Good morning! In this issue, we’ll give tips on using data to drive your B2B marketing activities, will share the latest marketing automation spending findings from Forrester, will talk about why it’s important to stay present when thinking about the future and learn how to determine if your marketing department is *really* ready for AI. And now, let’s get to the news!

Drive your B2B marketing using data

As marketers, most of us have no shortage of access to data. But what we may lack are ideas about exactly how to translate that data into action, especially when it comes to B2B marketing efforts. In MarTech Advisor, Stephen Kraus suggests that one area where marketers may want to focus their efforts is on category building before brand promotion. After all, Kraus points out, Google data shows that 71% of B2B decision makers start their research for a solution with a non-branded search, and average 12 searches before interacting with a branded site.

Developing a deep understanding of what your prospective customers want and how they search—going much further than mere keywords—will help you make more informed marketing decision. Read the rest of Kraus’ tips here.

By 2023, marketing automation spending will be $25B

According to Forrester as seen in Marketing Dive, marketers and CMOs who are looking for ways to streamline operations and prove marketing ROI are investing in marketing automation tools as a solution to help improve personalization, determine campaign effectiveness, reign in marketing costs and propel marketing strategies. In fact, the firm’s recent research found that global marketing automation spend is expected to reach $25.1B by 2023 (up from $11.4B in 2017) with artificial intelligence (AI) playing a larger role in marketing automation and likely being the recipient of higher numbers of marketing dollars.

However, as we’ve mentioned before, not all AI is created equal, and one vendor’s true artificial intelligence is another vendor’s souped up analytics—so buyer beware. Before your company adds to anticipated growth in marketing automation spend, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting, and [shameless plug here ;-)] don’t be afraid to turn to a martech consulting firm like Perkuto if you want expert advice or need a hand.

Don’t lose sight of the now by looking too far forward into the future

Wanting to innovate and bring digital transformation to your organization are certainly important and laudable goals, but don’t make the mistake of letting them get in the way of providing stellar customer experiences today, says Nadia Cameron in CMO. In her piece, Cameron recounts the lessons shared by Kelly Johnson, web strategy manager from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) at a recent conference.

While Johnson acknowledges that one of UTS’ biggest goals is to unify organizational silos and create a seamless back-end, she also realizes the importance of an agile approach that avoids becoming paralyzed. “You have to deal with the problems here today. If you go too far into the future, you get so lost in the digital of tomorrow that you’re missing the ball today.”

Clearly, when it comes to delivering great customer experiences, one thing is certain: keep your eye on the future, but not at the expense of the present.

Are you really ready for AI?

Is your business ready for AI? Or can your business even benefit from an AI solution? The reality is not every marketing departments need, are prepared for or can use applications that are powered by artificial intelligence. In CMS Wire, Erika Morphy shares the most common reasons your marketing organization may not be ready for AI, as defined by Don Lesem, VP and Chief Design Officer at IEEEGlobalSpec.

One example: Are you doing a good job of handling your current data? If you’re struggling to decipher it, it’s scattered all over the place or is in poor shape, AI will only complicate your problems, not solve them. Check out the rest of Morphy’s post here.