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Marketing Trends: AI is Here to Stay, But Can Marketers Get it Right?

Illustration of someone holding their smartphone up against a chip reader while making a purchase / marketing trends
Unlike other marketing trends and technologies, AI isn’t a standalone tool. It can touch and impact almost every aspect of a marketing strategy. [Adobe Stock / Studio Science]

We are entering a new era of marketing, led by AI and data. Here’s how you can prepare and succeed this year.

We surveyed thousands of marketing leaders about today’s marketing trends. What did we find? 

Marketers ranked artificial intelligence (AI) implementation as both their number one priority and number one headache — highlighting its pivotal role as both a beacon of promise and a daunting challenge. 

To some, the words “new era” mean big ideas and fresh innovations. To others, it means unanswered questions, uncharted territory, and unsolved challenges. No matter which camp you find yourself in, we’re all trying to build better relationships that move our business forward. 

We surveyed marketers about how they are tackling this new era. The results found in our new State of Marketing report reveal trends that are impacting marketers — emerging AI, data unification, and personalization tools — and the challenges they face to continue to create customer connections in a new era. Let’s take a look at highlights from the report. 

What’s top of mind for marketers?

We asked more than 4,800 marketers about how they’re using new data and AI tools. Read up on the latest trends today in our new State of Marketing report.

Key takeaways from our new State of Marketing report

1. Successful AI implementation leads 2024 marketing trends

There’s a difference between AI implementation and successful AI implementation. In our survey, only 34% of marketers are completely satisfied with their efforts to reap the value of AI. Even fewer are fully satisfied with their attempts at unifying customer data to improve the customer experience. The two go hand in hand.

Unlike other marketing trends and technologies, AI isn’t a standalone tool. It can touch and impact almost every aspect of a marketing strategy. 

Looking to build better personalization? Predictive AI can forecast customer behavior and trends, allowing businesses to anticipate needs and tailor their strategies accordingly. Curious about how to create engaging content quickly? Generative AI generates various types of content at scale based on data analysis and natural language processing algorithms. 

Our report found that 71% of marketers plan to use both predictive and generative AI within the next 18 months. 

While marketers are embracing AI, they’re also considering associated risks — data risks in particular. Marketers are focused on making AI successful with the right data but are concerned about its integrity, protection, and customer trust as adoption ramps up. 

But it’s not just data that keeps marketers on their toes. One in four team leads is worried about generative AI replacing human workers. However, unlocking AI’s full potential requires a strategic fusion of human expertise and cutting-edge technology.

What better AI means for marketers 

Predictive insights, segmentation, and content generation is just the beginning when it comes to better AI. But don’t let the magnitude of AI scare you away — or worse, jump in without a vision. 

Start small and focus on solving a specific, well-defined problem that aligns with your organization’s goals and capabilities. Gradually scale up as you gain experience and insights from initial deployments. There’s power in experimentation — as long as it’s followed by implementation.

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2. Trustworthy data powers genuine customer connection

More than two thirds (68%) of customers said advances in AI make it more important for companies to be trustworthy. And 98% of marketers say trustworthy data is more important in times of change. Marketers who prioritize trustworthy data may just have a head start in the new era. Trustworthy data is free from errors, biases, or manipulation, and adheres to established standards and best practices for data collection, storage, and usage. 

Access to this data builds better external and internal relationships. Externally, it allows you to build better connections with your customers, and a foundation built on trust and fulfilled expectations. 

When you have a clean set of data, you know you’re making decisions based on accurate, up-to-date information. It allows you to personalize messages and put the customer first in marketing decisions, knowing that you’ve got a complete picture of their journey and preferences. Personalization isn’t just one of the hot marketing trends today — it’s the expectation.

Internally, marketers are using trustworthy data to track and assign value to accounts and move sales forward through approaches like account-based marketing, which require close marketing and sales team collaboration. 

Our survey found that marketers use an average of nine different tactics across the customer experience to collect this data, with customer service data, transactional data, mobile apps, website registration/account creation, and loyalty programs topping the list. It’s clear that there’s no shortage of data. Putting that data to work is the challenge.

As third-party cookies are deprecated and AI continues to develop, marketers are trying to bring that data together into a holistic understanding of customers. But how important is data if you can’t act on it when you need it? More than half of marketers can get real-time data, but they need technical assistance to activate it. 

What better data means for marketers 

The right data is the backbone to actionable customer profiles, analytics, and decision-making — actionable as the key differentiator. Centralized data management platforms that aggregate and harmonize data from various sources in real-time are that much more critical as marketers navigate new marketing trends. 

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3. Marketers are all in on personalization

Personalization is the new marketing mantra, but what that means can vary. A lifecycle approach is evolving as more than half of marketers (57%) aim to provide personalized content across the entire customer journey — not just their journey to become a customer. 

In fact, marketers are more likely to personalize content for existing customers, including support and customer retention content. But they’re not forgetting about their prospects either. Effective personalization, although a work in progress for many, requires cross-channel recommendations. 

Let’s say a customer has recently been browsing your website. Based on this history, they later receive an email promoting a new product, followed by a social media ad showcasing the same product. Suddenly, you’ve created a connected and personalized experience across multiple channels.

The challenge with implementing cross-channel personalization is not only the ability to access trustworthy data across all these channels, but do so consistently on the channels customers prefer. 

And there’s a stark difference between how the highest- and lowest-performing marketing teams are adapting. Underperforming marketers are fully personalizing across only three channels, compared with five channels for moderate performers and six channels for high performers. 

What better personalization means for marketers

When marketers personalize across more channels, they are customizing their messaging and interactions to what customers want — and where they want it. 

Doing this creates a more consistent experience for customers, strengthening brand relationships and making it more likely they keep engaging and converting. 

Adopting AI and machine learning algorithms can help automate data analysis and segmentation. This allows you to derive actionable insights and give your customers a more tailored experience, no matter where they interact with your brand..

New marketing trends are pushing progress for marketers as expectations around data and AI rise. Marketers are still figuring out what they can and can’t do – and how they can make this tech work for them. 

However, what’s fueling this new era is still the same: building strong relationships that deliver value for both the business and the customer.

Start building your strategy today

Get more insights from more than 4,800 marketers in our 9th edition of the State of Marketing report. See how industry leaders are connecting with customers.

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