Marketers believe AI can deliver double-digit revenue growth

April 4, 2019

Using artificial intelligence solutions can lead to double-digit revenue growth within two years according to 85 per cent of marketers already using the technology.

That’s according to account-based marketing firm Demandbase, which carried out an AI survey, issued in conjunction with Salesforce Pardot and global research firm, Demand Metric.

The findings point to strong interest and high expectations in AI from B2B marketing and sales professionals; 84 per cent of study participants are currently planning, evaluating, implementing or using AI, and 84 per cent also expect to see value from their implementations in a year or less.

However, only 18 per cent of respondents are actually currently using AI. But of those who are more than 40 per cent say it’s one of the, most important investments to achieve better sales and marketing performance, with almost one-third concluding that it is revolutionising marketing and sales performance. 

This is reflected in B2B marketing teams’ investment in data analysis, with 69 per cent of survey respondents noting that they have data scientists on the marketing team. 

The breakdown of data scientists on B2B marketing teams is:

  • 38% have 1-3 data scientists
  • 24% have 4-6 data scientists
  • 4% have 7-9 data scientists
  • 3% have 10+ data scientists
  • 31% have none

“We’re still in the early days of AI for B2B marketing and sales, and there is a great deal of education that is needed to close the gap between implementation and expectations,” said Peter Isaacson, CMO at Demandbase. 

“It’s exciting to see the optimism that exists in the B2B marketing community. As early adopters continue to have success, AI adoption will continue to accelerate, and AI solutions will become table stakes for all marketing and sales teams.”  

Barriers to AI in marketing 

When it comes to AI implementation and usage, the study found that the biggest barriers are:

  • Cost/budget constraints (55%)
  • Skills/team (52%)
  • Unsure how to start (31%)

Part of the gap in AI implementation and usage lies in the fact that 40 per cent of study participants are not aware of or fully taking advantage of existing AI capabilities in their vendor-supplied ad, sales or marketing technology. Better understanding of these features they already have could put them on the fast track to benefiting from AI, often at no or little additional cost.

“AI is transforming the B2B marketing and sales industries, providing greater insights, personalised campaigns, dynamic experiences and an overall more seamless experience between marketing and sales,” said Nate Skinner, VP of product marketing, Salesforce Pardot. 

“We’re excited to see the data suggest that the martech, sales tech and ad tech markets are primed to utilize AI to its full potential.”

AI investment priorities

In terms of priorities for AI investments, study participants planning their AI implementations list top-of funnel applications as priorities:

  • Identify the right accounts or individuals to target (64%)
  • Improve the reach or efficiency of digital advertising (54%)
  • Capture intent signals from accounts or individuals (46%)

Similarly, they anticipate AI benefits in the following areas:

  • Higher lead quality (67%)
  • Better engagement with customers and prospects (56%)
  • Better understanding of buyer intent (52%)

Martech leader

Of the three major areas of technology usage for sales and marketing teams – marketing, sales and advertising – martech claims the highest perceived value from AI across the full responses. 

Sales tech holds a strong promise for the future, too, according to 60 per cent of current AI users who said sales tech could receive high value from the application of AI.

The research surveyed 276 US marketers in December 2018, of which 111 responses were used in the analysis. The respondents are employed at B2B organisations with $25 million or more in annual revenues across a diverse set of industries.