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AI and ML not being utilised enough in the digital marketing sphere — Gartner

15 Apr 2021

A lack of artificial intelligence and machine learning usage in digital marketing is causing a significant issue for marketers looking to deliver personalised experiences to customers, according to Gartner.

In its new report, the analyst firm revealed that almost two-thirds (63%) of digital marketers struggle with this issue, from a survey of 350 marketing leaders from November 2020 through December 2020.

One of the main problems is that digital marketing leaders are scaling their use of AI and ML to align with customer retention and acquisition goals rather than across the marketing function. 

This contrasts with another statistic: 84% of digital marketing leaders believe using AI/ML enhances the marketing function’s ability to deliver real-time, personalised experiences to customers. Gartner says many digital marketers believe bringing automation, scale and efficiency to marketing activities across channels is the greatest value of AI/ML tools.

“A comprehensive personalisation strategy and roadmap can be deciding factors in the results marketers achieve from their personalisation efforts, yet most marketing organisations lack an effective personalisation strategy – let alone one that is explicitly linked to desired business and customer goals,” says Gartner for Marketers vice president analyst Noah Elkin.

“They should focus on addressing longstanding personalisation challenges by channeling their existing collection and use of customer data toward customer needs that align with business goals.” 

When it comes to marketing organisations that are not currently leveraging AI and ML, trust remains a crucial inhibitor to more widespread adoption, Gartner says.

But this trust barrier declines with increased usage — whereas 75% of respondents piloting AI/ML worry about trusting the technology, only 53% of those broadly using AI in the marketing organisation worry about trust in AI/ML.

Gartner says that digital marketing leaders who are focused on strategy should consider the following:

Create a personalisation roadmap

Develop an organisational framework that ties the deployment of emerging technologies to strategic digital marketing objectives. Factor in near-term costs and longer-term ROI projections as well as quantifiable impacts on the digital experience.

Leverage existing technologies first

Maximise what can be achieved with personalisation by leveraging existing tools in conjunction with available data and content before committing to new technologies. Marketing organisations should use AI and ML tools to mature their efforts by driving greater relevance in marketing engagement and increasing influence over customer behaviour.

Focus on change management

Approach the implementation of AI/ML technologies within a change management context, accounting for their impact on the organisational culture. Factor in staffing and training needs to build trust and bring the new technologies to life.

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