These Are the 3 Biggest Barriers to Marketing AI Adoption

Artificial intelligence (AI) sounds like something that belongs in a science fiction movie.

But you’re already using AI every single day.

Major brands like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Netflix all use AI technologies like machine and deep learning, computer vision, speech and image recognition, natural language processing, and natural language generation.

Because when it comes to marketing, AI isn’t just about chatbots. (Though we can help you with that here at Drift.)

AI can single-handedly transform your business. Just take a look at these stats:

  • McKinsey Global Institute estimates up to a $5.9 trillion annual impact of AI and other analytics on marketing and sales. Additional research from McKinsey cites that 25 percent of almost 2,400 business leaders surveyed said they increased AI adoption due to the pandemic.
  • PwC sees a truly global effect from AI, with an estimated 14 percent lift in global GDP possible by 2030, a total contribution of $15.7 trillion to the world economy, thanks to both increased productivity and increased consumption.
  • IDC states that efficiencies driven by AI in CRM could increase global revenues by $1.1 trillion this year, and ultimately lead to more than 800,000 net-new jobs, surpassing those lost to automation.

Now we’re talking.

AI is the gateway for marketers to enter the Revenue Era.

Accelerate revenue growth? ✅

Create personalized consumer experiences at scale? ✅

Reduce time spent on repetitive tasks? ✅

You see, rather than fearing AI, marketers must embrace it. AI can be a competitive advantage. It can give marketers superpowers.

So…what’s stopping marketers from adopting it?

3 Barriers to AI Adoption That Keep Marketers Behind (and What We Can Do About It)

You might think it has to do with fear. I mean, when you look at how we’ve imagined AI going, the results aren’t pretty. From classics like 2001: Space Odyssey to Terminator and the Matrix, a healthy fear seems understandable.

But only 31% of respondents chose barriers like “fear” or “mistrust” as their top barrier. The real problems? The 2021 State of Marketing AI Report uncovered the three biggest blockers:

1. Most Marketers Feel Like Beginners

50% of marketers classify their understanding of AI terminology and capabilities as beginner, while 37% identify as intermediate. Only 13% of people said they were advanced.

When faced with a new skill, it’s natural to feel like there’s too much to learn. Remember when you first learned about virtual events or digital advertising? You have to start with the basics.

What to Do About It: A Quick AI Glossary

Here’s a quick glossary defining some of the most common AI-related buzzwords:

  • Marketing AI: Combining the power of humans and machines to make marketing work smarter and harder for your organization
  • Algorithm: A set of coded instructions or rules that tell machines what to do. So when you’re cursing the Instagram algorithm for hiding your posts for the millionth time, it’s because of a complex set of rules that you won’t outwit (without great content, of course 🙃)
  • Intelligent Automation: Rather than code an algorithm by hand, software and machines that can create their own algorithms and determine new paths
  • Machine Learning: Using lots and lots of data to train algorithms to deliver better results — like more accurate predictions, recommendations, or conversations. Ever had a shopping experience where the clerk brought you exactly what size you needed in a shirt you just had to have? Imagine that times a million, all online, and you’ve got personalization at scale. (And it’s already what most online retailers are doing.)

2. Lack of Education and Training Holds Marketers Back

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get my degree in AI (or even computer science!)

That hasn’t stopped me from learning everything I can.

The biggest reason marketers haven’t adopted AI? 70% said lack of education and training. Only 14% said their organization offers any AI-focused education at all.

What to Do About It: Get Back in the (Virtual) Classroom

The good news? You don’t have to dive into data science completely (but if you want to get really technical with your understanding of AI, I recommend checking out Google’s in-depth resources).

Here at Drift, we’ve built the number one learning community for marketing and sales. It’s loaded with content, courses, and even certifications to help you through every aspect of Conversational Marketing, Conversational Sales, and Revenue Acceleration – including how to incorporate marketing AI into your organization. Learn more about our Drift Insider and our certification program here.

3. Marketers Lack Confidence When Evaluating New Tech

Sometimes it just comes down to a lack of confidence. Without training and education, marketers are understandably hesitant when evaluating and purchasing AI-powered products.

When asked to rank their confidence in evaluating marketing AI technologies, 40% chose medium, 24% selected low, and 5% said none.

If you don’t understand the underlying technology, and what it is capable of doing, it’s impossible to identify smarter, AI-powered marketing solutions that can drive efficiency and performance.

That’s not for lack of trying, though. Most marketers are seeking to understand AI and pilot smarter solutions for their business. We asked respondents which stage of marketing AI transformation best describes their marketing teams, 65% said they were still researching, while 56% were actively exploring use cases and technologies.

What to Do About It: Understand the 5 Ps of Marketing AI

Don’t get distracted by fancy buzzwords.

Start with your marketing goals.

Marketing AI Institute developed a five-part framework of marketing AI use cases that align to different gaps in your team. Some tools do it all, and some only focus on one or two of these:

  • Planning: Building intelligent strategies, including choosing the right SEO keywords, analyzing online content for gaps and opportunities, lead scoring, buyer personas and journey stages, pricing strategies, and determining quarterly goals.
  • Production: Creating intelligent content, using data-driven insights that optimize web content, predicting performance, giving content recommendations, catching grammar and spelling errors, or transcribing audio.
  • Personalization: Powering intelligent consumer experiences, like recommending targeted content and products in real-time, determining discounts and offers, presenting personalized in-app or web experiences, or optimizing chatbot flows.
  • Promotion: Managing intelligent cross-channel promotions, like adapting audience targeting with behavioral and lookalike analysis, predict A/B testing results, adjusting ad spend in real-time based on performance, scheduling social promotions, and delivering personalized social media content.
  • Performance: Turning data into intelligence, by measuring performance, predicting campaign results, creating reports and dashboards in real-time, assigning lead and conversion credit to the right channel or sales rep, and monitoring brand influence.

Forward-thinking organizations are already using AI to accelerate revenue and reduce costs.

Which means the next generation of marketing is going to look smarter, more productive, and more personalized, delivering a better customer experience without more effort.

The question is, are you going to be there?

Download the free report to learn more about the trends, benchmarks, and opportunities that marketing AI brings.

The State of Marketing AI