The Future of Content Marketing: When to Add AI to Your Marketing Toolbox

5 minute read

Last week, I wrote to you about the new AI tool, ChatGPT – what it is, how businesses might use it, and how to use it ethically. You may be wondering exactly how AI can be a benefit to your business. And that’s what we’re going to talk about this week.

Let’s say you have a client struggling to find new ways to attract leads, grow their email list, keep up with content demands, or generate more sales. As a writer, your job is to help them succeed at those things. And AI can be a powerful asset in achieving those aims.

By applying machine learning algorithms to existing data, you can help your client isolate trends and insights at light speed. The crucial next step is implementing these insights in a way that helps your client reach their goals. Again, AI can give you an assist.

But how?

The skill sets you need to make AI work well for you (and your clients) are the same ones you already possess as a professional writer. So, let’s look at how you can use them to help your clients.

1. A creative bent

The primary skill for any writing in any industry is, and always will be, creativity. Large language models, like ChatGPT, can boost your creativity by providing a multitude of viewpoints on your subject matter that you may not have considered. 

AI writes by reading what you give it and comparing it to what it has read before. So, true originality comes from you. When you take what AI returns and apply your own insights and imagination, you can expand on the ideas it suggests. This allows you to fully leverage the potential of AI.

The output of an AI tool depends on the input. It cannot formulate specifics for your product, service, or brand unless you tell it what to incorporate.

The biggest mistakes writers and marketers make when crafting inputs are:

  • Feeding inaccurate or flat information into the software. Your results won’t be magically engaging if you’re phoning it in.
  • Being too specific or not specific enough. AI needs to know what you mean, but you can’t restrict it so much it doesn’t have enough remaining search parameters to work with. 

By bringing your own creativity to AI – both in the prompts you give it and in how you work with what it gives you – you can turn to this tool to generate ideas and turn them into something useful more quickly than you could before.

2. Active listening

Marketing is about getting in front of the people interested in your product or service and fulfilling their wants and needs. To do this, you need to know who they are.

And AI can help.

There are two primary ways to listen to your audience and pick up valuable information relevant to them, your industry, and your competitors.

Digitally:  Smart companies have always monitored customer reviews and social media comments. It used to be that you had to spend time analyzing reviews and comments for trends – common questions, favorite outcomes, etc. But now, you can paste comments and reviews into an AI tool, and ask it to identify the most common threads.

Personally:  At the end of the day, people do business with people. I’m always enthusiastic and motivated when forging a partnership with a client over a shared vision. It’s isolating when interacting with software instead of real people. AI has the advantage of being able to access vast information about any subject matter, but your edge is understanding your audience and having a relationship with them. AI isn’t going to sit down and have a meeting of the minds with your client, meet their customers, or bond over a shared love of nachos. But you sure can, and that will help you add richness and meaning to anything AI might create.

3. An open mind

A willingness to embrace change doesn’t always come easy, especially after you’ve paid for a college degree to study your craft, worked hard, paid your dues, and amassed a lot of experience. 

It’s natural to feel defensive about a software tool that can conjure up anything for a potential client like a wizard with a wand. I had to pry my mind open to the fact AI can now generate stories and not just do spell check. 

But the marketing industry changes constantly, and many of those shifts are driven by technology. New tools can make you more productive and improve what you’re creating. That was true for the word processors. And the internet. It’s true for AI, too.

Even if you’re hesitant to embrace AI, it’s important to understand its benefits and limitations as it relates to your business. So, start playing with the tool. Learn what it can do and what its limitations are. And then keep an open mind about how you can use it to help you increase the value you bring to your clients.

4. Data analysis

Writers engaging with AI have the power to create content at scale, including ads, emails, and landing pages. You don’t need to be an analytics wizard, but a basic understanding of how to use performance results to improve your craft is important.

The more you pay attention to what is getting a response, the better able you’ll be to work with what AI produces. What does this really mean? That you’ll be able to create more ads, emails, and landing pages for your client in the same amount of time (and for the same fees)… and, because of your unique skills, you’ll be confident your work will deliver for your client.

5. Strategic planning

AI is capable of learning, but it isn’t capable of thinking. For example, if you use AI to create content for a campaign funnel, your experience and knowledge will help you adjust that content to make it more effective.

AI doesn’t know how to strategize. But that’s a skill you can learn. Marketing plans are continuously re-adjusting depending on results. With the increased output AI is likely to create, your clients will need someone to guide their strategy and help them make thoughtful course changes as the results come in.

What does the future hold for content marketers?

AI software can enhance your ability to create content quickly by referencing more data for statistical information, offering a broader field of ideas, and aiding in visualizing different ways of combining them.

To date, AI hasn’t mastered the ability to understand the meaning behind concepts. And it lacks emotion. These tools will get better at mimicking humans in due time – but they’ll continue to need skilled writers to operate them and to edit and improve their output. Currently, AI can help a non-writer produce something decent, but it simply can’t compete with (or replace) an excellent writer.

In the future? Content marketing jobs may favor writers who demonstrate the skills we discussed here and who can apply them to create useful AI prompts and parameters, and then to manage and optimize the content AI produces.

AI is here to stay and will become more sophisticated over time. In whatever way you choose to work – in tandem with AI or solo – you need to be nimble. Don’t be afraid to explore emerging technologies and see how they can augment your writing… and add to your value.  

What about you? What are your thoughts on using AI tools in your writing work?