Jewel Marketing
Taiwan Content Marketing

What AI Means For Content Marketing's Future

By Jason Patterson

Founder of Jewel Content Marketing Agency
As someone with skin in the game, I'm supposed to downplay the importance of generative AIs like ChatGPT or Midjourney. But who would I be kidding? They're a very big deal. Probably the single biggest technological advancement to come along in the modern content marketing era. Nearly half of content marketers say they're already using it.

And nobody knows what the future holds for generative AI. Maybe it'll be banned or severely restricted or regulated due to IP and privacy-related issues (legal rulings have been mixed so far). Maybe the fact that AI-created art cannot be copyrighted (at least in the US) will slow down adoption. Or maybe search engines will penalize pages relying on it.

Or maybe the advancement curve will flatten out sooner than many expect. But if none of that happens, and things keep going the way they've been going, I can take a pretty good guess how the content marketing game will change over the next few years, and how it should change.

And just to make things clear, as the article title implies, I'm not here to talk about what's happening now with AI and content marketing (most of that stuff has been happening for several years). I'm here to provide a few years' look ahead and discuss things you might not see coming, and how you should react to them.

But first let's address the elephant in the room.

Is Generative AI A Threat To Content And Creative Jobs?

Most businesses aren't creating enough content or other marketing assets. They also aren't churning them out fast enough or well enough. So I'm reluctant to call AI a threat to jobs in the aggregate. However, generative AI will disrupt the content and creative professions, because it already is (35-70% of marketers are already using it to create finished content and assets). And certain types of jobs will start to disappear.

Most notably jobs currently being done as part of a team. Whether it's video. Creative teams. Or content teams. Large teams will increasingly become small teams, or solo acts, supervising the work of AIs. Many people who once had jobs on large teams at large companies will move to small companies, or out on their own.

Another in-house job that's in danger is specialty-format content and copywriters, such as social media, press release, or blog writers. Instead of numerous specialists like these, companies will employ a smaller number of generalist editors and copywriters, supervising and revising the various outputs of content automation.

Another endangered job is the general-purpose freelance content writer. No matter how fast you can churn out bland and vaguely competent articles on various topics the Internet is hungry for, AI can do it faster. So find a niche industry or two or risk extinction.

However, it's not all bad news for those who have a way with words.

Skilled Wordsmithery Will Grow In Demand

The past fifteen years have seen increased demand for content writing that fills up digital space and decreased demand for copywriting that impresses and persuades audiences. But I think AI will tilt things back the other way. As AI increasingly generates first drafts, skilled editors and copywriters will still be needed to rewrite and adapt those first drafts into final articles.

In fact, I think demand for highly-skilled editors and copywriters could become even greater than it is now, for two reasons. One, writing quality among junior content and copywriters will probably decline as they increasingly rely on AI tools during their formative years. And two, content automation will unleash a massive jump in the overall number of rough drafts of various content, copywriting, and marketing assets.

Taken together, this'll mean a huge wave of crap that will need to be rewritten by skilled people, and not just because of the writing quality. The Achilles heel of AI as a writing tool is that it's derivative. This makes plagiarism and other IP issues (which are very easy to spot in written form) a real danger, along with audience revulsion against formula. I'm already sick of all the AI-generated cold emails in my inbox that are just variations of the exact same structural blueprint.

As such content increasingly inundates our senses, skilled editing and copywriting will increasingly be seen as a necessity and a difference-maker again, and I think that's a good thing. But wordsmiths shouldn't get too comfy. AI's natural language generation capabilities are already impressive, proving capable of generating brilliant taglines such as "Like family, but with more cheese" for a pizza restaurant, so a little unease to help motivate you to adapt, change, or get better might be in order.

Do I personally worry about generative AI? Yes. Content automation tools will definitely encourage more clients to do content and copywriting themselves, regardless of how skilled professional writers are (many people just aren't sensitive to bad writing).

Do I worry about AI making me or my agency irrelevant? No. I think AI will enhance demand for some of the more strategic content things that we do (more on this later). AI can generate competent prose, but it can't do what I do, because it doesn't know what I know. Generative AI learns mostly from the Internet, and the Internet is mostly shit.

Now on to more prosaic things.

Leader Brands Will Do More SEO & Basic Education Content With AI

Many smaller B2B brands have been making their SEO bones from featured snippets and answering basic industry-related questions that their prospects have. Today, leader brands often don't bother playing this game, because they don't really need to play it to rank well and because content written by humans still costs money.

But now that readable non-plagiarized and SEO-optimized content can be generated safely by AI (with a little human editing) for almost nothing, leader brands will do more of this, and their domain authority will knock smaller businesses from their perch at the top of search results, while generally making table-stakes education content less of a competitive advantage in any instance (since pretty much everyone will have it), which in turn will shift the content marketing fight to other areas.

Advanced Education Content Will Become More Important

Basic education content will become less valuable, but advanced education is another story. The key numbers, facts, and figures you get with a whitepaper will still be very important. As will the subject matter expertise of an e-book or blog addressing an advanced topic.

AI will be able to do at least some of this stuff (I'd be surprised if at least some analyst reports aren't already being written by AI). However, a lot of advanced marketing content will still come from humans.

Despite their air of impartiality, there are still a lot of opinions and subjectivity involved in creating something like a whitepaper. A lot of creative decisions must be made, such as making an incomplete dataset look more convincing than it really is, and improvisation must be done, like modifying your thesis to incorporate inconvenient facts.

AI has yet to prove to me that it's ready to head out to this kind of deeper water. And what's more....

Thought Leadership Will Become More Important

Thought leadership is the most human form of B2B awareness content. And machines can't think, yet, making this sort of content a great way to stand out, especially if you're a smaller company that isn't too lawyered and layered up to still talk smack. And there's some serious thirst out there for good thought leadership. A recent survey indicates that perhaps 80-90% of c-suite decisionmakers want brands to have strong, provocative, and disruptive opinions.

However, to make all this work....

Marketing Must Be Outbound

Both categories of content that I just mentioned don't have the SEO advantages of basic education (because the issues they address aren't queried as much), making such content very hard to find through search, especially if you're a smaller company. So, you'll need to upgrade your outbound game if you haven't already. But it won't be easy. If you thought the world was spammy now, just wait and see what AI will unleash.

So don't play the volume game with things like email and newsletters. Make yourself available but also a little scarce. Be valuable. Make your prospects happy to see you when you're in their inbox. However, there is one outbound channel where you can ramp up the bombardment and that's social media.

More Videos & Social Media Content

This part is the good news if you're a smaller company. Until now, one of the key advantages enjoyed by leader brands is that they've had the money and other resources to do high-quality video content and social media, and to do it frequently, on many channels, while non-leaders simply haven't.

With AI, that's ending. No more canned stock photos. Actual original and creative imagery. And video. If we really can create usable marketing and advertising video out of nothing? Holy shit. The big fish will have to hire Hollywood people to keep themselves ahead of what an AI can give you.

Fewer Gaps In Your Content Lineup

Another benefit of content marketing AI tools is that smaller businesses will have fewer of the content gaps they had in the past because they lacked access to certain skills. Beyond the aforementioned video and social media, AI will also help with content that can be formulaic by nature, including press releases, case studies, and executive/employee profiles.

What this means is that it'll be easier for a smaller company to present the content profile of a larger one (to the untrained eye). But it also means that all companies will start looking more and more similar, even more so than they already are. Which means you'll need some of the more human content I mentioned earlier if you want to stand out. And you'll also want to consider something else....

More Content Customization For Purpose

I don't like the term "content personalization" because the personalization steps are often superficial, and your ability to personalize effectively is only as good as your data. And the quality of data regarding prospects, whether collected by humans or by machine learning, has never really blown my hair back.

However, generative AI provides interesting possibilities when it comes to customizing the style of content to suit different audiences and contexts. An article could be rewritten to be corporate, straight talk, academic, witty, etc. And I think this is really cool.

Content Strategy Will Become More Important

Only 40% of B2B businesses have a documented content strategy in place. In the past, this was easier to get away with, because the simple act of having halfway decent content was often enough to be at least competitive in many industries, with the act of content creation so hard that many businesses simply haven't had the resources to think beyond it.

Well, those days are ending. Soon, content won't be a barrier anymore. Everyone will have it. In more media, more formats, and more languages than ever before. Which means competitive advantage won't be found in simply having it. It'll be found in better content quality, of course, but also in better content strategy.

Creating content ad hoc or by checklist won't be enough anymore. You'll need skilled content strategists who really know how to arrange the pieces on the board for a plan of attack, who can anticipate problems, and who can adjust on the fly to those surprise problems that can't be anticipated.

And if you think AI-powered content strategy can do this, keep something in mind. Unlike marketing strategy, which at least has some well-defined and well-known theory and modeling, like the marketing funnel, the four P's, and the AARRR pirate metrics, content strategy has none of that. It's completely the Wild West. And for an AI-driven content strategy to be effective, that would need to miraculously change in the next few years.

There Are Some Things AI Won't Change

Beyond what I just mentioned, there are other content marketing issues I think highly unlikely to change even with greater adoption of AI. Remember how I said earlier that most companies aren't churning out content assets fast enough. Well AI, despite its great speed, won't necessarily make that problem go away. And the reason why is approvals. They're a chokepoint in a lot of companies. And I doubt this'll change, at least in the way that it needs to. I see AI-augmented decisonmaking, or fully automated content creation and distribution, being sold as the answer, but AI has yet to prove to me a reliable judge, and putting all your eggs in the AI basket is risky.

Another problem I don't see AI solving is the marketing world's general lack of strategy and tendency to chase squirrels. Remember, what generative AI knows can be considered an average of what the Internet knows, and the Internet is full of squirrels.

Another problem AI probably won't solve is the apparent gap between what companies and marketers think is good content and what actually is. Roughly 85% of B2B marketers rate their content as moderately to very successful, while Forrester has been evaluating B2B websites and saying "Most B2B marketers continue to fail miserably when it comes to creating content that buyers find interesting, interactive, or compelling." Something is out of joint here, and I don't see this as a problem AI is likely to resolve.

Now It's AI's Turn

Yes, I consulted a generative AI on this one. I gave it the prompt -- "Write a blog article explaining how generative AI will change content marketing and content strategy in three to five years."

Below in quotes is what it wrote: verbatim, unedited, and not proofread. I'll leave it to you to decide if human content marketers or strategists still have any value to offer.

"Generative AI has come a long way in recent years, and its potential impact on content marketing and content strategy is immense. In the next three to five years, we can expect generative AI to revolutionize the way businesses approach content creation, distribution, and engagement. Here's how.

1. Automated Content Creation Generative AI algorithms have already shown tremendous promise in automated content creation. These algorithms can produce written content, images, and videos that are virtually indistinguishable from those created by human content creators. In the next few years, we can expect this technology to become even more sophisticated, allowing businesses to automate the creation of large amounts of high-quality content.

Automated content creation will have a significant impact on content marketing and content strategy. Businesses will be able to produce more content at a faster pace, allowing them to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for fresh and relevant content. This will also free up human content creators to focus on more complex and creative tasks, such as content ideation and strategy.

2. Personalized Content Generative AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data to identify patterns and insights that can help businesses create more personalized content. This technology can be used to understand customer preferences, behavior, and needs, allowing businesses to deliver tailored content that resonates with their target audience.

Personalized content is essential for effective content marketing and content strategy. It helps businesses build stronger relationships with their customers by delivering content that is relevant and valuable to them. With generative AI, businesses can create personalized content at scale, improving engagement, and driving conversions.

3. Intelligent Content Distribution Generative AI can also help businesses optimize their content distribution strategies. These algorithms can analyze data on customer behavior and preferences to determine the best channels, formats, and timing for content distribution. This technology can also be used to identify gaps in content coverage and suggest new distribution channels to reach untapped audiences.

Intelligent content distribution is crucial for effective content marketing and content strategy. It helps businesses get their content in front of the right audience at the right time, maximizing engagement and ROI. With generative AI, businesses can optimize their content distribution strategies more effectively, increasing the impact of their content marketing efforts.

4. Enhanced Content Engagement Generative AI can also help businesses enhance their content engagement strategies. These algorithms can analyze customer behavior and preferences to identify opportunities for increasing engagement, such as interactive content, gamification, and personalization. This technology can also be used to develop content that is optimized for specific platforms, such as social media or mobile devices.

Enhanced content engagement is essential for effective content marketing and content strategy. It helps businesses build stronger relationships with their customers by delivering content that is more engaging and interactive. With generative AI, businesses can develop more effective content engagement strategies, improving customer loyalty and retention.

Conclusion Generative AI has the potential to revolutionize content marketing and content strategy in the next three to five years. With automated content creation, personalized content, intelligent content distribution, and enhanced content engagement, businesses can create and distribute high-quality content more efficiently and effectively than ever before. By leveraging generative AI, businesses can stay ahead of the curve in an increasingly competitive digital landscape."

Brief, wasn't it? Are we ahead of the curve yet?

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