How content marketers can tap into the new AI wave
It’s hard to go a full day without hearing about new events in the world of AI. In the past year, dozens of AI tools that generate language, images, and even music have swept into the forefront, delighting — and equally frightening — everyday consumers.
But AI content generators have been around for a while. You may even remember using AIM to chat with Smarterchild, one of the earliest AI chatbots back in the early 2000s. This new wave of tools is only markedly different because people are taking what were traditionally fun toys and beginning to apply them to their professional lives. We’ve quickly seen the world of marketing flock around these tools to change traditional approaches, identify AI use in the real world, and build new, creative content beyond our wildest imaginations. This is only the beginning of a long journey of incorporating AI into the daily lives of marketers.
What are AI tools and how can they help with content marketing?
The two AI generators you’re likely hearing about most right now are OpenAI’s ChatGPT and its Google progeny Bard. These two systems are pretty straightforward: enter a prompt, and they’ll generate a fully-written response that you can then work with them to further refine and use as you see fit. We’ve seen marketers use this to write blog posts, social media copy, email headlines, and more. Seems like it’s the end of copywriting as we know it, right?
Well… not quite. These content generators have their limitations. They don’t always properly source research and statistics and have trouble identifying your brand's identity, tone, and style. They also do not write for a specific audience. So yes, they can be used minimally to help with getting a content piece started, however they should always be revisited with a human touch and heavily edited.
But AI tools do more than just generate content for immediate use. Grammarly, for example, is universally praised by marketers and writers for its thorough grammar and syntax revisions. But Grammarly learns how you write and also provides insights like the general tone you use — are you a more friendly or informative writer? Are you more formal or informal? With a Grammarly Business account, you can add your style guide to the tool to get the content to sound more like the brand (or yourself).
Take it from our CEO, Janet Mesh:
“Even though I’ve been writing academically and professionally since my AP English class in high school, I don’t remember every punctuation and sentence structure rule. Tools like Grammarly help me to write in a more accurate and clear way. I also love how it analyzes my writing style and tone and then uses that data to provide suggestions and recommendations to continue writing in that voice and tone. Here’s a snapshot of my voice & tone according to Grammarly:”
And Grammarly’s not the only tool out there — Hemingway Editor uses the same approach to monitoring grammar and structure, with a heavy focus on style. As you write, Hemingway flags your “readability score” on a grade level from 0 to 15, where 10 is ideal for internet writing — per their records, the average American reads at a tenth-grade level. Hemingway flags where your words and phrasing could be simpler, identifies overuse of passive voice, and helps you cut adverbs from your work. It’s like having your very own personal editor.
So AI tools aren’t new, and aren’t killing marketing. Rather, they’re a valuable resource that help save time, improve quality, and keep things streamlined. And fewer people are seeing AI tools as a threat — even professors are incorporating tools like Chat GPT into their syllabi to generate new approaches to education and innovation.
With the level of intelligence that can even monitor whether an AI tool has been used, there are already guardrails in place. A senior computer science major at Princeton developed GPTZero, an app that checks for AI system involvement in written text. Even without using advanced technology, it can be pretty easy to detect AI content with the human eye. And Google’s crawler can already detect if it was written by an AI tool and not a human — so relying too heavily on this tactic can hurt your SEO performance.
AI tools can’t — and shouldn’t — do your marketing for you, but they can make your ideas clearer and more organized, help refine your research process, and bring you closer to a finished product. In fact, ChatGPT helped build the framework for this blog.
Here’s the prompt we used – feel free to use it as a framework for your next blog and adjust where you need to.
Using the framework of intro - body - conclusion, please create an outline for a blog that discusses whether you should use AI tools for your content marketing. Separate sections by H2s with subheadings in H3s. Include sections on chat tools like ChatGPT and Bard as well as image generators like Dall-E. Use this checklist to ensure our message is effectively communicated and persuades the reader to try these tools.
- Include how-to advice with numbers and lists (X ways to…)
- Ask questions in the header immediately followed by the answer
- Include research and statistics in almost every section from reputable, timely sources
- Long word counts: between 2,000-4,000
- Targeted keywords that ended up ranking had lower global monthly search volumes: between 50-3,000
This sparked a fun conversation in our internal Slack channel, where some celebrated a new use of the tool but others cautioned against relying on it. We’re all still figuring out how to best take advantage of these tools as partners for marketing — not the enemy.
4 ways AI tools can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of content marketing
1. Kickstarting idea generation and overcome writer’s block
AI writing tools like ChatGPT and WriteSonic offer an almost-instantaneous language generator that is grammatically correct. This means you can plug in a quick prompt and receive quick and coherent copy. This smart generator uses powerful grammar technology to come up with puns, snappy titles, and analogies.
“My primary use case of ChatGPT is to overcome writer’s block,” Janet says. “The prompts and conversation with the AI feel like a creative sparring session. I ask it for analogies, topics, themes, outlines, and more. It helps me to get those creative juices flowing so I can then feel the inspiration and motivation to write. This is exactly how I wrote the December issue of Aimtal’s monthly email newsletter. I asked ChatGPT to provide up to 5 analogies that could describe a marketing plan and landed on the jigsaw puzzle. It then sparked a recent memory with my mother and led me to write a story in connection with the topic of the newsletter.
One of the main drawbacks that I immediately noticed and that it has received a lot of criticism over is the lack of citations and sources in the responses provided by ChatGPT. This will be a massive issue for plagiarism and disinformation if the use of sources are not integrated into the tool. I’m looking forward to seeing how Google will accomplish this with BARD.”
2. Automating mundane tasks
Using ChatGPT to draft an outline for this blog post — a task that would take about 45 minutes of research, writing, and best practices — took about 30 seconds. And other tedious tasks, like document templating, writing internal memos, and even coming up with contextual examples, are no sweat to these bots. Here are some awesome ChatGPT prompt templates you can use to generate simple documents, brainstorm ideas, get answers to questions, outline plans, and so much more. All it takes is a quick copy and paste, some personalization, and 30 seconds of generation to get the answers and resources you need.
3. Generating data-driven insights
Okay, marketers: how many hours have you spent switching between Kaggle, Pew Research, and Gallup to get the right data for your marketing? What if you could have one central hub that searched all these databases at once?
Well, with the right prompts and guidance, ChatGPT can do just that for you. Ask the generator to provide you with a list of sources for a specific topic, then verify those sources yourself. You’ll save tons of time on research and will end up with all the data you need in your hands immediately.
4. Providing personalized experiences
It’s not just content creation, either. Implementing chatbots using ChatGPT and Bard can enhance customer engagement and improve customer support. In fact, many companies are already using these tools as customer service solutions to make chatbots more personable, helpful, and efficient. This portends a huge increase in customer satisfaction, conversions, and engagement, all while reducing costs in loss prevention, refunds, and churn. Only time will tell.
AI Tools for Content Creation
A new approach to content writing
As ChatGPT and Bard grow, so do their competitors. It will come as no surprise if these tools become embedded into our everyday lives soon. Here are some of the top content writing tools you can start experimenting with:
The power of AI-generated images
Like copywriting tools, AI can also generate images with a simple snapshot or prompt. This is proving to be a little more difficult than text, as images are more complex and often come out distorted. But with enough patience and direction, tools like Dall-E, Starryai, and NightCafe can create beautiful imagery that marketers can use in pitch decks, social media, and more. And with more users providing prompts, these apps are improving every day.
At the same time that AI is improving, so are the mechanisms for identifying the content it creates. Just like text generators, more and more tools are identifying the signatures of the images created by the AI. And even humans can spot it — look for the notorious AI image creation signs like supernumerary fingers and teeth!
What’s next for AI content?
We’re already seeing new approaches to content generation as Bing adopts a new AI chatbot, AI music generators sweep the internet, and even TikTok filters generate artwork using a single photo. What’s next in the realm of marketing is unclear, but it's up to us as strategic marketers to pay attention and adapt.
As for Aimtal, we’ll keep testing out AI tools for our content marketing efforts and to find new ways to save time. But we’re still trusting our training and intuition to provide creative and strategic solutions in our everyday marketing.
“I’m excited about the potential of AI tools, especially for content marketing,” Janet says. “Do I think it’ll replace the content marketer and industry as a whole? No. But I do believe that if marketers don’t use, learn, and add it to their arsenal of tools, they will get left behind. AI tools are not the competition — they are a competitive advantage.”