Mike Connell

The Spin Sucks Question: Artificial Intelligence and Marketing

By: Mike Connell | October 26, 2018 | 
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Artificial Intelligence and MarketingArtificial Intelligence and marketing. That’s a big one.

When it comes to any discussion around artificial intelligence, a very wise person (let’s call him “Chris“) once warned me that it’s a very broad category, and advised that we should define it first.

Thanks to my years of experience, and lingering tendency to do what I’m told, I’ve learned that when a “Chris” talks, one should listen.

So, what is artificial intelligence? In short, it speaks to a machine’s (a computer’s) ability to process and mimic human intelligence. We could go deeper than that, but today’s Spin Sucks Question isn’t “What is AI?”

If you want to know more, you can check out this Fireside Chat where a Chris explains AI in more detail.

The goal, or purpose of AI?

The three As.

  1. Acceleration (faster results)
  2. Accuracy (better results)
  3. Automation (or alleviation: Things we don’t have to do anymore because the machines can do them)

But what about AI in a marketing and communications context? What about when it comes to content creation?

As we (briefly) discussed last week, we could (should) go back to the three As and ask: What is it you’re trying to get more of or improve?

We could also put it back on the Spin Sucks community and get some answers from them.

So, this week’s Spin Sucks Question asks:

Where do you think you should use AI in the content creation process?

Where shouldn’t you use it? 

Artificial Intelligence and Marketing: Asking the Right Questions

Many of our respondents came through with super practical use cases for AI in the content marketing mix.

One of the most popular was using chatbots to engage with a target audience.

From Eric Bryant:

We use AI to help us decide on blog post topics and to help us revise or create FAQ content.

We have a chatbot on the site that can respond to visitor questions.

The chatbot tells us what users really want to know, and shows us any content gaps we need to consider.

From Katie Robbert:

AI for topic generation.

For example, we scraped Quora marketing forums to understand what questions people had so we can create content in response.

Artificial Intelligence and Marketing: Make It Personal

Similarly, Claire Whittaker feels AI is very well-positioned to analyze audience/user data to determine what content we can create:

In today’s society where everyone is looking for the perfect product for their lives, artificial intelligence can be leveraged to help creators serve their audience through personalized content.

AI allows you to leverage big data to surface the perfect piece just as your customer wants to find it.

Where it falls down, however, is in the creation of the content itself.

Though increasingly popular and ever-entertaining on niche tech blogs or Instagram accounts like ‘artificial_quotes‘, the tech is not quite there when it comes to producing a compelling piece of copy.

Artificial Intelligence and Marketing: Getting the Right Answers

Where Eric and Claire focused on ideas for content creation and personalizing it, Peter Brooks tells us how we can use AI to get the answers we need, where we need them.

He explains how they use AI at the company he works for:

First, it uses AI to generate a list of commonly asked questions and the best responses.

Second it uses AI to forge relationships with real people.

More specifically, he explains, they created a bot:

Got It, and the new Excelchat for Slack Slackbot provide instant help with Excel and Google spreadsheets.

It connects you in 30 seconds to a live expert (2,500 experts in 75 countries).

So, AI for Got It means:

1) the right answer at your fingertips, and
2) the right person at your fingertips.

Artificial Intelligence and Marketing: Too. Much. Information.

Saul Stokes wants to add “discovery” to Chris’s list of goals (would that work better as Analysis, to fit in with the other three “A”s?):

Wouldn’t it be safe to say that we are dealing with an overflow of content as it is? Take music for example.

There’s too much to discover right now and for the last few months, Spotify’s AI algorithm has been feeding me variations of the same pop song.

So I’d say perhaps a better role for AI right now is to get really good at creatively seeking out hard to find, unheard of exciting content instead of lackluster variations.

Once it gets good at discovery, then, perhaps, it can start to add its own stuff.

Artificial Intelligence and Marketing: Content Creation

When it comes to content creation, my first-blush reaction is typically negative. AI doesn’t have a place in writing or content creation. That’s my job as a supremely creative and eloquent scribe, right?

Enter Seán Stickle:

I use spellcheck… So AI is there, even in editing.

Smartypants.

He doesn’t stop there:

There’s a lovely quote from Edsger Dijkstra (one of the more important system scientists):

The question of whether Machines Can Think… is about as relevant as the question of whether Submarines Can Swim

To this end, I think AI (our flaky name for Swimming Submarines in the computer world) is best used throughout the entire content creation process.

Topic generation, content and data analysis, proofreading (spell check is just the beginning!), SEO, etc.

Whatever it can do to amplify my abilities as a writer/communicator (hence my preference for Intelligence Amplification — IA — rather than AI).

Artificial Intelligence and Marketing: Research and Reporting

From Greg Brooks:

Near-term, AI (or simply big data with some decidedly non-AI queries) can automate the search for topics and emergent/pre-emergent trends.

AI is absolutely going to plow through rote reporting of fairly structured events.

We’re already seeing this in some financial reporting and even sports reporting; it’s a very short leap from that to investor relations-related content.

Related: AI would likely be outstanding to enforce compliance in highly regulated, widely dispersed industries like insurance and investing.

Anyone who’s tried to get so much as a flyer made in those regimes knows that compliance is currently slow moving and rigid; AI could open the world for more individual, authentic content creation in these industries.

Artificial Intelligence and Marketing: Troll Protection

How does Betsy Decillis use AI?

Hiding the jerk comments from the trolls on FB.

I love when they use the same language and make it easier for me to put those oh so special keywords in so hiding is automated.

Putting keywords in to automatically hide them allows me to relax and get a cocktail.

That wins you the last word, Betsy. Well played.

Up Next: Email Marketing Software

We send a lot of emails. Not just “we”, as in the Spin Sucks team, but we as an industry. As communicators.

Email campaigning is a stalwart component of the content marketing mix.

And while we’ve discussed the best email newsletters, we don’t often stop and think about whether or not we should be thinking (or rethinking) about the software/platform we use to send those campaigns.

True, there are oodles of email marketing solutions out there to choose from.

Mailchimp, Emma, Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, ActiveCampaign… what makes one better than another?

Price? Ease of use? Scalability?

So, we thought we would put it to you for the next Spin Sucks Question:

What is your preferred email marketing software solution, and why? 

You can answer here, in our free Spin Sucks Community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

About Mike Connell


Mike Connell is the director of client services at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. He is also a contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks, the leading source for modern PR training, trends, and insights. Find more of Mike's musings on his blog, Communative. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

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