Artificial Intelligence Potentials in B2B Marketing – D&B

ai-dnb
AI Marketing

By Leslie Hancock
Founder & CEO
CreativeCafeHQ.com

I did an amusing and highly informal survey, asking various people in my life what they think about when I mention “artificial intelligence” (AI). Not surprisingly, most think of human-like robots or omniscient, self-aware computer systems as portrayed in The Terminator, Ex Machina or Person of Interest. There’s the unavoidable association with a dystopian future in which the machines wake up and decide humans are a blight that must be eradicated. Even luminaries like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have warned us of the potential dangers of AI. But the general public still seems to think of AI technology as something to worry about in the distant future, not something that’s already a factor in almost every industry and aspect of our everyday lives.

The truth is that AI is already here, and it’s pervasive. Though most AI tech is nowhere near passing the Turing Test and taking over the world, it’s absolutely already transforming the way we do business. Whether they consider AI technology to be a friend or a foe, many B2B marketing leaders see the potential—and the inevitability—of AI. In fact, most CMOs in five global markets believe artificial intelligence will surpass social media’s influence in the industry. Nearly six in 10 believe that within the next five years, companies will need to compete in the AI space to succeed.

The Dawn of the Cognitive Era

Joanna L. Batstone, PhD, Vice President and Lab Director at IBM Research Australia and Chief Technology Officer, IBM Australia and New Zealand, says those involved in serious information science understand the enormous potential of intelligent systems.

“Cognitive computing systems learn at scale, reason with purpose and interact with humans naturally,” Batstone explains. “They learn and reason from their interactions with us and their experiences with their environment.”

Intelligent systems can go beyond answering numerical problems to offer hypotheses, reasoned arguments and recommendations. However, Batstone reassures anyone who might still be nervous about the nature of AI.

AI Is as Much About “Nurture” as “Nature”

But don’t worry, AI marketing (AIM) isn’t putting human marketers out of work anytime soon. Instead, it has the potential to be the connective tissue among martech systems, augmenting humans’ ability to make sense of and take action on data.

Wayne Sadin, Chief Digital and Information Officer at Affinitas Life, says, “Humans are still very much driving the train. It’s just a much faster, more powerful train now.”

Sadin urges marketers to rely on machine learning to perform rote tasks (like watching social media posts) in order to free teams to do higher-level creative work. By interconnecting social data to web analytics to a CRM database to external data and more, B2B marketers can use AI applications to automate and personalize many interactions that used to be time-intensive and far less efficient.

For this reason, Sadin thinks of the “A” in “AI” as augmented instead of artificial. “AI is part of the trend towards ‘Augmented Everything’: brains (AI), muscles (robots), vision (AR/VR),” Sadin says. “It makes workers smarter, stronger and faster. It’s not some central overlord machine, though. It’s just smart people taking advantage of data that’s already there and intelligent martech that is getting more and more capable of adapting to changing customer behaviors and expectations.”Sadin cautions that AI has to be carefully nurtured and guided. It can only do what we tell it to do and learn what we tell it to learn. AI can’t connect data and martech systems on its own without a human telling the technology how to make the connections and what to do with the data it takes in. (Maybe Maciej Ceglowski puts it best: “I find it helpful to think of algorithms as a dim-witted but extremely industrious graduate student, whom you don’t fully trust.”)

To train AI apps to be genuinely useful and not just more chaos cluttering up the martech landscape, we have to tie machine learning to business goals and ethical standards and be very, very specific about the data we feed into the AI to train it. We have to set limits and maintain good data hygiene so the AI makes the connections we want and stays on track. Without reasonably clean, complete data, AI is just garbage in, garbage out. And without encoding careful ethical parameters to nurture the AI’s learning and development.

ai-friend-foe

 

AI Marketing Requires a Different Mindset

AI is already proving to be more of a friend than a foe to B2B marketers. To get the desired results, though, not only do marketers have to properly nurture AI technologies, we also have to embrace their potential—even when there’s the possibility that AI will eventually render our current jobs obsolete.

Paul Greenberg, independent consultant and author of the best-selling book CRM at the Speed of Light, points out that marketers have to embrace a very different mindset moving forward. Marketers are trained to target personas—representations of broad groups of people with similar characteristics and drivers—and produce content that appeals to them. But now customers expect an extremely high level of personalization and real-time interactions with brands across a multitude of devices and channels.

These technologies will nevertheless grow in popularity. Greenberg expects these applications to be acquired by, and absorbed into, big marketing clouds like IBM, Oracle and Salesforce, so you should expect to see them soon in your martech portfolios if you don’t have them already.

As for what we can and should expect AIM technology to do today and in the future, Greenberg points to one of his favorite marketing videos of the past few years, Corning’s “A Day Made of Glass.” This video was not produced using AI, but it’s the kind of thing Greenberg believes we can and should be leveraging AI to create. He says the Corning video brilliantly connects with consumers’ emotions to create a human-centric vision of the future with extremely broad appeal.

“AIM technology can already do this if we ask it to. It’s not way off in the future,” Greenberg says. “Intelligent systems can already make the connections between systems of record and systems of engagement to understand what would emotionally engage people. These technologies can independently test and learn from people’s reactions enough to change their approach and build highly personalized, relevant and contextual custom content for prospects and customers in real time.”

So is AI a friend or a foe to B2B marketers? The answer is yes. AI is what you make it. It all goes back to how you feed, nurture and train your intelligent systems. Just as you wouldn’t toss a five-year-old child into a mosh pit to learn how to dance, you can’t leave AIM technology on its own to learn from unlimited inputs and “dirty” data sources. If you train it well and use it to build interconnections across your organization and beyond, AIM can significantly augment your human marketing team’s capabilities to anticipate and connect with much larger and more diverse audiences over time.

Source: Artificial Intelligence Potentials in B2B Marketing – D&B

Retargetting is so Flintstones



By Charlie Tarzian, Founder, The Big Willow

So we’re at least 7 years into exchange based media and we’re still complaining about retargeting. Consumer complaints are that it is mindless or creepy. And on the professional side, clients want more control over who to retarget and when.

Meanwhile, back at the zombie ranch of retargeting there has been very little innovation or progress made on some basic requirements that would change the game.

The biggest issue is lack of integration into the enterprise. And by enterprise I mean those data repositories and systems that run any company. The fact that brands continue to chase us with acquisition based messaging even after we have purchased is clearly a missed opportunity. Which begs the question: Is retargeting that misunderstood that it falls to the bottom of the data integration wish list? Do brands understand the magnificent fail of not knowing who their new customers are and the state of play between any one consumer and their company?

Without question brands need to start paying attention to this continual consumer aggravation.

Recently, a B2B client said in a meeting: We are only really interested in investing in our targeted client list. We want to know when they come to our site, we want to know when we serve them ads, when they open and click through our ads, when they follow and share our social links, etc…

So why, she asked, are we retargeting everyone that comes to our site? Our targeted list represents less than 10% of everyone that comes – so why can’t we suppress retargeting to the other 90% of the audience we are not interested in at this time? And what about if we want to retarget based on which part of the site and which product they were engaged with?

Her company’s agency responded: That’s not how it works. There is no way to discriminate. Anyone that comes to the site becomes part of the retargeting pool.

So – indiscriminant retargeting is what it shall be!

Now, on the other side, retargeting relies on building sizable pools of audience to drive the cost of bidding down – meaning the more you have in the pool and the more you have to choose from the better chance you have of winning a certain percentage of your bids and of keeping the costs down. Retargeting buys can be two times the cost on a CPM basis when compared to straight CPM buys. We get that. But retargeting parameters should be no different than how you would set up any DSP-based campaign. You should be able to create whitelists with rules we use in any campaign: only these IP addresses, or these devices or cookies, or customers that have contracts coming up, etc… I only want to target those and with the right context.

If you think about it – instead of relying on the primitive, non-evolved way retargeting is done today, we should be thinking about moving the heavy lifting of retargeting to the same data-driven approach we take through our DMP’s-to-DSP’s-to-ad servers process. That’s how we operate the foundational aspects of our media stack today, so why can’t we use the same stack to inject logic, filtering and knowledge into retargeting.

I can tell you we are working on this issue and I have to imagine others are as well. We call it Filtered Retargeting and to be honest – it is not retargeting as much as it is sequencing messaging based on using historical data. Historical can mean 10 minutes, 10 days or 10 weeks – but the strategy relies on being up to date with previous interactions across data sets and systems. But that is just one dimension.

The other is getting client organizations to architect how key customer data gets into the marketing stack with the aforementioned frequency. When someone makes their first purchase, reactivates, buys a new service, upgrades, etc… the marketing operations world must be updated and rules put in place to allow a change in how we communicate to that individual and/or company. This is the promise of both DMP’s and of an ALWAYS ON marketing stack.

All to say, retargeting has withered on the vine for so long and yet could be so much more effective in enhancing relationships.

Let’s put some of that great thinking that has created so many innovations and breakthroughs into this issue so we can stop talking about it. Selfish as it is, I am tired of retargeting being the subject of dinner party conversations!

What are your thoughts? And who do you think is and/or should be solving for this lack of progress?

How More Accessible Information Is Forcing B2B Sales to Adapt

jan16-05-563960997by: Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer

Over the past 20 years, information technology and digital channels have changed the way consumers shop for products ranging from cars to homes to electronics. Those forces are dramatically changing the way B2B companies and their customers approach buying and selling, too.

Business buyers are more connected and informed than ever before. Sellers must respond. For buyers and sellers alike, this creates complexity, anxiety, and opportunity all at the same time.

From the buyer’s perspective, information technology and digital channels provide access to information and enable self-sufficiency. When a buyer wants to learn about virtually any product or service, an internet search yields thousands (if not millions) of results, including online articles, videos, white papers, blogs, and social media posts. In addition to supplier websites that showcase specific solutions, there are likely to be online sources (ranging from the self-serving to the unbiased) to help buyers learn and compare solution alternatives. Buyers can also use self-service digital channels for new or repeat purchases and for training and support. Using information technology and digital channels, buyers can take over many steps of buying that salespeople once cherished as their source of value.

Buyers are at different levels of self-sufficiency: any single buyer can be at one level for some purchases and at a different level for others. Sometimes buyers prefer to eliminate the salesperson completely. According to one corporate technology buyer: “Our supplier’s customized self-service purchasing portal makes it easy to place reorders, track shipping, and return products hassle-free.” Other times buyers seek help from salespeople. The same corporate buyer relies on salespeople when evaluating new technologies: “It’s more efficient to work with a few trusted salespeople, compared to spending hours on my own sifting through all the information and misinformation that’s out there.”

Because of the diversity of buyer self-sufficiency, the traditional methods sellers use to customize their selling approach for customers are no longer enough. Considering factors such as customer potential and needs is still relevant. But today, customer knowledge/self-sufficiency is a growing driver of how customers want to buy. At one end of the spectrum are the “super-expert” customers, skilled in gathering information from many sources and self-sufficient in using that information to make purchase decisions. At the other end of the spectrum are the “information-seeking” customers, who want help with examining and evaluating the plethora of information. Many customers are in between these two extremes, or are at different points at different times or for different purchases.

Smart sellers match their selling approach to the customer’s level of buying knowledge and self-sufficiency. For example, when leaders at Dow Corning observed in the early 2000s that some customers wanted an easier, more affordable way to buy standard silicone products, they created Xiameter, a brand that includes thousands of less-differentiated products sold exclusively through a low-cost, no-frills, self-service online sales channel. Customers who desired a higher-touch approach could still purchase products under the Dow Corning brand name, which also includes specialty silicones backed by research and technical services.

As sellers need a more customized approach to reaching customers, they have a big arsenal of data and technology at their disposal. Systems (e.g., CRM), tools (e.g., data management, analytics), infrastructures (e.g., mobile, cloud), and information (e.g., big data) give sellers knowledge about buyers and enable sales force members to make smarter decisions. And sellers who once connected with customers primarily through personal selling can now use an array of digital communication channels to supplement or supplant face-to-face sales efforts.

Consider the impact of information technology and digital channels from the seller’s perspective. Here are examples from several industries.

  • Finding banking customers: “Social media allows us to cost-effectively reach out to more prospects and showcase our services.
  • Understanding specialty chemicals customers: “Big data and analytics help us improve customer targeting and achieve more cost-effective deployment.”
  • Acquiring advertising customers: “We now have richer demographic information to help us create more powerful sales messages, resulting in more sales.”
  • Serving and growing business logistics customers: “Our salespeople use a business review app to guide quarterly account reviews with major customers. By sharing data about performance and cost savings, these discussions enhance customer value and retention.

Information technology and digital channels can help sellers become more effective and efficient, but they can also be a source of disharmony and confusion if implemented without thought. Too many sellers have wasted millions of dollars on sales technologies such as CRM systems and data warehouses that never lived up to their potential.

Success for sellers requires many sales force changes beyond information technology and digital solutions. To start, salespeople need new competencies. Customers are no longer interested in meeting with “talking brochures,” so salespeople must do more than share product information. They must adapt to each customer’s level of knowledge and self-sufficiency. They must use email, social media, webinars, video conferencing, and other tools judiciously to maximize their own productivity and make things more efficient for buyers. They must help their companies coordinate customer outreach across multiple communication channels to ensure buyers get a well-orchestrated and consistent message.

For example, in the pharmaceutical industry, gone are the days when the majority of physician education occurred through face-to-face contact between salespeople and physicians. Companies are now tracking individual physician communication preferences and are reaching out with the combination of face-to-face visits and/or digital methods (e.g., websites, email, podcasts, virtual detailing, video conferencing, mobile apps) that best meets each physician’s needs. Salespeople need competencies as orchestrators who can ensure an effective and efficient connection.

Developing new sales force competencies is just a start. Sales leaders must also reengineer their sales forces by implementing changes across the entire range of sales force decisions: roles, size and structure, hiring, training, coaching, incentive compensation, performance management, and sales support systems.

Source: HBR: How More Accessible Information Is Forcing B2B Sales to Adapt

 

McKinsey & Company | Why it’s still a world of ‘grow or go’

imgres-1In a challenging environment, growth matters more than ever.

Growth is magic. It makes it easier to fund new investments, attract great talent, and acquire assets. But the environment for growth has been difficult since 2008, and while there are signs that the Great Recession is at last receding, significant challenges remain. Real-GDP growth in the United States remains below historical averages; the economies of most European countries are still sluggish; and growth in emerging markets, particularly the BRICS countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—is slowing down.

For more than a decade, we’ve been building and mining a global-growth database containing hundreds of the largest US and European companies. Recently, we’ve been revisiting some of the core analyses in the 2008 book, The Granularity of Growth,1 to see if the challenging environment of recent years has shifted the picture of fundamentals we painted before the financial crisis. The answer is no, though the economic context arguably has increased the importance of an effective growth strategy.

Survival rates

Healthy growth boosts corporate survival rates, which was true in 2008 and remains true in the United States and in other developed markets. From 1983 to 2013, for instance, roughly 60 percent of the nonfinancial companies then in the S&P 500 were acquired—it’s grow or go, and they have gone. Consider these findings over that period:

  • Sixty of the 78 S&P 500 companies that generated top-line growth and improved or at least maintained their margins outperformed the S&P 500.
  • Companies with deteriorating margins performed less well, even if these companies were growing; just 8 out of 30 outperformed the index.
  • A higher percentage (56 percent) of companies that grew slowly, but also aggressively distributed cash to shareholders, outperformed the S&P 500.

As analysis of these companies’ total returns to shareholders (TRS) suggests (Exhibit 1), growth is only a means to the ultimate end: creating value. Not all growth opportunities are equal. Still, there’s no escaping the fact that growth is a critical driver of performance as measured by total returns to shareholders. And TRS under performers are far more likely to be acquired.

Continue reading this article via the source: Why it’s still a world of ‘grow or go’ | McKinsey & Company

Mobile online checkout and AI to be front of mind in 2016: Deloitte | ZDNet

mobileMobile online checkout and cognitive technologies are set to boom in 2016, according to the latest predictions made by Deloitte.In the Technology, Media & Telecommunications 2016 report, Deloitte believes the number of individuals who use a third-party touch-based payment service to make a purchase on their devices — which covers both smartphones and tablets — will increase by 150 percent to reach 50 million regular users.

Source: Mobile online checkout and AI to be front of mind in 2016: Deloitte | ZDNet

Email Pre-Flight Checklist: What To Do Before You Send – Automational Blog

Source: blog.automational.com

email-marketing-automation-blogIt’s unfortunate when you send an email to a marketing list only to realize that you’ve misspelled a critical word or left off an important part of your message. It’s worse when your opens and click-throughs don’t live up to your expectations, and you don’t know why until someone informs you the email you sent them arrived with broken formatting, or wasn’t readable on their smartphone.

To help remedy this, we’ve created a short list of things to double-check before you send the email to your list.

PROOFREAD

It’s easy to skimp on proofing since Microsoft Word and iOS Pages have so many tools to help out. One example of why electronic checks aren’t enough: “two bee or not too bee” is a sentence that is comprised entirely of words that are spelled correctly, but clearly convey the wrong message. Until spellcheckers have a better grasp of context, be sure to check your email for spelling and grammar errors before you send. These errors can damage your organization’s professional reputation and distract your recipients from your message.

USE A CLEAR “FROM” NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS

Generic senders such as “info@company.com” or “Sales” often get ignored. Make sure that the values you use for your “From” name and email clearly indicate who you are in order to avoid confusing your recipients. If they don’t recognize who the email is from, they aren’t going to open or read your message. The “From” identity should be someone that the reader knows (their account manager), recognizes (the CEO or other notable person), or would be expecting an email from (Customer Support or Automational Newsletter).

HAVE BACKUP VALUES FOR DYNAMIC CONTENT

Include a default value if you incorporate dynamic text into your emails. If a recipient’s first name is blank, for example, and you’re using a first name personalization, you want to ensure that this field is filled with something like “Loyal Customer” rather than nothing at all, which would cause them to receive an email that started with, “Dear .”

When you add dynamic text to your template, it will look something like this: ${Recipient.contact.firstname[0]!””}. Including a default value with your dynamic text (just in case that data isn’t filled out for a recipient on your list) looks something like this: ${Recipient.contact.firstname[0]!”Customer”}.

TEST YOUR LINKS

Make sure all of your links work prior to sending your email. Broken links will prevent your recipients from accessing your content and may make them less likely to try again in future emails.

CHECK YOUR TEMPLATE ON MOBILE DEVICES

You already know that a huge percentage of emails are read on mobile devices, but do you know how your template will respond to the variety of devices and browsers with which it could be opened? Most marketing automation tools will allow you to preview your message on different sized screens and make sure everything appears as intended.

INCLUDE A TEXT VERSION OF YOUR HTML EMAIL TEMPLATE

The text version provides additional support for your template so anyone who doesn’t receive HTML emails (whether by choice or because their email client doesn’t support it) can still read your email. Including a text version will also decrease your spam score.

CHECK YOUR SUBJECT LINE

Your subject line is the first part of your email that your recipient will see, so it is vital that it grabs their attention and gives them a good idea of the purpose of your email. Sending out emails with an irrelevant subject line or with a subject line containing typos or grammatical errors can decrease your email open rate and harm your credibility. Include keywords that will resonate with or appeal to your audience, while avoiding key spam trigger words or phrases such as “free,” “earn money,” or “meet singles.”

KEEP IT SHORT

Regardless of the purpose of your email, remember that your email is just one of dozens (maybe even hundreds!) of emails that landed in your recipient’s inbox today. Consider this a “back to the basics” best practice: keep it as short as you can without losing the core message.

Break the content into sections for better readability. Ideally, your recipient would read every word of your email, but in truth, many readers will probably skim the message. As you’re writing, make it your goal that the reader should be able to determine the key elements of your message and the action you’d like them to take with only a 10-second scan through your email.

CREATE RESULTS WITH A CLEAR AND COMPELLING CALL-TO-ACTION

What are you hoping to achieve with this email? Generate registrations to an upcoming event? Drive downloads of your latest eBook? Include a very clear call-to-action that instructs the reader to do just that (“Register Here” or “Get the eBook”). Limit the number of links and options within the email to encourage the customer to act on your primary offer.

BUILD BRAND CONSISTENCY: TONE, VOICE, AND IMAGERY

The customer should be able to recognize your company identity immediately when they open and read the email. Always include your company name and logo to reinforce your brand. The tone of the content should match your company as well. An email from a pet sitter could be fun and playful, but imagine getting an email from a funeral home with the same tone.

Whether conversational or more conservative, make sure your tone is consistent across communication channels, speak to your audience in a simple, straightforward manner, and keep pushy sales lingo to a minimum.

BECOME A CONTENT CRITIC

Before your email is marked as spam, double-check your content for potentially problematic words and phrases. Words like “discount,” “pharmacy,” and even “spam,” as well as large numbers, dollar signs, or excessive exclamation points, can make your message seem less credible.

Providing relevant content, writing an appropriate subject line, and using professional language and punctuation will help boost the legitimacy of your communications.

| CRM & Marketing Automation Tips

Download a one pager of this list via: Email Pre-flight Checklist

 

Facebook Stats that Every Social Marketer Should Know

With over 1.23 billion active users (including 71% of online adults in the United States), a 94% increase in shared content since 2012, and enough spending money to buy several small countries, it’s clear that Facebook isn’t going anywhere soon. Smart marketers are already using Facebook’s impressive reach to their own advantage, but the network is still relatively new and constantly evolving. It’s hard enough to keep up with Facebook’s changing algorithms – how can marketers be sure they’re using Facebook strategically, not just “marketing at random”?

In addition to arming yourself with a rock solid social media tactical plan (click the link for a comprehensive sample plan, including high-level objectives and granular action items), marketers need to approach their Facebook strategy with the most up-to-date insights and stats.

How can you be sure you’re using Facebook strategically? Check out stats from TrackMaven’s new report, The Marketing Maven’s Guide to Facebook.

Source: Facebook Stats that Every Social Marketer Should Know

When to Buy Data

Have your investments in data generated ROI? Do you have a data strategy? Are you performing quarterly data assessments? Have you ever completed a gap analysis?

Pre-crime arrives in the UK: US Next?

You can now be ushered out of a shop, even if you haven’t done anything wrong yet.

Source: Pre-crime arrives in the UK: Better make sure your face stays off the crowdsourced watch list | Ars Technica UK

Applying Digital Marketing | Happy People | Stronger Brand

MANY years ago, marketers would invest in massive advertising campaigns with headlines like “When EF Hutton speaks, everyone listens” and convince customers that their broker was the best in the business.

TODAY, customers drive the conversation and ultimately the brand. As an example, a happy or angry customer can pulse into conversations over social media with rave reviews or complaints about your brand to millions of people who in turn can have the power to exponentially impact your brand in either a positive or negative direction.

At every stage of customer engagement there exist opportunities to create advocacy around your brand. Companies are just beginning to realize that there are relatively simple ways to utilize digital marketing tactics to improve the overall experience that people have with their brand.

5 simple ways to apply digital marketing to drive improved customer experience:

  1. SEO – Use search engine optimization to help companies find your Contact Us page.

  2. Retargeting – Serve engaged visitors with progressive profiling forms like surveys.

  3. Analytics – Use analytics to track, map and predict how customers contact you.

  4. Testing – Test landing pages to optimize your sales and marketing objectives.

  5. Mobile Apps – Encourage your customers to install your mobile apps.

Ultimately, efficiencies are what drive business decisions. From a cost perspective, digital marketing is the most efficient channel through which to drive new customer acquisition, improve customer retention and  and expand existing customer relationships. Applying these digital marketing principles throughout each stage of engagement will ultimately enhance your customers’ experience and transform your business into one that is more agile and able to react quickly to the changing needs of your customers and future market opportunities.

With the #digital #revolution in the rearview mirror now, for many organizations that were quick to adapt to change during the first decade of the new millennia, firms are now focused on their digital evolution.  So the good news is that there is time to catch up for those firms that were late to the show.

#Happy #marketing, happy #customers.