Marketers see the huge potential of AI, but the data remains a challenge

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Since the advent of the personal computer, no technology has captivated businesses in the way artificial intelligence (AI) has. Its influence is expected to span industries and job functions — and marketing is right in the thick of it.  

To learn and quantify what marketers are doing with AI today, understand their challenges, and hear their aspirations, we teamed up with TechValidate (a SurveyMonkey company) to study the use of AI in marketing. We surveyed 200 marketing executives and practitioners from 198 business-to-consumer companies to understand their current experiences with AI technologies and their plans for the future. The results are in our report: Activating Customer Data for AI Powered Marketing. Here are some highlights.

THE USE OF AI IN MARKETING REMAINS RUDIMENTARY, BUT INTEREST IS HIGH

Though more than 80% of marketers are using some form of AI, few have deployed advanced capabilities. Today’s AI use is largely focused on audience expansion and targeting using techniques like “lookalike expansion” — finding new audiences by targeting those with traits similar to existing audiences — on the large advertising networks.

AI use survey results

However, only 6% of all respondents were using collaborative filtering (automated predictions about user interests) and predictive modeling techniques (forecasting outcomes) and only 16% used advanced segmentation technologies like predictive affinities on their own data to market more effectively and precisely to customers.

Of all marketers surveyed, 64% want to expand their use of AI in both experimental trials as well as production campaigns within the next 12 months.

Customer filtering and segmenting survey

MARKETER-CONTROLLED ACCESS TO DATA IS KEY TO UNLOCKING AI POTENTIAL

We were surprised to learn that marketer-controlled advanced access to data plays an important role in the sophisticated use of AI. We found that marketers who control their own data access, without having to go through IT, activate and use more of their customer data to drive campaigns. Those who had such access and control were 1.6 times more likely to be using a majority of their customer data in their AI-driven campaigns.

In addition, with advanced access to more of their customer data, marketers were two to three times more likely to use sophisticated AI techniques like collaborative filtering and predictive modeling.
Marketers see the huge potential of AI, but the data remains a challenge

MOST MARKETERS ARE STILL STRUGGLING WITH CUSTOMER DATA

Effectively using a company’s own customer data (first-party data) for AI-driven marketing campaigns is perhaps the biggest hurdle facing marketers. Almost all respondents (92%) in the study identified one or more of three factors — access, unification, or analysis — as a major challenge, resulting in a majority of marketers using less than 50 percent of their own customer data.

Top Challenges Hindering You from Making Better Use of Customer Data survey results

ACTIVATION OF CUSTOMER DATA CORRELATES WITH COMPANY REVENUE

We asked respondents about their companies’ revenue performance in the most recent fiscal year and looked at patterns in their marketing as it related to the use of AI. We were surprised to see that companies in which marketers activated and used more than 75% of their customer data were 1.4 times more likely to have exceeded revenue targets than those that had not.

The results of the study are enlightening. They show that AI is inextricably tied to the activation of data, which itself is connected to several other aspects of data in an enterprise. The report’s data and insights are organized into seven key findings along with four recommendations that every business-to-consumer marketer looking to use AI should read.

 

Percentage of Respondents that Exceeded Revenue Goals
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