Unless you were hiding in a cave the past five years you’re most likely aware that marketing technology is evolving more rapidly than ever. Understanding all there is to know about these changes in both marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) software is impossible. You’re human after all.
Expert predicts artificial intelligence to dominate B2B marketing by 2018
In his recent TechCrunch article on The Future of Marketing Automation, author Vin Singh describes artificial intelligence and Predictive-First automation:
Rather than trying to house everything in one monolithic marketing automation system, tomorrow’s platforms will be more intelligent and thinner, plugging in many smaller specialized applications. They’ll use a wealth of data to deliver relevant recommendations across your key customer touch points.
They’ll be intuitive to use and will automatically adapt as your business evolves (with minimal manual effort or tedious configuration of clunky workflows), so you never have to worry about re-tuning or performance degradation. Predictive systems can learn, adapt and improve on their own with every customer action.
With one of his closing lines in the article, Vin Singh puts us all on notice:
“Predictive-first software is eating the world, and it’s about to sink its teeth into marketing and sales. Get ready.”
I suggest you have no fear, unless you stand still and ignore the reality that marketing is a “never quit learning” profession. We all need to anticipate emerging technologies while working to master those we already have and aren’t fully optimizing.
One solution that may out-smart artificial intelligence is Yseop. They are revolutionizing custom response with Natural Language Generation (NLG). Yseop’s solution interacts with individual consumers to understand their intentions and provide helpful responses with personalized and conversational context.
Current marketing automation solutions are machines with limited brains and no heart.
With so much invested in money and time, it makes sense that you would want to automate as much of your marketing efforts as possible. After all, you have limited human resources, you need scalability, and you’re accountable for driving qualified leads to sales.
There are so many tools included with most of these marketing automation solutions it can cause marketers to overlook the opportunities of individual human-to-human engagement. There is a time and a place for automation but only when the need to scale and schedule requires it.
Automation is just a process Humans rule. Remember the Dunbar Number!
British anthropologist Robin Dunbar found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size. By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships.
So yes, we have our limits. But after 30+ years in B2B marketing, I’ve yet to see any sales executive that wouldn’t love to have 150 sales qualified leads for each of their team to be working on a regular basis.
The number one marketing automation software on the planet is Hubspot. And they value the power of human-to-human engagement while still managing to scale their global sales efforts.
Hubspot Academy leader, Mark Kilens wrote about this in his article “Creating a Sales Process for Your Inbound Leads: 150 is a Magic Number“.
Mark says, “It’s a person who needs to define the lifecycle stage of each of your leads. Not an automated process. Not lead scoring, not lead nurturing. A person.
Does this mean that your salesperson need to be willing to call leads who might not yet be ready to close? It sure does. And this might very well require some additional training. But it all pays off exponentially in the end.”
There’s nothing wrong with reaching out individually to anyone converting on your content when you have the ability to do so. That interaction might accelerate the engagement straight to a sale or qualify for a more customized lead nurturing process.
The more moving parts your marketing automation includes, the more it helps to have real people at the controls adding heart and humanity into the mix.
For now, we humans are the masters of our marketing domains.
And no matter how far ahead or behind you may be with marketing automation, you’re not alone either way.
Based on a recent B2B marketing study, most businesses fall into one of these two groups:
1) You’ve already selected one of the many marketing automation software options available and integrate it with your customer relationship management (CRM) platform.
2) You aren’t yet utilizing marketing automation software but would if you knew it would help generate leads and drive sales.
According to a recent B2B Marketing Automation report by Software Advice (a website that gives buyers recommendations on marketing systems), 15% of those in group 1 aren’t sure they chose the right solution. According to another recent report cited in an article by Vin Singh (CEO of Infer); only 7% believe they are getting the results they were promised.
27% of those in group 2 are overwhelmed with the manual challenge managing clients, contacts and leads, and are now seeking software to improve lead generation and management. I’m really not sure what the other 73% are waiting on unless they just afraid of change or don’t care to grow any faster.
Robots will never replace all the human elements of B2B marketing.
What will fuel the machines? Content is the fuel, and no machine can match the customer empathy and understanding that is required to create helpful and compelling content.
Who will build the relationships? Social Media is a vital part of any inbound marketing program and no machine can match the human-to-human engagement potential of your customer service, marketing and sales people. When was the last time you suffered through Comcast Hell saying “R E P R E S E N T A T I V E !” to the phone bot in hopes of reaching a human? How engaging and friendly is that experience?
Who will tell your story the best? No robot will ever be able to personify your business with heart, humor and personal interest and even drama the way you can.
Who will listen, really listen, to your customers? Let’s conduct a test right now and see how well Comcast and Xfinity are at that when we call 1-800-XFINITY*
*I know it would be much easier to just put the actual numbers that XFINITY spells but I want you to have the authentic experience that they insist on providing. Another marketing mistake on their part.