The AI Future: The 4 Possible Futures of B2B Marketing

It was exciting to be part of the ongoing conversations about how technology influences marketing practices, especially since ChatGPT, Microsoft Copilot, and other AI tools are becoming widespread in the industry.

How to Think About the AI Future

In much the same way that marketers conduct consumer research to develop an understanding of what they need, futurologists keep track of trends and events to get a sense of what people are valuing. Since the trends and developments within social groups are ultimately determined by the values held by that group, understanding the different values at play helps futurologists map out possible futures based on those values.

In my presentation, I focused on two values conflicts that will determine how we use artificial intelligence in the future. One of them, of course, is whether consumers will ultimately prefer interacting with machines or humans for things like purchasing or customer support. Although we don’t know for sure how this will turn out, knowing that this fundamental values conflict exists has been helping us prepare for either outcome.

The second values conflict, and one that we consider very important for marketers, is how people will want to consume information in the future. It won’t be long until search engines like Bing and Google will have an option for AI to answer search queries, which means that people may drift away from using traditional search engine functions. If this happens, SEO and SEM will change forever, as being on the first page of Google becomes a lot less important when most people aren’t even looking there.

Mapping Out Four Futures

One of the classic techniques in professional futurology is to take two values conflicts and create a foursquare diagram to show their intersections. This provides us with four possible futures to plan for, instead of just a single projection like is traditional in business strategy:

AI future graph of 4 possible futures for B2B Marketing.

AI Future 1: Business as Usual

Although we think this is an unlikely outcome given the incredible appetite for artificial intelligence, it is possible that people will revert to more traditional and “human” ways of doing business in the future. It may be the case that buyers will ultimately prefer browsing through search results to find their own information, instead of having an AI feed them answers. It might also be the case that consumers reject automated sales and customer service tools in favor of the accountability and warmth one can expect from a human.

AI Future 2: No More Googling

In a future where people abandon search engines for AI assistants, which we think is very likely, there will be no more “Googling” things, there will be no more first page of Google, and both SEO and SEM will look very different. In this landscape, we anticipate digital marketers exploring new channels, even more traditional ones like out-of-home. PPC will become more relevant, and “owned channels” like your email list will likely become the most valuable marketing channel.

AI Future 3: The Funnel Wars

In a future world where consumers prefer to interact with artificial intelligences, but still want to get their own information, we anticipate a tremendous flood of AI-generated content that will make it very difficult to compete at the early stages of the marketing funnel. In some ways, we are temporarily living in this future, as many organizations are now using ChatGPT and other AI tools to accelerate their content workflows and put out more with less, while consumer search behavior is still unchanged

AI Future 4: Machine Genius

In a fully mechanized future where artificial intelligences are managing most consumer interactions, we see a return to more direct and personalized methods of selling. Here, the challenge will be to construct scalable and repeatable systems that provide individual attention to each prospect while nudging them closer to economic actions. In this future, it’s likely every marketing team will need to have a data analyst on hand to help them make sense of the tremendous amounts of buyer information their systems will be processing, and to optimize their AI systems for maximum performance and ROI.

What the AI Future Means for Your Business

Although it’s not clear which one of these futures we’re headed towards, based on early signals across many markets it seems like AI is going to see widespread adoption sooner rather than later. To stay ahead of the competition, organizations will have to begin to radically reconsider how they are managing their marketing function, proactively experiment with new tools, and begin to redevelop a channel strategy that will be able to cope with the potential loss of traditional SEO.

We are quickly realizing that when deployed alongside CRM and marketing automation solutions, the potential for innovation with AI is only limited by the imagination of the organization. Especially now that ChatGPT is offering an API service that allows users to integrate the technology into customized programs, it’s possible to create entirely new tools and programs to automate your workflows and do more with less.

Learn More About AI and B2B Content Marketing

About Marketing CoPilot

We have worked with over 200 companies in the B2B technology and manufacturing sector to turn digital lead generation around. Our proven methodology to map your buyers’ journey to make an educated buying decision, has helped countless sales and marketing teams win. In today’s cluttered and confusing online environment, we can de-clutter your content strategy and get you on track to better sales results. Your website and web presence should be helping, not hurting your lead generation efforts.