Content marketing is constantly evolving and adapting to trends, technologies, and consumer demands. As a small business owner, it’s crucial to make use of the right content strategies to stay relevant.
One of the central trends in content marketing is artificial intelligence (AI). We’ve seen AI-based content as a rising trend in the last five years and we can expect to see it in the next five (just with more upgrades).This has led business owners, from small businesses to big corporations, to consider the benefits of AI content generators over copywriters.
In his conversation with Content Marketing Institute (CMI), BuzzSumo co-founder Steve Rayson mentioned that major organisations have bought writing algorithms that create “well-written, data-backed articles” for them.
A well-known AI content generator is Quill by Narrative Science which automatically converts data into stories. Many of its clients come from the financial industry when they need to create financial reports (i.e. data-based content) in 15 minutes or less.
The Washington Post also has in-house automated storytelling technology called Heliograf, which has published more than 500 news articles in a year. Though even CMI said that Heliograf is more of a reporting technology than a storytelling one, since it’s limited to news articles and social media posts.
So, can an AI robot really replace a copywriter?
On the surface, it would seem so. But AI-based content has significant limitations that can only be fulfilled by actual copywriters: Emotion and impactful storytelling.
What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence refers to programmed machines that simulate human intelligence and covers different technologies (e.g. machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, and natural language generation).
Ideally, AI has the ability to think and choose the best course of action in line with a specific goal. They can be simple and single-task oriented or they can adapt to more complex cognitive tasks. It’s for this reason that different industries, from healthcare to finance, have integrated AI in their processes.
In content marketing, an advanced AI system can read and/or write human language. Theoretically, it improves its reading and writing abilities and comprehension with each task it completes.
The most common qualities in AI-based content are:
- Repetitive – Content creation has a repeatable process that doesn’t change
- Data-driven – Content that relies heavily on data
- Predictive – Content that requires you to make a prediction about an outcome
Artificial intelligence has definitely made certain types of content easier, more efficient, and more accurate. And it has influenced how content marketing works in a lot of different ways.
More businesses now use chatbots to interact with their customers (though the effectiveness of this is still questionable). Some content marketers also use algorithms to study and analyse their customers’ preferences and interests so that they can generate relevant content ideas.
Predictive analytics also help marketers observe their customers’ behaviours to develop more accurate profiles (which then allows them to create more targeted content). Machines can also incorporate data and analytics in blogs and articles, which can minimise the legwork in researching your content’s points or statements.
While AI-based content is admittedly a game-changer in a lot of aspects, it’s still predominantly focused on repetitive, predictive, and data-driven content. And while a bot can write a data analysis in just a few minutes, it takes more than just cogs in a machine to come up with a powerful story in content.
What is content intelligence?
While content intelligence is a marketing approach that was developed using AI, it’s mainly used to support human creators in producing better content.
According to Mitchell Hall, Curata’s Content Marketing Director, “Content intelligence means having the full context of an individual piece of content. Not only that—but the whole corpus of content, to make better decisions about anything pertaining to the content in question.”
To “have the full context of an individual piece of content” you need to understand the story, its background, its added value or contribution to other similar pieces, and its relevance to the audience. And this takes a lot more than just artificial intelligence.
While it might use certain aspects of AI, content intelligence is quite different, and this is evident in its process:
- Data collection – It’s important to collect relevant data about your target customers so that you have strong reference points in creating your content strategy.
- Analysis – Once you’ve collected data, you need to analyse it in three main areas: Understanding your customers, knowing the right channels to publish your content, and studying your competitors.
- Insights and recommendations – Based on the data you’ve studied, identify how you can improve your content and boost your ROI.
Unlike AI-based content wherein machines work independently by themselves, content intelligence focuses on offering systems and tools to help creators and copywriters generate relevant content ideas.
Content intelligence allows you to increase ROI and traffic to your website because you have a good understanding of how your audience thinks and engages with content. It also ensures that you develop both new and existing content so that it’s consistent, relevant, and accessible in the best online platform.
For content intelligence to move forward, and for content to engage its audience, it still needs to be managed by human content creators.
Why content marketing driven by (human) content creators is still better
AI is greatly dependent on the data that’s available and this often comes at the cost of reliable predictions and analyses. There are still so many varying factors that can change customer preferences or behaviours.
Algorithms aren’t the only consideration in generating content ideas because these can also be unreliable. It doesn’t account for the unpredictability of human behaviour, which is something content creators and copywriters know about firsthand.
Most of all, the majority (if not all) of customers still prefer a human connection when it comes to consuming content. Statistics show that 63% of customers stop buying from brands that use poor personalisation tactics. And 66% of customers that encounter content that isn’t personalised would also stop from making a purchase.
Humans have always been drawn to stories and the art of storytelling is something only humans can do. The truth is that humans have a very complex way of thinking and feeling. Expressing these things through stories can spark a genuine emotional connection, one that AI can’t replicate.
Ultimately, artificial intelligence can’t replace human creators but it can empower them the way content intelligence has. With content intelligence, you can efficiently collect and analyse data to push you forward in generating relevant content ideas.
The hype around artificial intelligence has caused some to have unrealistic expectations about it, which makes it easy to forget the many debilitating limitations AI has. A savvy small business owner knows the value of working with true storytellers that can help them create powerful stories with their content.