SiriusDecisions’ Erin Bohlin Explains How AI Can Cure ‘Buying Group Blindness’

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AI is more than just a buzzword. It is a business imperative for B2B brands to better understand their consumers, improve their marketing campaigns and get ahead.

Erin Bohlin, Senior Research Director of Demand Creation Strategies at SiriusDecisions, spoke to Demand Gen Report ahead of her session at B2BMX to chat about the value of AI, new trends in demand generation and more.

Demand Gen Report: The event theme this year is “seeing B2B through a new lens.” What advice would you give marketers looking to evolve their strategies and successfully change things up this year? Are there any examples that come to mind of B2B organizations looking at their sales and/or marketing through a new lens?

Erin Bohlin: One of the key challenges we are helping B2B marketers with is overcoming “buying group blindness.” The challenge is that there are so many scenarios where groups of buyers are working together, and yet are just out of view of most demand management processes and programs. B2B marketers must evolve their strategies to illuminate these blind spots to better understand what actually influences buying decisions. Informatica is a great example of a client who has perfected its knowledge of its buyers using artificial intelligence, and now understands what campaigns and tactics will resonate and when. It has seen significant improvements to its sales velocity, deal size and win rate.

DGR: What trends are you currently seeing in demand generation?

Bohlin: There are innovation opportunities today that make it possible to know the B2B buyer like never before. In terms of buyer enablement, we are seeing organizations rely more on bots and virtual assistants to engage and qualify buyer needs, harness voice-activated search to connect the buyer to the best content options and create augmented experiences to enhance information absorption. In terms of optimizing the marketing mix, we are seeing many organizations better embrace their understanding of buying groups and how buyers work together to make decisions in B2B, thus driving a greater level of precision in targeting and personalization. Certainly, we are seeing the rise of AI capabilities in everything from persona identification and tactic selection to content creation. Finally, in terms of organizational culture, we see many organizations shifting to more of an agile and data-driven approach to program implementation.

DGR: Why do you think it’s important for marketers to rethink/innovate their demand generation approaches in this age of the buyer?

Bohlin: Buyers are incredibly digitally savvy, and they typically work in teams. The buying group is essentially a voracious content consumer, which B2B marketers must be able to identify, understand and support through programs and tactics. Many of our clients are adopting new solutions (e.g. automated content tagging, personalization techniques, profiling) to know their buyers and what drives them — at scale. 

DGR: In your session, you will share five areas of innovation that demand marketers should explore. Can you share a snippet of one of those areas?

Bohlin: AI is foundational. Organizations have a tremendous number of touchpoints with their buyers, but marketers have been lacking unbiased information to determine which touchpoints are most effective. AI provides key capabilities for marketers to better understand their buyers, including more data, processing power, segmentation, prioritization and process automation. The session will provide specific examples of how AI is being successfully adopted by B2B demand marketers.

What else can attendees expect to learn from your presentation at B2BMX 2019?

Bohlin: This session will provide clarity on how to think about specific innovation opportunities and how to apply them in your organization. It will also include some cool and inspiring examples of B2B marketers who are successfully wrangling shiny objects!

DGR: What are you hoping to learn more about at the event? Are there any sessions you’re looking forward to?

Bohlin: I’m looking forward to seeing David Meerman Scott again. I first saw him present years ago at one of the early Eloqua Experience events. I’m also looking forward to Tim Washer’s keynote on “Humanizing Even The World’s Most Boring B2B Brands” — the title got me!

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