Back in 2011, a young Will Roberts, the junior pitcher at the University of Virginia, threw a perfect game. Here’s what the game recap said about that day:
“Tuesday was a great day for W. Roberts, as the junior pitcher threw a perfect game to carry Virginia to a 2-0 victory over George Washington at Davenport Field.”
I’m sure you must be asking yourself, “Why is this important?” Although you can’t see anything particularly exceptional about that sentence, there’s something revolutionary behind it: A machine wrote it.
Are you surprised? Shocked? Maybe a bit scared (particularly if you are into SciFi)? It’s hard to imagine machines taking over our lives now that one was able to write a summary of a college baseball match. But artificial intelligence (AI) has made huge leaps in the past few years, and it’s not so hard to imagine how it can impact your content marketing strategy.
In the past, we’ve covered how AI is impacting the digital marketing world. Now we’re going to show you how you can start tapping into AI’s power to fuel your content marketing.
When to Use AI in Your Content Marketing
The way that AI tools generate content is through rules, which means that you give it sets of data like the ones from a baseball match recap, and AI will be able to develop a narrative around it. Since creating reports can be time-consuming, an AI-generated report can help companies save their employees’ time and energy for more productive tasks.
While AI-generated content looks game changing, it faces one fundamental challenge: computers can’t think for themselves. They need our input to function. Ask AI to develop another When Breath Becomes Air, and at best it will give you a boring essay no one would ever read. Artificial Intelligence doesn’t know what we consider funny, even if we explain it with rules.
Because of its inherent limits, the most sought-after implementation of AI in content marketing is computer-generated content, like reports and analyses. But a college baseball match is not the only thing that a computer can “write” a description of; here are some other types of content that AI can create:
- Financial reports
- Quarterly business reports
- Real-time stock insights
There are many large corporations in the governmental, financial, and media industries that use AI-generated content.
One company that provides such a service is Narrative Science, an artificial intelligence technology company that invented Quill, an advanced natural language generation platform, whose client roster includes Credit Suisse, USAAA, and different U.S. intelligence agencies. According to an MIT Technology Review article, Quill currently “churns out millions of words per day.”
Here’s an example of the kind of content Quill creates for its real estate clients:
“Employees will save time when they use the onsite parking garage. This property values safety and requires key cards for entry. A lobby attendant is on hand at the building to assist tenants and ensure security. Staying fit couldn’t be easier for employees that work in this office building, which includes an onsite gym.
You don’t have to leave your beloved pet at home when you work in this office, thanks to its dog-friendly policy. In addition, the space offers ample bike storage; just one of the many amenities that this building offers its tenants.“
Quill may not write like Stephen King, but there’s no doubt about the capacity this software has to create human-like content. If you are a content writer and this scares you, fret not, as the AI-generated type of content we’ve seen so far is based on a set of simple rules.
According to Narrative Science, “Our NLG platform is taught to automatically analyze, interpret, and communicate information from your data the way your business does.”
Provide Quill with data like the baseball match recap and it will be able to develop a narrative around it. The problem is that computers can’t think for themselves; they need our input to function. Ask Quill to write a best-selling novel and at best it will give you a boring essay that no one would ever read.
But the point of AI isn’t to replace humans; it’s to “mimic cognitive functions associated with the human mind,” as explained by Stuart J. Russell and Peter Norvig, authors of Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, the most popular textbook on the subject.The goal of AI is to make our jobs easier and let us focus on our human strengths, so using AI to power our content marketing strategy should complement us, not replace us. Click To Tweet
With that in mind, let’s see what type of content we can give to our new artificially-intelligent friends.
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Best Type of Content for AI-Powered Content Marketing
1) Create Human-Like Reports
One of the most useful implementations you can find for AI is report generation. Having computer-generated reports not only saves you time (it’s an activity that has little value on itself), it gives you more time to analyze the results, present it to your executives, and actually do something productive with those insights.
So far, we’ve talked about Quill, an enterprise-level software focused on creating reports for financial companies and intelligence agencies. Despite being one of the best in the industry, its main downside is that it’s expensive.
Fortunately, Narrative Science has recently launched QuillEngage, a lighter version of the software that allows marketers to “explain Google Analytics data in plain English and delivers custom reports to you and your clients.”
Take a look at one of their reports, and you’d be hard pressed to distinguish it from one that a human being would create:
Recently, there has been increased competition in the space, with a number of companies trying to help marketers save time with their reports.
This tool allows you to “turn your Google Analytics data into insights using A.I.” Besides analyzing raw Google Analytics data, PaveAI lets you connect your Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, and Twitter Ads accounts so you can automatically have multi-channel analysis done for you:
Another company that specializes in turning big data into readable human-like reports is Automated Insights, which CrunchBase named one of the world’s Top 25 Artificial Intelligence Startups. Wordsmith, Automated Insights’ natural language generation (NLG) platform, is able to develop a wide range of reports, including:
- Client updates
- Category descriptions for fashion online retailers
- Hotel descriptions
- Real-time stock analysis
- Profit-and-loss summaries
One way that Automated Insights stands out is how their software creates content for fashion e-commerce stores. Take a look at the following example for a category page for jeans:
If, on the other hand, you change some of the parameters – the category name to “shoes,” the maximum price tag, and the sizes of the shoes – you get the following:
In just a few clicks, Wordsmith took a different set of data and created a completely different piece of text that you can easily use in your e-commerce store.
This is the only company that offers a multi-lingual, enterprise-level language generation tool in English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish and Japanese.
2) Boost Your Content’s Search Engine Performance
You probably spend a large portion of your week analyzing keywords and popular topics to write about. It’s a long and painstaking process that you have to undergo for every article you publish.
Imagine if you knew with greater precision which type of content would drive more organic traffic to your site? You wouldn’t have to spend so much time researching and figuring out what to publish.
Well, there are two tools that can help you with this.
This tool provides “content optimization software [that] uses machine learning to analyze your focus topic and provide specific recommendations on what to write, and how to write it.”
In other words, MarketMuse is like a modern keyword research tool that uses advanced modeling techniques to find the best topics to publish. According to the site’s FAQ page, they are a good complement to standard SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Moz.
This tool is a predictive platform that allows you to simulate a wide range of search engine environments and see how different SEO changes would impact your rankings. Instead of having to wait weeks to see how Google would react to an SEO change — like a title tag optimization — MarketBrew tells you how their search engine model believes it will react to it.
Here’s how it works:
You first define the keyword phrases you want to target and select the search engine environment for which you want to position those keywords (like Google U.S.). Then Market Brew analyzes the current pages that are ranking for those terms and continues by “machine [learning] the algorithmic mechanisms that are affecting the search engine rankings in that environment.”
After that, they use an algorithm that analyzes what elements of your page would have a greater impact on your rankings. For example, in the image above, you can see that increasing the link flow boost (which we can imagine refers to the number of inbound links pointing to that page) would have a 100% boost impact in the rankings of the analyzed page.
Finally, they give you a report that tells you what specific changes you must implement to see an increase in your search engine rankings:
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3) Improve Your Content Quality
Besides researching content ideas, another time-consuming task you spend a lot of time on is the actual writing (and editing) your content. Decreasing the time invested in creating your content would help you spend it on more strategic tasks, like promoting it.
We’ve found three AI-powered editors that can help you save time creating and improving your content.
Defined as a “content conversion platform,” Atomic Reach allows you to analyze your content by using a 23-point system. It helps you maintain consistency throughout all the content across your blog, social media, emails, and ads. You can also check your writing quality by using a “proprietary context engine” that makes suggestions on what to improve, similar to what Grammarly does.
This editing tool is the main product from Boost Linguistics, an “intelligent text optimization platform” that lets you carry out an emotional tone analysis. Here’s how it works:
Let’s say you want to create an article that has a positive and joyful tone, but you’re having a hard time finding the right words to represent these sentiments. With Boost Editor, you can get recommendations on which words relate to both emotions, letting you create a piece of content that carries the specific tone you want to give to it.
I spoke with Jeff Nowak, Co-Founder of Boost Linguistics, about how Boost Editor helps content marketers improve the quality of their work. He said:
“The Boost Editor does a phenomenal job of providing marketers with a final gut check about how their articles, headlines, and emails are striking the right emotional chord with their audience.
By performing a quick analysis and by seeing suggested changes to the text, marketers can always be sure that their next message to the audience will be overwhelmingly joyful, anxiety-inducing, undoubtedly disgusting, and much more.
By using the Boost Editor, marketers can get a data-driven approach to ensuring content matches the target tone, and drive more engagement by relating each emotion to a certain action.”
This is a company that can “read your content and help you make it better.” In other words, their software scores your content through the use of their patented linguistic analytics engine and gives you specific improvement recommendations that will make your content more impactful.
For example, if you want to write an article with a specific voice for a particular audience, Acrolinx will give you a detailed view of how your existing content matches that voice and audience.
You can also use Acrolinx to manage a team of content writers. With their platform, you can guide your writers on their style, grammar, terminology, and tone, which will give you a more coherent writing.
4) Promote Your Content
After you publish your blog article, what’s next? You can post an article, schedule a few tweets, and maybe send some outreach emails to people who may be interested in your content. But is that an effective way of distributing your content? Probably not.
Picture the hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars you could save if you knew what kind of content your target audiences has shown greater interest for. With that information, you could deliver your content with lower costs per clicks and higher engagement.
Well, there are two tools that do exactly that.
This tool uses their natural-language processing software to analyze your content and find audiences on Facebook and Instagram who have shown interest in content like yours. What’s more, Keywee automatically generates content for paid social media campaigns with recommended optimized bids for each selected audience and gives you the breakdown of each campaign you run.
This company defines itself as the “world’s first AI-powered Content Strategy Platform (CSP).” The idea behind their platform is similar to Keywee’s: their software finds the content that has shown high correlation with other pieces that have performed well in the past, and recommends ways to promote it through paid social media campaigns.
I spoke with Tom Salvat, Concured’s CEO, about his software, and he said that “Concured automates many of the most time consuming and manual tasks including auditing, researching, and evaluating content so that marketers can make better informed decisions.”
While neither of these tools seem to represent the end of paid media managers, they do represent a perfect partner for them. AI can automate a great chunk of a manager’s day-to-day tasks so that they can focus on what they do best: running successful campaigns.
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Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, asked whether computers could think – and this was back in 1950! Since then, humanity has been trying to answer that question without a clear result in sight. We have, however, started to use computer intelligence to help us save time in our daily tasks and become more effective at our jobs.
Whether it’s writing simple human-like reports, analyzing our content, or making it cheaper to promote, AI represents the newest partner to marketers. We can compare AI to the impact that computers had on our lives back in the ‘80s, which helped us do our jobs better.
While it’s hard to imagine replacing content writers and marketers with machines, the only answer I have for Turing’s question is this: computers can help. And it’s your opportunity to use them and make your life easier.