Robots to the rescue: Tapping Artificial Intelligence to power your small business


Are you one of the many small business owners who could use some help, but can’t afford it? Maybe you’ve run the numbers and concluded that:

  • Bringing someone on part time would bust your budget, and
  • Hiring an overseas virtual assistant would siphon away cash that you need to invest in other areas.

What can you do?

Bring a robot on board.

The rise of ‘bots’

Remember when robots started doing jobs in manufacturing? We have all probably seen the pictures of robotic arms painting new cars at the major car manufacturers’ assembly plants. Today, even those of us who don’t need mechanical robots can take advantage of “robotics” by using online “bots.”

Instead of gears, bearings, and sensors, these bots use digital code and “artificial intelligence” (AI) to perform tasks for us. You may have seen articles about Facebook messenger bots. Many businesses and even individuals have developed bots that interact with friends and fans who message them through the Facebook messaging system. For some inspiration on how these might work for you, look over the great Facebook Messenger bots described in this PC magazine article by Eric Griffith.

Meet GrowthBot

I want to introduce you to a bot that Hubspot has created and is free right now, although I can certainly imagine them charging for this someday soon. It’s of special interest to any small business that does digital marketing. They call it GrowthBot and you’ll find it at

Let me show you how Hubspot’s GrowthBot can do some of the work you might hire someone to do, or pile onto the workload of an existing team member.

In many ways, you can think of GrowthBot as being an online expert that’s available to you via chat. (I need to mention that GrowthBot integrates with the business communication/messaging app Slack.) For example, if I were a real estate professional, I might want information to inspire a blog or just information for my benefit. I could ask GrowthBot something like, “What’s the top article in mortgages?” and I’d get the five top articles by social shares.


More jobs you can give GrowthBot

Other specific requests or questions Hubspot lists that you can ask are:

  • Tell me about [Person’s email]
  • Company Info on [Company website domain]
  • Show me the top articles on [blog or website]
  • What tech does [website] use?
  • Show me something funny

Further, GrowthBot says that it’s “learning to do more” every day, so the kinds of questions you ask should be getting broader all the time. This is the heart of real AI: it’s pool of understanding grows through interactions.

GrowthBot’s other powerful feature involves website analytics. With Google Analytics installed on your website, you can have GrowthBot report back to you on statistics such as page views. You can set triggers that will prompt GrowthBot to message you via Slack. For example, if you want to know when the hottest page on your website starts to lose traffic, you can create some settings that would notify you when views of that page go down by 10 percent week-to-week.


GrowthBot is quite flexible in this kind of analytical reporting. You can use percentages or absolute numbers. You can specify certain pages or your domain as a whole. If you have an AdWords campaign going on, you can analyze those numbers.

If you’re like me, you’ve seen articles recently about AI and how almost every element of the workforce will eventually be replaced by some form of AI. The good news is that with tools like GrowthBot, even small business owners can leverage this revolution today.