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As businesses both large and small look to find their competitive advantage, they are increasingly turning to online technologies and automated systems to stand apart and capture the lion’s share of their potential customer base. Today, brands like HubSpot, Infusionsoft, Marketo, and Pardot offer comprehensive marketing automation and artificial intelligence platforms. They allow users to easily manage email campaigns, mobile marketing, social media, digital ads, analytics and more.

The difference in these industry leaders comes down to things like cost, size of businesses served, amount of flexibility and predictive abilities. Collectively, these solutions give any sized business the ability to incorporate artificial intelligence and automated learning into their marketing, an advantage once reserved for only those with the biggest budgets. This article will explore why top software companies are investing in these technologies and how your business can take advantage of this trend to acquire and retain customers.

AI and Chatbots Go Mainstream

Since its founding in 2006, HubSpot has become the industry leader for products designed specifically for inbound marketing and sales, specifically web analytics, CRM, social media marketing, lead conversion, SEO, and content management, among other things. So when HubSpot makes a move, everyone in the industry should sit up and take notice, because chances are it has the possibility to be a game changer for your business, big or small. We’re talking about tools that level the playing field.

In 2017, HubSpot made two acquisitions in AI and Machine Learning that dramatically expand their offering, making it easier than ever for their customers to connect with and build a relationship with their customers and prospects. Those acquisitions were Motion AI and Kemvi. Kemvi enabled them to “infuse more data, artificial intelligence and machine learning into the core foundation of our software,” allowing businesses to absolutely dominate their inbound marketing with in-depth data analysis. It puts hyper-personalized marketing strategies at your fingertips using strategies like gathering big data, making decisions based on that data (personalization), predictive lead scoring, and machine learning. This is what takes marketing efforts to the next level: continually adjusting and refining marketing efforts based on knowledge gained from data analysis.

Not too long ago, HubSpot was a customer of Motion AI, but they believed so much in their product that they bought the company earlier in 2017. Motion AI’s chatbot technology can literally do it all, “[enabling] users to build, train and deploy AI robots to do almost anything imaginable – from booking meetings and qualifying leads, to running customer service chats and diagnosing problems, all without needing technical skills.” Having this capability at your fingertips is any business owner’s dream.

It all sounds very futuristic and expensive, right? Something that only the biggest companies with the biggest budgets can afford to do, right (we’re looking at you, Amazon and Google)? Wrong. Many of these tools are readily available for anyone to use, allowing any sized business to provide targeted, focused customer service right now.

Here are Four Ways to Acquire and Retain More Customers:

Account Based Marketing 

This type of marketing has been around for over a decade, but it hasn’t necessarily been officially called, “Account Based Marketing.” In this type of marketing, companies specifically target one (or a few) accounts, rather than using a broad brush with their efforts. These types of marketing campaigns are highly customized and tailored to one account, industry, or prospect. The marketing then incorporates specific challenges the account is facing and builds a relationship with them specifically. All elements and offers of the marketing strategy will align with this goal in mind. By developing such a systematic approach, you’re addressing their needs and solving their problems while offering a personalized touch, often through sophisticated automated technology solutions rather than excess time in the field.

Chatbots

Simply put, HubSpot explains that chatbots, “make it easy for customers to engage with a brand, whenever and wherever they prefer.” Through chatbots, customers and potential customers are able to connect with your brand without actually talking to anyone in the traditional sense, but through some form of chat or messenger tool. What was once a method of communication reserved for personal conversations only has become an expected way of doing business. This overall shift in the business landscape has compelled companies like HubSpot to take the lead in making these tools accessible for their customers.

The days of traditional 9-5 hours of operation are quickly fading. Customers want to be able to connect with their favorite brands when they’re ready, and chatbots allow that to happen. By incorporating a chatbot into your customer service tools, you’re helping to build a relationship with your customers by addressing their needs or questions immediately. In most cases, they don’t care whether they’re actually communicating with a human or a bot. As the technology barriers are removed, businesses have no excuses for not taking advantage of this technology to help build and solidify their customer base. What’s more important is to be where your customers are and there when they need you, and increasingly, chatbots allow you to make that a reality.

Predictive Customer Service

It’s no secret that if you spend any kind of time online, especially shopping, companies know a LOT about you. In addition to all your demographic information, they have a solid grasp on your psychographics, buying habits, likes, dislikes, patterns, and more than I can list here. It’s sort of an unspoken exchange – you browse and shop online, and the companies track what you’re doing. That exchange is what allows businesses to specifically target you with products and services that you may be interested in, and predict when you might need something. It’s the algorithm that brands like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Chewy and others use. They are mining through all the data they have on you to offer the best, most satisfying experience possible. Predictive customer service is not necessarily new, but now its benefits are accessible to businesses of all sizes.

Personalization 

Because you can now find out so much information and data about your customers and prospects, there is no excuse to not take it one step further and personalize your marketing to them. Personalize the message, the images, videos and any other content. Above all else, the choices you make in your efforts have to be one thing to increase the odds of engagement – relevant. Don’t jump bombard your prospects and customers with messages targeting them, but rather carefully craft ones that are relevant to their lives, needs, buying habits or lifestyles. When personalizing, be prepared to test and adjust your message when something is not working or if something else is working particularly well. It’s all about knowing not only your target, but also what the data is telling you. Combining these two components will help build a marketing campaign that is engaging, effective and efficient.

The time is now to incorporate one or more of these automation and AI tools into your marketing plan, setting you up for increased customer acquisition and retention in 2018.

Bernard Ablola
Bernard Ablola
Founder, Partner at

Bernard Ablola is the founder of Think Strategy, a Los Angeles Web Design and PPC agency, focusing on B2B lead generation and business development for enterprise level clients. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of marketing automation.

Prior to his role at Think Strategy, Bernard managed over $25MM in search and display advertising for Microsoft’s premier clients.

He is an active board member for Holistic Life Foundation, Inc., a Baltimore based nonprofit, that teaches over 7,500+ children nationwide, the practice of mindfulness and yoga.

He received his BA from University of Baltimore and his MBA from Seattle University. On the weekends, you can find him hiking or skateboarding through California, walking his Pomsky (Google it) or finding THE spiciest Asian food in the city. He is an avid traveler, visiting art galleries around the world, 8 countries in the last 12 months. Some of his favorite places include the Philippines, Hungary and Vienna.