Are the human touch-points we use everyday as B2B marketers taking on greater importance in the face of record levels of digital content touched only by artificial intelligence (AI)?
Facing increasing automation from ChatGPT and other AI-infused tools, B2B marketers are taking a closer look at our truly human touch-points to differentiate in the unique year that 2023 is shaping up to be.
While savvy B2B marketers are sparingly using the power of AI to do more with less, some less sophisticated strategies have turned solely to AI-generated content, making differentiation between human and AI service more important than ever.
Let’s take a look at what recently-published data from industry reports and surveys can tell us about the rising importance of human touch-points in B2B marketing.
“Facing increasing automation from ChatGPT and other AI-infused tools, B2B marketers are taking a closer look at our truly human touch-points to differentiate in the unique year that 2023 is shaping up to be.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet
Touch-Point 1 — Growing B2B Influence
During 2022 some $27.51 billion was spent on online influencer activities, which was a 20.4 percent increase year-over-year, while influencer advertising represented an impressive 4.1 percent of total digital advertising spending during 2022 — a rise of 4.6 percent year-over-year — with 71 percent of brands having said that they expect influencers to play a bigger role in 2023, according to newly-released data from Meltwater’s annual Digital 2023 Global Overview Report.
Increasing focus on influence was listed as one of the top four digital marketing trends in the new 465-page report, which forecast a sizable shift to brands using nano-influencer with smaller niche followings, along with a resurgence of utilizing the digital communities of these influencers to increase ambassadorship.
To learn more about the growing power of B2B influence in the face of both economic headwinds and increased use of exclusively AI-created content, check out our comprehensive free 59-page B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report, rich with survey insights, case studies from B2B brands, predictions from top B2B marketing experts, a list of 20 top influencer marketing practitioners from major B2B brands, and much more.
Touch-Point 2 — Standing Out From B2B Chatbots
According to Hootsuite’s most recent annual Social Media Trends 2023 report, some 26 percent of organizations surveyed said that they used chatbots on social and messaging apps, with 53 percent of those who do having implemented the technology during the pandemic.
Hootsuite’s report points out that businesses focusing on digital customer service hold an advantage over those that don’t, however in the B2B sector in particular — with longer buying cycles and generally more touch-points than in the B2C world — brands can also run the risk of relying too heavily on chatbots and other AI technology.
Recent data enforces past findings showing that larger organizations are more likely to work with influencers, with Hootsuite’s latest report showing that 42 percent of organizations with more than a thousand employees work with influencers, while 35 percent of organizations with between 100 and 999 people utilize influencers, with only 28 percent of businesses with under 100 employees work with influencers.
Touch-Point 3 — Putting The Human In B2B Humanization Strategy
Over the years it’s been said countless times that B2B marketing is less about business and more about human-to-human relationships, and if there’s one thing that the early portion of 2023 has shown us it’s that there’s never been a greater opportunity for brands to differentiate from AI-generated content — whether it’s through shining a light on employee influencers or elevating thought leadership through executive influence, as we’ve explored in “Inside B2B Influence: Sarita Rao of AT&T on Growing B2B Executive Influence with Social Media.”
A leading 91 percent of consumers have said that they trust co-workers, family, and friends for brand advice at purchase time, with some 47 percent noting significant trust, while an organization’s own employees were also seen as trusted sources of brand recommendations, along with those from subject matter experts, according to report data we covered in our Friday B2B marketing industry news and as we’ve explored in detail in “Inside Influence 10: Ryan Bares from IBM on Influence Inside B2B Brands with Employees.”
In that interview, our CEO Lee Odden took a look at the universal nature of influence and how that can benefit B2B organizations. “I have always believed that everyone is influential about something and that sentiment is certainly true within B2B companies,” Lee explained.
“In the B2B marketing world, we’ve all come to understand that buyers trust individual voices more than formal marketing and advertising messages, so finding ways to optimize influence internally is becoming a key area of focus,” Lee added.
Elevate B2B With Human Touch-Points in 2023
In 2023 B2B marketers can benefit from AI technology, and it presents a prime opportunity to keep innovating as the technology matures, however the need for genuine human touch-points is rising, and those businesses that use them to stand out will be poised to elevate their efforts in the coming months and years.
We hope that the various aspects of human touch-points we’ve explored here will help as you navigate your own B2B marketing efforts.
More than ever before, creating award-winning B2B marketing that elevates, gives voice to talent, and humanizes with authenticity takes considerable time and effort, which is why more brands are choosing to work with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Reach out to learn how we can help, as we’ve done for over 20 years for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and many others.