Trending at Inbound: To Bot or Not to Bot

October 16, 2017 Ben Magnuson

Hubspot hosted its annual Inbound conference in Boston, MA from September 25th-28th which I was fortunate enough to attend. The conference features an eclectic array of seminars: big name appearances including ones by Michelle Obama and Judd Apatow, marketing insights sessions from industry thought leaders such as MIT’s Andy McAffee and Moz’s Rand Fishkin, and workshops providing tips on Hubspot, SEO and much more.

Each year trends in the industry tend to emerge from the many sessions, and to me this year the winner was the introduction of bots. While the use of bots is not new, the ability to create and introduce bots to your digital marketing may be easy and cheap enough in 2018 to consider introducing them.

Ready or Bot

Bots and AI were found throughout many sessions during the conference. This is technology we’ve all been aware of for years, but the prominence signals the arrival of practical uses for marketers.

You may not even need a developer.

Hubspot itself is launching a bot framework available to customers that are signing up for their latest enterprise-level CRM version. From the discussions, this seemed to be geared toward customer support bots.

Hubspot will be interesting to pay attention to here. They recently purchased Motion AI, which created a visual chatbot builder. Hubspot has excelled in helping marketers apply the latest technologies such as predictive analytics and personalization to their customers without requiring tech expertise. If they can do the same with bots, it will make creating a bot for your company a reality in 2018.

But what you should use it for is still not cut and dry.

The attractiveness of bots is clear: they provide a way for customers to directly engage with your information 24:7 without an employee needing to be available.

But for Professional Service organizations, our information to our customers is our service, a Q&A bot is not going to replace the necessary human interaction for the complex questions we answer for our clients. That doesn’t mean, however, that they will be useless to PSOs.

A good place to start for introducing a bot would be for events. If you have a large event you host often, creating a Q&A bot could help increase attendees and reduce confusion. Hubspot reported that when they introduced a chatbot on the site to customers, 20% of those that engaged became customers. Google is doing its part by surfacing company chat bots right in the search results.

It would also provide an interesting experiment in how to apply your brand into a computer-generated interaction. This may be the first interaction a potential client has with your company, so think about how to incorporate unique brand traits into these conversations.


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Ben Magnuson Manager, Data Strategy

As Manager, Data Strategy at One North, Ben supports clients by applying a strong data focus to marketing initiatives across channels and tools. Digital Marketing tools produce vast quantities of raw data, but often little direction on how to apply it to an effective digital strategy. Ben partners with our clients to streamline and optimize this process. He starts by gaining an understanding of each client’s unique goals and tactics, and guides them toward a strategic analytics program. He focuses on the creation of a meaningful feedback loop to help support and steer decision-making.

  • Favorite vending machine snack: Snickers
  • Most embarrassing moment: Accidentally walking into the same section of the revolving door with the restaurant hostess as she led us to the patio.

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