The recent launch of ChatGPT has made artificial intelligence the most buzzed about topic in tech. For marketers though, AI is old news. The majority (61%) of marketers in 2023 have used AI in their marketing activities, according to a survey from Influencer Marketing Hub.
But despite the fairly high percentage of marketing teams using AI — for chatbots, ad targeting, content creation, etc. – CMOs do not have the confidence of the C-suite.
In fact, they are viewed as — how shall I put this — "digital laggards."
A 2022 report, “AI for CMOs: The Real-World Playbook for Digital Transformation” from the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute (MAII) states that CMOs are losing their influence and a wake-up call is needed in the age of AI.
“CMOs were ranked second-to-last out of the entire C-suite in their understanding of technology,” wrote report authors Paul Roetzer, founder and CEO of the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute and Mike Kaput, chief content officer at the Institute. “C-suite executives surveyed by CMO Council say marketing leadership’s number-one gap is the modernization of the marketing organization, its systems, and its operations.”
Nevertheless, marketing teams have hardly been cast out. Marketing budgets for 2022 did increase overall from 2021, so marketing remains a core part of innovation. But CMOs looking to reestablish themselves as digital leaders have an ace in the hole with AI.
That said, here are three recommendations to start implementing, or increase the use of, AI.
Define the Marketing Business Challenges AI Can Help Solve
AI is not a broad technology that covers your entire martech stack. Marketing teams will have to adopt different AI tools for different marketing use cases. That’s why it’s critical to have an overarching AI vision before purchasing specific tools.
“Your strategic vision should include real business cases for AI that directly impact costs and revenue,” according to the MAII “AI for CMOs” report. “Then begin patiently experimenting with tools that have the potential to realize that vision.”
Here are some common cost-saving, revenue-increasing goals for AI, according to the MAII report:
- Create personalized consumer experiences at scale
- Generate greater campaign ROI
- Improve customer retention
- Increase lead volume and quality
- Shorten sales cycles
“AI is a moment of truth for marketers,” said Brian Solis, an award-winning futurist, author and keynote speaker. “It positions marketing as a platform for total CX, a full-funnel approach that connects with customers beyond the top of the funnel.”
Focus on Marketing Use Cases Where AI Makes an Impact Quickly
While it’s important to always see the big picture of AI in marketing, AI is put into practice on a case-by-case basis.
“When starting with AI, focus on areas where AI can have a tangible impact,” said Ronald van Loon, CEO and principal analyst of Intelligent World. “What is the biggest challenge in your funnel that can be solved with AI?”
The foundation for AI marketing use cases is AI’s ability to analyze data at scale and make predictions much faster and more precisely than humans ever could. Every real world example of marketing AI depends on AI’s role as a data analyzer on steroids.
A few core marketing use cases where AI can make a fast impact for CMOs, include:
AI can improve ad campaign efficiency by analyzing performance, spend and audience data and alert teams about which ads are working, which aren’t and predict which ads would work better. AI tools can also write ad copy and build ad creative, find new audiences for your products, and adjust ad budgets automatically.
It’s becoming impossible to keep up with customer demands in an online world without AI. Enter chatbots. Chatbots, used by brands ranging from Starbucks to Sephora to Mastercard, can answer questions and direct customers to relevant resources. They can also offer deals on products based on a customer’s purchasing data.
“AI can analyze months' worth of customer data in seconds, identifying which product offers resonate most with target buyers,” said Chalva Tchkotoua, marketing strategy consultant at AmRock Financial and former CMO. “This helps personalize customer interactions and improve the overall CX, the lifeblood of any organization.”
From analyzing how content performs on social media to suggesting the right content topics to helping improve writing skills, AI now has a hand in all aspects of content marketing.
According to the MAII “AI for CMOs” report, AI empowers content marketers in the following ways:
- Optimizing content for search and voice
- Personalizing content recommendations for each website user
- Personalizing the right language to the right users in every marketing message
- Creating content calendars and strategies
- Brainstorming content angles and suggesting topics
- Writing and editing blog posts, landing pages and webpages
Win Over the C-Suite With Your AI Pitch
As mentioned, the influence of marketing leaders within the C-suite is being minimized at a time when marketing should be leading the digital transformation charge.
Eight out of 10 CEOs view AI as the foundation for digital transformation, according to IBM research. But they will still need to be convinced that CMOs can quickly deploy AI to improve the customer experience and generate revenue.
To get executive buy-in for AI, The Tesseract Academy, an organization comprised of technical and business experts, recommends the following:
- Develop an AI roadmap detailing how AI fits in with the business’s digital transformation.
- Develop a business case for the AI project, including benefits and risks, with a focus on mitigating the risks.
- Ensure senior executives properly understand the potential AI use cases that exist in the business.
- Focus on business objectives rather than on technology.
- Make it clear which metrics you will use to measure success for AI.
A Chance for Marketing Leaders to Reinvent Marketing
With AI, CMOs have an opportunity to understand what consumers want on a deeper level, predict what they’ll want next and produce highly targeted content for them.
AI may still be in its early stages, but if you’re not part of the 61% of marketers currently using AI, you may be living up to the “digital laggard” label being thrown around in the C-suite.
There’s no time like the present to start making an impact with AI tools and prove to the C-suite that you’re not a laggard, but a data-driven leader.