When you think of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, your mind probably goes to science fiction movies like Terminator and Star Wars. But, whether you realize it or not, AI and automation technologies are already here and are deeply integrated into many different industries.

For example, security companies use AI-powered facial recognition to recognize threats, delivery firms use machine learning to optimize their routes, and data scientists use AI to understand their data. We’re also starting to see commercially available AI-powered tools enter the marketing industry. And for marketers who are willing to adopt the new technology stand to fly ahead of their competition. In this article, we will investigate the benefits and implications of AI and automation in content marketing.

How is AI and Automation Used in Content Marketing?

While AI is used in a number of content applications, it remains very much in its infancy. According to a recent survey from Demandbase, just 18 percent of marketers are currently using AI in their martech stack.

However, while uptake is low right now, demand is growing—and fast. According to Colleen Jones in The Content Advantage, over 80 percent of CEOs view AI as very or extremely important. And when you look at organizations that are using AI-powered tools and services, the technology is already deeply ingrained in their teams. Over 40 percent of marketers who use AI technology said AI was the most important investment to achieve better marketing performance.

With demand rising and new products entering the market every day, the mass adoption of AI and automation technologies by marketers is imminent. To understand the massive impact this revolution will have on content marketing, let’s look at three ways AI technologies will (and in some cases already are) revolutionizing the sector.

Research

One of the interesting things about writers is that they spend very little of their time writing. Kurt Vonnegut, for example, only wrote for four hours in the morning with a short break for breakfast. And the same is true for writers and content creators, who spend the majority of their time researching and planning. But it probably won’t stay that way.

In the future, we expect AIs to scan our documents, work out what we’re working on, and identify the research we need. Then the AI will autonomously locate and retrieve the research, presenting the most relevant content for you to use.

This future could see all almost all of our time-consuming information gathering being carried out by sophisticated AI researchers, freeing us to focus on more creative endeavors.

Chatbots

When you think of content marketing technology, chatbots probably don’t spring to mind—but they should. Chatbots, especially intelligent AI-powered chatbots, can add a huge amount of value to content marketing campaigns.

Casper, for example, is already using a chatbot to engage its customers and strengthen its brand identity. Dubbed the Insomniabot-3000, Casper’s chatbot talks to people who suffer from insomnia, keeping them amused and accompanied during the night. Insomniabot-3000 is fun, personable, and it reinforces Casper’s friendly brand identity. And then there’s Whole Foods, which uses a Facebook Messenger chatbot to provide personalized recipes to the grocery store’s customers. Finally, Domino’s Pizza has a cheeky chatbot on Tinder that sends out pizza-related pick-up lines to its would be love interests.

In the future, we expect to see a rapid proliferation of chatbots throughout content marketing as organizations seek to engage their audience in personal, one-on-one conversations.

Smarter Email

The average person receives over 140 emails per day—one every three and a half minutes. With so many emails landing in your inboxes, it’s impossible for you to read every single one. As a result, over 80 percent of emails go unopened and unread. And that’s where drip campaigns come in.

Drip campaigns—also known as drip marketing, automated email campaigns, and lifecycle emails—are a set of pre-scripted emails sent on a schedule. By increasing the number of emails you send to a contact, you’re increasing the likelihood that one of your emails falls into the 20 percent of read messages.

According to Woodpecker, marketers who send fewer than three emails receive a reply rate of just nine percent. But if a marketer sends between four and seven emails, their reply rate jumps to 27 percent.

While email automation tech is effective on its own, it gets really exciting when you combine it with AI. In the future, we expect AI technology to personalize each drip email to the individual recipient. For example, your AI-powered platform might scan a prospect’s social media profiles to learn what they were doing at the weekend. Then it will personalize the next drip email with that information.

When you combine email automation with effective AI, marketers will be able to deliver individually targeted messages at every single stage in a drip campaign.

What Does the Future Hold?

While AI technologies can outperform humans in certain tasks, they have their limitations. For instance, AIs struggle to understand human emotions, complex story, and creativity, all of which are essential to effective content marketing.

It’s important organizations don’t see AI technology as a replacement for human marketers. Instead, we need to treat AI as a supporting actor, as something we can use to support and augment our work. And for organizations that do that, the benefits will be immense.

The Author

Scott McLay is a marketing executive with Sage Group, an enterprise accounting software company. McLay was part of the team leading Sage’s research into the impact of artificial intelligence and automation on the marketing industry.

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