Survey: Marketers embrace AI at expense of metaverse investments

The B2B marketing landscape is experiencing a seismic shift fueled by the ascent of ChatGPT and other generative AI (GAI) apps. In a testament to its growing importance, 80% of marketers have experimented with or deployed the burgeoning technology, in some cases redirecting budgets from last year’s forays into the metaverse. These moves reflect a realization among businesses that GAI holds a key to unlocking remarkable marketing possibilities; the promise of stretching marketing budgets by boosting productivity, springboarding creativity, and scaling content production. Ultimately, GAI could enable the ability to forge deeper connections with target audiences through exceptional personalized experiences.

A report from Sitecore based on its AI & Composable Marketing Software Survey found that nearly 4 in 5 (78%) marketers believe that GAI will be instrumental in achieving the ideal customer experience (CX) not only through greater personalization but also through GAI’s ability to mine deep insights into individual customer needs and wants. The quick embrace of GAI-enabled apps indicates that marketers show no signs of burnout despite the ebb and flow of new martech trends over the past several years. In fact, 9 in 10 marketers surveyed remain eager to learn about and deploy new technologies.

They may also be eager to quickly ditch new technologies that don’t provide significant benefits. Last year, Sitecore polled B2B marketers about their perceptions of the metaverse, which at the time was thought to be the next frontier in experiential marketing. At the time, more than half of those polled said they had invested in “metaverse-like technologies.” Fast forward to early 2023, and our survey found that only 36% of respondents prioritized metaverse programs, instead elevating AI (79%) and digital experience (56%) as top priorities. Perhaps most tellingly, nearly 2 in 5 had redistributed funds from metaverse projects to AI-related ones.

A transformation in marketing

Other research backs up the premise that GAI is having a transformative effect on the role of marketers, who are becoming bolder and more experimental with their martech stacks. Unlike other technologies that have failed to achieve widespread use, ChatGPT and other GAI apps are relatively easy to add to composable software platforms. They also can have a near-instant impact on creativity and productivity.

Marketing teams that have invested in technology to support omnichannel campaigns can leverage GAI-enabled analytics to deliver hyper-personalized and unique marketing content and sales offers based on a consumer’s individual profile, behaviors, needs and previous interactions—both in the past and forecast into the future.

According to the Sitecore AI survey, marketers believe that GAI can help improve customer service and, by extension, loyalty—a primary objective stated by respondents—throughout the customer journey. From self-service chatbots that can provide assistance on simple requests like facilitating a return or resetting a password to the ability to unearth actionable information from customer data to inform future offers and influence new engagements, GAI has applications and use cases throughout the marketing technology stack.

Confidence in the martech stack 

Three-quarters of respondents to Sitecore’s GAI survey said their marketing technology platform was equipped to incorporate and deploy GAI, though some did express some concerns. The cost of implementing GAI apps was a chief concern for nearly half (45%) of marketers, followed by worries about data privacy (41%). Additionally, constantly shifting priorities—and the resulting budget tradeoffs—was cited as a challenge for 76% of all marketers, who admit to frequently moving budgets to accommodate investments in new technologies and capabilities.

The pace of martech innovation over the past few years has been invigorating: from the advent of smart sensors that captured data on consumer behavior to augmented reality to the metaverse. Today, GAI is poised to fundamentally alter the playing field for marketers, and those comfortable testing pilot programs early will potentially unlock huge productivity gains and incredible insights for continued competitive advantage.

Find more information about Sitecore’s survey and B2B marketers’ perceptions of AI and the metaverse, here.