5 ways intelligent content will change B2B marketing

With machine learning and artificial intelligence refining the understanding and use of data in B2B, SDL's Rob Gorby examines five content trends marketers should make a play for

Think about how the world has changed around you. Data drives everything. Around 90% of the world’s data has been created in the past two years, and it’s showing no signs of abating. That’s an incredible amount of information when you think about it, so it’s no surprise businesses are struggling to make any sense of it – let alone use it to their competitive advantage. 

But advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are changing the game, and creating opportunities, for B2B marketers. Business customers – regardless of industry – want access to information in their own language, and on their device of choice. That means creating and delivering thousands of pieces of content, across dozens of languages. That’s an almost impossible task for any marketing team, and it’s where we see AI and ML having the biggest impact. 

To help B2B marketers understand the new content landscape, we recently announced the Five Future States of Content, a series of disruptive content trends for brands to watch in 2018. We believe content will hit a new dimension of organisational importance, with AI and ML playing a leading role in automating content creation, translation, organisation and delivery.

1. The demand for content is too high to keep pace with

Content will create itself: In his book The Grand Design, world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking argues the universe can create itself out of nothing. But can the same be said about content? It would take hundreds of authors 24/7 to create all the content required to power future experiences. But breakthroughs in AI and ML mean that in 2018, it will become possible for B2B marketing teams to automatically generate finely-tuned content from information stored in a variety of repositories across their business – giving every customer their own, truly unique experience.

2. The amount of content is too overwhelming to manage

Content will organise itself: Creating content is only one of the many applications that ML is capable of. Brands will begin to use it to create taxonomies of all their company’s content, summarising and tagging it to facilitate better search results through content management systems, improving metadata and optimising SEO, and enabling other enterprise systems to automatically discover existing content. This will maximise reuse and return on already invested content creation efforts and help form more engaging online experiences.

3. The waterfall methodology has dried up

Content will be agile: With the future of content creation and organisation being accelerated by AI, content will need to be structured and formatted so that it's machine ready. The old waterfall approach to creating and delivering content will become obsolete in favour of a continuous global content operating model. We’ll see more marketing leaders adopt this approach in 2018, enhancing global content and localisation teams with AI and ML capabilities, like authoring tools and machine translation, to create and deliver engaging content in response to customer demands.

4. The customer decides before they ever talk to your salesperson

Content will become your best seller: Brands are already shifting their sales priorities to focus on content creation rather than just selling. The type of content that sells will expand rapidly beyond the traditional marketing materials into the realm of in-depth product information, a source of information that remains mostly untapped today. More than half (53%) of global B2B customers now consult manuals, FAQs and technical content to learn more about a product before purchasing.

5. Content is your biggest security risk

Content will be secured: Upcoming legislation, including Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), means B2B businesses will need absolute control of customer information. They will need to provide transparency, a full audit trail and complete data custody come May 2018. But companies outside Europe are failing to prepare, and we expect some big brands to be quickly hit with fines of up to 4% of revenues. In order to organise and secure high volumes of data in 2018, brands will turn to on-premise ML technologies to translate, analyse and automate their content supply chains.

These are just some of the trends we’re expecting in 2018. Over the next five articles, we’ll explore each of the states in more detail. We’ll look at what it means for B2B marketers, and how smart companies know that AI and ML is the future they must prepare for if they’re going to thrive in the years ahead.

Getting to grips with the GDPR: A B2B marketer’s guide

This free comprehensive guide explains what the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is, how this incoming data protection law will affect your organisation, and the practical steps to take to prepare for it.

Learn how to comply with GDPR

Getting to grips with the GDPR: A B2B marketer’s guide