of AI tools. But I think this is spectacular that the way the industry is pointing is that the spending is going to increase. And so the advantages to marketers is just going to be amazing.

Mike: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think one of the interesting things they’re saying is that actually, you know, around 2023 is going to be a low point in marketing spend growth, and people are going to actually see their budgets increased by a greater percentage over the next couple of years. So it’s quite exciting. I think a lot of that, obviously, is people trying to buy AI tools and see how they work. We’re still to some extent in a experimental phase. But clearly, there’s a lot of people getting benefits from AI, and that’s going to drive more investment.

Hannah: Absolutely. And I mean, the next thing we’re about to talk about Mike is really going to reinforce this, and this is Dreamforce. So this was Salesforce, his yearly conference, which actually took place last month in September. And not surprisingly, AI was a really big key topic. And the most exciting thing that they’ve released is a new generation of Einstein. So the Einstein one platform. Now I have to say, I’m a big fan of the cartoon character, it really sells me on the platform. But actually, the capabilities as well is really quite amazing. So they’ve actually introduced the Einstein copilot, which is basically an AI and system, which is built into the user experience of every Salesforce application. So it can help draft customer code, it can provide a sales recommended steps to close deals faster, propose copy for emails, I mean, the possibilities are limitless. What do you think about it?

Mike: Well, I think you know, me, I have to make a snarky comment. And it’d be great if the people who were responsible for the user experience of Salesforce were, you know, as talented as some of the cartoonists because, you know, we all know Salesforce is a real challenge to us. And I guess this is what they’re trying to address. Einstein is actually going to be there to help Salesforce users do the things they want to do, and hopefully overcome some of the challenges you’ve got around the user interface user experience.

Hannah: I think as well, you know, Mike, you’ve mentioned this before, but eventually in the future AI is going to disappear and disappear into the sense not that it won’t be around anymore. But that will become such a seamless integration, people won’t know what’s AI and what’s not. It really feels like this Einstein platform is the first step to really making that a reality.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s still, you know, it’s being promoted as something separate. And it’s still this, this shiny kind of thing. But certainly my view is more and more AI will be embedded into products. And, you know, to some extent, we won’t actually know we’re using AI, the product will just work better, it’ll work more efficiently. I mean, if you look at, you know, the the claim for Einstein, they cite several customers that are using it. And this is their quotes to improve productivity, drive revenue and create personalised experiences. That sounds like you Salesforce. So you know, there’s everything that Salesforce should be doing anyway. And I think having this Einstein layer outside is a first step. As we move forward, I think what we’ll see is more and more the AI will just be embedded within the product. And we won’t be talking about it so much. It won’t be this, this new shiny thing, it will be the entry ticket, everyone will have to have aI within their system.

Hannah: That’s a really good point, Mike, and you know me I’m very enthusiastic. I like to look ahead, but I think that it’s such a valid point, because at the moment and I mean, when we were looking around for the news The things and updates to talk about in this podcast, everything because AI focused everything’s about AI is this really shiny new thing. But eventually, you know, that platform won’t be separate. And as you said, it’ll just be something that set up from the start from the get go based on these market automation platforms.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I think we still have this this concern that as more and more AI is deployed, the opportunity to generate higher and higher volumes of communications, particularly emails are going to increase. I mean, I don’t know whether we’re going to see a situation where, you know, all these personalised AI messages begin to swamp our inboxes. I mean, my email inbox is busy enough as it is. And clearly, it’s gonna be very hard for spam filters, or, you know, the prioritisation filters to actually select our AI generated content versus personal emails. So it’s gonna be interesting to see what happens that and I’m really hoping that what we don’t see is we don’t see the value of marketing automation, and email marketing decrease, because everybody’s overusing it. And that clearly is one of the concerns. And one of the potential downsides of AI. I mean, AI has got downsides as well as upsides.

Hannah: That’s a really good point, Mike. And it is the upsides versus the downsides. Because one of the key things they’re setting Einstein platform in is this generative AI, but as you said, actually, is that not as positive as it could be? It’s really going to be interesting to watch and see kind of how it unfolds.

Mike: For sure, and I mean, I’m sure everyone has had experiences like I’ve had, where we’ve received emails that are AI generated. And she kind of No, because what they’re doing is they’re taking a line of description from the website, it doesn’t feel real. And I think generative AI is still got a little way to go to write those absolutely compelling emails, if you just want to tick a box and get a marketing email out, then fine. I mean, generative AI does a decent job. But the reality is, is that those stunning emails that really grab attention, there still tend to be human written. And it’s gonna be interesting to see how AI manages to close that gap with creativity, and doing things different than actually grab attention.

Hannah: Absolutely. So I want to move on just a little bit. So still AI focused? Of course it is. But Salesforce also announced a Slack AI. So this is an AI programme that’s going to enhance the slack platform. So it’s all about making the more admin and the more manual tasks more automated. So it’s going to enable users to search for answers, it’s going to enable them to have fresh summaries. I mean, it seems like a really simple thing, but I think it’s actually going to be quite effective. As a company, we don’t use Slack. But we know a lot of companies that do so what do you think, do you think just this simple kind of integration is actually going to be really beneficial?

Mike: Do you know I mean, a lot of the hype at the moment is all about generative AI and creating stuff with AI. I think one of the, you know, incredible powers of AI is summaries. And I know I mean companies that are very into Slack, it’s impossible to keep up with that flow of information that’s going through. And so people, you know, if they’ve been away on holiday, they really have been left out. And rather than having to go back and read, you know, 1000s of slack messages, to have aI summarise, what’s happened, I think is incredibly powerful. We’re gonna see it all over the place. I mean, I know that, for example, Mikekrosoft, in a different area talked about when you record a team’s meeting, they’re gonna bring in AI to be able to summarise that meeting and potentially give you action items. I think as marketers, we’re going to start seeing this AI, do sort of that summary, and action point work for us very, very soon. And across all sorts of platforms, that’s going to work. So it’s not just Salesforce driving that. But I think, you know, if we look at Mikekrosoft and Google, they’ll also be providing similar platforms. And hopefully, that’s going to save a little bit of pain when it comes to writing meeting minutes. I’d certainly be up for that.

Hannah: Me too. Me too. I think the key point there, Mike is, you know, as marketers, we do get really sidetracked by the shiny items by the really exciting things with the in depth analysis and how they can support the data. But actually, that more admin side is going to help me faster and quicker than that marketing and and that generative AI within the platforms at the moment.

Mike: Definitely. So let’s move on. What’s the next shiny item you found in the news?

Hannah: Well, the next shiny item is a bit of a controversial one, Mike, because, you know, we’ve spoken about this before, but I’m a big fan of lead scoring. It’s not that you don’t like lead scoring, but you’re not as into the benefits of it, I would say and act on has actually released an AI predictive lead score, which is basically a feature that’s going to work within their act on platform to help marketers narrow the marketing funnel and really hone in on the strongest leads. What do you think about this? Do you think it’s beneficial, or is it going to offer more problems than what it’s worth?

Mike: It’s really interesting. So, I mean, I’m not completely against lead scoring, I think one of the challenges that people have with lead scoring is that you need a fairly high volume of prospects and customers to make it work. So if you’re looking at clients that we work with that have, you know, very small number of customers, for example, you know, we’ve got clients that sell, you know, high value capital equipment, they don’t sell, you know, 1000s, or hundreds. So, you know, some of them even have one major customer. Yeah, doing predictive lead scoring on that is almost impossible, because the data is so limited. And certainly AI learning based upon a small number of very high value customers, it’s going to take a long time to learn and that AI is then going to lag, the customer behaviour. So AI has got issues when you’ve got low volume, when you look at moving into some of our clients that have high numbers of customers, then they’re I think that’s where AI lead scoring is going to be really good. I mean, one of the things that interests me is, I see people generate lead scoring algorithms, and that their rating, you know, what drives people to be a customer. And honestly, they’re probably writing the things they think are important, and perhaps even the things they spent a long time generating, you know. So if you spend a lot of time creating white papers, you probably score those very highly, the great thing about AI is it’s going to take away some of that bias. And it’s actually going to score based upon what really drives people to become customers. Now, of course, you’ve got to get that data on what actually happened, and how that links to someone becoming a customer. And again, in b2b, that can be very difficult because the purchaser can be different from the person who’s actually the decision maker. And we all know that attribution is one of these hugely challenging problems. But I do think it makes sense to introduce AI. And I do think it can have some significant benefits, as I say, particularly around really getting to the bottom of what does correlate with someone becoming a customer, rather than what we think is important as marketers,

Hannah: I absolutely love that. Mike, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said it takes away the bias. I mean, as a marketer myself, you know, I spend forever on blogs. And I’m like, Well, if someone reads a blog, it’s got to be important, right. But that’s not necessarily the journey they’re actually taking. That’s important. So I think that’s such a valuable point, because it will really help with identifying and digging down and especially in the tech industry as well, is what’s actually important, and what’s actually driving the people to make the decisions.

Mike: Yeah, for sure. And to some extent, you actually don’t need AI because you can measure it and use maths, the AI is going to try and pattern match a bit more quickly. So that can potentially generate results sooner. I mean, the other thing I noticed was, you know, whilst act on made a big thing about the lead scoring, they to also announce at the same time that they’ve got generative AI to create emails. So, you know, again, that’s going to be interesting, because what you potentially be doing is running your run AI looking at what was driving leads in the past, but then having a completely different email strategy, because it’s easier to generate personalised emails, because you’ve got aI within the platform. So I think if you look at what’s you know, what’s happening, it’s gonna be hard to get really good results on lead scoring all the time, because you’re always dealing with historic data. And most people develop, expand and improve their marketing campaigns. But for sure, particularly if you have a large number of customers, AI is going to be a key part of actually scoring and prioritising leads.

Hannah: Yeah, absolutely agree. That’s a really insightful thoughts. Thanks, Mike. So I’m weary of time. So I do want to move on to our insightful Tip of the Week. And we’ve spent a lot of time previously talking about how we can use market automation for lead nurturing, and for gaining new leads for the customer journeys. But what I’m really interested in talking about today is about keeping in touch with existing customers. And I think sometimes market is gonna get in the trap of like, okay, great, we’ve got the customer, we don’t need to do anything to them anymore. We don’t need to nurture them. But in my opinion, I actually think nurturing existing customers is so valuable to accompany. And so I’d like to get your thoughts on how beneficial is it to use your marketing automation platform to really nurture those existing customers? And how do you draw the line between staying in touch and annoying them?

Mike: Yeah, this is really interesting. I mean, I was introduced to this when I was learning about drip marketing at university. And I remember our drip marketing lecture. He said, If you’re selling a car to consumers, only one question you have to ask. And, you know, we tried to guess the question. He eventually said, look, it’s how long do you want to keep the car for? And apparently, that’s a very accurate thing. When you ask a consumer, how long they expect to keep a car for. They normally give an accurate prediction, of course, what you need to do as a marketer, once you’ve sold the car is to be talking to them when they’re picking their next car, whether that’s in three years or five. previous time or whenever. And so I think we forget how important it is when we make that sale, to think about the next sale. And so with marketing, in b2b, it’s absolutely the same, you know, quite often we’re working with customers who, you know, perhaps have multiple projects running, certainly, we’ll have a new project at some point in the future. And what we need to do is we need to engage them to help them in the period where we’re waiting for that next project. And that can be all sorts of things that can be providing information to help them use the products that they’ve actually chosen, you know, great example would be in some of our seMikekonductor companies, people purchase evaluation boards, these complex boards to let engineers understand how to use a seMikekonductor product. Why are marketers not emailing those engineers, to help them get up to speed more quickly, and improve that experience of using one of your products. And equally as they move through the design, we also know there’ll be choosing other products. So you know, it’s the same thing, if you look at, you know, someone doing a factory automation project, quite clearly, there’s a big deployment of products into the factory to upgrade, but then it’s all sorts of things around maintenance, that gives you opportunities to go and sell in more services, or indeed, sometimes more products. And I think as marketers, we need to, you know, forget about we market sell, and we’re done. And actually think about a much longer relationship with a customer, I think about the customer over their whole lifetime, rather than over one purchase journey.

Hannah: I really like that Mikek. And I think what I would add to that as well is that within the market automation platforms themselves is this sort of communication doesn’t need to be hard. It can be really easy. It’s it’s automations, you can set up a year in advance, you know, oh, we are customer has been this engineers. When we’ve asked for six months, let’s do a check in. It’s not something that you necessarily have to think about every day. But having those automations set up for success from the start is really important and being successful.

Mike: definitely agree. I mean, you do an amazing thing, for example, on anniversaries of clients working with us sending them birthday cakes and things like that. So, you know, very simple things can actually make a really big difference.

Hannah: Absolutely. Well, thanks so much for your time again today, Mike, it’s been a really interesting conversation.

Mike: Thanks, Hannah. And hopefully we’ll talk to our listeners again on the next episode of The Marketing Automation moment.

Hannah: Thanks for listening to the marketing automation moment podcast.

Mike: Don’t forget to subscribe in your favourite podcast application, and we’ll see you next time.