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Marketers are AI skeptics. Here’s how to fix that.

Caeleigh MacNeil contributor headshotCaeleigh MacNeil
January 2nd, 2024
2 min read
Marketers are AI skeptics. Here’s how to fix that.
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Artificial intelligence isn’t just a trend—it’s a must-have to stay ahead of the competition. But while 36% of knowledge workers already use AI at least weekly, marketing teams are still leaving many AI benefits on the table. This finding is surprising—but it's also solvable. Research from The Work Innovation Lab, a think tank by Asana, shows us why marketers are hesitant and how leaders can transform that skepticism into excitement. 

What is The Work Innovation Lab?

The Work Innovation Lab is a think tank by Asana that develops human-centered, cutting-edge research to help businesses evolve today to meet the growing changes and challenges of work.

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The research

The Work Innovation Lab surveyed over 4,500 individual contributors, middle and senior managers, and executives in the U.S. and U.K. to uncover how companies can drive real results with AI. From that research, they uncovered a surprising trend: Marketers are skeptical and reluctant to adopt AI, especially compared to operations and IT departments. 

Marketers: The AI skeptics

Historically, marketers have been early adopters of technology, embracing innovations like social media platforms, CRM systems, and data analytics tools. But AI is different. Here are some of the most surprising data points The Work Innovation Lab found in their research: 

  • Lag in AI adoption: Only 49% of marketers leverage AI for administrative tasks, pointing to potential skill gaps or a lack of AI tools tailored to their specific needs.

  • Hesitation with AI in customer service: Fewer than half (47%) of marketers endorse AI's role in customer service, underscoring their preference for genuine human touchpoints. 

  • Reluctance to let AI decide: Only 29% of marketers are comfortable letting AI make decisions, highlighting their trust in human insight and discretion. 

  • Fear of the "lazy" label: About 31% of marketers are worried about being labeled "lazy" for using AI, a concern more prevalent in this group than in other departments. 

From skepticism to excitement: How to turn the tide

These stats make more sense when you consider the nature of marketing, which focuses on human traits like empathy, art, and gut intuition. For this reason, AI challenges the identity of marketers more deeply than employees in more technical disciplines. 

But AI isn’t the enemy—it’s a tool that can help marketers be more creative. Here are some research-backed takeaways to help marketing leaders unlock this potential. 

  • Prioritize AI education: A mere 24% of marketers believe they've received sufficient training in AI. Consider hosting specialized training sessions like "AI Fundamentals for Marketers" to cater to those without a technical background.

  • Reposition AI as a creative partner: Shift the perception of AI from being a potential competitor to a collaborative ally. Highlight how AI can sift through large datasets, assist in tailoring customer experiences, and automate mundane tasks.

  • Foster hands-on AI exploration: Engage marketers with AI tools in interactive workshops that use actual campaign data. You might also consider initiating an "AI Brain Boost" experiment, like the one conducted by Asana's marketing team.

  • Promote peer-to-peer mentorship: Pair marketers who are less familiar with technology with colleagues who have a strong grasp of AI, facilitating customized learning experiences.

  • Conduct regular AI updates: Schedule monthly or quarterly meetings to address challenges, gather feedback, and inform marketers about the latest advancements in AI tools and functionalities.

Dig deeper

Marketing is just one piece of the puzzle. Download the full report for more insights into how leaders can navigate the changing AI landscape, including strategies for vendor selection and key takeaways for marketing, IT, and operations departments. 

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