LET'S GET STRATEGIC
How Content Marketers Are Using AI for Content Development
by Linda Pophal
Wouldn’t it be great if technology could play a significant role in helping create copy to meet a seemingly insatiable demand for more content? It can, kind of. AI tools and natural-language generation are being used by a growing number—and range—of content developers. Columbia Journalism Review reported in 2018, “Bringing AI to newsrooms can improve accuracy, enhance data analysis, and increase efficiency.” It cites use of the Media Brain AI by Xinhua News, which is “China’s largest state-run news agency.” And Kosha Shah, head of digital marketing at Technostacks, points to the use of AI by Chinese author Chen Qiufan to write a short story that he entered into a competition that he won, against the likes of Nobel Prize-winner Mo Yan. WIRED references his feat in an article from earlier this year.
Still, while there are news agencies and editorial outlets that are using AI-generated and tech-generated content for such things as reporting financial data and sports scores, it’s not robust or reliable enough to meet all content development needs. The consensus among digital marketers is that AI holds great promise for some content marketing tasks, and there’s some potential promise for others—but writing high-quality content is still within the domain of real people.
AI AND THE CONTENT-CREATION MIX
While most minds would naturally jump to the actual creation of content when thinking about how technology is affecting the world of writing, that’s probably least likely to be how content marketers are using it today. Instead, they say, tech tools are helping their processes in terms of coming up with ideas most likely to resonate with their audiences, editing their work, offering personalization, and helping to improve or optimize content.
Maciej Duszynski is the editor in chief and content team leader at Tidio, which produces live chat software and chatbots. At Tidio, Duszynski says, the content team benefits from AI-powered tools at almost every stage of content creation. This, he says, includes:
- Content editing—“One of the most valuable tools we use on an everyday basics is Grammarly. It helps us to make the content free from grammar and spelling mistakes. It also offers a writing assistant and intuitive editor that gives us some hints on making our content more entertaining and understandable.”
- Content optimization—“Tools like BuzzSumo help us identify topics that can drive organic traffic to our website,” Duszynski says. “It suggests the best keywords, offers content ideas, presents trends, and even suggests influencers we could work with. Thanks to that, we can create easy-to-search articles that our audience wants to read and finds helpful.”
- Content personalization with chatbots—“Maybe it’s not the first thing that comes to our mind regarding content creation, but chatbots can be extremely useful for creating personalized and interactive content for our users,” Duszynski states. “For example, chatbots help us track our visitors, collect meaningful data and feedback, analyze past consumer behavior, and suggest improvements to make our website more attractive.”
Shah says that “AI plays a crucial part in content marketing by suggesting trending content ideas, discovering popular keywords, creating articles, optimizing and personalizing the content, scheduling and posting on social media, analyzing performance, and automation.” His firm uses HubSpot, which is a popular cloud-based solution. There are definitely benefits to the use of AI in content marketing, says Shah, including personalization, reducing time, and decreasing errors. But, he warns, there are also limitations.
LIMITATIONS OF AI
One limitation of current AI-powered content-creation tools is their ability to produce high-quality content, or content that relies on creativity, innovation, analysis, and interpretation. Nate Tsang, founder of WallStreetZen, warns content creators against expecting too much from the tools currently available. They can’t create “fully realized content—yet,” he says. “Be wary of tools that tell you they can, because this sort of AI content marketing just may be the 2020s equivalent of keyword stuffing. I’d imagine Google and the other search engines don’t want bots writing everything that they evaluate for SEO.”
There are additional and potentially more serious risks to consider, though. Nicole Miller is a 15-year freelance writing veteran and AI programmer. Miller created her own tool—First Draft—which generates first drafts of different types of genre writing. She warns that some popular AI content generators use plagiarized content. Just Outsourcing, which sells First Draft, states in a blog post, “GTP, one of the Internet’s most popular AI ‘text engines’ at the moment, is the source of content for the writing tools that use it. It’s an engine developed by OpenAI, who apparently built GTP with data from the Common Crawl dataset, a conglomerate of copyrighted articles, internet posts, web pages, and books scraped from 60 million domains over a period of 12 years” (emphasis in original).
Calloway Cook, founder and president of Illuminate Labs, also cautions marketers against using GPT-based tools because, he says, “they basically summarize existing content on the web.” He likens them to “a high schooler who copies a Wikipedia page in structure and format, but changes enough words to pass Copyscape.” An easy way to test for this, Miller states, is to check a sample output from the tool you’re considering, copy a couple of sentences and paste them into a Google search, and see what comes up. She recommends avoiding any GPT-based tools, regardless of the version. However, while technology isn’t quite ready to produce publication-ready content at a quality level that is high enough to gain the trust of most brand managers and marketers, it can still play a role in content creation.
A FUTURE FOR MORE AI IN CONTENT CREATION
“AI tech is slowly but surely taking over the digital world, and content development is not exempt from that,” says Aleksandr Maklakov, CIO of Clario, which makes MacKeeper. “We have always relied on AI to make data-driven content decisions, but AI is now becoming popular for content generation itself.” He points to AI-powered digital tools such as Wordtune and Wordsmith as examples. But, Maklakov says, “My experience with such tools is that they still feel a little bit clunky to use.” Nevertheless, he acknowledges that as technology improves, the tools are likely to improve as well. Maklakov says that, for now, he prefers to use “content professionals to deliver great content for our audience.” But, Maklakov notes, “We also rely on AI-powered tools to make certain data-driven decisions and track content results for further optimization. Content marketing and development will certainly be reliant on AI in the future, but we are still far from fully automated, AI-powered content generation.”