B2B Marketers Expect to Quickly See Results From AI Solutions

May 20, 2019

The majority (84%) of B2B organizations are in some stage of AI adoption, whether it be planning, evaluating, implementing or currently using AI-powered tools. And half as many (42%) are aware of and using at least some of the AI capabilities that already exist in their current vendor solutions, per a new benchmark report [download page] produced by Demand Metric and sponsored by Salesforce Pardot.

However, it is safe to say that the overall perception of AI’s perceived value is much lower compared to those who are using it. Only 27% of the respondents overall perceived the value of applying AI to marketing technology as very high, versus 45% of those who are already using AI. The difference is even greater when it comes to applying AI to sales technology, with only about one-quarter (24%) of respondents perceiving the value as very high, compared to 60% of the respondents who are using AI already. This suggests that those who are implementing AI solutions are deriving a significant amount of value from the tools.

When it comes to the time it takes for AI to deliver value, marketers are rather confident in a quick turnaround. More than 3 in 5 respondents (62%) report that they expect to see AI deliver value within 6 months after its implementation, with the largest portion (39%) expecting AI to deliver value between 4 to 6 months from implementation.

While this time frame seems somewhat optimistic, it corresponds with marketers’ expectations of how quickly they expect martech, in general, to deliver value. A report from 2017 found that more than one-third (39%) of B2B respondents felt that a reasonable time-frame for expecting to see ROI on their martech investment was 4-6 months.

What Benefits Do B2B Marketers Expect From AI?

For those respondents who are currently evaluating, implementing or using AI, most are interested in top-of-the-funnel applications such as improving the reach or efficiency of digital advertising (72%), identifying the right accounts or individuals to target (66%), personalizing their website in real time (51%) and capturing intent signals from accounts or individuals (42%).

Respondents in the planning stage of AI are also concentrating on top-of-the-funnel applications. However, the area that most of them are prioritizing is identifying accounts or individuals to target (64%). The expectation of AI helping to identify prospective customers is also reflected in earlier research from EverString and Heinz Marketing.

Considering these application priorities, it’s not too surprising that two-thirds (67%) of respondents expect one of the benefits of AI to be higher quality leads.

Access to quality leads isn’t the only benefit marketers expect from AI. Respondents also expect AI to deliver better engagement (56%), a better understanding of buyer intent (52%), higher conversion rates (50%) and more efficient ad spend (40%).

What Are the Barriers to Implementation?

Despite the expected benefits, implementing AI isn’t without its complications. For 55% of respondents, one of the barriers of taking advantage of AI in their marketing or sales is cost. Even with at least some sectors of B2B businesses seeing an increase in their marketing budgets this year, Wpromote has found that advanced technology adoption is lagging.

More than half (52%) of the respondents cited skills as one of their barriers when it comes to getting started with AI. A smaller percentage (31%) of respondents were not sure how to start, while 16% said the complexity of AI was standing in their way. Lastly, 11% of respondents just didn’t see the value or need for AI.

To read more, download the report here.

About the Data: The report is based on data from a survey of 112 B2B marketers from organizations with annual revenues of $25 million or more.

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