If you’re on the internet today, you can’t miss the sensational headlines about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Robots will take over the world and steal our jobs. Cars will drive themselves. Killer robots will bring on the next world war.
While sensational, those headlines aren’t unfounded: the power of AI is limitless. But today’s reality is more mundane: AI’s best business use cases are its least sexy. AI can help to automate menial tasks and solve small but highly impactful problems. In this article, we’ll walk you through six run-of-the-mill everyday problems that HubSpot solves with some of the most exciting technology on the market.
What is AI?
In basic terms, AI is an area of computer science that makes machines seem like they have human intelligence.
While it’s all the rage these days, AI isn’t new. The term “artificial intelligence” was first coined back in 1956 by Dartmouth professor John McCarthy. He called together a group of computer scientists and mathematicians to see if machines could learn like a young child does, using trial and error to develop formal reasoning. The project proposal said they’d figure out how to make machines “use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.” That was more than 60 years ago.
Until the early 2000s, AI has remained mostly in the hands of experts. But during the past few years, AI has become a commonplace for two reasons. First, huge amounts of data are being created every minute. In fact, more than 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years. Second, our computers are faster than ever. They can make sense of that vast wealth of new information in seconds.
With that in mind, software companies like HubSpot are sprinting towards an AI-powered future, finding new ways to use AI to solve business problems.
How Does HubSpot Think About AI?
HubSpot was founded in 2006 with inbound as its core premise: the idea that business should attract customers with content that’s helpful and relevant, not interrupt and spam their audiences.
Inbound is about making warm connections, nurturing relationships, and doing things in a more personal and human-friendly way. It’s about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. Put another way, it’s about creating a Netflix-like customer experience, where every buyer gets an experience built just for them, every time.
That type of personalization is easy to do for your first few visitors and customers. But it’s not easy to scale. That’s where AI comes in. It allows you to make decisions based on data that’s too broad for our human minds to process and analyze. Simply put, AI helps to scale personalization.
In addition to personalization, AI can help in two key areas:
- Data hygiene. Keeping a database clean is hard. Because AI is so good at digesting large datasets and solving "fuzzy" problems, it's great at tidying a database.
- Security. Now more than ever, security is paramount. AI is predictive, so it can help to identify security threats before they happen.
You'll see examples of all three of these themes -- personalization, data hygiene, and security -- below.
6 Unsexy Problems Solved by AI in HubSpot
Duplicate data stinks. For your team, duplicate data leads to inefficiency. It forces marketers to spend time combing through email lists, sales reps to sort through multiple copies of the same company, and service reps to call the same customers again and again. For your customers, duplicate data is even worse. It leads to repeat emails, overwhelming sales outreach, poor onboarding experiences, and more. Finding and merging duplicates manually is hard. So we built a tool that finds duplicate contacts for you and make it easy to merge them. Plus, it uses artificial intelligence to get smarter as you grow. As it processes more duplicates, it learns which characteristics best predict a duplicate, so every prediction is more accurate than the last.
Too many business cards
How many times have you come back from a conference or trade show with a pocket full of cards to sort through? You know you should do something useful with them, but your options aren’t fun. You could spend a few hours manually inputting them into your database, go through the trouble of hiring someone to do it for you, or buy an expensive app to scan the cards (and another one to integrate it with your record system). Or you can do nothing at all. Leave those cards in your pocket to collect dust. Good news: there’s a better way. The HubSpot mobile app now includes a free business card scanner. Turn your business cards into CRM contacts instantly. Plus, the app uses artificial intelligence to pick out the first name, last name, email address, and more, and map them to your HubSpot properties. As with all AI-powered tools, the scanner more accurately maps properties with every use.
Ever notice how—when you import contacts into HubSpot—your account automatically knows which columns in your spreadsheet are associated with which properties in your database? You guessed it: AI powers that mapping process too. Every time you map a column to a property, the machine learning algorithm behind the scenes gets even smarter.
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), getting started can be the hardest part. Sure, you have a website. But is it focusing on the right thing? What should you be writing about on your blog? Given that you have a content piece on a certain topic, which other related topics should you write about? The HubSpot SEO tool helps you plan your SEO strategy, optimize your content, and measure your search success. With the help of AI, the tool scans your website automatically and brainstorms a set of topics for you to write about—no input required. Then, as you’re brainstorming additional topics, the tool will provide additional recommendations for related content. And—you guessed it—because it’s powered by AI, the topic recommendations will improve over time.
In sales, time is money. If your reps aren’t focusing on the right things, you’re losing business. More specifically, if they’re wasting time on the wrong leads, they’re missing out on potential deals. That’s where HubSpot scoring comes in. Using machine learning algorithms, HubSpot analyzes your customers and industry customer sets to determine the probability that your open contacts will close as customers within 90 days. Those algorithms manifest in two properties: Likelihood to close, which represents the percent probability that a contact will close, and Contact priority, which categorizes leads into four buckets based on their quality. Use these properties to create filters and task queues for your sales team’s follow-up.
List quality and email deliverability
In an ideal world, all your email lists are healthy and up to date. But even if you follow best practices, your list might get stale from time to time. AI in HubSpot ensures your email sends have the best chance of getting to your customers' inboxes in two ways:
- Import scans. When you import a CSV of email addresses into HubSpot, our AI-powered back end scans your list for potential deliverability problems. If it finds a potential issue, our highly trained deliverability team will reach out to you to give you free tips on email best practices. Because the scan is powered by AI, it gets better at predicting potential potholes over time.
- Phishing detection. Phishing is a type of online scam where bad actors send an email that appears to be from a legitimate company, asking you to provide sensitive information. Phishing is on the rise around the world, and phishing attacks against big email providers like HubSpot aren't uncommon. To protect our sending reputation and ensure our customers' deliverability, HubSpot uses AI to monitor messages being sent from the HubSpot IP addresses. If the systems notice anything fishy (or... phishy :D), they'll raise a flag to our deliverability team, who will promptly address the issue.
That’s a quick tour of the unsexy problems solved by HubSpot’s sexiest technology.
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Originally published Jun 19, 2019 10:00:00 AM, updated January 29 2020