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How Marketing AI Will Transform Your Lead Generation (and Conversion)

How Marketing AI Will Transform Your Lead Generation (and Conversion)

Artificial intelligence is about to change lead generation and conversion as you know it. In the process, it’ll have a transformative impact on companies and careers.

AI is a blanket term that covers several different technologies. You might have heard of some of them, like machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing.

Even if you don’t know much about it, though, you probably use AI-powered technology dozens or hundreds of times per day. For instance, voice assistants like Alexa or Siri rely on it to understand you and respond, and Amazon and Netflix recommendation engines use it to offer up the products and movies you love.

You also don’t need to be an expert on AI to understand how it’s going to transform lead generation and conversion for marketers. In fact, it’s quite simple:

AI systems excel at extracting insights from huge datasets, then they use those insights to make predictions. The most advanced AI systems learn and improve over time, on their own.

That means if you have lead or customer data, chances are there is an AI-powered system that can use that data to make intelligent predictions about your leads. These might include:

  • Who in your database represents an ideal lead
  • Who outside your database represents an ideal lead
  • What next actions to take to convert a lead
  • What content and offers resonate most with leads
  • Which leads are worth pursuing

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

AI in marketing is still in its infancy.

McKinsey predicts $2.6 trillion in business value will be unlocked in the coming years in marketing and sales. That means marketers who explore AI have the opportunity to accelerate their companies and careers by building a competitive advantage with this technology—especially when it comes to lead generation and conversion.

AI is still in its infancy, but there are plenty of AI-powered tools you can use today. (via Rock’n Roll Monkey on Unsplash)

To get started, we’ve outlined some of the top lead generation and conversion use cases we’re seeing as part of our work at Marketing AI Institute, where we’re tracking 1,100 sales and marketing AI companies with combined funding north of $5 billion.

For each use case, we’ve also listed a tool you can look into starting today, based on the more than 45 profiles we’ve done on AI-powered vendors. You’ll need to do your own due diligence on each of these tools, however. There are lots out there, and marketers need to verify for themselves how (and how effectively) each vendor uses AI.

Learn how to build a strategy that starts leveraging AI today. Join Unbounce CTO and Co-Founder Carl Schmidt (and 60+ other speakers from companies like Amazon and IBM) at the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Conference (MAICON).

Gain Key Insights About Leads

You might have a clear picture of your company’s best (or target) leads. But you’re only human. No matter how much insight you have into the market, you just can’t analyze large sets of lead data at scale.

But artificial intelligence can. It can use this superpower to help you better understand existing leads and prospective customers. AI excels at extracting insights from lots of data. And, with the right datasets, it can draw plenty of conclusions.

Think about all the places your potential customers generate data: your marketing automation system, CRM tools, website analytics, ecommerce stores, social media, and more. AI systems exist today that can take work with datasets like these to extract insights about your leads.

For instance, you may have a large lead database, but no effective lead scoring in place. AI may be able to analyze past lead behavior, then tell you which leads to focus on first. The irony is that, with the right system and data, machines may be able to help you better understand the humans you market to.

One major player in the space is Salesforce. The company’s AI, Einstein, automatically prioritizes leads for sales reps and predicts which are most likely to close. These capabilities are increasingly baked into the company’s CRM.

Build Your Lead Database

AI-powered tools exist that can find you more leads based on what is known about your current leads. Again, this is where AI’s ability to parse large datasets comes in handy.

AI systems exist that look at your current leads and customers, using data from systems like marketing automation software, then weigh that information against other databases to find more people that look like your best buyers.

One example of this is Seamless.AI, a company that uses artificial intelligence to validate lead contact information, so you can use search criteria to find your entire addressable market in seconds.

In practice, this means brands can identify a list of target companies they’d like to prospect, then input those companies into an AI-powered tool like Seamless.AI. In a matter of minutes, the tool could then provide verified email addresses for prospects at each company, creating a contact list almost instantly.


Engage, Nurture, and Convert—Automatically

Even if you’re already generating healthy numbers of leads, AI can probably help you convert more of them into sales.

AI systems already exist that personalize on-site content to maximize visitor engagement, so that conversion rates rise as leads consume more content—and more relevant—content.

Some of these systems can even predict what content and offers leads might be interested in next, moving them further down the funnel more efficiently. Other AI systems leverage chatbots and virtual assistants to achieve the same goal, often in a partially or completely automated fashion.

One tool we’ve found that does this is Conversica, an AI-powered sales assistant that automatically engages leads, delivering personalized outreach at scale.

A tool like Conversica would automatically engage a site visitor or returning lead, then follow up consistently and regularly, without a marketer or salesperson needing to stay on top of prospects. This ensures leads are engaged at all times throughout their journey, not just when marketing and sales pros remember to follow up.


Improve Sales Pipeline Quality

AI can also help you improve the overall quality of your pipeline. Thanks to its predictive power, it can tell your marketing and sales pros which actions work best and shed light on the most effective strategies for selling more.

This results in a more efficient and effective marketing and sales pipeline, which means increased revenue and reduced costs for your organization.

Gong.io is one solution that uses AI to do this. The company uses AI to analyze sales conversations and uncover exactly what moves your pipeline forward.

For instance, Gong can analyze sales calls using AI, then provide data-driven recommendations on what works and what doesn’t. You might learn that your top reps talk less about pricing (and more about next steps) than reps who perform below average.

EDITOR’S NOTE. What are the most common reasons stopping marketers from adopting AI? We asked 400 of ’em that very question. Read Carl Schmidt’s answer to why marketers are having trouble getting started here.

How to Make AI Your Competitive Advantage

This is just the beginning. We’re still in the very early days of AI adoption in marketing and sales. But if you want to accelerate your AI education and adoption, I encourage you to join us at the upcoming Marketing Artificial Intelligence Conference (MAICON).

MAICON is designed to help marketing leaders truly understand AI, educate their teams, garner executive support, pilot priority AI uses cases, and develop a near-term strategy for successfully scaling AI. MAICON has 40+ sessions and 60+ speakers from companies like Crayon and Softbank Robotics.

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A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

Check Also

10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild

Hey, friend, have you heard the good news about podcasts? 

Given the most recent stats, it’s highly likely you have. Over half of all Americans over 12 years of age have listened to at least one. Podcasts have well and truly hit the mainstream. In other words, the gold rush is on for brands looking to connect with a highly-engaged, long-attention-span audience.

However, getting a podcast up and running isn’t as simple as publishing a blog. We recently published an entire B2B podcasting webinar to walk you through the entire process, from conception to publication. This post will zero in on the choices you need to make and the steps you need to take to release your podcast into the wild.

B2B Podcasting Launch Checklist: 10 Steps

Sure, you could just upload your audio to your web server, add an RSS feed, and call it good. But if you want people to actually find and listen to your podcast, there are a few extra steps you should take. This checklist will help your podcast find an audience and start building a subscriber base.

via GIPHY

#1: Choose Your Hosting Platform

A podcast syndication platform makes it easy to publish your podcast and get listed in directories. Think of it like WordPress is for your blog — it hosts the files, makes them look pretty, and makes it so people can find them.

Most platforms will also give you embed codes for embedding episodes in blog posts or on a landing page. You’ll also get stats on how many people are downloading episodes, and on what program they’re listening.

We prefer Libsyn as our hosting platform. Podbean, buzzsprout, and Blubrry are also solid options. They all have a free tier of hosting, but you’ll want to pay a few bucks a month for bandwidth and analytics.

#2: Upload Your First Three Episodes

Podcasting is all about establishing a regular cadence (more on that later). But for launch, you’ll want to have at least three episodes ready to go. There are a few reasons for publishing multiple episodes for your debut:

  1. One episode may not be enough to convince people to subscribe. 
  2. Multiple episodes show you’re committed to keeping the content coming.
  3. Most importantly, Apple podcasts requires at least three episodes to qualify for their “New and Noteworthy” section. 

So before you publish, have at least three episodes completed, and be ready to follow up with more at your promised publishing cadence.

#3:  Register with Podcast Directories

Podcasts are peculiar in terms of content delivery. Your hosting platform makes the files available, but most people will listen to your podcast on their chosen podcast app. Each app maintains its own directory — think of it as a search engine for podcasts. 

Your podcast needs to be listed in their directory, or people won’t be able to find you. I recommend registering with at least these six:

  1. Apple Podcasts
  2. Google Podcasts
  3. Stitcher
  4. Podbean
  5. Spotify
  6. TuneIn

Each of these sites will ask for the RSS feed of your podcast, which your hosting platform will generate for you.

I created a podcast tracker to keep track of all these directories — sign up for the webinar and you can download it for free.

B2B Podcast Tracker

#4: Promote Internally

Gaining visibility on a podcast directory is tricky business. Apple and Google are where the majority of your listeners will be, and each employs an algorithm to promote podcasts in search results and feature pages.

How do you get an algorithm’s attention? Engagement! Start by promoting your podcast to all of your employees. Encourage them to subscribe on Apple or Google, give a rating, and write a brief (and honest) review. What’s more, draft some social messages and encourage everyone to promote the podcast to their networks, too.

That base level of initial engagement will help your podcast start finding its audience.

#5: Activate Your Influencers

Most podcasts are Q&A-style interviews with influential guests. If your podcast includes influencers in your industry, make sure they know as soon as their episode goes live. Give them the tools to promote the podcast easily:

  • Sample social messages
  • Social media images in the correct sizes
  • Embed codes

If your podcast doesn’t feature influencers, it’s worth re-evaluating your strategy for your next season. Influencer content not only is more valuable to your audience, it’s an indispensable channel for promotion.

#6: Publish Blog Posts

The one downside of audio content: It’s not super crawlable for SEO purposes. Granted, Google has started to auto-transcribe episodes and add them to search results, but the technology is still in the early stages.

To truly get some SEO juice from your podcast, we recommend embedding each podcast in a blog post. This example from the Tech Unknown Podcast by SAP* shows how simple it can be. All you need is an introduction, a few pull quotes, some key takeaways, and a transcript.

#7: Add Paid Promotion

As with any content, you want to use every tactic available to make sure it gets seen by your target audience. That’s especially true with podcasts, since podcast search engines are incredibly competitive.

Targeted, paid social promotion can help establish your subscriber base and get your new podcast some much-needed visibility.

It’s also worth considering cross-promotion on other podcasts. Consider both paid advertising and trading guest spots with a podcast that shares your target audience. 

#8: Solicit Listener Feedback

Ratings and reviews are essential to your podcast’s success. They’ll help provide social proof for new listeners and boost your search visibility in podcast directories. 

The best way to get ratings and reviews? Ask for them. Make it part of each episode’s sign-off. You can even encourage thoughtful reviews by reading the best ones on future episodes. You will engage your listeners and solicit more reviews at the same time.

#9: Keep Up Your Cadence

As with blog content, there’s no single “right” frequency to publish a podcast. Some of my favorite podcasts publish weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. The best cadence for your podcast is “However frequently you can reliably, regularly publish quality content.”

Choose your cadence with an eye to long-term sustainability, and tell your listeners explicitly how frequently you’ll publish. Whether it’s “See you next week,” or “PodcastTitle is a monthly podcast that…” listeners will find it easier to make your podcast a habit if you stick to a schedule.

#10: Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose

In my last post on the content marketing benefits of B2B podcasting, I mentioned that podcasts are a content machine, and I’ll say it again. It’s easy to finish an episode, publish it, then forget it and move on to the next thing. But don’t do that! 

Pull snippets of audio content for social media. Turn them into short videos, too: Add a still image or a simple looping GIF for visual interest.

Use your transcriptions as fodder for future blog posts, quotes for influencer marketing, or even a stand-alone asset. 

Any way you can reuse that content can help bring more listeners to your podcast. What’s more, putting the content in a different medium can reach an audience who might not be into podcasts (yet). 

Check, Check, One Two

Launching a podcast is a little trickier than launching a new blog, especially if you’re new to the format. But if you follow this checklist, you can make sure your podcast is available on all the right channels and is ready to start attracting an audience.

Need more podcasting help? Check out our B2B Podcasting Webinar. In addition to learning the Four P’s of podcasting success, you’ll see me make this face:

B2B Podcasting Face

*Disclosure: SAP is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post 10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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