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B2B Data Technology Expands To Meet Real-Time Buyer Needs

B2B marketers need accurate data to better target and engage prospective customers—in real-time. To meet these demands, database marketing providers are expanding services to not only provide data and information, but also help B2B marketers execute on those insights gained.

Will Machines Replace Marketers?

DGR ENL 062415 DV ArticleAnyone who has chatted with me in recent months knows that I’ve added the impending domination of humans by intelligent machines to my usual list of obsessions. This most definitely applies to marketing, where I found many artificial intelligence-based solutions once I began looking for them.

My thesis was that AI-based systems already exist for most tasks that marketers perform, but are not yet connected into a single robo-marketer that (or is it who?) could do the job from start to finish. To test this, I listed the tasks that go into building a marketing program and matched these against my list of AI-based products.

Quite to my surprise, the machines haven’t risen so far after all. Of the three broad tasks I defined — planning, content creation, and execution — only content creation is served by what I consider to be strong AI solutions. (The term “strong AI” is used by AI experts to mean systems match or exceed human intelligence. I’m using it in that rough sense, although with the more specific meaning of “systems that perform tasks that otherwise require human marketers.”)

Some AI options are available for execution, but most are conventional predictive modeling products that I don’t count as strong AI because they still require humans to deploy their results. Marketing planning, which includes the all-important task of campaign design, is almost wholly untouched by AI.

Artificial intelligence is an important topic in our general society and seems to attracting increased attention, even though Google Trends suggests otherwise. Marketers in particular are thinking about it as they adjust to rapidly changing technologies that increasingly rely on predictive analytics and other automation for effective management.

Given the hype that accompanies pretty much every new technical development, it’s helpful to see that AI-based marketing isn’t as far along as one might expect. But don't take that as a reason to relax: While it’s not time to panic, it’s definitely time to prepare. AI marketing systems already present some significant opportunities and their scope can only grow — perhaps exponentially as key techniques become more widely distributed. Now is the time to start building a realistic understanding of how these systems work, what they can and can’t do, and how they’ll fit into your future.

David Raab is Principal of Raab Associates, a consultancy that helps marketers select and deploy marketing automation systems. Typical projects include needs definition, vendor selection, and performance measurement. The firm also offers industry vendors assistance in understanding customer needs and establishing thought leadership through white papers, surveys and presentations.

For more specifics on the artificial intelligence solutions available for marketing tasks such as planning, content creation and execution, see a full version of this post on Raab's Customer Experience Matrix blog.

LinkedIn Expands Marketing Solutions With Lead Gen And Nurturing Product

LinkedInLogoLinkedIn has expanded its Marketing Solutions portfolio with the introduction of LinkedIn Lead Accelerator, a lead generation and nurturing product designed to connect companies to the right professionals with the right content as they make their way through the purchase decision process.

This addition reflects the integration and enhancement of Bizo’s Multi-Channel Nurturing product, which LinkedIn acquired in August 2014.

Study: Marketing Automation Innovation Highest For Small And Enterprise Firms

Research pieceMarketing automation systems for very small and very large businesses have shown the greatest innovation in the past year, according to research released today by Raab Associates.

The January 2015 B2B Marketing Automation Vendor Selection Tool (VEST) added five vendors focused on serving very small companies, which form the industry’s largest pool of potential new users. However, vendors serving enterprise marketers have been the most aggressive towards extending their systems beyond traditional marketing automation to include display advertising and other new channels.

Raab Report: B2B Marketing Automation To Reach $1.2B In 2014

Research stock imageRevenues for B2B marketing automation systems will grow 60% to reach $1.2 billion in 2014, according to Raab Associates’ latest B2B Marketing Automation Vendor Selection Tool (VEST) report.  The 60% rate is higher than the 2013 rate of 50%.

“Revenues for B2B marketing automation vendors continue to grow as adoption increases and existing customers expand their systems,” said VEST author David M. Raab. “We also see continued extension into new industries, new features, and new vendor services.”

Marketo Acquires Insightera To Boost Personalization And Predictive Analytics Capabilities

Marketo InsigheraMarketo has announced an agreement to acquire Insightera, a real-time web site and mobile app personalization platform, a move that fueled further speculation that the marketing automation vendor will be acquired. Industry observers noted that the acquisition of Insightera will add a variety of personalization and predictive analytic tools to Marketo’s arsenal.

Insightera provides personalization for web site and mobile users and the ability to identify anonymous web site visitors. In addition, Insightera provides machine learning capabilities across all web site content and uses predictive analytics to make content recommendations.

Marketers Eye Predictive Models In Next Generation Of Lead Scoring

Lattice E-Book drop shadow 250pxLead scoring is more widely adopted than it was even just a year ago and many B2B marketers are already planning for the next major shift — predictive lead scoring.

These were a few of the key findings in a survey titled: Benchmarking Marketing Automation: The Shift Toward Next Generation Lead Scoring & Segmentation, conducted by Decision Tree Labs and commissioned by Lattice Engines.

Marketers Looking To Combat More Aggressive Email Filters

email marketing - shutterstock 75457654While the reports of the death of email have been greatly exaggerated, marketing emails are in danger of being buried in the graveyard known as the “spam” folder. There have been a number of developments in recent months that have made it harder for marketing emails to land in the inbox.

Some new email filters, such as Swizzle and Mailstrom, make it easy for users to perform a mass delete and unsubscribe to rid their inbox of marketing messages. While these add-ons appeal to power users who are obsessive about clearing their inboxes, mainstream email providers are also making it more difficult for email marketers to make it into the coveted inbox. Google’s Gmail recently added a “Tabs” feature that relegates some marketing messages to the “Promotions” inbox and Microsoft’s Outlook’s “sweep” function can also put a dent in the success of email marketing campaigns.

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