Paul Roetzer shares the excitement we have here at Emarsys for artificial intelligence marketing. He is also a renowned industry expert across digital, content, and inbound marketing. In addition to penning two books, he founded his own agency, PR 20/20. As if that’s not enough, Paul also founded the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute, which seeks to educate marketers on the potential of AI, and its practical applications for marketing.

And now he’s here, joining our Q&A series to share what he wants marketers to know.

Location: Cleveland, Ohio.
Current role: CEO of PR 20/20 and Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute.
One word that best describes how you view the state of marketing today: Elementary.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

PR 20/20 originated from a feeling of desperation and a moment of inspiration.

Sitting at my desk in February 2004, I had grown weary of the billable-hour battle being fought every day, and the marketing agency world’s obsession with meaningless metrics (e.g. impressions, ad equivalency, PR value) to validate outputs that had minimal impact on the bottom line. I believed the industry needed a “new vision,” so I typed “ PR 20/20” at the top of a blank page, and began writing my manifesto of sorts.

That document served as the basis for an evolved agency model based on standardized services and set pricing. I launched PR 20/20 in November 2005 after 21 months of planning. It was the most exhilarating and exhausting time of my life. Fueled by a powerful cocktail of youthful exuberance, adrenaline, and caffeine, I spent what seemed like every waking minute outside of my day job (VP at a traditional PR agency) building a dream.

I loved the agency I came from, but I had become convinced there was a better way. I feared that if I stayed where I was and continued to follow traditional marketing agency methods, then I would always regret not taking a chance on something in which I so passionately believed.

So, at the age of 27, I left the comfort and security of my career to turn my own vision into reality.

Shortly thereafter, in late 2007, I learned about a scrappy startup out of Cambridge, MA that was trying to disrupt marketing as we knew it. After a few phone calls and a demo or two, we signed on with HubSpot and became their first marketing agency partner. Today, the HubSpot partner program includes thousands of agencies around the world.

The HubSpot partnership drove our growth and led to my two books, The Marketing Agency Blueprint (Wiley, 2012) and The Marketing Performance Blueprint (Wiley, 2014).

Along the way, I became fascinated — then obsessed — with the current and future potential of artificial intelligence to transform the marketing industry. So, in 2016, we launched the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute with a mission to make AI more approachable and actionable for modern marketers.

What do you wish marketers knew (but you’re pretty sure they don’t)?

How disruptive artificial intelligence is going to be to the industry over the next decade.

Paul Roetzer

What do you see as the biggest challenge faced by marketers today?

The rate of change is accelerating. Every day brings more data from more sources, and new technologies that can either enhance or obsolete existing solutions. Marketers can never be comfortable with their current knowledge and capabilities.

How can they overcome this challenge?

Constantly learn and force themselves out of their comfort zones. For example, it would be fair to say I did not excel at math in high school, and accurate to say I avoided it in college. However, I’m currently taking two machine learning courses to understand what’s possible with artificial intelligence. I feel like half the time I have no idea what they’re talking about, but, at the same time, my confidence in comprehending AI’s potential in marketing grows incrementally each day.

If you could tell all marketers just one thing, what would it be?

The marketing technology you use today (e.g. marketing automation, CRM, email marketing, SEO) is elementary compared to what comes next when artificial intelligence is infused into every SaaS solution. I believe that at least 80% of the services we provide as an agency will be intelligently automated to some degree within the next five years. Some career paths and roles will disappear, and others we can’t imagine yet will emerge.

Paul Roetzer

Technology has already transformed marketing in so many ways. How do you see tech continuing to revolutionize the marketer’s role?

Marketing technology will get more intelligent as more software becomes AI-powered. It will be able to accurately predict outcomes (e.g. opens, clicks, conversions, churn, etc.), and, eventually, prescribe strategies and tactics to achieve goals. In short, AI will enhance marketers’ knowledge and capabilities. It will give them superpowers.

What are you currently reading, or what would you recommend for marketers?

I’m reading Robot Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Joseph E. Aoun. In terms of what I’d suggest, for those interested in AI, here are some of the titles that have influenced me:

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see_____ answer these same questions.

Andrew Davis.

Paul RoetzerConnect with Paul: Marketing AI InstitutePR 20/20LinkedIn@paulroetzer

Special thanks to Paul for his time and insight!

Know someone who would be a great fit for this series? Email Michael at:

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