New Salesforce Research: 51% Of Marketers Leverage Gen AI, But Majority Are Still In The Experimentation Phase

Published: December 12, 2023

ChatGPT celebrated its first birthday on Nov. 30 and, after a meteoric launch, B2B marketers are experimenting with and implementing the technology to automate the more mundane aspects of their daily routines. However, while generative AI has opened the door to a series of new applications and innovations, marketers are still hesitant to fully embrace the technology.

According to Salesforce’sTrends In Generative AI For Marketing” report, marketing leaders cite accuracy/quality (31%) and trust (20%) as their top concerns around using generative AI at work, while 67% say their company’s data is not properly set up for generative AI.

“Instead of thinking about data as one thing and AI as another, it’s really about bringing that together into one solid strategy,” said Jay Wilder, VP of Product Marketing for Salesforce Marketing Cloud, in an interview with Demand Gen Report (DGR). “Marketers are also keenly aware that the first revolution of AI was mainly predictive, and a lot of them really didn’t jump on right away — there are still companies today that don’t leverage predictive AI, even though it’s been at our fingertips for five or seven years and it keeps getting easier. Marketers do not want to miss the opportunity this time: They want to jump right in, and they recognize that to wait on this is to really put yourself at a potential competitive disadvantage.”

To learn more about what the future might hold for generative AI, the DGR team sat down with Wilder to get his take on the survey results.

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Demand Gen Report: The report found that practitioners are really leaning in and embracing generative AI — what picture does the data paint about the current AI landscape?

Wilder: Marketers are relying more on AI to help transform their jobs and roles on a day-to-day basis. We’re seeing that more half of marketers (51%) are already using generative AI, but just 17% have actually implemented it in their workflows while 34% are still experimenting with it.

However, 22% plan to use it very soon. If you add that all together, three-quarters of marketers are in some way using it today or are planning to use it very soon. Either way, more than half are saying it currently is or will be a game changer for them.

DGR: Some of marketers’ biggest hesitancies center around AI stealing their jobs — what are your thoughts on that? Do you believe AI should augment, not alienate?

Wilder: Although AI is not a replacement for your team, it can definitely make you more efficient. The top applications to make it more efficient are some of the key things that marketers do daily: Creating basic content, inspiring ideation and analyzing data scoring.

There’s a lot of optimism around AI taking some of the more repetitive manual tasks — more than 70% said generative AI is going to eliminate busy work, and about the same percentage said it’ll help them be more strategic and elevate their impact.

DGR: What are some of the main concerns that marketers have surrounding AI implementation?

Wilder: More than two thirds of marketers don’t think their company’s data is properly set up to work with generative AI due to concerns about quality, accuracy and trust. One of the big discussion points right now is how to bring propriety brand and customer information into the AI models without risking the exposure of confidential information. Practitioners need to balance accuracy and information in a way that maintains trust with customers and businesses, and there’s just a real hunger for learning right now:

39% of marketers say they don’t know how to safely use generative AI yet, and 43% still say they don’t really know how to get the most value out of generative AI.

Marketers are also honest and transparent about things that they feel like they need to understand better: How do we start to use the information we have to get the most out of our generative AI? How do we make sure that as we’re doing this, it’s something that is scalable and safe within our company?

DGR: What are the top three Gen AI trends that marketers should keep an eye on as they move into 2024?

Wilder: No. 1 is to start with trust: How do we safely implement this within our organization? No. 2 revolves around how to leverage existing data to get personalized responses back to our brands from generative AI inputs. Content is the “last mile” of the personalization conversation, and there’s been so many strides in terms of predictive AI targeting the right audience and predicting their needs. But if marketers don’t have the ability to create enough content to satisfy that level of hyper personalization, then they can’t fully act on it.

Companies also need to create a roadmap for success that will create value, because a big consideration with any new technology is taking it from the big picture and viewing how it’ll impact the business in the next three to six months.

Then there’s the data piece, which is always the hard part of marketing. Marketers aren’t data scientists; we’re not generally SQL masters. Generative AI can help us with more sophisticated data work and lower the barrier of entry.

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