In my speech: How Marketers Can Win when AI Leads Buyers. I delve into a topic that is reshaping the way we approach marketing. The evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not just an addition to the marketing toolset; it is set to redefine the entire landscape of search and e-commerce. As AI matures and begins to guide human buying decisions, we’re staring at a radical transformation of the marketing funnel.
As Bill Gates astutely noted (CNBC), “Whoever wins the personal agent, that’s the big thing, because you will never go to a search site again, you will never go to a productivity site, you’ll never go to Amazon again.” These words paint a clear picture of where we’re headed: AI is no longer a sidekick, but rather a leading actor in the buying process.
AI Transforms the Marketing Funnel by Leading Human Buyers
Let’s walk through the stages of this transformed marketing funnel:
- Awareness Stage: As AI advances, humans will increasingly turn to it to understand their needs and pain points. Taking a leap further, we can imagine a future where AI not only responds to human prompts but also proactively educates users. Picture your AI assistant suggesting a personalized diet plan based on your health data, serving you with information before you even thought to ask for it.
- Engagement Stage: Soon, we will find ourselves prompting AI for detailed information about solutions. Yet, the future holds an even more proactive AI that initiates dialogue with users, offering solutions to their potential needs. Imagine your AI arranging a travel itinerary for your upcoming holiday, even before you realized you needed help.
- Consideration Stage: The phase where humans usually compare products and read reviews is about to undergo a transformation. In the near future, humans will task AI with these comparisons. But the real game-changer will be when AI agents independently shop and auto-compare on our behalf. Consider an AI saying, “I’ve compared various headphones, and this model suits your preferences best.”
- Purchase Stage: The typical e-commerce transactions that happen via websites and online retailers will progressively shift to AI apps. Eventually, AI agents will handle purchases on your behalf, efficiently streamlining the process. Imagine receiving a message from your AI assistant: “I’ve placed an order for your favorite brand of coffee.”
However, this AI evolution is not confined to the conventional sales funnel stages. It will have broad implications, touching aspects like customer loyalty, upselling, and marketing analytics. These significant changes, although beyond the scope of this piece, warrant their own dedicated discussion.
Adoption of AI will vary across different industries. The B2C sectors are likely to experience the impacts more swiftly, but longer B2B sales cycles will also undergo changes, albeit gradually. I expect higher human inputs in longer B2B marketing and sales processes, but AI agents will still play an influential role
As we approach a future where AI’s influence is ever-growing, the call for new software solutions that enable marketers to influence AI agents becomes louder. The norms of SEO are being reinvented to cater to AI’s training processes, signaling a substantial shift in digital marketing practices.
Many marketers have started embracing AI, utilizing machine learning to analyze and predict customer behavior and even experimenting with generative AI for content and image creation. However, the truly disruptive force, AI Agents, is often overlooked.
As we stand on the brink of this seismic shift, the call to action for marketers is clear: We must ready ourselves to not only influence human decision-making but also shape AI behaviors. Recommended Resources: Beginners Guide to Autonomous Agents by Matt Schlicht (I’m referenced and investor in Matt’s company, Octane AI).