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How Leaders Can Alleviate Marketers’ AI Anxiety

Jennifer Mulligan

Jennifer Mulligan

Two out of every five marketers (42%) are worried that AI will someday threaten their jobs. While the marketing world has relaxed into the idea of AI playing newer, bigger roles in its strategies and campaigns, marketers themselves remain concerned for their job security.

According to Walker Sands’ State of Martech 2019 report, nearly 10 percent more marketers reported feeling lack of job security to AI this year compared to 2018 (39%). And, one in 10 respondents strongly agree that it will threaten their jobs at some point in their career. The incremental growth in concern suggests that as AI technology improves, marketers can see the attendant software and devices taking on more tasks that were formerly left to humans.

Perhaps that fear is why only a third of respondents (32%) are currently using AI or have plans to invest in it this year. Meanwhile, nearly half have no plans to implement it into their marketing strategies.

Yet, AI holds some powerful capabilities for making marketing organizations more efficient and strategic. It would be a mistake not to consider incorporating AI into your 2019 marketing strategy. Yet, marketers’ stress over job security could drive down engagement and push employees out the door.

To alleviate marketers’ anxiety about adopting such technology, marketing leaders should take the following steps:

  • Keep wary talent engaged by creating transparency around AI investments. The unknown is often the biggest worry. Prevent teams from imagining the worst by communicating early and often what technology the organization is adopting, the timing of the implementation and how your team will use it. Adobe CMO Ann Lewnes said it best at Martech West 2019, “Never stop being creative. Digital just creates new channels for sharing your creative marketing campaigns.”
  • Make it clear how you see the technology helping the organization. Most often, new software and platforms require a human to set up, maintain and troubleshoot. Consider the Amazon Go stores where customers can simply grab and go without even so much as speaking to a cashier or store associate. But even without the traditional checkout lines, cash registers or cart returns, these stores have a handful of employees available to help customers download the app and restock. If Amazon’s store of the future needs humans, certainly the marketing team of the future will too.
  • Focus on job creation vs. automation and elimination. The AI-enabled platforms that today’s marketers have adopted are making it easier to gather and analyze more complex data sets. In turn, marketers can make more strategic decisions, which will lead to more complex campaigns and new roles. For example, greater data insight demonstrated the need for sales enablement and content experience teams – neither of which were common marketing terms just a few years ago. Now, major industry analysts have dedicated reports to both of these budding marketing functions, and new roles in these areas are popping up across industries and organizations.

Anyone who’s had trouble purchasing from Alexa or searching via Siri can attest that AI still has a lot of room for improvement. It will be a very long time before these technologies start replacing marketers. In the meantime, marketers should embrace the support technology offers and use it to automate routine tasks and elevate creativity, which will make their roles even more valuable.

Interested in learning more about our automation tools and creative ideas? Reach out here.

For more on our findings on marketers’ use of AI, download our State of Marketing Technology 2019 report.