The Future of AI and Its Role in B2B Marketing
In this week’s episode, we have an extremely informative and engaging conversation about artificial intelligence (AI) with Joya Scarlata (Director of Digital Marketing, InterraIT). During our conversation, Joya does an amazing job of pulling back the curtain on the world of AI: what types of AI currently exists in the market, how AI is being used in B2B marketing, what types of misconceptions there are about AI, how this technology can enable better alignment between sales and marketing, and what the future holds for AI.
Topics discussed in this episode:
Christian Klepp, Joya Scarlata
Christian Klepp 00:08
Hi, and welcome to the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast. I’m your host, Christian Klepp, and one of the founders of EINBLICK Consulting. Our goal is to share inspirational stories, tips and insights from b2b marketers, digital entrepreneurs, and industry experts that will help you think differently, succeed and scale your business.
Alright, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast. I’m your host, Christian Klepp. And today I’d like to welcome a guest on to the show who I met through the thriving RevGenius community. She’s not only an experienced b2b marketer, but is also well versed in the fields of digital marketing, AI, and machine learning. So Joya Scarlata, welcome to the show!
Joya Scarlata 00:53
Thank you for having me, Christian.
Christian Klepp 00:55
All right. You know, Joya, it’s really great to connect with you again, and I’m really looking forward to this conversation. So let’s just get this party started! Please give our listeners a little bit of a background, and tell us a little bit about yourself.
Joya Scarlata 01:09
Yeah, well, again, once again, thanks for having me. I actually really enjoy your podcast. I think it’s great. Targeting b2b marketers. So a little bit about myself, I am based out of Virginia Beach. And I work for a b2b IT service firm known as Interra IT, in our small but mighty marketing team. So the company itself is based out of San Jose, California. And we’ve been in business for about 20 years. And we provide IT services ranging from QA, testing, mobility, cloud computing, big data, what have you. And funny enough, I actually did not start off my career in marketing. Actually, far from it, I majored in International Relations and Economics. So I am completely different from marketing. I started off my career in that field, in research and analysis, working for a think tank in Washington, DC. And once I got married, my life changed. And I decided I wanted to switch my career path. And I found myself in marketing. So here I am now.
Christian Klepp 02:39
Wow, what a story. And Joya, if I may say so like when you said like, when I got married, my life changed. Hopefully that was for the better, right?
Joya Scarlata 02:47
Yah! Exactly for the better! I’m sure my husband will be listening. So yes, definitely for the better.
Christian Klepp 02:54
I’m sure he’ll appreciate the comments. No doubt. That’s an amazing story. And, you know, I’d like to jam on that a little bit further. I mean, like, you know, in terms of your work, you know, why don’t you talk to us about a recent project? Or it could even be a project in the past that you’ve been working on that’s really motivated you?
Joya Scarlata 03:14
Well, you know, that the B2B IT, I guess the IT service industry, as you probably know is fairly crowded. So there’s a number of companies that just like us, and we’re competing for the same type of target market, similar prospects and what have you. So, being part of the marketing team, I always find it fun, it’s not really a specific project, just talking about my work as a whole, I find it fun to create different marketing campaigns and collaterals, around our new and upcoming services. So it’s a blast. And admittedly, it’s a challenge to brainstorm and find innovative and different ways to cut through the noise, and to engage with your target audience, with your consumer. And on a personal note… I guess on my personal side, I like to admit that I’d like to write, which I haven’t had much time for, but I like to research and write about new technology trends, such as AI and machine learning, and I just love to learn all around.
Christian Klepp 04:36
And that’s a good thing, right? Because I mean, if it’s one thing that this pandemic or even the crisis, you know, that it’s leaving in its wake, has taught us is that we have to continue to learn, right. Continuously improve or, you know, the one key word that I find myself using a lot these days is we have to also learn how to unlearn, as contradictory as that might sound.
Joya Scarlata 05:00
No, absolutely. I think like you said, I think this pandemic has shown me that it’s really important to be agile. We can’t really afford to be stagnant and just have to… as cliche as it sounds, to go with the flow.
Christian Klepp 05:22
Yeah, exactly, you know, ride out the storm and, you know, hopefully in the process, we, we thrive and become better. Right.
Joya Scarlata 05:29
Christian Klepp 05:30
Excellent. You know, and you brought it up earlier. So, you know, I’d like to focus on that little bit more. So it’s the topic of today’s discussion, right. So it’s something that you’re obviously not just extremely passionate about, as you’ve rightfully alluded to, but you’re also, I’m gonna say, a subject matter expert in this area.
Joya Scarlata 05:49
Aw, that’s too kind!
Christian Klepp 05:53
But it’s true. So it’s on the topic of artificial intelligence. So you know… Talk to us a little bit about that, and how you believe AI has impacted specifically b2b marketing.
Joya Scarlata 06:05
Yeah, sure. So before I talk about how AI in particular has impacted b2b marketing, I just wanted to take a step back and talk about how artificial intelligence is impacting marketing as a whole, I think it’s important to understand. So when you look at artificial intelligence, there’s actually a number of ways that it can create value. So namely, it can help reduce costs, it can help in increasing revenue. And depending on the organization, artificial intelligence can help create new lines of businesses. So there’s a wide range of opportunities. So artificial intelligence, especially machine learning, it’s not only helpful when it comes to automating processes that might be a bit tedious and time consuming to do manually. But it can help detect patterns using whatever data you have at hand, and even historical data to predict future behaviors. So as a marketer, this is really important. So when you put yourself in the shoes of a consumer today, it’s, I mean, it’s a bit overwhelming. You have a ton of choices when it comes to products, and services. And not only that you can buy whatever you want, when you want. So as a marketer, it’s overwhelming. It’s almost like you have to be this fortune teller, where you have to predict a consumers future buying and spending habits. So this is really where AI can help predicting these future buying habits, and then at scale.
So when you look at b2b marketing, going back to that, admittedly, AI hasn’t made as big an impact in b2b marketing, when you compare it to b2c marketing, but it is getting there. And just as in b2c marketing, b2b marketers can use a number of AI-based tools and algorithms to… this is just a very high level view, but they can use these tools and algorithms to use whatever data that they have to help improve and personalize their marketing strategies.
Christian Klepp 08:40
Right. Wow. Let me say that again, wow. You know, those are such incredible insights. And thanks so much for sharing that. I mean, you know, you brought up so many good points, which are, I think, not just apt for the current situation, but even just moving forward. Because I mean, you know, as you’ve described in the past couple of minutes, AI and the advancement of this type of technology has actually, if I may use this term, revolutionized the way that we work, right. I mean, like, we don’t even have to go that far back. Let’s just let’s just go back 10 or 15 years, right. I mean, yeah, some of the things that we’re doing in 2020. I mean, they were probably even back then just unthinkable. And it’s taken everything that we do as marketers, you know, to a different level, and it’s helped us to not just scale up what we’re doing. But it’s also helped to make the work more efficient. And I think one of the the other points you made, um, predictable.
Joya Scarlata 09:44
Exactly, exactly. And whether we recognize it or not, almost all of us we interact with some form of AI almost every day, whether it’s a voice assistant, or when you look at Amazon with their product recommendation engine. It’s based on your buying habits, they will recommend products and what have you based on what you’ve bought in the past. So it’s, it’s pretty incredible.
Christian Klepp 10:12
Yeah, no, that’s for sure. And I think you also brought up a good point about, you know about the future predictions, and we’re gonna talk about that later on in the conversation. But one of the things and I think this next question is going to be a…. it’s probably going to lead to a pretty fun discussion, at least for you. What do you think are some of the most common misconceptions that people have about AI? I mean, are the machines gonna rise up and take over the world? (laugh)
Joya Scarlata 10:38
Yeah, I mean, that is definitely a, I think, a common fear. And I think that when a lot of us think of artificial intelligence, yes, we do think of Terminator, Skynet that the Rise of Machines. And I’m not saying that this fear is unjustified. But we actually really haven’t gotten to this point yet. Actually, it’s far from it. So depending on the time, but artificial intelligence as a whole can be divided into a number of categories so that the AI that we actually see around us the AI that we interact with, it’s actually known as artificial narrow intelligence, or “weak AI”. So this type of AI Actually, it’s programmed to perform a very singular task. So it could be checking the weather or performing a math calculation. So these systems… They work in a very narrow set of limitations or constraints. So it’s not advanced enough to really mimic or replicate human intelligence. So it seems smart, but it’s not there yet. You know, human cognition, how the brain thinks is actually a very complex tool. It’s complex. And we haven’t really, I don’t think we’ve really gotten there yet.
So there’s other types of AI, such as artificial general intelligence, and artificial super intelligence. But we haven’t reached this point. It’s a very hypothetical scenario where AI systems can mimic and can think and act can learn like a human. But we really haven’t gotten to that point yet. So that’s, that’s, I think, one misconception.
Another misconception, again, I don’t know if I would call it that. But it’s more of a fear is that, you know, as AI continues to play this increased role in our lives and changing industries across the board. The question arises, what does this mean for jobs? So there’s this belief that AI will take a number of jobs away from humans. And again, I’m not saying that it’s unjustified. But AI, I think I was mentioned before, it’s helpful when it comes to automating different processes. So it is possible and probably likely that the… I can’t find a good word for this, but like, the low skilled jobs, they may become redundant. And but on the flip side, you can look at AI as an opportunity, it can help us and businesses alike to help better perform in our jobs. So you can help marketers, you know, improve, what have you. So I think it’s just a matter of how you look at it. But I think these two the jobs and The Rise of the Machines, I think they’re the some of the biggest misconceptions.
Christian Klepp 14:05
No, I mean, like, thanks so much for breaking that down. And I believe, like, do your second point. Um, and, you know, we had this discussion, I think, like a few weeks back, but it’s about the ability of AI to take away these mundane or monotonous work rather, from people, right. So, for example, data entry, right. So, let’s say that the machine is able to take that away. And so people can then… you know, it frees up a person’s time or capacity to work on something that’s a little bit more, I would say constructive and it’s not like busy work, like say for example.
Joya Scarlata 14:44
Right. Yeah. Yeah. So I think like you said, I think it it’s really a matter of how you see artificial intelligence because, yeah, I think some of our jobs, we may have some processing Is that can be automated, but it frees your time to focus on other areas of your job. So, yeah.
Christian Klepp 15:13
So I think perhaps one point that speaks in favor of artificial intelligence is like a productivity enhancement. Right?
Joya Scarlata 15:23
Yes. I think that’s a great way of putting it.
Christian Klepp 15:28
All right. Um, the next question is going to be one of those like, you know, short of stating the obvious, but, um, you know the current crisis, has turned the world upside down. It’s disrupted industries across the global economy. I mean, everybody’s hurting, you know, at this stage. But from a more constructive perspective, we’ve also seen something positive coming out of all of this, you know, in terms of the innovation. And I suppose AI is probably one of those positive attributes. Right. So with that said, what role do you believe AI is going to play in improving the overall performance of, say, b2b marketing within organizations?
Joya Scarlata 16:10
Yeah, I think that’s a really great question. And I think that we can agree with this current pandemic, we are in this era of the new normal. So certain processes, methods, the way we normally conduct business has changed, it’s a bit different to what we’ve been used to in the past. And I think I was looking into this. And I think there is a school of thought that believes that with COVID-19, the adoption of AI technology and b2b marketing will actually accelerate. And I think this is something worth seeing whether this will happen. Um, but I think, for businesses as a whole, pre-COVID, during COVID, it’s really important, you know, the key priority is that you want to focus on retaining clients, and a key area, no matter what business you are in, you want to provide that absolutely stellar customer experience. And even Customer service is so important. So that being said, for example, on chat bots can come into play, because it gives businesses that ability, a way to interact with their customers around the clock, 24/7. And so artificial intelligence, one way is, it can help with streamlining communications, and marketers, where marketers can get a better insight and predicting, again, that consumer behavior and patterns. I think another area artificial intelligence can help with is that Account Based Marketing, where, again, I mean, I feel like it’s a bit repetitive, but AI can analyze data, and inform marketers, which accounts have the greatest probability in purchasing a product or service. So I think as mentioned before, I think during this time, again, it’s important for businesses to retain their current customer base, of course we want to obtain new customers and prospects. But I think if you can offer personalized customer experiences and content with AI and machine learning, there’s nothing like it.
Christian Klepp 18:41
Exactly. And I mean, you brought up some really great points and they also kind of correlated to these future trends or predictions, which we’re going to talk about later on. But, um, I think one thing that you really brought up, which I believe is really like, extremely useful for marketers is in terms of like being able to analyze the data so that you identify commonalities or patterns that will enhance… maybe predictability is not necessarily the right word, but it will help marketers to plan ahead in a more accurate manner, right? Because you have you have that information, you have that data about the target market, about the consumers, you see how they behave, you see how they interact with products and services, and so forth. You can see all of that online through all this data that’s collected by AI.
Joya Scarlata 19:35
Exactly. You nailed it.
Christian Klepp 19:38
Hey, it’s Christian Klepp here. We’ll get back to the episode in a second. But first, is your brand struggling to cut through the noise? Are you trying to find more effective ways to reach your target audience and boost sales? Are you trying to pivot your business? If so, book a call with EINBLICK Consulting. Our experienced consultants will work with you to help your b2b business to succeed and scale, go to www.einblick.co for more information.
This is a topic I guess, which I have been talking about with many marketers nowadays. And in fact, dare I say salespeople too. So there’s many out there that believe that true success within organizations, you know, can only be achieved if there’s greater alignment between sales and marketing. So I’ve had some people in both camps that don’t necessarily agree with that. But I would say that the vast majority believes that, yes, there should be an alignment. So in your opinion, how do you think AI could play an instrumental role in making this alignment a reality. And not something that people just talk about in a meeting room or in this case, a virtual meeting room?
Joya Scarlata 20:49
Yeah, so I think we’re in agreement that we can see that there is sometimes a bit of a misalignment between sales and marketing in general. And it’s a bit common. So you do see that there are organizations where sales and marketing, they act as completely separate entities, functions. And sometimes there’s this lack of communication, which at the end of the day, it hurts the organization, and the bottom line, as a whole. So I think that when you bring artificial intelligence into the mix, I think there’s a lot of opportunity for it to help bridge that gap between sales and marketing. Because after all, the end goal is, you know, you want to improve revenue, that bottom line for your organization. So I think that one of the biggest ways that AI can help in closing that gap, or at least narrowing that gap, is that it can help analyze. I think it can help marketers and sales teams analyze and agree on qualified leads, and accounts from the beginning. So when you bring in, say, predictive analytics, and there’s various AI algorithms out there, it makes it easier for marketing and sales to really look at those leads that they have and determine where they are in the buying process. And, you know, in b2b marketing, or b2b companies, that funnel is a bit longer than b2c. So with the knowledge that they have, they can identify those customers that are most likely to convert. So it cuts down that time, and you can really target the ones that are probably have the greater chance of converting. And I think another area where sales and marketing can be aligned, and I’ll touch upon this later is that personalized messaging. So there’s a ton of AI, predictive content tools out there that can really help marketers come up with highly personalized content and messaging, and which in turn can help the sales team engage with their prospects, and current customers. So I think we’ve touched upon this before, but AI can really help streamline the processes. And hopefully it can help enhance the cooperation between the marketing and sales team.
Christian Klepp 20:55
You know what, I think you nailed it. You absolutely nailed it. Great points, all of them. And I think you touched upon something which somebody else I interviewed a couple of weeks ago, also mentioned, and in fact, that leads back to making marketing people accountable for a part of the revenue. Right. So they have their own, you know, KPIs that they have to answer to, which are probably going to be a bit different from like, the KPIs of the salespeople, but they are ways to measure results nevertheless. Right. So that being said, AI will probably help that process of… you know, we all understand that there are certain aspects of marketing that you can’t measure, not in quantifiable terms anyway. But, but the ones that you can measure, perhaps AI can help support that, right. Like, it acts as a support or that enablement mechanism.
Joya Scarlata 24:49
Yes, yes, absolutely.
Christian Klepp 24:51
Great. So, now we’re going to take out the AI crystal ball and start talking about future trends. But before I do that, let me just discuss these findings that I found in this article. So there’s an article that was written by a company, an interesting name, nogood.io. So the article basically talks about how it is estimated that 60% of companies will be using artificial intelligence for driving digital revenue in 2020. So I imagined that this number probably has increased by now. Um, and it will probably also increase, you know, as we go into 2021. Right. But the article also goes on to highlight that there are some key marketing trends in terms of AI. So the trends are quite exhaustive. I’ve just pulled out three, okay, um, three, basically, that jumped out at me. So, here they are.
So the first one is, and you brought it up earlier, predictive analysis and forecasting will continue to advance and develop. No surprises there. It’s extremely important. It’s only um, you know, it’s only appropriate that area continues to improve further.
Point #2: audience hyper segments. So what that basically means is that with audience hyper segment, it will enable the creation of hyper focused segmented groups based on similar data points. I mean wouldn’t that be interesting for marketers, if they were able to have, you know, this kind of like technology at their disposal? It would save them hours of doing the analysis.
And point #3, which you also touched on is persona research and psychographics building. So it’s, and this is obviously not your average whiteboard or Google Doc based assumption. Right. So some pretty interesting insights there. But so just from you know, your own experience on what you’ve researched, and talked to people in the industry about, state your top 5 AI predictions that you think every b2b marketer should be paying attention to, and explain why.
Joya Scarlata 27:04
So yeah, I think the article, I think it does a really good job and covering a few of the trends like predictive analytics and forecasting. So just to add on that, and I touched upon it, I think one trend we’ve been seeing, and we will continue to see is that personalization, and I think it’s an important one. Because as the consumers of today, their preferences, their needs, their expectations, they’re ever changing. So it’s really a matter of how marketers, both b2b and b2c can stay ahead of that curve, and how they can predict future behaviors future patterns. So there’s this need, there’s this demand for marketers, for b2b marketers to deliver these, like you said, hyper personalized marketing messages. And I think consumers, they will gravitate, will continue to gravitate towards brands that speak towards, you know, towards their preferences. And I think AI can help with this by boosting a company’s ability to deliver that personalized consumer experience.
And moving on, I think another trend will be that lead scoring, so I touched upon it, you know, talking about how AI, or how marketing and sales can work together. And I think that you know, so lead scoring in a nutshell is basically when you rank a sales lead against another. And I think that as AI technology has become more advanced, this type of lead scoring will become more predictive and more precise. So again, I’ll help both the marketing and sales team.
I don’t know if this is a trend, but just looking at data collection as a whole, you know, we have a lot of data from different sources that we work with. And the question arises is, how do you make sense of what you have? How do you make sense of your historical data? So again, by using same machine learning by using AI algorithms, it, it helps us or it will help us make sense of these patterns. And it’ll help marketers figure out how to use this data more efficiently and to their advantage.
Another trend is I would say as content generation, again, there’s that need to deliver that hyper personalized content. So, you know, a lot of these trends they really overlap. So again, using data analytics or predictive analytics, when you analyze patterns in data, b2b marketers can get a better grasp of… Okay, what are the topics that are generating buzz? What is the audience sentiment? And in turn, it can help them create that more personalized content at less time and at scale.
The final trend that I would touch upon and I think this is, this will be interesting to see. Is that voice assistance? So I think, um, you know, voice commerce as a whole is a rapidly growing segment. Yeah. And I think there’s a lot of potential for b2b marketers to really take advantage of these voice assistants like Siri, and also voice driven chatbots to again, help elevate and enhance that customer experience, and take it to the next level. So yeah, so I, I would be curious to see where, where that takes us.
Christian Klepp 31:05
Okay, so first of all, I hope that the listeners are taking notes. (laugh)
Joya Scarlata 31:10
It’s a lengthy list. I apologize. (laugh)
Christian Klepp 31:13
No, no, no, no, please, please, please. No, no apologies necessary. I mean, like, first of all, these are really, incredibly interesting observations. And I think the way that you broke it down fascinated me, because I think what you were trying to do is you’re trying to make sense of where each of these components fit into the overall AI ecosystem, if I’m gonna write that description, right. And there was something else that you brought up earlier, which I thought was really interesting, you know, talking about how AI can help sales and marketing with leads. So it’s not just, of course, to qualify or pre-qualify the lead, but also to rank the lead in order of priority in terms of like, you know, potential business for the organization, in terms of potential revenue as well, right. Like for the foreseeable future. I guess, you know, you’ve got different attributes to measure that as well. So I thought that was incredibly interesting.
All right. Next question. I love this one. Because I always get a different and a very passionate answer. Just think of these buzzwords, conventional wisdom, commonly held beliefs, and you have them in every area of expertise, and AI is no exception. So just think of that one, if you will Joya. Think of that one belief, or that commonly held belief about AI that you passionately disagree with and explain why.
Joya Scarlata 32:44
So I think when you look at artificial intelligence, you know, we can agree it’s a buzzword. It’s just, we all hear it. And so I think that one of the beliefs is that, you know, some might feel that they can wave this magic wand, and implement AI across the board, in your organization just like that. And it doesn’t really, I mean, people may disagree with me, but I don’t feel like it necessarily works that way. And while there are a lot of benefits in implementing an AI system or a product, I think AI is not necessarily the right fit for everyone for every organization. And I actually, I was reading a book on on artificial intelligence, and I think they described it, well, they pointed out that no organization should have an AI strategy as its overall plan. Instead, they should be using AI as a tool as a way to get to their overall plan if that makes sense.
Christian Klepp 34:04
That makes sense. Yeah.
Joya Scarlata 34:05
So just as it you know, it may not be a right or perfect fit for everyone. But if one word to, you know, take those baby steps in implementing an AI strategy, I honestly would recommend just starting small, identify that business goal, that objective that you want to accomplish, and then go from there because like implementing any new technology, there are inherent risks, right? There’s costs, there’s a learning curve. So for example, if you are a business and you say want to improve your customer service, you might just want to start small and implement a chatbot if you don’t have one, so I think that’s the believe like… you know, I don’t want people to think that they should rush and invest all this money in AI and think that they can just improve all the processes across the board. I don’t think it works like that. I think you need to start small, and then go from there. It may not… you know, and see where it leads you or takes you.
Christian Klepp 35:16
Well, that’s such great advice, Joya. So basically, it’s like, you know, you start small, you test, see the results, iterate and, you know, progressively add on, if relevant. Right?
Joya Scarlata 35:29
Right. Absolutely. Start small.
Christian Klepp 35:32
Amazing. Joya, this has been such an excellent session. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing. What’s the best way for people out there to connect with you?
Joya Scarlata 35:41
Well, first of all, thank you again, for having me. I really enjoyed our conversation.
Christian Klepp 35:46
Joya Scarlata 35:48
I would say the best way to get in touch with me would be through LinkedIn. So you can find me through my name Joya Scarlata. And for those who are listening, feel free to connect. And I would love to keep the conversation going. And I always love to learn. So you know, yeah, please connect and I hope everyone, including your Christian, stay safe and healthy.
Christian Klepp 36:12
Thank you so much. And one other tip, if you’re reaching out to joy on LinkedIn, don’t use a bot to chat with her (laugh). I’m just kidding. Try to throw that one in there (laugh). Joya, thank you so much. This has been such an amazing session. I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me today. And you know, take care as well be safe, and I’ll talk to you soon.
Joya Scarlata 36:39
Christian Klepp 36:40
Thanks. Bye for now.
Joya Scarlata 36:41
Christian Klepp 36:43
Thank you for joining us on this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast. To learn more about what we do here at EINBLICK. Please visit our website at www.einblick.co and be sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes or your favorite podcast player.
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