Artificial intelligence (AI) has the power to change everything. But only 18% of B2B marketers and sales professionals are currently using it, found a 2019 DemandBase survey.

Of those with access, over 40% said AI is the most important investment to achieve better sales and marketing performance. Nearly 33% went so far to say that it’s revolutionizing their marketing and sales performance.

But most marketers (55%) don’t have the budget to invest in AI. Yet, you can likely use marketing automation tools to accomplish much of the same.

Because automation is much more cost-effective, 75% of marketers are currently using marketing automation tools, according to Social Media Today’s 2019 State of Automation survey.

While marketers are using AI for three main priorities (identifying the right people to target, improving the reach and efficiency of digital advertising, and capturing intent signals from followers), they’re using automation tools primarily for more basic tasks. That involves things like scheduling social media posts, optimizing email marketing and perfecting social media advertising.

All those tasks require the ability to analyze your audience, pinpoint the most effective behavior and modify behavior moving forward — much like the more advanced AI does.

That’s why automation is a good and affordable way to dip your toes into the future of marketing. Plus, once you start, you’ll like what you find! 66% of marketers found marketing automation effective.

Start easy

Have a social media automation tool schedule when your posts publish. This is the top tasks that marketers automate. By identifying the time your audience is most likely to be online, you should see an uptick in reach, views and engagement. Plus, it’s pretty low stakes! Not much can go wrong here.

Once your confidence is up, start implementing automation in your email marketing, the second most automated marketing element.

Know (and combat) your fears

While people have many worries about AI, the same is true for marketing automation. 61 % of marketers worry about a lack of personal connection. Others also stress about the chance of it harming others’ perception of their brand, a lack of control or the risk of missing opportunities.

Acknowledge and catalog all the qualms you have about marketing automation. But don’t let that stop you. For each fear you identify, write a way you’re going to combat and overcome it.

Remember: marketing automation can be very effective. It’s worth the time, money and energy to get it right!

Go for the opportunity

For now, marketers are primarily automating simple tasks as they embrace new technology. While that’s a great place to start, don’t let it be where you end!

Your goal should be to automate the tasks that take up the most of your time.

For most marketers, that means content creation, audience research, tracking ROI, developing effective ad approaches and audience segmentation. Keep these, or your own list of time-consuming tasks, on file. Revisit them each quarter as you get more accustomed to automation and continue to strategize about ways to use technology to improve them!