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
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
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
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
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
of c-suite decisionmakers want brands to have strong, provocative, and
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?