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Are marketers prepared for the AI revolution? Virtually all comms pros globally are using it to a degree, but full impact is still just a vision

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Public Relations

Like nearly all business people, marketers and PR pros are testing the waters of generative AI extensively, and many are bearing the fruits of its productivity promise, but those looking ahead to the full potential the tech offers know that the automation AI has unleashed to allow for higher-level production is just skimming the surface of possibilities—and it’s now time to tap the tech’s more advanced offerings.

marketing AINew research from AI-powered customer communications platform Iterable reveals the ways AI is transforming communications roles, strategies, and the customer experience from the perspective of marketing pros in the U.S., EMEA, and Australia. One finding is that AI adoption among marketers surpasses initial expectations, with a virtual totality (99 percent) of 1,200 marketers surveyed are currently using AI on a daily basis in some capacity, with 91 percent of marketers currently using AI in their jobs.

The firm’s newly released report, Less Do, More Think: How To Succeed in the AI-Powered Marketing Era, based on a survey conducted by Wakefield Research, reveals that despite widespread initial adoption of AI, unlocking its full potential requires marketers to explore broader AI applications, have significantly more training, and access better AI solutions.

“While many marketers have embraced AI, they haven’t yet tapped its full potential. AI offers an incredible opportunity to liberate marketers from operational minutiae and tasks like data analysis and content creation,” said Adriana Gil Miner, chief marketing officer of Iterable, in a news release. “This frees them up to focus on creativity and crafting unique experiences that bring joy to customers. AI isn’t just about automation; it’s about elevation, unleashing creativity, and amplifying brand voices. The future of marketing lies not in replacing human ingenuity, but in using AI to empower it.”

marketing AI

Heightened expectations (and anxieties)

Thanks to the recent and rapid advancements in AI, the marketing landscape has experienced a dramatic transformation. The survey sheds light on the extent to which marketers are actively adopting and experimenting with artificial intelligence, particularly generative AI, on the job (91 percent). Notably, a substantial majority of marketers (67 percent) view AI as more than just a tool for efficiency and productivity; they see it as a technological revolution.

However, despite widespread enthusiasm, almost half of marketers (49 percent) find AI intimidating, citing heightened expectations (54 percent) and the challenge of meeting new compliance or regulatory standards (49 percent) as primary sources of this intimidation, and raising concerns among marketing professionals about the necessity of learning AI technology to stay competitive.

A substantial 89 percent are at least somewhat concerned about the need to acquire AI skills to maintain their value as marketers and 28 percent are extremely concerned. Surprisingly, only 48 percent of marketing teams are fully trained, highlighting a noticeable gap between excitement and empowerment in the industry.

marketing AIDivided opinions on ROI

Recent and rapid advancements in AI have dramatically reshaped the marketing landscape. While marketing professionals unanimously recognize the ongoing impact of AI on their work and roles, there’s a division of opinion on ROI. A slim majority (51 percent) of marketing teams who utilize AI on a daily basis define the ROI of AI as centered around improved efficiency. Additionally, 50 percent cite enhanced customer relations, 47 percent highlight more effective data analytics, 46 percent foresee financial gains, and 42 percent anticipate AI will increase accuracy in forecasting.

But the ROI of AI doesn’t need to be immediate; in fact, 94 percent of marketing teams believe their organization is likely to continue to push using AI even if the goals are not met, with the U.S. leading the charge (97 percent).

The creative potential of AI

As customer expectations continue to increase, marketers are turning to AI to address and meet these growing demands. When asked what marketers desire from their new AI capabilities, 39 percent will deem AI successful if it helps enhance their creativity, 37 percent want an increase in free time for fulfilling tasks, 37 percent want to feel they are tech savvy and ahead of the curve, and 32 percent desire a reduction of stress. AI is as versatile as it is compelling. When asked specifically what types of AI tools would make their jobs (and lives) easier, 57 percent of marketers surveyed overall chose optimization, 53 percent chose automation, 50 percent elected for predictive tools, and 49 percent pointed to generative AI.:

“I’ve experienced firsthand how AI has revolutionized the way I work on a daily basis. But the most exciting benefit of AI is that it gives us more time to daydream” said Josh Geiser, senior manager of CRM, lifecycle and mobile at Redbubble, in one of the firm’s case studies. “When we can take a lot of that busy work away and let our minds wander, that’s when we come up with our best ideas. Creativity, fueled by these moments of mental freedom, enables us to cultivate richer human connections and explore collaborative opportunities with AI, amplifying our creative potential.”

marketing AI

AI is just getting started

As AI rapidly transforms the marketing landscape, forward-thinking marketers are seizing the opportunity: 75 percent are optimistic that AI will not only create jobs but also unlock new avenues for growth, such as personalized customer experiences and data-driven campaign optimization. More than a third (37 percent) see AI as becoming an integral part of their overall skillset as a marketer.

Download the full report here.

The Iterable survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,200 professional marketers with a seniority of manager or director in the U.S., EMEA (UK, Netherlands, Germany), and Australia, between September 6th and September 13th, 2023, using an email invitation and an online survey.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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