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Can AI replace human copywriters in digital marketing?

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 24 Aug, 2018
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As traditional marketing methods become less effective, companies are realizing the need for more relevant and authoritative content

This shift in strategy is fueling the rapid growth of the content marketing industry, which is projected to reach $412.88 billion by 2021, according to Technavio.

But with all the buzz about the possibilities of AI, many businesses are curious about whether or not it can be (convincingly) applied to content creation. After all, companies like Google and Yahoo Finance have been using automated content for years, unbeknownst to many a reader. While the applications for AI are often lauded as either a panacea for society’s ills or admonished as being the end of humanity, the possibilities for AI and content creation rest firmly in reality, as many companies are already using both to help them build their brands and better engage with consumers.

Natural Language Processing

This branch of artificial intelligence focuses on the processing of human speech. It can be used to analyze both written content like emails to voice-based dialogue from real customer services conversations. It consists of breaking down words, phrases, and sentences to their most fundamental parts. Known as tokenization, this step is essential for comprehensive natural language processing. Additional steps like parsing, language detection, and the analysis of semantics may also be completed depending on the algorithm used and desired objective of the analysis.

More complex natural language processing methodologies like content categorization, contextual extraction, sentiment analysis (identifying the mood of the content), and machine translation can also aid in creating the kind of enriched content that is used in high-value content creation. NLP is also used to create voice-based platforms that can respond to both fact-based and open-ended questions.

AI copywriters

Content Curation with AI

Finding high-quality relevant content that is uniquely tailored for a target segment, while focusing on a specific topic, requires a lot of time and energy. But content curators tackle this very challenge day in and day out, sifting through mountains of data, topics, and digital content to create a fully annotated and organized product. On top of all this, the content must also be compelling enough to engage readers and move them through the marketing funnel to, hopefully, become paying clients.

Understanding your target audience is a key part of the content curation process. AI-generated algorithms can provide content creators with the information that they need to quickly identify what type of content is most likely to appeal to specific readers, the type of questions readers want answered, and even which concerns need to be addressed in order to convert browsers into buyers. With this information, curators are better positioned to craft engaging conversion-increasing content.

AI, Social Media, and Email Marketing

Social media marketing is a necessity for businesses in the 21st century. Indeed, a study by eMarketer.com found that the amount of ad dollars invested in digital advertising now exceeds that invested in television ads. However, continuously crafting content that captures both the imagination and shorter attention spans of readers is difficult for even the most social media savvy company. But natural language processing is ideal for creating short highly-effective social content, including email marketing.

Natural language processing algorithms can be trained to identify the words and phrases that will yield the most impactful Facebook post, tweet, or email marketing campaign. Best of all, this powerful tool makes it easy to automate your social media management process, whether you’re a startup or a corporation. This means more quality content in a fraction of the time. AI algorithms can also help companies determine which ads are most relevant to users, further increasing the likelihood of engagement.

Content By Numbers

If you’ve ever read a rundown of a sports event or a summary of a stock’s performance, you’ve almost certainly read something written using AI. If your company has a lot of numerical-based content, it is well-suited to automated narration. AI excels at extracting the most salient bits of data-related content to produce text that convincingly supports the overall narrative. In short, it’s really good at taking numbers and building a simple story around them.

However, even if your content needs are more focused on words than numbers, you can still use AI and natural language processing as part of your content creation process. Remember, the more words, phrases and dialogue that an algorithm has access to the better it becomes at formulating content that is relevant to what your readers want. You’re also likely to save your company some money in the process, as small and medium-sized companies that use content marketing spend about 40% less per lead than those that invest in paid search.

Limitations and the Need for Humans

Can AI write as well as humans? A few years ago, this question would have been unthinkable. At the time, natural language processing lacked much of its current refinement, resulting in clunky, stilted content and translations. While neither are perfect, even today, there’s little doubt that they’ve come quite a ways. Shorter content is often indistinguishable from that written by humans. Likewise, longer content often only requires minor grammatical and or structural edits. Just take a look at “An Article About AI, written by AI,” an unedited piece written using only natural language processing automation.

All this progress begs the question: “If AI is so great, why do we still need humans?”. Natural language processing, as we currently know it, is great at disseminating written and verbal content and getting to the core of its meaning. It can even convincingly reproduce a multitude of versions of the same content and successfully extract information from various sources to produce original content. However, it can’t generate content off-the-cuff, write for emotional impact, or originate ideas or topics. Human language is full of complexity, subtlety, and idiosyncrasy. This is what makes it so beautiful and so uniquely human. In short, the best writers are unlikely to be replaced by an AI version of Hemingway or Shakespeare anytime in the foreseeable future.

With 90% of businesses apply content creation as a strategy for lead generation, the importance of high-quality, relevant content is undeniable. While AI and natural language processing may not be able to replace humans, they can serve as powerful complements to our own content creation abilities. Recognizing the content advantage afforded by these technologies can help distinguish your brand and the content associated with it as being truly worthy of readership.

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