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Martechopia 2024: What did we learn about marketing technology in 2024?

2023 was the year that B2B marketers realised the potential of AI, but it didn’t take long until the mere mention of the word led to rolling eyes and a collective sense of ‘here we go again’.

Perhaps this was best illustrated in our recent community sprint, in which we brought the Propolis community together to work out how we can use AI to overcome challenges around team productivity and efficiency. To our surprise, marketing leaders weren’t champing at the bit to share their ideas for applications. Instead, they were watching in the background, waiting for a peer to step up and show the way forward.

With that in mind, our 2024 Martechopia event sought to provide attendees with real-life, practical application of AI. In other words, we want 2024 to be the year that we stop talking about AI, and start using it.

So, what did we learn from this year’s event?

Ben Lee walks attendees through an award-winning AI campaign

Kicking off our event, Ben Lee, Senior Communications Manager at Bidwells, and Karla Wentworth, our Propolis Expert for all things marketing operations and technology, chatted through the award-winning ‘BenAI’ campaign, which won Gold for ‘Best use of AI’ at the 2023 B2B Marketing Awards.

Ben explained how Bidwells uses an entire stack of AI tools to save huge amounts of time as part of a formal operational process. In other words, Bidwells aren’t just writing the odd blog with ChatGPT. They have an entire workflow of AI tools which continuously saves them time and money.

Using a combination of, Descript, OpenAI,, Claude, Perplexity, Midjourney and Zapier, Bidwells have created a system that has led to a 6186% return on investment.

Of course, every business is different, and what works for Bidwells might not necessarily work for your business. So, Ben’s top tip? Get your processes sort out first. If you can clearly lay out exactly what it is you’re trying to do, and exactly what each step consists of, you can start to understand where AI may be able to help you. Do not, whatever you do, get the AI tools first, and think strategy second.

McKinsey partner outlines the six steps you can take to transform sales and marketing with generative AI

Next on the agenda was Johan Thorbjornsson, Partner at McKinsey. Johan started off by setting the context, outlining how much of the conversation around AI is around driving productivity, but how it can also impact topline growth. In software, he pointed to examples where it has driven +10% in pipeline revenue, and how in chemicals it has led to a +5-10% win rate.

Whatever your business, Johan claimed the six areas where you should focus your effort in using AI are: market insights; demand generation; account management; day-to-day admin; customer operations; and coaching.

In demand generation, one example could be to send more personalised outreaches to prospects, rather than relying on standardised messaging for all groups. Of course, personalisation is nothing new, but AI can make it more feasible.

Use tech to learn more about your buyer

AI wasn’t the only theme of the day, of course. Next up, was Stefano Iacono, Marketing Director EMEA at 6sense, to talk attendees through how you can use a sophisticated martech stack to reveal the secrets of the so-called ‘undercover buyer’.

With buying groups increasing in size and complexity, getting a deal over the line seems to get harder with each passing year. As if that’s hard not difficult enough to deal with, buyers are conducting research silently online before revealing themselves to your business. In fact, as Stefano pointed out, 84% of decisions are made before vendors are even engaged.

With that in mind, it’s up to B2B marketers to try and unmask this undercover buyer and influence that decision before it’s too late.

Virtual reality: The hype has passed, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless

It’s almost hard to remember how much hype there was around the Metaverse, given the explosion in AI last year. But let’s not forget, the Metaverse was a huge talking point the year prior, with a wave of excitement around this new channel for marketers to play in.

Perhaps unsurprisingly in hindsight, the shine quickly wore off, and the world changed its focus to AI. But that doesn’t’ mean virtual reality doesn’t have genuine applications for your business.

As Olivia Ortyl, Consumer Products & Retail Marketing Leader UK, Capgemini demonstrated, they managed to use virtual reality – as well other visually striking methods – to help build connections with their audience. Using these immersive virtual spaces in conjunction with traditional physical conferences, Olivia pointed out just how powerful virtual reality can be, when it’s used appropriately.

This was backed up by Constantine Okoye and Alex Sladen of PwC, who provided a real deep dive into the Metaverse, both in terms of its practical applications and how the market has received a new lease of life following the launch of the Apple Vision Pro.

Copilots: An AI tool worth having?

Perhaps one of the issues with AI is that we often don’t know which tools to use and which ones to avoid. After all, with no many new tools entering the market on a seemingly daily basis, the market isn’t awash with household names (yet).

However, Microsoft’s Copilot is already starting to make a name for itself.

In one of our closing keynote sessions, Adrian Cutler, Director Global Agency, Microsoft (Advertising), walked attendees through how you can use Microsoft Copilot as part of your daily routine to get work done.

Brand: Keep it real

It could be argued that marketers are guilty of cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, we can see the value of AI being used to generate huge amounts of tailored content in the click of a button. On the other hand, we’ve been speaking about the need to be ‘human’ and empathetic in our communications for some time now. Can AI truly be human?

We’ll leave that question for the philosophers, but, in our closing keynote of the day, Jason Miller, Head of Brand Experience, Tyk, walked attendees through:

  • How to balance human and AI in brand strategy.
  • What a successful brand looks like in 2024, and how to position yours for long-term success.
  • How to measure true brand impact, beyond marketing metrics and into real value.

Ultimately, AI is a useful tool, but if we’re not careful, it could do more harm than good. Make sure you’re keeping your brand reputation central to everything you do.

So, what are the key takeaways?

This year’s event had to much take away, but the key is that 2024 is the year to start acting upon AI. If 2023 was the year where we awakened to its potential and learned about what it can and can’t do, 2024 is the year where we collectively need to start putting it in place. Of course, technology should never be purchased or integrated without thinking about the overall strategy first. It should be a strategic enabler, not a strategic plaster.

With that in mind, we’d urge you to keep Ben Lee’s advice in mind at all times. Start by getting your processes in order first. Only then should you start to think about which AI tools you may want to consider.

Of course, this blog has shared some of the key findings, but we’d urge you to check out our full agenda here. With two stages, this year’s event had insight from the likes of Canto, who shared their ‘2024 State of Digital Content Report’, which revealed strategies you can employ to help align your team so you can maximise the value you get from your tech stack. Equally, we heard from EY and how they are using gamification to drive employee engagement.

If you’re a Propolis member, you can access all of these sessions on demand. If you’re not a member, we’d urge you to look into these agencies, companies and technologies vendors online, and get inspiration for the year ahead.

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