Artificial intelligence is forecast to have trillions of dollars in annual impact, yet most marketers still struggle to understand what AI is and how to pilot it in their organizations.
As a marketing agency, we realized our business and our clients were going to be affected by AI, as would the marketing industry. But, despite pent-up demand for applicable insights into AI for marketing, there were few voices or roadmaps to follow on the subject.
So, almost exclusively using HubSpot, PR 20/20 and the Marketing AI Institute built a media company to meet demand for AI education and knowledge.
Unpacking the Challenge: How to Help Marketers Understand & Apply AI
Regardless of whether marketers embrace AI, it is accelerating change in the industry:
- Consumers demand greater personalization, and want to control data and privacy.
- Technology will get smarter, intelligently automating traditionally human-powered activities while adding layers of complexity.
- Career paths will evolve. Some jobs will be lost, and new ones will be created.
- Brands will need to become more human. AI does not replace humans in most instances; it enhances human knowledge and capabilities.
Communicating why it matters to marketers was the first step in unpacking the challenge. In essence, marketers who take the initiative to learn and experiment with AI will be able to increase productivity and efficiency, drive revenue, and generate greater ROI on marketing spend.
So how do you get marketers to really understand AI, explore new concepts and take action?
That’s what we aimed to discover.
It began with a general curiosity. At the end of 2016, we decided to share what we were learning, leveraging HubSpot to launch the Marketing Artificial Intelligence (AI) Institute.
Early posts on Marketing AI Institute’s blog.
The Solution: Content Strategy That Drives Growth
Building a media property starts with market fit.
From above, “Artificial intelligence is forecasted to have trillions of dollars in annual impact, yet most marketers struggle to understand what AI is and how to pilot it in their organizations.”
The strategy: Fill the content gap to address this market need, and create a frictionless experience to consume content and purchase additional resources.
The goal: Build an audience and nurture relationships.
PR 20/20 ultimately built the Institute’s readership by applying a proprietary content approach to the HubSpot platform—what we call the Cognitive Content Hub. The Cognitive Content Hub is an in-depth, strategic framework that marries human and artificial intelligence to grow businesses through content marketing.
Several steps included (but weren’t limited to) creating a detailed market analysis, identifying buyer personas, pinpointing search engine optimized ideas, and automating reporting.
To build this strategy, we leveraged HubSpot tools in the following ways:
- CMS: The whole site was built on HubSpot, using templates in Design Manager to create a turnkey approach to development that the whole team can understand.
- Content strategy: We used HubSpot's topic cluster suggestions to generate and strengthen content ideas.
- Email: HubSpot powers the Institute’s weekly newsletter and all email marketing. PR 20/20 leveraged the integration with Seventh Sense, AI software designed to personalize email delivery times, to segment lists and optimize performance.
- Lead generation: HubSpot landing pages and forms captured leads.
- Content creation: Blogging and gated content were built on HubSpot.
- Social media: All social media marketing ran through HubSpot.
- Workflows: Internal and external workflows were used to run all marketing campaigns.
- Properties: The site leveraged heavy use of properties to populate information about contacts and companies.
- Lead scoring: PR 20/20 used HubSpot to create a custom lead scoring model that predicts the likelihood of sales. In fact, we've built our entire prospecting pipeline in HubSpot. We utilized features like Snippets and Documents to streamline workflows. Basically, we are a very small team that uses HubSpot Sales to do as much as a team that is five times our size.
- Reporting: All reporting ran (and is now automated) through HubSpot. We also leveraged the Databox integration for easy-to-use data visualization.
After intentionally laying the groundwork to build a large audience, opportunities for other revenue channels—including speaking, events, partnerships, and consulting—all came. It’s with this intentional, long-term roadmap in mind that we’re able to tie each activity to one of these revenue channels and goals.
The Results: From a Pilot Blog to a Global Media Brand
Since the Institute’s launch, we’ve published 800+ articles. The results of this work include (but aren’t limited to):
- Drove Visitors: The Institute grew from 0 to 20,000+ website visitors per month—and counting. The site now receives 140,000+ annual visitors.
- Earned Subscribers: In addition, PR 20/20 built a captive audience of 18,000+ contacts, growing at 100% year-over-year.
- Attracted Event Sponsors and Attendees: To take the community to the next level, we launched a global event in 2019: the Marketing AI Conference—or MAICON for short. It drew 300+ attendees and dozens of sponsors in the inaugural year.
- Established Partners: Dozens of AI-powered marketing technology companies partner with the Institute to help make AI more approachable and actionable.
- Published Thought Leadership: The team secured 70+ interview and speaking requests, earned media placements, and quotes attributed to the Institute.
- Developed Formal Online Education: Finally, the Institute launched an online education platform in July 2020: AI Academy for Marketers.
For a deeper look at the Institute’s subscriber base: 39% of subscribers work at companies with 500+ employees and 19% of subscribers work at companies with 10,000+ employees.
"We couldn’t have made Marketing AI Institute what it is today without HubSpot and PR 20/20. The two working in tandem—the PR 20/20 team being the engine behind marketing and sales, HubSpot being the all-in-one solution that we need to do everything," said Paul Roetzer, Founder, Marketing AI Institute.
Thanks to HubSpot, Marketing AI Institute has grown from a simple blog into a global media brand. The approach isn’t just growing the brand’s audience. With HubSpot’s help, it’s growing the Institute’s business.