Will a robot ever win the Pulitzer Prize?
Is it so hard to imagine a future world where the fight for America’s most prestigious journalism award transforms into a battle of technology instead of a battle of minds?
Some sceptics dismiss artificial intelligence (AI) as a marketing gimmick that trendy startups with funny names use as they persuade people that they are special or unique.
But these sceptics need to be careful or they risk falling behind and missing out on the opportunities that AI can offer content marketers right now and in the years ahead.
The Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute comment that 'content marketing is one of the top areas we've seen marketers use AI to significantly increase revenue and reduce costs'.
So how can AI help content marketers work better in 2021, and why should content marketing professionals pay attention to what AI could do in the future?
AI is great at crunching big numbers
Data powers the best content marketing strategies so many content marketers want to know as much about their audiences as possible.
One of the key ways to do this is by looking at analytics data to understand how people are interacting with a business.
Instead of manually trawling through analytics in the hope that experience or luck will make something useful pop out, AI can analyse vast amounts of data at speed to tell content marketers what they need to know.
AI-powered insights are now a key feature of many analytics services and have the useful habit of surfacing handy chunks of info that could otherwise pass by unnoticed.
As well as crunching raw numbers like page views, bounce rates, and so on, AI is capable of swallowing up and making contextual sense of as much data as you can feed it.
There is, of course, still a strong need for experience and expertise. Data and insights are of little use unless you know what they mean and how to react to them.
In 2021 we’re only touching the surface of what is possible, the years ahead will see the machines grow in power and influence.
AI does timing and personalisation at scale
You’re already familiar with AI-powered recommendations.
If you’re anything like me, you'll be very grateful for the new music you’ve discovered thanks to recommendations in music streaming apps and the shows that Netflix has helped you find.
AI makes it possible to get hyper-focused at scale to show the right content to the right people at the right time. Personalised recommendations are a great way for businesses of all sizes to add some extra oomph to their content marketing efforts.
Let’s take a newspaper as an example. Imagine there is a subscriber who spends all of her time in the sports section reading transfer gossip about her favourite football team.
Do you think she’d be more likely to be interested in an email filled with political gossip or one discussing football transfer news?
Taking it one step further, do you think this subscriber would be more interested in reading breaking transfer news about a team she hates or the team she loves?
Personalisation is the secret to developing strong relationships with your audience.
AI helps businesses understand how their audiences behave to create tailored experiences on a massive scale.
Personalisation is especially important when invading email inboxes.
Nobody wants to know that they’re on the receiving end of a huge broadcast and, if you don’t show people useful and relevant content, that unsubscribe link could become very tempting.
Content needs to arrive at the right time to have the best impact. AI can help content marketers find the perfect moment to send a push notification, email, social post, and so on.
Artificial intelligence removes much of the guesswork to help content reach its full potential.
AI can help with old blog posts that need a refresh
Refreshing old blog posts is very important and has grown to be one of the main things I do with my content marketing clients.
If you have blog posts that are getting a bit dated, it’s important to refresh them to make sure they reflect the latest developments.
This is especially important if the posts are still seeing a steady flow of traffic.
Updating content with the latest information is a powerful way to stay relevant.
If you're selling technology, talking about old ways of working risks putting people off and could give the impression that you're stuck in the past or don't know what you're doing.
But if you have hundreds or thousands of pieces of content it’s almost impossible to manually keep an eye on everything. This is where AI could help.
Researchers at MIT have developed artificial intelligence that finds and rewrites outdated sentences on Wikipedia.
Can you imagine how useful this MIT project could be if expanded into content marketing tools that continuously monitor websites to refresh old content?
AI is useful for writing content too
A good example of this is Gmail’s Smart Compose feature.
In a 2018 blog post announcing Smart Compose, Google highlights how the feature can help to cut back on some repetitive writing tasks in Gmail, reduce spelling and grammar mistakes, and is even capable of suggesting relevant phrases based on context.
The machine learning algorithms behind the Smart Compose feature are trained with billions of phrases and sentences to learn how to offer suggestions that are relevant for each individual user.
As the AI that powers tools like Google’s Smart Compose gets smarter and more accurate, it’s clear why content marketing writers and journalists are using artificial intelligence to do a growing amount of the heavy lifting.
The Rise of the Robot Reporter, a 2019 article in the New York Times, highlights how roughly a third of Bloomberg News content uses some type of automation.
Cyborg, the system which the company deploys, is capable of rapidly crunching the numbers in financial reports and firing out news articles summarising the main facts and figures.
And the future?
There are good reasons to be cautious about AI
Time to behave, so when Artificial Intelligence becomes our overlord, we've reduced the reasons for it to exterminate us all.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) February 23, 2017
And there are risks if you get too wrapped up in it all
We are more worried about the rise of artificial intelligence than the decrease of real intelligence.— Shower Thoughts (@TheWeirdWorld) May 9, 2021
With technological breakthroughs fuelling a steady wave of innovation from tech giants and startups alike, the future will bring significant changes to content marketing.
Instead of ignoring change and sticking to the old ways of doing things, content marketers can benefit by embracing artificial intelligence and the ways it can help us work better.
It will take time to build trust in AI, but the future reaches far ahead and I look forward to seeing the opportunities artificial intelligence will offer for content marketers.
I don’t think content marketing writers will ever fully disappear, we are quite a long way from widespread content machines set on autopilot, but I’m confident our lives will get a lot easier as AI helps the work we deliver grow in both power and impact.
I'd love to talk about any technology content marketing projects you need help with.
Click the purple button to contact me.