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HubSpot goes all in on AI with new tools for content marketing and service

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher April 24, 2024
Summary:
A deep dive into HubSpot's latest additions.

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If you are a HubSpot user, you know that AI capabilities are available on the platform. Today, the company has announced even more features and capabilities underpinned by AI, and the company sees these latest additions as helping to level the playing field between SMBs and enterprise companies.

Chris Miller, VP of Product, Growth, and AI at HubSpot, walked me through the new Service Hub and Content Marketing Hub and shared insights into HubSpot's goal of supporting SMBs through AI.

A champion of SMBs

HubSpot's primary focus has always been Small to Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs). It provides marketing, sales, and service tools that range from free to starter, professional, and enterprise, all on a central customer platform. Miller said the company wants to make AI technology accessible and affordable for small businesses because it has the potential to power go-to-market motions and drive retention. So, in the last six months, HubSpot has embedded over 70 AI features in the customer platform, he said: 

We really see HubSpot as the champion of SMBs, and that fuels how we continue to think about our product strategy, including on the AI front. We want to give our customers a single platform to power their entire go-to-market motion. And you know, part of that promise is the ability to give them access to technology that they might not otherwise have been able to access or afford. And we sort of want to democratize all technology to make front-office teams successful. And so that's fueled how we've thought about HubSpot AI.

HubSpot thinks the future of business is more small companies, not larger ones, and that SMBs have the biggest opportunity to take advantage of AI. HubSpot wants to support that future by giving smaller companies the tools they need in one platform to relieve the pressure of needing more money, resources, and technology.

So what’s new? Let’s go.

An all-new Service Hub

The new HubSpot Service Hub has AI at its foundation. It includes a Helpdesk Workspace for support teams to manage tickets and communicate with customers. It's omni-channel so that users can manage multiple support channels in one location. They can create intelligent routing rules and SLAs, and workforce management settings help you set user availability, working hours, and skills. All of these features ensure that teams are working effectively.

HubSpot Service Hub includes a GPT-powered chatbot. It ingests your knowledge base, along with other URL-based content, to provide 24/7 support to customers. Miller said the new chatbot frees reps to focus on more complex issues. Other new features to help support teams include reply recommendations based on tickets and conversations and conversation summaries that allow reps to find customer pains quickly. 

Also new is a Customer Success Workspace, which includes account activity and pipelines. CSMs can create customer segments and views and see related tasks. They also get AI-generated summaries of conversations and recommended next steps. And, coming soon, a new health score will help companies quickly see potential customer problems and work to resolve them. 

The new Content Marketing Hub

HubSpot has a Marketing Hub and a Content Management Hub. But there's a lot more to marketing than managing the website and email marketing, and the new Content Marketing Hub is bringing much-needed capabilities to the platform.

The Content Marketing Hub is the evolution of the Content Management Hub, and it's built on top of AI and HubSpot CRM. There are a ton of new things here, so it's easier to list the major ones:

  • AI Content Creation - Some of this is available in HubSpot now, but this goes even further. Using generative AI, users can generate ideas, outlines, and full blogs, social posts, ads, and other content. They can also use AI to translate blogs and turn blogs into audio content to share on different channels. 
  • Brand Voice: Have the HubSpot AI ingest existing content and emails. It will generate a summary that captures a brand's style and tone, which can then be used to create new content that is on brand. 
  • Content Remix: This one marketers will love. Take a piece of content - a blog, a or some other type of text and ask the HubSpot AI to generate new content assets from it, such as blogs, social posts, landing pages, SMS, images, emails, and audio content. Using AI, Remix will create up to four new assets, which can be edited before publishing. A Remix can be saved as a template to use more than once. HubSpot provides a set of Remix templates out of the box. 
  • Podcasting: Along with the ability to use AI to narrate a piece of content, you can also create and host a podcast with episodes. 
  • Member Content: Many brands are building private membership content, and this can be done with HubSpot. Think Substack, where you can provide a private blog (or blogs) and a gated content library. Users get access using a username and password.

There are a number of other features, but these are the big ones in the Content Marketing Hub. It's sold as a standalone product for US$450/month. However, most people will want it alongside their Marketing Hub, and there is  a Marketing Plus subscription for US$900/month.  

Customers don't get all these capabilities in all versions. Like all the other Hubs, Content Marketing Hub comes in several editions, including Free, Starter, and Professional. The Professional version offers all capabilities, but users don't get Brand Voice or Content Remix in the Free or Starter editions. However, Miller pointed out that even the Free version has some great capabilities, such as AI-generated content. 

AI is taking on a larger role

HubSpot is making it clear that AI is a much-needed capability that can help small businesses become competitive. But it comes with the need for strong governance. Miller agreed:

I think at the end of the day, what we're saying is that our customers still need to put trust at the forefront of everything that they do, and it's about building and protecting that trust that they have with their customers. And originality also is going to be more important than ever, right? And so it's not going to be a replacement for either of those things.

My take

Lately, there has been a heavy focus on SMBs. Salesforce announced its "business in a box” and the Marketing Cloud Growth Edition to support small businesses and effectively took on HubSpot. 

At the time, I noted that HubSpot seemed to be slow at building up new capabilities in the marketing area. There are no updates to the Marketing Hub in this announcement that I saw, but the addition of the Content Marketing Hub and all of its new capabilities does go a long way to supporting the marketing team's content work (and all marketing is content, isn't it?).

HubSpot also announced that Commerce Hub is now available to its free users and includes a Quickbooks and Stripe integration. Remember that with Salesforce, you can send a URL for quick payment? Now, HubSpot does that, too. Plus, you can manage subscriptions, payments, and invoices. 

And, if you are a HubSpot user, you’ll notice a new navigation experience that looks surprisingly like that in the new Salesforce products. 

I don’t know if Salesforce and HubSpot are actively trying to one-up each other, but when it comes to winning and keeping its small business customers, it sure does seem like it. 

From a sales product perspective, Salesforce may have the upper hand with its ease of onboarding and UI (and pricing), but HubSpot is offering service (Support and customer success) tools that we aren't yet seeing in Salesforce's SMB products. 

As for marketing tools, the jury may still be out here. The Content Marketing Hub is a great addition and much needed. Many marketers will look closely at Marketing Hub Plus to get the combination of capabilities. Salesforce's SMB marketing tools are also good, but they don't provide capabilities like Brand Voice or Content Remix—at least not yet. 

It's starting to feel like a battle of the SMB tools. So what's next? 

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