Marketers know by now that television, like most non-digital channels, is fading fast. In 2017, American TV ad spend dropped for the first time since 2009. Meanwhile, digital advertising shot up by double digits. As more consumers (especially millennials and the up-and-coming Generation Z) continue to cut the cord, television ad spending will become less and less relevant. Instead, digital ads will drive more sales in a measurable way.
Not all digital advertising is created equal, though, especially in B2B circles. eMarketer research suggests that B2B digital advertising will grow 13 percent to create a market worth $4.6 billion this year. Most of that spending will go toward sit-down computer interactions, but the continuous rise of the mobile market will lead B2B marketers to spend more of money on smartphone ads.
These trends could spell trouble for even the most digital-savvy marketers. Only by creating consistent, demonstrable ROI will marketers of the future be able to keep their brands atop the increasingly competitive landscape of digital advertising — and keep executives happy with their contributions.
Marketing ROI in the Advanced Digital Age
With B2B ad spend trending higher, CMOs at B2B companies are under more pressure than ever to prove the ROI of their online campaigns.
Ninety-three percent of CMOs today say they feel more pressure to prove the ROI of their investment choices — and they’re already at a numeric disadvantage in the C-suite when up against CFOs. Half of CMOs at B2B companies struggle to tie their marketing initiatives to revenue. Branding and other semi-nebulous investments make sense in conversation but finding numbers to prove the value of such pursuits is rarely easy.
Most marketers would love to spend more on digital advertising if they could improve their ability to track ROI. The question is, how can marketers determine the value of their investments when user activity is anything but straightforward?
Enter the Era of the Conversation Bot
CMOs of B2B companies have a new secret weapon to track and prove digital ROI: conversation bots.
In the recent past, tracking online visitors and converting them into buyers was a tall task. Someone might visit a company’s website, browse a bit, engage with some content, then bounce without ever providing contact information for a follow-up. Even users who spent several minutes on a site amounted to little more than a nice thought if marketers couldn’t connect the dots between their campaigns and the visitors.
Fortunately, the era of conversation bots has arrived to change all that. CMOs spend plenty of money on digital campaigns; they deserve to know how those spikes in web traffic impact the bottom line. They need to know what content or series of actions is most effective at driving conversions.
When people visit websites and bounce without engaging with a salesperson or, conversation bots will inspire them to connect in more meaningful ways. Without conversation bots, companies try to woo customers into filling out contact forms by promising them access to gated content or exclusive information. Customers don’t want to provide that information, though. They’re tired of filling out forms online, and the impersonal nature of landing pages makes them suspicious about whether the effort will pay off. No matter how great that white paper might be, most customers won’t bother trying to download it if they have to work too hard to get it. Or worse, they’ll enter false information into the fields.
Conversation bots take these impersonal, unproductive interactions and turn them into meaningful engagements. Now, customers don’t look at static web pages and wonder if the brands behind them are worth their time. They can talk to conversation bots that have personalities and intelligence. The conversation bots can recognize which campaigns brought the person to the website and use that to start conversations about the most relevant topics. They can convince customers to stay a bit longer, ask questions and guide visitors toward outcomes that benefit both the person and the business.
People might hesitate to divulge information to static, impersonal prompts with top text entry fields, but with conversation bots, they don’t have to. These advanced tools create leads through organic conversations. Even better, conversation bots can qualify leads and auto segment them in a CRM, helping CMOs quantify their contributions more accurately while simultaneously boosting their value to organizations.
The best part about conversation bots? They work — and they work well. Not only do conversation bots make it easier for marketers to turn website visitors into leads, but they increase the number (and value) of those leads, too. AI-powered conversation bots gather information from people who otherwise would not have engaged with the company at all, giving salespeople the chance to close deals with people who, without conversation bots, they never would have met.
As companies gain new tools to measure the effectiveness of their digital spending, CMOs will be under even more pressure to justify their investments than they already are. AI-powered conversation bots, though traditionally relegated to customer service, are the ROI-proving answer that marketing executives have been waiting for. They can turn visitors into qualified leads, connect the dots between an ad campaign and a conversion, and give CMOs the much-needed answers they deserve.
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