The Role of AI in Powering Content Automation

It’s hard not to pay attention to the world of possibility that AI brings to content marketing. Specifically, content automation and the power of AI deliver many opportunities and benefits. Not only can it eliminate tedious manual work, saving time and resources, but it can also enable smarter marketing as well.

Automation powered by AI is already being used extensively by marketers. In a survey, 61% of marketers said AI was the most critical element of their data strategy. And many top-tier brands have leveraged AI to deliver better content to their audience. Netflix saved $1 billion by using AI for its personalized recommendations.

Yet, content automation and AI/machine learning are still relatively limited in use. According to a survey by Demandbase, only 18% of marketers are currently using AI within their operation. However, demand is growing. Most business leaders recognize the power of AI and have deployed it to assist with other processes. More than 40% of marketers who are using AI/machine learning tools said it was the most important investment to achieve better marketing performance.

AI adoption


So how does machine learning relate to content automation? What are the practical applications of AI/machine learning within the content process?

Why use AI in Content Automation?

AI can aid in content ideation, facilitate content creation, its publishing and distribution, and analysis of the content’s performance. It’s all possible now, thanks to technologically advanced tools, including content marketing software platforms.

It can boost productivity, make your content plan more efficient, and enable better communication and transparency. Content marketing is evolving, and to maintain a competitive advantage, you’ll benefit from embracing AI and content automation.

At Content Marketing World 2019, Chris Penn of Trust Insights presented on this very topic and here are a few applications that are noteworthy for content marketers.

  1. Reporting on what’s working: Content analytics are vital to understanding the impact of your content marketing. While it’s great to have all your data aggregated into one dashboard, machine learning can pull better insights faster. Those insights can drive better decision-making regarding your content planning or content strategy.
  2. Content/Topic Prioritization: Today we have plenty of mechanisms to capture and store ideas that feed our future content production schedule. But which ideas or projects should we execute first? Which should we not even bother with because our audience doesn’t care (but our boss does)? Machine learning tools can quickly dig into our existing performance data (websites, emails, social, etc.) to key in on the content and topics that are driving the most engagement and conversions.
  3. Topic modeling for ideation & inspiration: Early iterations of this application are already available today through platforms like Concured or MarketMuse. Just picture a robot assistant telling you exactly what you should write about today. Behind the scenes, your robot is combing through industry sites and social networks, identifying trending words, phrases and topics, because as we all know…
  4. Predictive Planning: Alongside tools that can tell you WHAT to write about, machine learning can also help us forecast WHEN we should create or promote around that topic. In Chris’ presentation mentioned above, he showed an example of Google search data that forecasts that “what is content strategy” will be the most popular search in the first week of November.

Taking this a step further, imagine you’re prepping to launch a new product later this year. By plugging in some data about the product, it’s features and benefits, and details about the ideal buyer, your robot assistant spits out a robust campaign launch plan, complete with blog topics, potential email subject lines, and social influencers to start engaging with. It’s coming folks.

Content Automation and AI in Action

What can you really do with content automation? Each mar-tech platform has different features and capabilities, but here are some key use cases to consider and how they benefit content marketing.

Improve Your Content Strategy

When crafting a kickass content strategy and editorial plan, it’s vital to look at both third-party data (ex: Google Trends) and your historical data to forecast what might perform the best in the future. By understanding the content you currently have and your audience’s response to it, data can guide changes and improvements to your strategy on the fly.

Data can also provide a more thorough definition of your buyer personas, meaning you know what your market most wants from you, where they are likely to seek that information, and when they’ll most likely be looking for it.

You can speed this process up by using automation for content analytics. Data analysis is time consuming; AI speeds up the process of aggregating data, analyzing results and surfacing recommendations, instead of you spending hours trying to do it yourself (or not doing it at all because you don’t have time).

Enhance Your Content Marketing Plans

An essential aspect of your content planning is generating content ideas. These are often based on popular topics, timely occurrences, and relevant keywords. This information has to be accurate for you to engage an audience and drive traffic to your website.

It’s possible to use AI to help with this. Platforms that identify trending topics, emerging keywords, and other metrics related to popular content are readily available and inexpensive (ex: BuzzSumo). There are also new tools that will audit your content and provide recommendations on where to promote it.

You can also use AI platforms that leverage natural language processing to edit your content, catching errors, as well as providing you analysis on the content’s structure, readability, and consistency.

Create Content Efficiently

While it is possible to use automation to generate content, the better use for it is to help with content workflows for more efficient creation processes. If you have a content workflow, how easy is it to follow? Are there often hurdles related to communication and schedules?

Automation and AI can improve these hurdles. With automated production workflows, your team will work productively and find it easier to collaborate. Use automation for the creation of tasks, assignment of tasks, production schedules, and more.

Promote and Distribute Content more Effectively

Content is only effective in attracting buyers if it’s properly distributed. This distribution also needs a strategy and some help from AI. Simply posting your original content to your social media profiles isn’t enough. And if you do this manually, you are likely to spend way too much time on social media management.

By using automated tools, you can easily schedule your content posts from your content marketing platform. These scheduled posts will also show up on your content calendar, so you know exactly what campaigns your supporting and promoting.

With the right platform, you can also automate any tasks related to distribution. Those tasks may refer to the copy itself, imagery, tracking codes, and more.

By using automation, you can streamline the entire social media management process for your organization. And when it’s connected to your content calendar, you’ll also have a central hub that updates you on the progress of any content project.

Once you have this workflow automated, AI can assist you once again in the analysis part. AI will aggregate your social media metrics, giving you clear insights into what content was successful and which social media platforms are the most vital to your audience.

Content distribution should be an omnichannel approach. Social media isn’t the only way to disperse content. Web push notifications could be another channel to consider. These involve the use of AI, too, and help you target the right audience for your content. This will, in turn, drive more traffic to your blog and website.

Personalize Conversations with Chatbots

content automation chatbot

Chatbots are another interesting use of AI and content automation. By using chatbots, you can support your sales and customer service teams, as well as leveraging them to distribute the right content at the right moment. You can promote content on request by sending messages to responses of customer inquiries or comments.

Chatbots give you an additional opportunity to start a conversation with customers without requiring more staff. Your chatbot can serve as the always-available, first connection to learning more about your brand and can quickly respond to common questions from current customers.

The Myths and Realities of AI-Powered Content Automation

Here at DivvyHQ, we love a good showdown.

Take for example, the a-cappella Riff-off from Pitch Perfect 2. So good, right? Or Luke Skywalker battling Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi (spoiler alert). And the final shootout in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid? Simply epic.

As technology advances, many journalists, writers, brands and content marketers have reacted by pitting technology against humans with the same Hollywood flare used in all the films mentioned above.

Are robo-bosses set to replace management? Gasp!

Will AI software soon write blog posts better than humans?! God help us no!

Are Japanese robots replacing creative directors? Oh, THE HORROR!!!!

With millions of years of fear-based evolutionary programming, it seems many of us are letting technology predictions get the best of our nerves. So what are we to make of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and content marketing automation? In the following paragraphs we aim to define the topics at hand, debunk some of the sensationalist hype, and distinguish myth from reality.

Claim #1: If You’re Not Using AI Software, You’re Behind the Curve

A recent article on Content Marketing Institute’s site reads, “Every day your team postpones using innovative AI-powered solutions in your content marketing, you’re losing competitive edge.” Another blog took things a step further, claiming AI is the future of content marketing and will replace such things as writing entirely “Consider how much time you and your team spend on mundane content marketing activities… like discovering keywords; planning blog post topics; writing, optimizing.”

Wait a second. Mundane? Houston, we have a problem. If writing and planning blog posts is mundane for your team, reading them will certainly be a bore for your audience. Trying to replace these, “mundane” activities with software will not end well.

The claim that we must get on the AI bandwagon or be left in the dust is a complete myth. Don’t get us wrong, AI will play a huge role in the future of content marketing. Keeping tabs on this evolving technology is important, and adopting a relevant software could indeed be helpful. But, the majority of AI softwares are not yet viable for the majority of content marketing teams.

Conclusion: Myth!

Claim #2: AI Can Think for Itself & Act On Its Own

Read a handful of articles on the future of artificial intelligence and you’ll be locking your doors at night, hoping the sentient robots pick another home to invade. A recent article from Brafton media claims that within months AI software will be writing articles indistinguishable from something a human could write: “As you read this, a yet-unknown algorithm holds the key that unlocks ultimate levels of content writing efficiency. It will be low cost, lightning quick and easy to use. And it will produce marketing content that is virtually indistinguishable from human-developed text.”

The full article leads readers to believe AI can think and act on its own. It portrays AI software as game-changing tools that could do away with human participation, while even supplanting human tasks entirely.

This same article discusses natural language generation (NLG), reporting that NLG can be used to create narrative text: “This process entails transforming the structured data from NLG into narrative stories (aka writing content from scratch without the involvement of humans).”

Despite these bold claims, AI can definitely not think, act, or write like a human being. Can it be programmed to mimic patterned behaviors such as speech? Sure. Will AI be writing articles and books in the next 10 years? Sure. But the truth is current marketing AI software leverage rule-based algorithms while acting within very strict pre-programmed confines and conditions. Without human input and guidance, the software doesn’t do much.

Conclusion: Myth!

Claim #3: AI Can Crunch Data Better Than Humans

IBM, Adobe, Oracle, SAP, and Open AI have all developed sophisticated machine learning algorithms and softwares to deal with the accumulating mountain of data coming out of each and every device on the planet.

Ten years ago, data scientists struggled to keep up with the massive spike in the amount of data, and many posited that analyzing all of it would be impossible. But artificial intelligence, having evolved, may now supplement or replace data science altogether by finding unforeseen connections and insights. And all in the blink of an eye.

Harvard Business Review recently published an interview with Hilary Mason, founder of machine intelligence research firm Fast Forward Labs. Mason made some incredible claims about how AI is changing data science: “Deep learning allows you to create predictive models at a level of quality and sophistication that was previously out of reach.”

Other publications have made the lofty claim that AI may even replace financial analysts altogether. A recent Quartz article reads, “machines can crunch reams of data more quickly than human analysts and, with the right data, identify obscure correlations and patterns.”

If it’s true that AI has this power, what does it mean for content marketing? It means that all of the data-driven aspects of your content marketing strategy could be supplemented, and some day replaced by artificial intelligence.

Customer behavior research, performance analysis, audience research and even Google Analytics insights could be gleaned in seconds. Is it possible today? For the savviest among us, yes.

Conclusion: Reality!

Get Data-Driven to Prepare for an AI-Infused Future

Regardless of whether you’re ready for AI, machine learning, and robots galore, these technologies will eventually play a leading role in content marketing. But failing to incorporate AI into your strategy today doesn’t mean you’ll lose competitive advantage, despite what all the hype would lead you to believe.

It’s clear that content marketing has become more and more influenced by technology. And that’s not a bad thing. It could revolutionize how you work, saving you time, effort, and money. While AI and content automation are wonderful to leverage, remember they are just tools for real content marketers to use.

On the other hand, if you’re not diving head first into a world dominated by data, you’ll be in trouble, and soon. Which is exactly why we released a free ebook, “The Future-proof Guide to Content Marketing Measurement.” In it we reveal how to deal with an overage of data, and gain content marketing effectiveness through targeted, customer-centric insights.

It all starts with making the right choice when it comes to your platform. Compare features and functionality to ensure it’s the best fit for your team. Why not try DivvyHQ for free today and see where it can take you?