“What The Bot?” Here’s How To Welcome Looming AI Domination With Your Content

AI And Content Marketing

Robots coming for our jobs?

In the 50’s, that might’ve felt like something you’d see in a black and white horror film, while sitting in a dingy cinema with a bucket of popcorn.

In 2019, it’s a real threat.

But unlike cringy horror films from over half a century ago, these robots aren’t weird machines with googly eyes. They come in the form of artificial intelligence (AI) — something that many bloggers and marketers fear will take over their job.

Should you really be worried? Or is there a place for a robot-human hybrid to make the best content marketing machines the world has ever seen?

Spoiler alert: Yes.

Here’s how AI and content marketing can work together, plus five tips to prepare for the takeover.

First up: AI for beginners

Don’t worry if you’ve got this far and don’t have a clue what the term “artificial intelligence” means. And if you’ve only heard of it in passing, on content marketing blogs, you don’t need to head over to Urban Dictionary for a snarky answer.

Here’s Google’s definition of artificial intelligence:

The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

In layman’s terms: AI is piece of software that uses computers and algorithms to interpret data, and act on it’s own behalf.

Artificial intelligence is an industry that’s growing massively, too.

The global AI market is expected to be worth around $656 billion in 2019, and growth in machine learning software doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon.

ai market growth
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You’ll need to introduce it into your marketing strategy if you’re to take advantage!

So, is there space for AI in content marketing?

Ready to hear something shocking?

You’re likely already using some form of artificial intelligence.

Amazon Alexa, Google search and electricity smart meters are all types of machine learning software.

But is there really space for AI programs to weave their way into content marketing?

In January 2018, a survey conducted by Adobe and Econsultancy found that 22% of client-based marketers and 34% of agencies use AI for content creation.

But if that’s enough to make you quiver in your boots, don’t panic.

There is space for artificial intelligence in content marketing.

Here’s why.

AI can create more marketing jobs

You’re not the only one if you’re fearing AI domination will replace your job (or even worse, make it non-existent).

But although Gartner found that by 2020, AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs, it’ll also create 2.3 million more.

You’re not losing your job to a robot; you’re changing your role to make the most out of them.

It gives better customer engagement

Machine learning can create campaigns in a fraction of the time it takes a human, especially when processing data and split-testing results from previous content.

And with 52% of consumers admitting they’re more likely to switch to a different brand or product if they do not receive personalized communication from the company, you’d be mad to miss out on the capability of AI to quickly (and easily!) personalize your content strategy.

AI software makes marketers more efficient

Because AI takes human tasks and does them much quicker, 79% of marketing executives believe that AI will make their tasks easier and more efficient.

Say goodbye to manually collecting data, interpreting that data, and drawing meaningful next steps based on what’s working.

…And hello to a robot who will do it for you!

5 ways to prepare for an AI revolution

Now you understand the benefits of AI, it’ll come as no surprise to learn that 85% of marketers believe that AI is going to make a significant impact on their marketing activity over the next five years.

Fancy getting in on the machine learning action?

Here are five ways you can use artificial intelligence to streamline your content marketing strategy.

1. Use AI software to discover popular content ideas

It’s always a good idea to say ahead of your competition.

That’s no different when it comes to content marketing.

Having a solid grasp of the content already being consumed by your target audience allows you to create a piece that’ll get seen.

That’s why you should use an AI-based platform like Buzzsumo, Ahrefs or Scoop.it, to find the most popular content dominating your industry:

buzzsumo demo
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But how can you use this data to generate new content ideas?

We’re always told the best content is new and unique, so this list is meaningless, right?

Not necessarily.

Take a look at the top-performing content for your industry, and analyze what makes them so shareworthy.

Is it because:

  • The blog post is over 2,000 words long?
  • The content includes quotes from influencers?
  • The article contains an infographic, and a custom featured image?

Whatever you find, try to replicate it — with your own spin.

For example, let’s take a look at the results for “freelance writing”:

ahrefs for content ideas
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We can see the most-shared pieces of content on that topic come from Fiverr, Forbes and The Write Life, but the first is a product page (rather than a blog post).

So, let’s click on The Write Life’s result and analyze what’s working so well.

Their introduction is on-point, and covers pain points their target reader is likely to be suffering with, while also including Click to Tweet buttons:

the write life annotated
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They’ve also got a featured image to encourage social sharing on platforms like Pinterest:

the write life featured image for social shares
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Each of those are techniques that encourage a reader to share the article with their network — hence why the article has so much social buzz, and is popular in the industry.

So, when I’m creating my piece of content around this topic, I’ll find a unique angle and replicate The Write Life’s technique of subconsciously pushing readers towards a social share.

But remember, don’t directly copy the top-performing content you’ve found.

Use it as a basis to find which elements your shared audiences are connecting with, instead.

Inspiration, not imitation.

2. Think about AI-based algorithms (ahem, RankBrain)

SEO is likely to fall pretty high on your priority list.

(I don’t blame you, especially when 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine.)

But to see any SERP success and start ranking your website on page #1 for your target customers’ search queries, you’ll need to think about AI.

Why? Because Google, itself, runs on an AI-based algorithm.

The RankBrain update, introduced in 2015, runs on data-processing and machine learning to determine where a URL should rank in organic search.

This graphic from Backlinko puts that into practice:

rankbrain ai seo
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You can start driving traffic by optimizing your entire website for SEO, on a page-by-page basis, using on-page SEO.

These are a set of techniques which cater to Google’s 200+ ranking factors, and tell their robots you should rank higher in your target audience’s search results.

So, which ranking factors should you focus on — and how do you achieve them?

Here are five of the most important:

  1. Page Speed: Everyone will get frustrated if they’re made to wait for a page to load. Google recommends websites load within two seconds, so improve your loading time by following the recommendations from their Page Speed Insights tool. Be sure to use a content delivery network (CDN for short), and make use of caching plugins.
  2. Keyword Usage: How will Google’s AI algorithm know what to rank your content for? The answer: Keywords. Boost your chances of being shown for the terms your audience are looking for by picking one strong keyword, and a handful of secondary phrases. Use them throughout your content wherever it sounds natural.
  3. URL Structure: After Backlinko studied the top-ranking pages in Google, they found content with shorter URLs performed best, so stick to a handful of words (ideally your content’s keyword) when writing your URL — and don’t change it once it’s been published!
  4. Backlinks: It’s almost impossible to rank without backlinks because RankBrain thinks: “If these sites are linking to this URL, it must be good/offer some value”. Start building links through guest posting, building infographics, and contributing value to HARO queries.
  5. Social Signals: Google have said social shares don’t directly impact rankings, but CognitiveSEO found there a strong correlation between the two. Encourage readers to share content with their network by installing a social share plugin (like Social Warfare), and using Click to Tweet buttons throughout the content.

social shares vs rankings
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3. Personalize content at every stage in the funnel

When BrightEdge asked marketers to name the next big marketing trend, 29% voted for consumer personalization.

To make that possible, you’ll need to connect the dots between the behaviors you want to trigger (and the content you want to send), along with automations that handle it automatically — not to mention the time you’ll spend testing it.

But in the same poll, artificial intelligence accounted for 26% of marketers’ votes.

…Why not combine the two?

If you’re able to dish meaty data-related tasks to a machine learning platform, you’ll slash the time you spend personalizing content, and maximise the results you get, in return.

Here’s Gabriel Shaoolian, Founder and Executive Director at DesignRush, explaining how artificial intelligence can be used for personalization:

Another thing AI can do for your content marketing strategy is provide real-time, data-based personalization. This innovative tech can learn from the engagements it receives and adapt accordingly, giving your audience exactly what they want when they want it.

Fancy getting in on the action? Start using AI to personalize your content by:

  • Creating email automations to promote content to people who’ve already expressed an interest in a similar topic.
  • Driving customers to targeted landing pages based on previously-viewed content.
  • Using chatbots to answer customer questions in real-time, without waiting on your customer service reps to become available.

Personalized content is proven to be more effective.

And with machine learning software taking the meaty job of creating automations off your hands, you’d be mad to neglect it.

4. Consider using AI as your “ugly first draft”

For many writers, the biggest hurdle of writing any piece of content is starting from a blank page.

It’s the reason why I, personally, do a bunch of research and plug my findings, links and thoughts into a structure before I start putting sentences together.

But what happens when you can’t motivate yourself to get started?

Enter: Artificial intelligence.

Consider using an AI-based platform to write your “ugly first draft” — a term coined by content legend and Head of Content of MarketingProfs, Ann Handley.

In her book Everybody Writes, Ann says:

So now that you’ve figured out what to write—and generally how it’ll go—just write. Or, rather, write badly and create a first draft: The Ugly First Draft (TUFD) I talked about earlier.

TUFD isn’t a pass you give yourself to produce substandard work. But it is a necessary part of the process of creating above standard work.

Very often, the people you think of as good writers are terrible writers on their first drafts. But here’s their secret: They are excellent editors of their own work.

So embrace The Ugly First Draft as necessary. As painful and depressing as it might be to write badly—at least you’re writing, you’re getting the mess out of your head and onto the screen or paper. Then, when you get back to it, you can start shaping it into something more respectable.

So, follow your usual process for writing a new piece of content.

But rather than using your time and skill to write an ugly first draft, get a tool like Articoolo to do it for you.

Here’s a snippet of the content I got when I asked their robot to write 500-word article around the topic “content marketing ideas”:

articoolo demo content marketing ai
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Granted, it’s not great.

The grammar is poor, there’s no real demonstration of subject matter expertise, and to put simply: It’s boring to read.

…But it’s a solid ugly first draft that can be worked on.

(It’s no wonder why The Washington Post published 850+ articles using this strategy.)

Always get your eyes on AI-written content. Sure, robots are smart and constantly developing, but they aren’t smart enough to write content with your brand personality, humor, or fit your style guide.

Get a second pair of eyes and make “general” content into something that reads as though it’s written by a *human* on your team.

Yet some marketers are using another AI-based software to help with this, too.

McCall Robison, Best Company’s Content Marketing Strategist, told me he uses MarketMuse’s AI-based platform to optimize content. He said:

You input your content topic or industry topic into the online tool and it will give you top keywords related to the topic, a target content score you should hit, and the current content score of your content. It’s pretty much a cheat sheet for a better content marketing strategy.

I put this to the test and took the top-performing blog post from my website and entered it into MarketMuse’s tool.

It gave me tons of valuable advice, including:

  • A content score, which determines the “quality of my content by assessing the use of relevant subtopics”.
  • The minimum word count my piece should include, “based on the wordcount of high authority pieces on same topic”.
  • 50+ relevant subtopics I should consider including, “based on how often a subject matter expert would refer to them in an article on the subject”.

marketmuse ai content marketing demo
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It’s not just a list of recommendations that fail to impact results, though.

McCall says MarketMuse’s AI-based content marketing software has driven results for his business, and delivered bang for their buck:

Not only has our website domain ranking gone way up, and other SEO-related metrics, since using MarketMuse, but every content marketing effort we try is also more effective because we have quality content that sells itself.

5. Automate the tidbits

You already know that a lot of work goes into a content marketing strategy.

It isn’t as simple as writing your post. There’s a whole process you’ll need to build a successful piece of content, starting from research and ending with promotion.

Luckily, you don’t have to handle them all by yourself.

You can use artificial intelligence to automate some parts of your content marketing to-do list.

Start by writing down the step-by-step process you use to write a piece of content, and how long it takes for you to complete each task.

For a blog post, it will probably look something like this:

  1. Find a topic to cover (30 minutes)
  2. Research (2 hours)
  3. Write (4 hours)
  4. Proofread (1 hour)
  5. Publish (10 minutes)
  6. Promote (3 hours)

Now, try to find an AI-based platform that handles some (or all) of the tasks at each stage.

For example: If you’re spending an hour proofreading a blog post for errors, use an AI tool like Grammarly to spell check for you. You won’t need to spend time doing it yourself since the software can find issues within a matter of seconds, and it’ll pick up on mistakes you can’t spot because you’re so close to it.

grammarly demo
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You could also use these machine learning-based tools to help with each stage of producing content:

  • Quuu or DrumUp to find an in-demand topic you can write about.
  • Zest to source high quality content to share with your audience.
  • Ahrefs to determine whether your competitors are covering that content, giving you an idea of what you’ll need to beat.
  • CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to create headline variations more likely to perform well and get clicks.
  • Zapier to automatically share new content on social media, in Slack, or via email as soon as it’s published.
  • Mailerlite or ConvertKit automations to point new subscribers toward reading that piece of content, even if they sign-up three months post-publication.

Not only will automating these tasks save time, but there’s no chance of you (or someone on your team) forgetting to do it.

Say goodbye to the thousands of reminders you set to promote your blog post.

…And hello to a 20-minute time investment that’ll constantly send links to your readers, without a single reminder.

Warning: AI should complement, not dominate

Although you’re now fully in-the-know about upcoming AI takeover, don’t dive feet first and give robots the permission to control your entire content marketing strategy.

Granted, machine learning software is extremely smart — but it still won’t outsmart good ol’ common sense (from a real-life human).

Don’t believe me? Hire one of the AI writing tools we talked about.

I’ll bet it’s not as good as your own — which is why artificial intelligence should complement, not dominate, your content marketing.

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