A Guide to Assessing AI Maturity in Marketing

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology infiltrates almost all parts of our lives, failing to use this technology in your marketing strategy can feel like you’ve already been left behind by your competition. In fact, statistics indicate that over 64 percent of B2B marketers admit to using AI in their marketing efforts. But before you jump on the AI bandwagon due to FOMO, we recommend you first take an introspection of your company’s AI maturity in marketing. 

But what exactly is AI maturity, and why is it important in marketing? 

Artificial Intelligence maturity in marketing refers to your organization’s readiness to leverage current AI capabilities in marketing and advertising. It encompasses several factors, such as your organization’s culture, technological infrastructure, talent and skills, data readiness, etc. 

Read on to get the details on how to assess your company’s AI maturity in marketing, why it’s important, and the best practices you can implement to attain AI maturity. 

The Importance of Assessing Marketing AI Maturity

Just because something is popular in the industry doesn’t mean you should integrate it into your organization’s processes. 

Your organization’s marketing needs are unique, and just because marketers around you swear by AI’s benefits doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the same results by jumping in headfirst. As such, you must first assess your organization’s AI readiness. 

Conducting an AI maturity assessment is important for several reasons, including:

  • Strategic Planning: As already mentioned, your organization has unique needs, so a one-size AI solution may not work, regardless of the reviews it has from past and current users. Assessing your organization’s AI maturity in marketing can help you create a plan for AI adoption that outlines the technology you need, how to prepare your employees in terms of skills training, etc.
  • Risk Mitigation: As is always true with adopting new processes or technologies, introducing AI into your marketing processes may bring with it new risks, such as employee resistance, technical challenges, and data security risks. Assessing your organization’s AI maturity helps you identify these issues before they emerge and put in place mitigation measures to help tackle them.   
  • Resource Optimization: This ties back to strategic planning. AI implementation requires significant resource investments in terms of money, time, staff, training, etc. Assessing AI maturity helps you identify areas in your organization that need additional resources and optimization for maximum marketing efficiency.

Marketing AI Maturity Assessment: The Complete Roadmap

Now that you understand what AI maturity is and why you must conduct this assessment, let’s get into the specifics of this process:

Understand the Four AI Maturity Levels

Maturity levels in the Artificial Intelligence maturity model fall into four broad categories, namely: 

1. Nascent and Undefined

This is the first step in the marketing maturity spectrum that all organizations looking to adopt AI for marketing pass through. At this marketing maturity level, the organization hasn’t adopted any AI solution formally, so any form of AI used for marketing may be out of interest or experimentation by individual contributors. However, there isn’t a clear strategy or framework for how the organization will implement AI for marketing.

If your organization falls under this maturity level, you may exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Your marketing team has little or limited understanding of AI technologies and how they fit into your marketing strategy. 
  • You have insufficient data capabilities, infrastructure and talent to efficiently adopt AI for marketing. 
  • Your interest in AI may be sporadic and disjointed, mostly driven by external pressures or curiosity. 
  • You lack clear goals and KPIs to measure outcomes. 
  • Your AI initiatives may experience resistance from several stakeholders due to a lack of understanding of how AI can benefit the organization through marketing. 

This AI maturity level will usually experience a lot of challenges, so your focus should be on building awareness around AI, actively being a change agent for AI adoption, and seeking executive buy-in. 

2. Emerging and Formalized

At this level, your AI adoption initiatives have support from the organization’s decision-makers. This support may be in the form of resources like finances needed to invest in AI solutions.  

As such, you can now more freely explore AI solutions and technologies that can have a positive impact on your marketing efforts. To do this, you must first outline your marketing goals—what you want to achieve with AI implementation. For instance, if one of your marketing goals is to create more content for your audience, you can start looking at different generative AI solutions and how they compare against each other. 

It’s worth noting, though, that while this level carries the formalized status, any implementation at this stage should be in small scale to allow for testing before full-scale deployment. 

Some distinct characteristics of this AI maturity level include:

  • Individuals within the organization use AI on and off (inconsistently) —there’s no real strategy for how to use it.
  • Your AI initiatives and marketing goals may lack a clear connection. 
  • There is a disconnect between the AI tool or solution your marketing team is using and the marketing workflows.
  • Any AI knowledge within the marketing team may be siloed, with limited sharing for the greater success of marketing efforts. 

3. Strategic and Mature

Your organization will usually reach this level after long periods of trial and error with different AI solutions and technologies. At this point, your marketing team has enough experience with different AI technologies and now knows what works best with its goals. You have developed a deep understanding of your AI capabilities, limitations, and optimal use cases. As a result, decision-making in marketing is now pegged around advanced analytics from AI adoption.

Some distinct characteristics of mature companies in AI marketing include:

  • AI is a big part of marketing campaigns and decision-making through process automation and marketing analytics. 
  • Knowledge sharing surrounding AI use and best practices is now a big part of the marketing team’s culture.
  • You’ve synched your CRM data with marketing data for integration with AI solutions.

4. Innovative and World-Class

Even after hitting the mature level, your organization can still improve its processes to reach the innovative and world-class level. How? Well, first, let’s understand what this AI maturity level involves. 

At this level, your organization has fully integrated AI into marketing workflows, and decisions are largely made based on analytics. It may also actively look for emerging AI innovations and technologies to adopt for improved marketing efforts. 

Some of the characteristics you will exhibit include:

  • Your marketing team and AI work cohesively for the highest productivity—AI is now an extended member of your marketing department.
  • You have a consistent and clean stream of data that your AI solutions leverage. 
  • You may be looking at investing in research and development to create tailored AI solutions to your organizational needs.

Define the Level of Maturity for Each of the Eight Dimensions

You can gauge your organization’s AI readiness by the following factors:

1. Company Culture

Your company’s views and attitudes toward AI adoption can help reveal its maturity level. To determine this, you should assess how employees and company executives handle change by examining their:

  • Openness to Innovation: How do your staff and management feel about the introduction of new technology in your company’s workflows? Are they hesitant or excited about the changes? Since most employees may not outrightly tell you how they feel about potential disruptions to normal workflows (especially if they aren’t particularly happy), there are several methods you can use to know how they really feel, such as anonymous surveys and focus group discussions. Additionally, you can wait until you introduce the new technology to gauge their level of enthusiasm or excitement after a more hands-on, practical experience. 
  • Leadership Support: Leadership buy-in is crucial for any type of digital transformation journey, so you must ensure you know where they stand before proceeding. Ask yourself questions like, “How does management handle change? Do they actively support it? Do they need a lot of convincing? Are they willing to provide the resources you require to adopt AI?”
  • Organizational Learning: Since AI technology is still advancing, its adoption cannot be a one-time thing. AI implementation can only thrive in an organization that embraces continuous learning. Does your organization conduct training programs if management introduces a new technology? Does it support employees in acquiring new skills and knowledge through workshops, seminars, or online courses?

2. Strategy

Does your organization have a clear roadmap for AI adoption? If not, then its AI maturity level may still be at the nascent and undefined level. A roadmap, in this case, is essentially a plan for how you will adopt AI in your organization’s processes. It provides the steps and actions you must take to successfully implement AI technologies in marketing processes. 

Additionally, the amount of details in your strategy can help reveal your organization’s AI maturity in marketing. For instance, an AI mature organization will have a comprehensive adoption strategy that outlines specific milestones, timelines, and allocated resources. 

3. Operations and Workflows

How integrated are your AI solutions with your existing marketing operations and tools? Integration is crucial because it facilitates seamless interactions between AI solutions and employees, which is essential for operational efficiency. Therefore, if there’s a disconnect between integration, you may still have a long way to go before achieving full AI maturity. 

To measure the level of integration, you should examine how data flows between the AI solution your marketing team has adopted and existing marketing tools. If data is easily imported into AI platforms for analysis and insights can be seamlessly exported to marketing tools for implementation, your organization may be in the process of realizing full maturity. 

4. Marketing Teams

As is with all technologies, an organization must have the right skill set to successfully adopt AI in its processes and workflows. Therefore, to determine your organization’s level of AI maturity, you should compare the skills required for using AI in marketing to those within your team. 

If there is a significant gap between the two, it might signal that your organization is at a lower level of maturity and might experience hurdles should you try to adopt AI without addressing it. So, how do you go about assessing your team’s skill set? 

The very first thing you should do is conduct a maturity benchmark against industry standards. This involves finding out which skills in the market are essential for AI adoption. Next, conduct a skills inventory among employees. You can do this by letting employees perform self-assessments, using skills evaluation tools and tests, or soliciting feedback from managers and team leaders regarding team members’ skills and strengths. 

5. Technology

Your organization’s infrastructure is also crucial in determining its capabilities in adopting and leveraging AI’s benefits. To determine your organization’s AI maturity in marketing, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are your marketing strategies fully automated? If the answer is yes, then your organization may have a high AI maturity.  
  • Are your AI tools and platforms equipped with advanced features for tasks such as predictive analytics, natural language processing, and image recognition? The features your AI solution provides is the difference between being fully mature and still in the early stages of AI adoption.
  • Is your data infrastructure capable of handling the volume, velocity, and variety of data required for AI-driven marketing initiatives? Data infrastructure because, at full maturity, your AI solution may have to handle extremely large volumes of data. Without robust infrastructure, you may not attain the full maturity status. 

6. Data Quality

AI’s efficiency and effectiveness in marketing rely heavily on the quality of data you feed it. Therefore, your data must be clean, complete, and accurate to achieve a high level of AI-driven maturity. This goes back to the data management practices your organization employs. 

For instance, some effective data management practices for high-quality data you can adopt include regular data cleansing and deduplication, implementing validation checks, establishing a data governance framework, and providing employees with training for data handling. 

7. Data Accessibility

Access to timely marketing data is important to achieving AI maturity. For instance, real-time or near-real-time data can help unlock useful marketing insights for making agile decisions that remain relevant and effective. Therefore, ask yourself, “Do the AI solutions we’ve incorporated have access to the type of data to deliver actionable insights promptly?” 

8. Measurement

Does your organization have KPIs in place to measure the effectiveness of your AI initiatives in marketing? If not, your organization is still in its early stages of AI maturity, where experimentation is the main theme. This is because being able to measure AI’s effectiveness can provide valuable insights into solutions and strategies that work and those that don’t, which is essential for achieving full marketing maturity in AI.

Best Practices for Brands To Unlock AI Maturity Benefits

AI maturity comes with numerous benefits, such as better targeting and personalization, making informed decisions, and enhanced operational efficiency. However, to unlock these benefits, you must incorporate several best practices, including:

Integrate AI and GenAI Specialists to Your Marketing Team

To reach your target maturity level, you must have a marketing team that comprises diverse skills, including AI. Therefore, you must integrate AI specialists with other expertise, such as GenAI. This ensures you fully integrate AI with all your marketing processes and fully leverage its capabilities.     

Focus on Data Actionability Instead of Mass Collection

Large volumes don’t necessarily mean that you will get the most valuable insights. You should prioritize collecting high-quality data that is relevant to your marketing objectives and can drive actionable insights. Therefore, it’s best to clearly define your goals so you can get the right data. 

Enable Strategic Decision-Making Based on Data

Full AI maturity involves using AI-generated marketing analytics to make decisions. For instance, by adopting predictive analytics models to anticipate future trends, customer behavior, and market dynamics, you can forecast outcomes and develop strategies to capitalize on opportunities or mitigate risks proactively.

Invest in Innovative Tools To Boost Your Marketing Efforts

One distinct characteristic of world-class AI maturity is leveraging innovative AI tools to gain a competitive advantage. As such, your marketing team should be on the lookout for AI innovations disrupting the industry and see how best you can use them to your advantage. This essentially means that you must keep up with industry news so as to be among the first ones to enjoy the benefits of early investment and adoption.  

Revolutionize Your Marketing Performance With Advanced AI Solutions

Attaining world-class AI maturity might seem like a far-off goal for some, but it’s achievable with consistency and implementation of best practices like those we’ve discussed in this article. Regardless of your current AI maturity level, any organization can benefit from working with a dedicated, full-service partner that can provide not only access to emergent AI-powered technology, but also the guidance of experts with the knowledge necessary to apply these tools effectively and strategically to your marketing efforts.

AUDIENCEX is one such partner, equipped with our proprietary suite of AI tools, AUDIENCEX Intelligence (AXi), and the strategic AI specialists needed to implement them effectively within any marketing strategy. AXi comprises privacy-safe tools that enable advanced behavioral analysis of zero- and first-party data, predictive audience modeling, custom bidding algorithms and autonomous real-time optimization, all while providing full transparency into omnichannel performance. These tools enable maximum budget efficiency, complete privacy compliance, and agility in a rapidly changing AI market, all integrated directly into our full-service solutions including holistic custom strategy, seamless media access across platforms and channels, and award-winning, tech-enabled creative capabilities.

Working with AUDIENCEX, you can immediately develop your brand or agency’s AI maturity and sophistication, as our agile teams work as an extension of your own, diligently testing, integrating, and deploying emergent AI technology to keep you ahead of the competition while driving tangible, measurable results. Reach out to connect with a member of our expert team who can help you take advantage of AI-powered marketing solutions with the strategic support needed for any maturity level.