Unless you’ve been living life unplugged for the last year, you know there’s been a significant increase in (and growing adoption of) AI applications across all industries. Love it, hate it, or even fear it (and many do!), AI not only is here to stay but is also quickly becoming more and more prevalent in our everyday work and personal lives.
As leaders in the strategic marketing content space, we’ve had countless conversations with colleagues, peers, and fellow marketing experts regarding what AI’s place is in the content development arena, where it brings the most (and least) value, and how future developments might impact the marketing industry as a whole.
Nearly every conversation circles back to the same question: When it comes to strategic, thought leadership-focused content — critical, non-generic content that differentiates you from your competitors and positions your brand as the go-to solution — can AI provide the same value and trusted voice an experienced human writer can? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think.
The human connection
The purpose of strategic content is to connect your brand with your audience. In fact, the terms “content experience” and “customer experience” are nearly interchangeable. As one of the most valuable and impactful tools in your marketing toolkit, it’s absolutely critical that your content tone, voice, brand, and messaging are thoughtful, meaningful, consistent, and real to your audience. You cannot build relationships without making a human connection, and making a human connection will always require a human touch.
In simplest terms, good marketing is good storytelling — and the ability to tell a good story is an art. Human creativity, emotion, subtext, and especially nuance are features unique to the human experience. Collectively, they are the magic spark that draws an audience in, illuminates and differentiates a brand, encourages conversations, and builds relationships. This spark is authentic, it is human, and it is not replicable by a machine.
Establishing your business as a trusted leader in your industry requires subject matter expertise and laser-focused audience targeting, another area where human writers excel. You might be able to prompt an AI application with detail about your audience, but that doesn’t mean it can write believable content with only your audience in mind. Educational content must connect with your specific audience and concisely explain how your solution addresses their unique needs. Human writers have the ability not only to meet their audiences where they are but to do so with language precisely tailored to capture their hearts and minds.
So does this mean AI has no place in the strategic marketing content process? Absolutely not! Let’s take a look at areas where organizations should take full advantage of what AI has to offer.
AI as an assistant
With the right input and prompts, AI is quite adept at generating generic content (or even content outlines) with a surprising level of authority — but generic content and strategic content are two wildly different beasts. While one fulfills a company’s desire to produce and distribute “words on a page” as often as possible, the other drives customer engagement, loyalty, and opportunity for growth.
The best approach is to utilize AI in an assistive capacity. Though it can be an immensely useful tool for moving content production forward, it is not best suited for storytelling or creating custom content experiences. Businesses should strive to strike a logical balance between human creativity and AI-driven efficiency — one aimed at propelling their content marketing efforts forward while leaving strategic content and customer engagement to experienced copywriters.
A few specific areas in content development where AI is best suited include:
- Handling heavy lifting. Use AI tools to analyze data, identify trends, and provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.
- Generating topic ideas. By analyzing vast amounts of data from various sources, AI can suggest topics that are popular, current, and trending. But be mindful — just because other people in your industry are talking about a certain topic, this does not mean it speaks to your brand or value proposition directly.
- Producing quick-hitter content. This type of content is ideal for emails, snippets, and other bite-size formats and should piggyback on your more in-depth, thought leadership-focused articles or blogs. The key features of quick-hitter content are its concision, its brevity, and its consistency with the more strategic pieces you’ve developed.
AI and monetization
Because AI introduces so many efficiencies to the marketing process, it has opened the door to new content monetization strategies: sponsored posts, native advertising, or content licensing, to name a few.
With advanced algorithms and machine learning capabilities, businesses can utilize AI to ensure the right content reaches the right people at the right time. Similarly, AI-driven data collection and analysis provide valuable insight into audience preferences, behaviors, and trends — enabling marketers to fine-tune their development and distribution strategies and increase their chances of success.
The digital landscape evolves quickly, so it’s important for organizations who wish to remain competitive and grow revenue to stay on top of monetization opportunities as they arise. There are still many unknowns in this area: For example, as AI continues to advance, ad platforms may introduce guidelines or policies specific to AI-generated content. Create a monetization strategy and implement it but expect and welcome change.
The strength of human expression
In the end, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to content marketing strategy. But if, like most businesses, the purpose of your content is to connect you to customers, drive loyalty, build your brand, and establish yourself as the go-to expert in your industry, there is no denying human expression reigns supreme. AI definitely has its strengths, but it simply cannot reproduce an experienced writer’s level of authenticity when it comes to impactful, thought-provoking content.
With all its strengths, AI simply isn’t “human” enough to replace experienced strategic-content writers. It lacks the emotional presence, storytelling ability, and audience connection a polished human writer brings to the table. In the realm of content strategy, AI is a tool — but humans are still the masters of the trade.