This article was adapted from Lindsay’s insightful interview on CMO Convo, CMO Alliance’s podcast exploring what it takes to be a great marketing leader.
When ChatGPT burst onto the scene a little while back, a lot of people’s first reaction was, “Well, I guess we don't need content marketers anymore.”
Happily, that’s far from true. While AI tools like ChatGPT are helpful for things like doing research, drafting content, and essentially acting as an assistant in the content-creating process, there’s no replacement for a good content marketer or content strategist. That said, let’s dive into some of the ways AI tools can boost your content-creation efforts.
How AI can help you make the most of your content
There are so many parts of the content process that AI tools are great for, but let’s start with search engine optimization (SEO). You can get a lot of value from using AI for a number of different tasks here.
First, there’s the technical side of your site. Whether your site and your content are technically sound plays a big part in determining if you rank on Google and other search engines. So how can you use AI to firm up the technical side? Here are a few ideas:
- Generating schema
- Generating hreflang tags if you're thinking about international expansion
- Creating emails to send to publishing partners you want to work with to build your backlink profile
There are a bunch of applications on the content optimization side too:
- Writing and updating and writing your title tags and meta descriptions
- Avoiding duplication when you repurpose published content on partner sites
When it comes to keyword research, there are some great use cases too:
- Finding related keywords for keyword clustering
- Coming up with keyword ideas
- Generating FAQs and popular questions
You can use AI to help you create content for your internal teams too. Tome is a brilliant tool for AI-generated PowerPoints. B2B marketers can find themselves spending a lot of time generating PowerPoints for sales teams, as well as internal decks and client presentations, so this can be a great time-saver.
Translation is another interesting use case for AI. Marketers have always been a little bit wary of translation services because if you don’t choose the right one it's going to come out kind of crummy. However, there are a lot of fantastic AI tools to help you adapt to local markets, and once you have content in other languages, it unlocks a lot of growth opportunities.
There’s video too. We all know video is so, so powerful, but it can be really labor- and time-intensive, and if you don't have a dedicated video person in-house, the prices get crazy pretty quickly. Being able to unlock video capabilities with limited resources using AI is a very interesting prospect – especially for platforms like TikTok, where you need that video content.
There are just so many use cases for AI in marketing, and new ones are popping up every single day. It's about opening your mind to them, identifying the areas that you want to scale, and then taking the time to investigate and test the tools that are available to help you do that.
Separating good content from bad: The importance of quality in AI-generated content
AI can’t replace high-quality content, but it can certainly augment it. This means both AI and human-generated content have a place in the future. As you may know, Google recently updated its position on AI-generated content. What they and other search engines care about is helpful, original, high-quality content. They want content that puts the user first and helps answer their questions.
Whether it's created by a robot or a human, what Google is not going to reward is bad content, so what you cannot and should not use AI for is spam or low-quality, thin content – and that can be tempting. It’s easy to say “Oh, I'll just put a prompt into ChatGPT and I’ll get something out of it,” but if it's not unique, it's not helpful, and it's low quality, it's not going to work. As I said, there is a place for AI-generated content – but only as long as it’s helpful.
As Seth Besmertnik, our CEO at Conductor, always says, “The only algorithm that matters is the heart, mind, and soul of the customer.” If you're creating valuable content for that customer, that will get rewarded. No matter how algorithms change or AI impacts the Google landscape, high-value and high-relevancy content form the foundation that folks should be thinking about.
How AI will impact the role of content marketers
With the emergence of AI language models, we're going to see content marketers’ skill sets change. There will be a shift from writing to editing and strategizing.
While you can get a pretty good first draft from an AI assistant, you're going to need an editor with deep expertise in the space – someone who knows which topics are going to resonate. Your content team also is going to have to focus on things that AI can't generate, so you're going to need folks that can go deeper and generate technical product content that an AI creator won’t be able to generate.
These folks will have to be comfortable working with AI tools too because putting a prompt into an AI tool is a skill in itself. You can’t put something crummy into ChatGPT or one of the other great tools out there and expect to get anything helpful back.
There are all sorts of tips about how to generate a great AI prompt. You're going to want folks that are familiar with those tips, have built them into their workflow, and understand what they can and can't get out of an AI tool, and how an AI tool can make them more effective in their role.
How to encourage your content marketing teams to adopt AI without provoking panic
In today’s rapidly-changing marketing landscape, you want a team that is very comfortable with adapting, testing, and iterating – whether that’s in the way they use AI or one of the hundreds of other things that are happening in our field every day. That’s a huge skill set and a piece of culture that you want to integrate into your team because the minute they stop adapting, learning, and growing, they’re going to be 10 steps behind.
Now, change can be scary, so CMOs need to make it clear to their content teams in particular that AI is not going to put them out of a job; instead, it’s going to allow them to be more effective and do more with less. Content folks have a never-ending to-do list. There’s all the research, emails, sales support, social media – the list goes on. Having a tool that can take care of 50% of that and free up some bandwidth while maintaining a certain level of quality is huge.
I talk to a lot of marketing leaders, and they are all under pressure to get higher returns on less or the same spend right now. Having AI assist with time-consuming tasks like drafting and social media copy can take some of the low-hanging fruit off the team's plate, allowing them to focus on more creative aspects of their job and do exponentially more.
That’s how I’m positioning AI with my team. I want them to test it. Let's find the best AI solutions out there and become experts in them. That’s not only going to help them to do more and have more fun in their current roles; it’s also going to help them when they’re looking for the next opportunity. It's all about framing AI the right way and making sure that folks see it as a helpful tool rather than a threat to their job security.
How the integration of AI into search engines will affect your SEO efforts
We're still in the early days of Google and Bing’s AI-powered search experience and seeing the impact that has. However, what is already clear is that creating high-quality content is more important than ever – if search engines are only pulling back a handful of sources in response to long search queries, you want to be providing the best answers so that you make the cut.
While your organic traffic may go down as a result of the changes these search engines are making, the traffic that clicks through to your site will likely be of higher quality. Marketers may be worried about their traffic dipping, but it's important to focus on the quality of traffic rather than just the quantity.
With that in mind, I’d encourage you to get all the necessary telemetry in place to track what happens to traffic when it comes through your site. It might well be that your conversion rates actually improve.
Pay-per-click advertising in the world of AI-driven search engines
While it’s still too early to say how AI will affect search ads and PPC, what we do know is that paid search is one of Google’s biggest revenue drivers. That means we can be fairly confident that there will be some sort of PPC or ad driven-experience in the search engines of the future – they’re not likely to eliminate their biggest revenue streams overnight.
If you’re nervously thinking, “Oh my god, PPC drives a ton of my revenue and is my highest ROI channel,” don’t stress. There will almost certainly be some sort of pay-to-play experience going forward. That may look very different to how it looks today, but as long as you have internal folks that can adapt to those ads and how they work, and as long as you can measure their efficacy, you'll be in a good place going forward.
It's an exciting time, but I can understand why it makes folks feel anxious. All this change in a moment when we're already being asked to hit bigger goals with less can be incredibly nerve-wracking. However, as long as we have the internal capacity to absorb changes and adapt accordingly, we’ll come out stronger on the other side.
We as marketers are well-equipped to deal with change. AI has entered our world rather suddenly since the start of the year, but we've been seeing a lot of other big changes lately too – the cookieless world, GDPR, and everything else related to privacy and compliance.
At the end of the day, everything comes down to making sure you’re delivering value for your customer. As long as you can do that no matter what the channel, customers will come, they will consume your content, they will trust you, and they will ultimately enter your ecosystem. Content is still king. Marketers will just have to adapt, as we always do, to changing distribution needs.
Do you have answers to the big questions about AI in marketing? Looking for answers you can't find anywhere else? Join the conversation with a global network of marketing leaders and CMOs on the CMO Alliance Community Slack channel.