In an age when brands can churn out content by the minute and clicks don’t always translate to conversion, content marketers are asking: How can we do better?
The best decisions are informed decisions – specifically informed by data. While data-driven marketing isn’t new, it’s now vastly improved thanks to the emergence of artificial intelligence “AI”. Today brands are leveraging AI to access more robust data, gain actionable insights faster and automatically apply learnings in real time.
What AI looks like in content marketing
Hint: what it doesn’t look like is robots replacing your marketing department. AI starts smaller. It’s how Netflix recommends that next documentary, how Alexa answers “what’s the weather today,” and how iPhones recognize your face.
In content marketing, AI is how brands engage more customers, predict consumer behavior and see higher ROI from their content marketing investments. Smart algorithms let brands analyze vast amounts of data about their consumers so what once was a single marketing strategy with a single objective becomes a series of unique narratives tailored to individual customers.
Questions brands should be asking about their content marketing strategy
- Am I creating relevant content that engages my target market?
- Can I tailor my content to each customer based on their preferences?
- Do I have access to all of my data – especially if it’s spread across channels?
- How can I measure engagement and foster long-term customer relationships?
- Am I using my first-party data to help determine what types of content to create?
In striving to answers these questions, brands are going back to their bread and butter: data – and its ownership. A survey conducted by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) revealed a striking trend: a growing number of brands are moving away from agencies and moving media buying efforts in-house.
In 2016, 14 percent of respondents said they had moved programmatic media buying in-house. In 2017, that number jumped to 35 percent, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down.
By taking ownership of media buys, brands are taking back control of their first-party data so it can work harder for them. They’re also solving brand safety concerns. Now they have greater control over where their ads appear on the web. They also enjoy greater transparency. Beyond being able to access and control their own data, they’re also cutting out the middlemen, along with hidden fees and one-size-fits-all strategies that come with them.
The bottom line: Companies are taking control of their first-party data back in an effort to waste less money on less effective ads. Why are they confident they can market more effectively themselves? AI.
4 ways brands can leverage AI to improve content marketing performance
#1 Let’s get hyper-personal
Once upon a time, marketers tailored content strategies to specific markets. Now AI lets brands tailor content to specific consumers based on their intent and online behaviors automatically – no added manpower required.
Brands like eBay and Sephora have interactive chatbots that help consumers zero in on what they want. The AI-powered bots chat like humans and make shopping efficient through quick replies and multiple choice responses. And like all good AI, they improve over time, using data they collect to offer an improved customer experience.
The same ability to offer a custom experience to each user can apply to platforms from email to websites.
#2 Get a content crystal ball – who loves what where
Before AI, content marketers learned what content performed best after it went live. Now AI enables brands to accurately predict how well content will perform in the future.
How long will it take AI to create a completely personalized experience for each consumer? Trick question. It doesn’t need to. Enter the brand persona. If various data points gathered from Customer A match data from Customer B, C, and so on, chances are, they’ll respond to the same content. That’s how ads become more effective by the day.
What’s perhaps even more impressive is the way marketers can leverage ai-powered audiences to improve top-of-funnel acquisition initiatives in ways that are more scalable and productive than ever before.
#3 Put the entire funnel in your line of sight
Before AI, content marketers could use A/B testing to test two email subject lines and then pick the one predicted to perform best in future emails. Now, before ever performing a test, brands can tell which customers will respond to video vs. text-heavy content, what topics specific customers care about and how each customer prefers to get their content.
Rather than blindly employing an overarching media buy strategy, marketers can learn what content works most effectively at different stages of the funnel to acquire higher quality audiences most likely to take the desired action e.g. mobile app download at a lower cost.
This gives brands greater ownership over the customer journey, resulting in increased engagement and more profitable transactions.
#4 Ads created automatically
Believe it or not, publishers like AP are already using AI to generate low-priority articles to enables journalists to focus on high-priority content. Brands can employ AI in ways that are even more powerful through content marketing automation.
That can be as simple as personalizing email campaigns with names to automating which ads go to which customers in real time. Using both first- and third-party data, brands can analyze customers based on intent, then create Dynamic Content Ads on Facebook based on specific algorithms that analyze online behavior on your website.