In late July 2017, marketing automation platform HubSpot acquired Kemvi, an AI-powered sales tool. Kemvi uses an algorithm to arm sales reps with prospect and customer information based on an analysis of millions of pieces of content.
“Today’s consumers expect a personalized experience throughout the buying process, meaning that the modern salesperson needs to spend valuable time conducting research and tailoring each interaction with that buyer,” said Brian Halligan (@bhalligan), HubSpot CEO and cofounder, on the company’s site.
“AI optimizes that process, saving time for the salesperson and delivering a world-class experience for the consumer.”
Far from being typical startup acquisition news, this is a major shift in the marketing landscape that has been a long time coming.
Why the HubSpot Acquisition Matters
Marketing automation tools like HubSpot have transformed the industry in the last decade, making marketers more efficient, productive and successful. The irony is that marketing automation is still largely manual.
Consider how much time your marketing team spends on repetitive and administrative tasks like drafting social media updates, personalizing emails and web copy, A/B testing pages, and developing ad copy (to name a few).
Every one of those tasks can be more intelligently automated using AI. However, marketers have had to piece together AI-powered products and integrate them into their tech stack themselves.
HubSpot’s recent acquisition indicates that this is changing. Marketing automation is becoming truly intelligent, which will open a world of possibilities for marketers.
AI is already transforming the industry, but barriers to entry exist for many marketers. Part of the problem is that marketers need help connecting the dots between AI applications and their own businesses. (It’s a need this site was created to address.)
Another issue is that many marketers don’t have the internal resources to build, buy or implement the many AI solutions available on the market.
These challenges will increasingly be addressed by marketing automation and CRM providers. These systems are the perfect gateways into true AI-powered marketing. Companies like Salesforce have started to incorporate AI into their products. HubSpot is doing the same. Other providers will certainly be on board.
The result? Most marketers will rely on AI capabilities in the next several years, and AI will enhance and transform the roles marketers currently play. They’ll work hand-in-hand with AI-powered marketing automation and CRM systems to produce outcomes superior to those possible with man or machine alone.
Marketers and salespeople will spend more time on the creative, human aspects of business, while machines handle the tasks they do best, such as surfacing insights from huge datasets and predicting what activities will produce the best outcomes. And as AI is baked into marketing automation and CRM platforms, marketers may use the technology without even realizing it. It will be the new normal.
Eventually, the term “intelligent machines” will be redundant. All machine systems will use some type of artificial intelligence to augment human activities.
What This Means for Marketers and Salespeople Today
With AI, marketing automation platforms can unlock their true potential. But what does this mean for marketers and salespeople today?
“At HubSpot our sales team spends an amazing amount of time developing an understanding of the companies they’re working with. Importantly they’re searching for moments of change within an organization where they can engage and provide helpful advice. We call these trigger events.
Over time reps have all developed their own approaches to identifying these events for their prospects — monitoring job changes at the company, devouring news articles, and even staying on top of government filings. This is something that takes an enormous amount of time and can be more efficiently done using machine learning. It’s how Kemvi’s technology can help HubSpot and the companies we work with deliver a more personalized, helpful, sales process.”
In the short term, marketers and salespeople must begin to understand the potential of AI. They need to get comfortable with the tools and features available. And they should investigate how AI is already being applied in their industries. (Here are some great ways to start your education.)
Your marketing automation provider is also a good sounding board: don’t be afraid to ask them how AI powers their products. We expect marketing automation companies to rapidly develop and integrate AI capabilities in the years and months ahead. So we promise they’ll either have an answer or be working on one.
Those that don’t, we don’t expect to keep up in the years and months ahead. The same goes for marketers and salespeople. Now is the time to understand that the marketing machine age is upon us.
As Chief Content Officer, Mike Kaput uses content marketing, marketing strategy, and marketing technology to grow and scale traffic, leads, and revenue for Marketing AI Institute. Mike is the co-author of Marketing Artificial Intelligence: AI, Marketing and the Future of Business (Matt Holt Books, 2022). See Mike's full bio.