How AI could save marketers from the perfect storm

How AI could save marketers from the perfect storm

Whether you’re in-house or agency side, it’s fair to say the last two years have been strange and stressful for marketers.

Our best laid plans were thrown aside as everyone moved into panic mode during the pandemic. Customers were suddenly locked at home and less accessible for offline brands, while face-to-face sales channels became useless. In the face of this change, businesses pivoted online, with marketing teams being forced to implement ten years’ worth of digitalisation in 34 months.

While 2022 is starting to see a return to some normality, the long-term impacts of such large scale disruption on businesses are still being felt around the world. With brands still getting over the hit and looking to re-energise profits, marketers are under more pressure than ever to deliver new leads, cut costs and add business value.

In the face of these changes, four trends have become clear which will seriously impact the role of marketing departments in 2022:

1. Marketing’s role is exploding: Today, effective marketers are expected to balance a whole host of new functions, spanning customer experience, brand, digital marketing, CRM, customer retention, and more. According to Emarsys data, nearly a third of marketers must now look after all of these functions within their single role.

2. Marketers are under more scrutiny: As brands recover from the financial impact of covid-19, marketers are being expected to prove their worth as a ‘revenue centre’. At a tactical level this means more time spent measuring, reporting, and dealing with analytics. This is already proving a major time-sink for marketers, with a recent survey showing 63% spend ‘significant’ time on measurement-related tasks.

3. Teams are shrinking: While workloads are increasing, the average marketing team is shrinking. At the same time, support from expensive external agencies is also on the decline. According to Gartner data, one third of all marketing activity has moved in-house, meaning what was done by agencies with dozens of employees must now be done by a lean, internal team.

4. Budgets are getting smaller: Despite marketers being faced with more work, higher targets, smaller teams and less external support, marketing budgets are shrinking. According to Gartner, budgets are now at an all-time low, dropping from 11% of revenue to just 6.4%.

It sounds like the perfect storm, with marketers having to justify their role on every front.

Weathering the storm

So what’s the solution? How can marketers prove their value while working with increasingly streamlined budgets and teams?

To me, it comes down to taking back control of our time. Marketers can do more with less, but they need the opportunity to focus on what’s important. Data shows that marketers waste a huge amount of time on technical tasks like data analysis, manual personalisation and building audience profiles.

We need to get away from these time sink tasks. In some cases that might mean reviewing our priorities, but in others it’s simply a case of adopting the right technology to remove or automate them.

As a marketer at a technology brand, I’m a big believer in the power of AI to save time. In 2022, it’s vital that we make marketing automation our #1 priority to free up teams from basic, unnecessary and sometimes impossible day-to-day tasks.

Our ability to be creative is our most important attribute as marketers. But if you’re looking for a way to waste your creative gifts and energy, look no further than the grind of repetitive basic tasks for bringing campaigns to life.

Only by working smarter, and using the tools available to us, can we empower our teams to focus on the things that matter — strategy, creativity, real customer insight and the business’ bottom line.