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Marketing Martech Artificial Intelligence

CMOs are betting you’ll talk to more chatbots in 2022

By David Cancel | Co-founder and chief executive officer

January 7, 2022 | 5 min read

Personalization doesn’t always have to be handled by people. Drift’s co-founder and chief executive officer David Cancel shares how AI can help add a human touch to the customer experience.

Robot listening to cup and string telephone

As the world has gone fully digital over the past few years, a growing number of brands have mastered the art of converting leads into customers, and customers into loyal fans. One of the keys to this success is in providing a personalized, custom experience to each person that visits a digital storefront. Treat them like individual people, with individual needs, and they’ll be more likely to let you fill those needs.

This level of personalization goes beyond the company’s products and the branding. It’s all about a tailored customer experience.

B2B brands are largely late to this game. In recent years, we’ve seen more B2B CMOs get serious about their digital sales channels. But this transition has been slow, especially compared to the B2C world. When COVID-19 hit, B2B marketers found themselves needing to completely rethink their repertoire for a digital-first world.

Even as real-world connections were weakening, could digital connections provide a more personalized experience for customers?

For B2B marketers looking to build more meaningful experiences with customers, AI-powered interactions – and, increasingly, chatbots – represented a new paradigm. And they continue to gain steam.

According to Drift and Heinz Marketing’s 2021 State of Conversational Marketing Report, more than half of the B2B professionals surveyed said they’d adopted a conversational marketing solution, like chatbots, in response to the pandemic. And, even pre-pandemic, many industry CMOs had already started using this technology to rewrite their marketing playbooks.

AI empowers CMOs to address digital pain points

Think of it this way: A brand’s website is like a store that never closes. Buyers all over the world visit B2B brands’ websites around the clock, and they expect fast, tailored experiences every single time. B2B brands need to deliver.

Enterprise buyers aren’t always feeling the love. According to our report, frustrations with website navigation and repetitive online forms have grown, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Customers are especially fed up with how long it takes to get questions answered. Demand for immediate responses grew by 64% across most two-way communication channels, like phone, social media, chatbot or web form.

Our digital-first world is ushering in rising expectations that people alone can’t meet. No human can be awake 24/7 – and even if they could, CMOs couldn’t hire enough team members to satisfy all their buyers. AI-powered tools enable B2B brands to keep up with the speed buyers want. Our data shows marketers who use conversational marketing solutions see increased engagement thanks to quicker response times.

AI sets the stage for more authentic interactions

Some B2B CMOs say they worry AI-powered experiences will seem robotic and off-putting. That’s understandable, but the truth is, old-school B2B marketing staples like cold-calling and email blasts are much more alienating and annoying than any chatbot.

Unlike humans, AI solutions engage each individual site visitor with a tailored message. If someone’s a first-time buyer, an AI-powered website can direct them to special introductory offers. If they’re a returning customer, AI tools can make customized recommendations based on past purchases. And because AI can have faster, real-time conversations with customers at scale, it can get to know them faster than humans ever could.

Not only can AI tools help brands create and deliver personalized experiences for more buyers, they also free up human team members to do more heavy lifting. That means people can engage in deeper conversations with buyers who need more attention while AI handles smaller tasks like explaining product details. Technology doesn’t sap a brand's humanity, it enhances it.

AI-driven experiences are changing from a nice-to-have to a must-have

I can’t picture the future of marketing without AI and, every day, I see new applications emerge. From qualifying customers and engaging global buyers to streamlining ticket support with AI solutions, businesses are uncovering new ways to use AI to drive their businesses.

Embracing new technology always takes time. And for many brands, it also takes a leap of faith. But B2B CMOs who get a head start with AI will be the ones who make the most of its potential – and reap the benefits for both their buyers and businesses.

David Cancel is co-founder and chief executive officer at Drift.

Marketing Martech Artificial Intelligence

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