With the Major League Baseball season now underway, one of the sport’s great ongoing debates has once again found traction: to stick with human umpires, or embrace the electronic strike zone?
It’s just another example of how rapid advancements in technology are fundamentally impacting everything in our society, from the classic American pastime to the ancient art of writing. Those of us in the content marketing space are having our own debates about the true value of robots and automation, and how they fit going forward.
The consensus at this moment? Artificial intelligence is going to be a game-changer in many ways, but its limitations will continue to make the human element essential when it comes to driving content marketing outcomes.
Let’s explore some of the ways generative AI solutions can help get your business on base and set up opportunities, and why the human touch is critical to ultimately putting runs on the board.
“AI is going to be a game-changer in many ways, but its limitations will continue to make the human element essential when it comes to driving content marketing outcomes.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet
Advantages of Generative AI Content for Marketing
While the urge is understandable, content creators who are actively avoiding generative AI tools out of apprehension are doing themselves a disservice. There are a lot of great benefits that can fundamentally enhance the way we work and the outputs we produce as marketers.
Here are some of the most helpful advantages technologies like ChatGPT can bring to B2B content marketing.
Expansive and comprehensive research, made efficient.
This is one of the benefits I’m most excited about, and have been most impressed by. Researching, if you want to do it right, can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of content creation – there’s so much information out there to seek out and sift through.
With the right prompts, content creators can leverage AI to answer questions and receive targeted info at lightning speed. I’m not going to be leaning on these tools as my sole source, because they are susceptible to inaccurate, outdated, and incomplete information, but I’ve already discovered plenty of shortcuts through the technology and look forward to exploring more.
Streamlined content development and production.
I would argue that (for various reasons we will soon cover) you generally don’t want to put AI in control of creating content. However, that’s not to say these tools can’t be immensely helpful in the process of content creation, especially the early stages of ideation and outlining.
If you’re a writer, then you probably know that the hardest part of creating a new piece can be getting started: sourcing your talking points, organizing your thoughts, ensuring your content will thoroughly cover the topic it addresses.
When provided with suitable direction, a generative AI tool can present ideas, information, and outlines in an instant. For example, you might prompt, “I want you to create a table of contents for a report about [X],” and boom, you’ve got your jumping off point to start building valuable content.
By layering in more prompting specificity in terms of context and constraints, you can get more focused and useful outputs to guide your process.
Scalable experimentation for faster innovation.
The ability of generative AI to rapidly retrieve information, build concepts, and answer prompts paves the way for content marketers to constantly test different approaches, messaging styles, and techniques capable of improving their workflow efficiency as well as the quality of their final output.
For an example of how this might take shape, I simply went ahead and… asked ChatGPT to share how it might help facilitate a content experiment. Here’s what it suggested:
- ChatGPT could analyze a company’s existing website content and identify areas that could be optimized for better performance. This could include improving headlines, adjusting tone or style, or adding more relevant keywords.
- ChatGPT could generate variations of the existing content based on the identified optimization opportunities. For example, it could provide alternative headlines, reword sentences, or suggest different calls-to-action.
- The company could run an A/B test to compare the performance of the original content versus the optimized versions generated by ChatGPT. This could involve randomly showing different versions of the content to visitors and measuring key metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, or engagement.
- Based on the results of the A/B test, the company could choose to implement the optimized content that performed best or continue iterating and testing further variations.
Even if you don’t end up using the exact copy produced by ChatGPT, this highly-automated experiment can deliver key insights about content elements or CTA types that are connecting with your audience to inform your strategy.
“AI experiments can deliver key insights about content elements or CTA types that are connecting with your audience to inform your strategy.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet
Key Limitations of AI for B2B Marketing Content
As powerful as it is, smart and strategic marketers can rest assured that generative AI is not equipped to replace them. There are several limiting factors that prevent this technology from making the human aspects of marketing irrelevant.
In fact, as these tools become more widely adopted, the skill and experience of a talented marketing professional will arguably grow more vital and differentiating than ever.
What are the shortcomings of generative AI for marketing content? Let’s start with the most straightforward:
AI isn’t designed to be factual or accurate. And it’s often biased.
This is one of the most fundamentally important things for anyone to understand about AI. Because the algorithms are so sophisticated, it’s easy to assume they have built-in mechanisms to ensure information they serve is correct. But, they really don’t.
“They’re simply generating text that sounds plausible based on the data they’ve seen,” explains Joe Amditis. “This means that they can ‘hallucinate’ information or even ‘lie’ in some cases, and their outputs should therefore always be checked by humans for accuracy.”
This same dynamic makes AI-generated content ripe for biases. “ChatGPT is only as good as the data it is trained on, and if the training data is biased or inaccurate, it can lead to biased or inaccurate content generation.”
Amditis recently published a guide called Beginner’s prompt handbook: ChatGPT for local news publishers, from which the above insights are drawn. Geared toward journalists who are interested in utilizing the technology while responsibly navigating its downsides, I found the guide incredibly insightful and valuable.
One of the primary, highlighted takeaways from the handbook? “The key is to employ strict and redundant human oversight whenever and however you decide to use ChatGPT, but especially in high-stakes situations where the information it spits back to you is meant to be used in any public, professional, or non-trivial way.”
“The key is to employ strict and redundant human oversight whenever and however you decide to use ChatGPT.” — Joe Amditis @JoeAmditis Click To Tweet
AI lacks originality and human resonance.
Or Shani, who founded the digital advertising AI tool Albert, is quick to acknowledge where the technology falls short. “Where we see AI as having limitations are in the obvious areas: emotions, feelings, subjective thinking,” he told the Marketing AI Institute. “Humans are unique in their ability to feel in a very complex way and translate those feelings into emotional connections.”
That’s a crucial consideration at a time where the B2B sector at large is recognizing and celebrating the essential value of breakthrough creative and emotional impact in their marketing.
AI lacks judgment and expertise.
Artificial intelligence is able to draw informed conclusions based on the data available to it. But that data is inherently limited and far less valuable than the personal experience of marketers, executives, and other talent involved with a business.
Even small decisions pertaining to content strategy can have massive ripple effects on a company’s success, and this is where the intervention of skilled, experienced humans is most indispensable.
As Shani added: “Limitations in artificial intelligence will also stem from the degree of precision with which technologists are able to replicate human ‘intelligence’ and decision-making.”
Or, as Joe McKendrick and Andy Thurai wrote at Harvard Business Review: “Artificial intelligence is designed to assist with decision-making when the data, parameters, and variables involved are beyond human comprehension. For the most part, AI systems make the right decisions given the constraints. However, AI notoriously fails in capturing or responding to intangible human factors that go into real-life decision-making — the ethical, moral, and other human considerations that guide the course of business, life, and society at large.”
In B2B marketing, those “intangible human factors” are hard earned through experience, collaboration, and professional growth.
“In B2B marketing, “intangible human factors” are hard earned through experience, collaboration, and professional growth.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet
Circling back to our original scenario of robots replacing human umpires in baseball, that notion loses its practicality when you think about the broader responsibilities that the role entails, beyond calling balls and strikes.
Human umpires are crucial to the game of baseball as they bring experience, intuition, tradition, and authority to the game. While technology can aid in making calls, human umpires are an essential part of the game’s fabric, and their presence adds to the authenticity and atmosphere of the sport.
Don’t take my word for it – the last paragraph was lifted verbatim from ChatGPT.
In business, needless to say, the stakes tend to be a bit higher than a baseball game. Generative AI is a hit for B2B content strategies, but it’s not a home run.
Want to learn more about creating content that breaks through and delivers brand impact in the age of AI? Check out our guide, Marketing with Intent: The Future of SEO and Qualified B2B Search Traffic.