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The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to AI in Marketing

This guide will help you understand AI and how to use it in your marketing—fast.

Last Updated: 12/2019

Research on AI

Why would you want to spend a bunch of time combing through research reports on AI?

You don’t. That’s what this section is for—to save you the pain of reading hundreds of pages of reports. (We’ve done that, and it’s not pretty…)

Seriously, though, there are a number of projections and estimates you need to know if you’re going to convince bosses, colleagues, and stakeholders that AI is the real deal.

Because the disruptive opportunity presented by AI is almost too big to be believed—until you put it in numbers.

Take a look at the report summaries below (with links to the full reports). In just a few minutes, you’ll have a better idea of why we’re so excited about AI in marketing.

Funding for AI-Powered Sales and Marketing Companies Exceeds $5.2 Billion (January 2019)

According to our analysis of Crunchbase data, there are 1,141 companies that fit into the category groups of both “Sales and Marketing” and “Artificial Intelligence.” These are predominantly software companies selling sales and marketing solutions, of which 488* have raised funding totaling more than $5.2 billion (in USD).

Let’s dig into the data on these 488 funded companies to see what else we can learn:

  • 2018 Funding: 147 companies raised funding in 2018 totaling $1.07 billion.
  • Categories: The most common categories within the Sales and Marketing group are: advertising (141 companies), predictive analytics (130 companies), marketing automation (119 companies), digital marketing (74 companies), CRM (64 companies), mobile (48 companies), sales automation (48 companies), e-commerce (42 companies), brand marketing (37 companies), and social media marketing (33 companies).
  • Headquarters: San Francisco is the most popular headquarters with 54 companies calling it home. Those SF-based companies have raised $978 million. New York is second with 47 companies at $610 million and London is third with 40 companies at $352 million. Paris is a distant fourth with 14 companies at $145 million.
  • Status: Of the 488 companies, 57 have been acquired and eight have held an initial public offering (IPO).
  • Employees: 11-50 employees is the most common range at 46.9% of companies. 1-10 is next at 30.1% of companies. Only 10.9% companies have 101+ employees.
  • Founding Year: 2018 saw a significant drop in number of AI-powered sales and marketing companies founded with only 13, raising a combined $8.6 million. This was down from 49 companies founded in 2017, which have raised $71.2 million to date. 2014 and 2015 were the peak years for AI-powered startups with 67 companies being founded in each of the years.
  • Funding Rounds: The companies have 1,303 combined funding rounds for an average of 2.7.
  • Distribution of Funding: 111 companies have raised $10 million or more. 56 companies have raised $25 million or more. 27 companies have raised $50 million or more. Six companies have raised $100 million or more.

You can learn even more about our findings at the link below. 

* Companies had to have a minimum of $10,000 in Total Funding (in USD) to be included in this report.
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AI Will Unlock $2.6 Trillion in Value for Marketing and Sales (January 2018)

There’s been a lot of hype around the impact artificial intelligence will have on different industries, especially marketing. Luckily, McKinsey’s quarterly Five Fifty study, “Real-World AI,” cut through the hype and put some actual numbers (big numbers!) behind these claims.

According to McKinsey, AI’s application to real-world business problems extends across nearly every sector of the economy, but the biggest impact could arise in two particular business functions: marketing and sales, and supply-chain management and manufacturing.

McKinsey predicts there is $2.6 trillion (yes, trillion) of potential value to be unlocked by AI applications in the marketing and sales sectors alone. Supply-chain management and manufacturing follow right behind at $2 trillion.

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Businesses Need to Get Real About AI—Now (September 2018)

A recent research project from MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) analyzed AI adoption based on a global survey of 3,076 business executives. The report—Artificial Intelligence in Business Gets Real: Pioneering Companies Aim for AI Scale—broke responding companies into four groups: 

  • Pioneers (18%): Organizations that both understand and have adopted AI.These organizations are on the leading edge of incorporating AI into both their offerings and internal processes.
  • Investigators (33%): Organizations that understand AI but are not deploying it beyond the pilot stage. Their investigation into what AI may offer emphasizes looking before leaping.
  • Experimenters (16%): Organizations that are piloting or adopting AI without deep understanding. These organizations are learning by doing.
  • Passives (34%): Organizations with no adoption or much understanding of AI.

No matter how you look at it, businesses are in the infancy of AI adoption, meaning you and your organization have the opportunity now to be proactive in advancing knowledge and capabilities before your competitors beat you to it.

According to the report, “Pioneers, by deepening their commitments to AI, are establishing positions in both customer and labor markets that may make it hard for others to draft off of their hard work. The many advantages reported by Pioneers suggest that early AI movers may be especially hard to catch.” Read More

C-Suite Support for AI Leads to Massive Profits (June 2017)

Another report, from the McKinsey Global Institute, surveyed over 3,000 AI-aware C-level executives from across 14 industries and 10 countries.

Few companies researchers spoke to, outside of the tech sector, have actually deployed AI at scale: Only 20% said they use any AI-related technology at scale or in a core part of their business. And, upon reviewing more than 160 use cases, researchers found AI was only deployed commercially about 12% of the time.

That said, the companies that moved past the uncertainty and seriously invested in AI saw real results. Those who combined an already strong digital foundation with proactive strategies saw massive increases in profit margin, and the performance gap between them and the AI laggards will continue to grow. 

According to the report, “Respondents from firms that have successfully deployed an AI technology at scale tended to rate C-suite support nearly twice as high as those from companies that had not adopted any AI technology.”

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