by John Egan
Surely but not so slowly, we’re becoming an automation nation — a fact that certainly hasn’t escaped Ytel founder and CEO Nick Newsom.
Newsom, whose company offers marketing software that enables communication between businesses and customers via phone, SMS, email and other means, says 2018 will usher even more integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into technology. For instance, the use of voice recognition as a lead generation device through gadgets such as Amazon Echo and Google Home “will continue to evolve,” Newsom says.
But are marketers ready to evolve along with the technology? Perhaps not quite yet.
A recent survey by Ytel of B2B marketing leaders found that just 19 percent of them were “very familiar” with automation and how it can propel marketing campaigns. Ytel is one of the sponsors of LeadsCon Las Vegas 2018, set for March 5-7.
In its report on the survey results, Foothill Ranch, California-based Ytel says: “Smart automation allows teams to focus on the bigger picture of messaging and campaign analytics, rather than spending too much time on campaign mechanics. Having this part under control also allows businesses to plan ahead for future campaigns, rather than scrambling to get the current one out the door.”
The survey also reveals a continuing dependence on old-school communication. Thirty-nine percent cited email as their preferred outreach tool, followed by phone calls (22 percent), social media (17 percent), digital advertising (7 percent) and direct mail (7 percent). In terms of mobile marketing, SMS was by far the favored outreach tool (58 percent).
“This survey offers further evidence of how much digital technology is shaping, or reshaping, all aspects of marketing communications, changing not only how businesses use marketing communications, but even how it’s defined,” Newsom says. “These trends will likely become even more pronounced as AI’s development accelerates and as the IoT becomes more integrated with our daily lives — these devices will know the present and immediate status of our behavior, and that opens up new and uncharted possibilities of communication.”
Despite the array of outreach tools at their disposal, marketers remain frustrated with the outcome of their efforts. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed that they had a hard time getting their messages and content in front of target audiences.
These days, the speed of the messaging might be as important as the targeting.
“Even customer service voice queues that put people on hold for a few moments can seriously damage a business relationship, no matter how often callers are told that they and their call are important,” Ytel says in its survey report. “Because so many people can get instant answers to just about anything via their mobile devices, it’s becoming expected to receive just-as-speedy responses to any business-related questions or queries.”
At least for now, there’s a “clear gap” between customers and marketers, according to the Ytel report.
“Customers are demanding accessibility, responsiveness and convenience. But sellers and marketers are well behind the curve in their knowledge of the latest solutions that could help them meet those customer needs. This disparity will lead to dissatisfied prospects at best and lost sales at the worst,” the report says. “It is, therefore, incumbent on marketers and sellers to take stock of the current practices and seek solutions that enable them to stay at the forefront of technology and automation.”
Click here to register for LeadsCon Las Vegas 2018.