09 November 2022 |

AI, content marketing, and what’s possible (for now!)

By Tracey Wallace

It happened! I got access to Lex this weekend and, of course, immediately decided to play with it.

I’m a big believer in the power of AI to make content marketing less hectic, removing a lot of the more tedious work that goes into content repurposing, for example. But, I haven’t found a tool that makes that easy just yet.

Lex is no exception. 

I’m looking for a tool into which I can drop my finalized blog content. Then, that tool would pull out the H2s and H3s, and rewrite for me several shorter-form versions of the blog that I might need to edit lightly, but that could ultimately be turned into one-pagers or gated content, as needed.

Even better if that tool had a Canva-like design system built in so that I could PDF those new assets out immediately. Could you even imagine that world?! 

It will live on in my dreams, though, because Lex doesn’t seem to be able to do that just yet. I have also talked to the founders of Automata, who are working to build this functionality there. And a good friend is now over at Jasper, where maybe I can convince her on this (she’s a content marketer, too!). 

In the meantime, it’s still fun to play around with AI. So, let’s ask it a few questions about content, why don’t we?

H2s are the questions I asked it. The AI’s answers are italicized. Under that, I have my brief analysis of what the AI wrote. 

What is the goal of content marketing?

Content marketing is all about creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

This is a pretty decent explanation you’d find on any blog trying to rank for the query “what is the goal of content marketing.” Does it use too many buzzwords and remain incredibly unclear? Yup. Here’s how I might define it:

The goal of content marketing is to drive lead generation for companies, and aid the conversion of those throughout a marketing funnel all the way through to revenue and retention. This means that the ultimate goal for content marketing is revenue. 

What are the biggest challenges for content marketers?

  1. Producing Enough Content
  2. Creating Content that Resonates
  3. Measuring Content ROI
  4. Getting Buy-In from Executives
  5. Managing Internal Expectations
  6. Working with Other Departments
  7. Staying Up-to-Date
  8. Defining (and Achieving) Success

Honestly, this is a pretty great list! No major notes from me, and I’d certainly use something like this to build out a brief a bit faster for my writers, or use it to list out benefits of something on a landing page. Pretty cool! 

Which companies do content marketing best?

  1. McDonald’s
  2. Coca-Cola
  3. Red Bull
  4. Spotify
  5. Airbnb
  6. Nike
  7. Starbucks
  8. Adobe
  9. Google

Not exactly what I was expecting… Most of these companies do branding really well, which isn’t really the same thing (though there is overlap). Airbnb does content marketing, for sure. Adobe, too. 

Google isn’t a fair one. Have you ever actually looked at Google’s content? They very literally disregard every single SEO best practice they preach, and still rank #1 for whatever term they want. It both pays to own the search engine, and this proves, too, that brand notoriety (often measured by backlinks) matters a lot for the algorithm. 

It’s why I remain really skeptical about John Meuller’s recent note about links not mattering as much for SEO. The main way that Google “gets better at understanding where your content fits within the context of the web” is your backlink profile. I stand to be proven wrong here, but I don’t see there being a huge change in the near future outside of continuing to down-rank sites that are clearly link baiting––under which affiliate sites have been victimized (a lot of affiliate sites drive serious revenue for businesses––and they do so through links). 

Which B2B companies do content marketing best?

  1. HubSpot
  2. Drift
  3. Intercom
  4. demo
  5. Social Media Examiner
  6. The NextWeb
  7. CMI
  8. KissMetrics

Hubspot is the most annoying, most cited “best content marketing” site by everyone who views themselves as an expert on content marketing, but hasn’t dabbled in it for a day before in their lives. 

Drift, good. Intercom, good. Demo? I can’t find anything on that––though maybe this is a top CTA by companies that do content marketing decently well? That seems to track. 

Social Media Examiner is a publication, sort of an affiliate site? I’ll agree here, though. They function a lot like a standalone content marketing site––and no one would be worse off following similar tactics. Though, maybe update the design, eh? 

The Next Web is an actual publisher. CMI does good work, but similar to Hubspot, benefits heavily from an early-mover advantage. Kissmetrics used to be one of the best in class content marketing orgs in the industry. Is it still? I haven’t heard about them in a while––so I question it. 

How are the top content marketers?

  1. Joe Pulizzi
  2. Ann Handley
  3. Rand Fishkin
  4. Neil Patel
  5. Marcus Sheridan
  6. Brian Clark
  7. Jay Baer
  8. Jay Bear

Wonder how Jay Bear got here twice. For real, I legit wonder how the AI pulled this list of 8 together and how Jay ended up as both 7 & 8. What articles was it pulling from? All these folks must have been mentioned on multiple of them. 

So curious how it happened––also because it’ll be important that content marketers understand how AI pulls the content it does as we use it more, and try to get it to reference our own content more often.

What are the most popular content marketing tools?

  1. Google Docs
  2. Hootsuite
  3. CoSchedule
  4. Quora
  5. SumoMe

Not exactly––Hootsuite is a social media tool. SumoMe is an email tool? They’ve been a lot of things over the years, I guess. I didn’t know anyone still used CoSchedule, but cool. Quora is great for research, but certainly now where you begin. 

But, #1 is definitely Google Docs! 

How does SEO play into content marketing?

While SEO and content marketing are both important in their own right, they work best when they’re used together. Good content will help your SEO efforts by increasing the chances that people will link to and share your content, and strong SEO can help your content reach a larger audience by making it easier for people to find it.

Look, I like this answer. Content and SEO are so interwoven in my mind that I struggle to break down exactly how and why the two play off of each other so well. This answer is decently succinct. I don’t disagree with it. It could help someone like me take a nuanced topic and put it into something that isn’t a rambling deep dive into philosophy on the topic. But, that’s just me.

What are the best SEO tools for content marketing?

  1. Google Keyword Planner
  2. BuzzSumo
  3. Google Trends
  4. Mozbar
  5. SERPStat

This is embarrassing––I forgot about Google Keyword Planner! BuzzSumo is ok, but not necessary (and not for SEO…though, I guess it can be used for backlink outreach). Also haven’t used Google Trends in years. Not a Moz person myself. Haven’t heard of SERPstat. 

My tools of choice are Google Search Console, Ahrefs, KeywordsEverywhere, ScreamingFrog, Clearscope, and Google Lighthouse.

What are the best SEO tools?

  1. Google Search Console
  2. Google Analytics
  3. Yoast SEO Plugin
  4. Moz Link Explorer
  5. Screaming Frog

These seem right. Again, I’m not a Moz user so I’m not sure there. But yea, these other ones seem on the nose. 

What is the history of content marketing?

Content marketing has been around for centuries. One of the earliest examples is John Deere’s The Furrow, a magazine that was first published in 1895 and is still being published today.

All right, well, AI has me standing corrected. I Googled quickly after this answer to find the year the Michilin Star guide was first published, certain that it would be before 1985. But, no. It was first published in 1900. So, now I have a brand new content marketing history to reference!

In another random bit of print news, did you know that the first clothes catalog was sent out for mourning wear? You read that right! Wrote a whole essay on this a while ago. Mourning wear was also the first ready-to-wear clothing. The more you know! 

What are the best content marketing strategies?

  1. Define Your Target Audience
  2. Set Your Goals
  3. Create compelling and diverse content
  4. Distribute your content
  5. Promote your content
  6. Analyze and optimize your results

To be fair, this is a hard question. I don’t agree with the answers––at all––but if someone were to ask me what the best content marketing strategies are, I’d say it depends. So, this was a trick question, AI. SORRY.

What are the best content marketing tactics?

  1. Create a content calendar
  2. Write compelling headlines
  3. Use social media
  4. Repurpose your content
  5. Collaborate with other writers
  6. Use visuals
  7. Host a webinar
  8. Write a guest blog post

Sure, you should do these things. Not certain these are in the right priority order, and there’s a lot missing, but this is fine, I guess.

How do you create a content calendar?

  1. Define your goals
  2. Choose your content types
  3. Choose your topics
  4. Research your topics
  5. Write your content
  6. Create your editorial calendar
  7. Promote your content
  8. Analyze your results

I love that this suggests writing content before you build your calendar. That’s a very hot take, AI!

How do you host a webinar?

  1. Choose a webinar platform
  2. Choose a topic
  3. Find a speaker
  4. Promote your webinar
  5. Host your webinar
  6. Follow up with your attendees

This isn’t bad!! Straightforward. Clear.

OK, so some of these answers are OK, and others are well––not that in depth or helpful. But, it took all of 5 minutes for the tool to write all of this, and most of those minutes were me writing out my next question.

As a content marketer, I don’t feel too threatened by copy AI at this point in time, esp. because the tools lack the ability to go deep on how-to content, which might be where we see content practitioners focus more over time (not necessarily a bad thing!).

But, this tool is incredibly powerful for definition type content, or even listing out problems that I hadn’t thought about. For instance, I didn’t know about John Deere’s Furrow magazine. I usually use the Michelin Star Guide as my “history of content marketing” example––so, that’s pretty cool! 

For those of you with smaller teams, this AI can be even more helpful, I imagine, in building out briefs in which you can more easily fill in content and hopefully produce even faster.

In other words, copy AI can help you avoid the blank page, and give you direction, which is one of the first hurdles to writing great content. 

Just be careful: Lex is only trained through 2021––and you’ll still want to do some editing anyway, for clarity, for duplication, for plagiarism. But, you have to do that already don’t you?

No harm in trying this stuff out! Do you have any AI tools you’ve come to really like? Any I should try?