Salesforce launches new AI Marketing Cloud features, predicts 5 B2B marketing trends

Salesforce Connections kicks off in Chicago with the launch of new Einstein AI offerings and a look at the state of B2B marketing strategy

Salesforce has identified the top five B2B marketing trends for 2019 at its Connections conference in Chicago this week, as well as launched new Einstein AI enhancements to Marketing Cloud.

Product marketing associate for Salesforce Pardot, Nicole Smith, said it’s an exciting time to be in marketing, and noted marketers have been embracing the rapid change caused by the fourth industrial revolution. However, B2B marketers are still facing many challenges, thanks to new and constant technology and innovation changes. 

“Marketers need to figure out what’s important and what where to start,” Smith told attendees. “Now, we need to be moving towards the single view of customers, for better personalisation and hyper personalised messaging.” 

The top five trends as identified by Salesforce for B2B marketers in 2019 are: 

  1. Personalising B2C experience for B2B buyers
  2. Marketing and sales alignment to win business
  3. Continued emphasis on account-based marketing (ABM)
  4. Marketers push the envelope on AI, VR, and AR
  5. Data-driven intelligence 

Personalisation is key. We are seeing it from Netflix and Amazon in our personal lives, so we are expecting it as customers as well, “ Smith said. “Business buyers are expecting us to anticipate their needs; in fact, 69 per cent of them expect us to. 

“Just as important is marketing and sales alignment. There has previously been frustration between sales and marketing, and only around half of B2B marketers are collaborating with sales today. But there are many benefits of collaboration, including driving more personalised engagements. 

“We recommend you start with a unified goal,  create a consistent communication cadence, and then enable with product.” 

Account-based marketing (ABM), one of the buzzwords of B2B marketing, is a vital part of this picture, Smith continued. Salesforce defines ABM as identifying the right accounts that are going to make the biggest impact and then coordinating activities to engage and close those accounts.

“We recommend you align sales and marketing on one platform, identify the top accounts to drive revenue, ensure cross channel engagements with personalised messaging, and then measure impact and optimise,” Smith said. 

Also on Salesforce's list of game-changing technology for B2B engagement are AI, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The vendor's research shows 30 per cent of B2B marketers are using AI, up from 24 per cent in 2017, while more than 25 per cent are using VR and AR. Driving adoption is the need for more consumer-type experiences in the B2B sphere, Smith said, adding research shows 69 per cent of business buyers are expecting Amazon–like experiences.

Finally, data drives intelligent B2B marketing decisions and is instrumental in proving the ROI of B2B marketing. 

"By offering personalised experiences, aligning sales and marketing, focusing on ABM, and recognising VR, AI, AR are the way of the future, and using data driving decision making, B2B marketers can achieve success,” Smith added.

Salesforce's latest AI product announcements

Salesforce used the opening of its Connections event in Chicago to also announced new Einstein AI enhancements to Marketing Cloud. These are aimed at empowering brands to increase customer engagement with relevant and timely email marketing messages.

Einstein Engagement Frequency uses data to inform marketers the right number of emails to send to customers based on previous interactions. Einstein Send Time Optimization, meanwhile, uses AI to automatically predict the best time to send marketing emails to optimise customer engagement and avoid creating unsubscribers. 

Also new to the list is Einstein Content Tagging, which uses image recognition to automatically and accurately tags thousands of images within a content library, helping marketers save time and locate the best images. 

Salesforce has confirmed transactional messaging is now a function within Marketing Cloud, so customers can integrate transactional and promotional messages into the same campaign. 

"Now, companies can understand the complete customer journey, ensure a single voice is being used for all messages and embed promotional content in transactional messages and vice versa," the company stated. 

Vanessa Mitchell travelled to Connections as a guest of Salesforce. 

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