If you’re a human, you’ve probably heard of AI by now. Discussions about ChatGPT, AI image generators, and other forms of artificial intelligence have peppered local newscasts, online podcasts, and forms of media that don’t even end with “casts.” Long story short, AI technology is here to stay – and only getting better over time.
As a digital marketing agency, we’re always looking for ways to improve our services and become more efficient. AI technology has already made its way into our industry, but it’s not always apparent how agencies use AI and how much it makes a difference. We’d like to change that.
It’s easy to speculate on how much work your agency is doing compared to AI. We’re here to pull back the curtain – spoiler, there are no flying monkeys or conmen from Omaha, Nebraska behind the scenes. Here’s an inside look into the pros and cons of AI and how we use it for our clients.
Pros and Cons of AI in Digital Marketing
AI has received a lot of hype recently, and sometimes there’s good reason for the hype. There are several benefits of using AI in digital marketing. For example:
- AI is quick – Do you know what works quicker than a human? A computer. AI can knock out content and other tasks in minutes, while a person may take hours or more.
- AI is scalable – In addition to being quicker, AI can simply handle more work than a normal person. This makes scaling more tasks and clients a lot easier (not to mention eliminating a lot of HR work).
- AI is cost-effective – Until they finally rebel and turn us into their fleshy servants, we don’t have to pay robots. Even subscription-based AI tools are a lot less expensive than hiring a whole human, so AI offers some potential cost savings and efficiencies for businesses.
Sounds pretty exciting right? It is, although it’s about time we bring your visions of robot digital marketing agencies back to reality. There are still some very real issues with artificial intelligence that limit just how much it can assist with digital marketing programs.
- AI is rigid – Appropriately, our robot overlords tend to sound robotic when they create content. Choppy sentences, lack of tone, and lack of personality are all regular problems with AI content.
- AI struggles with nuance and creativity – Computers like nice, tidy answers, but not everything has a guaranteed solution. AI still struggles with personalization or providing creative answers or that require a human approach.
- AI isn’t always correct – AI pulls what it uses from what it learns from what’s out there on the internet. As you may have heard, you can’t trust everything you see or read online. AI can and will cite incorrect info or plagiarize other sources, both of which are quite bad!
- AI can be biased, even racist – Like we said they’re still working out the kinks.
Simply put, AI can be an extremely valuable tool for digital marketing, but it’s just that – a tool. AI, at least right now, cannot and should not replace talented specialists, but it can help them with their jobs. Humans still need to be involved in the digital marketing process, but there are several ways that we can put AI to work to add value and save time for businesses.
How We Use AI for Content Creation
Before we get into how we use AI for content marketing, we need to make it clear where it’s not used. AI and longform content do not mix well. The more words you need, the more chances there are for robotic writing and incorrect information. We’re not alone in this stance – WIRED and other publications have had similar results. It turns out that it takes a human mind to really create complex, well-articulated articles and other longform content.
While we don’t use AI to write any longform content from scratch, we have found that in can be helpful in other ways. That includes supporting our content writers in the following areas:
- Headlines, meta descriptions, and other shortform copy – AI is at its best suggesting short blurbs. We’ll use AI to suggest different headlines or other short copy that can either inspire new ideas or take out some of the initial work before refining any content.
- Topic ideation – Need some fresh ideas? We can prompt AI to suggest different topic ideas or different takes on a specific theme. You’ll need an expert to vet each idea to see if a suggestion makes sense for a specific audience, but AI can help uncover opportunities that that people may not have suggested.
- Keyword recommendations – AI has long been part of our keyword process. Tools like Answer the Public and Semrush help us identify different keyword variations or even recommend related terms that naturally connect with your target terms.
How We Use AI for Email
Like content creation, AI is more of a supportive tool for crafting and sending emails than a complete solution. We use AI tools to try and expand our thinking, come up with new ideas, and support our clients email efforts. This means that AI isn’t creating any content or other messaging, but it does serve as a simple machine learning tool that supports the following email marketing tasks:
- Email copy – Need some fresh ideas? We’ll use AI text generators to help flesh out copy or provide fresh ideas or give us a solid starting point.
- A/B subject line testing – Some tools can produce similar subject lines that you can use to test against your own copy. These AI suggestions often need some finessing, but they can help provide new ideas and expand your own thought process of subject line possibilities.
- Email send times – AI is great with crunching numbers and finding patterns, so we use AI to review subscriber’s engagement history and email engagement habits to figure out the best time to send campaigns on an individual level.
How We Use AI for Paid Media
ChatGPT may have created a new wave of AI content enthusiasts, but paid advertising specialists have dabbled in artificial intelligence for quite a while. While these tools are not a replacement for digital advertising work and recommendations from an expert, AI does play a notable role in how we run and adjust your paid campaigns.
- Campaign recommendations – AI has long been used as a starting point for paid campaigns. Between Google Ads and ChatGPT, these tools can supply keyword and headline recommendations to help each campaign.
- Advertising automation – Most of the platforms that we use for paid advertising use AI in some form. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Programmatic all have aspects of AI automation that we’ll use to optimize campaigns toward some type of goal, such as maximizing conversions or increasing brand awareness.
How We Use AI for SEO
Like paid, AI is naturally ingrained into our SEO process. Tools like Semrush make it easier to conduct initial research and provide guidelines to identify opportunities and make meaningful changes to a website in the following ways:
- Content analysis – Need to update old content? We use AI-powered writing assessment tools to optimize your pages and posts for search engines. These tools both analyze your content to compare it to Google’s standards as well as review the quality of the writing.
- Opportunity analysis – One thing AI does is look for opportunities you may not see. We use AI SEO tools to find potential link building opportunities and if there are any keywords we should target for both new pages and other content.
- Website audits – Gathering data and analysis can take a lot of time. Using AI SEO tools can help take a lot of the initial work on by gathering vital information and translating it into meaningful takeaways so that we can create an action plan for how your site is doing and what can be done to improve it.
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How We Use AI for Strategy and Account Management
It can be easy to focus on various digital marketing specialties when thinking about AI, but you shouldn’t forget about account managers and strategists. AI is still quite relevant for any who works directly with our clients (which is most of us). Our strategists can still receive help from AI through:
- Note taking – Taking notes manually is a tedious job. AI tools like Otter.ai can record and transcribe meetings to make it easy for people to review meeting notes without having to dedicate someone to that task.
- Process efficiencies – Saving time helps everyone. AI can help speed up some of the slower day-to-day administrative work, including scheduling meetings and game plan research.
- Quick writing help – Client-facing experts communicate with a lot of people or pitch in where they can. AI can help draft quick copy when writer’s block hits or if a strategist needs some inspiration.
How We Use AI for Design and Development
No surprise here, but Chat GPT can also write code and generate images. Just like content, it doesn’t know the “why” behind what it makes, your motivation, or whether it’s even good code or not. You still need a talented designer and/or developer to provide that oversight.
In our experience so far, AI is good at getting you close to something that might work faster, but it should never be used “as is” for client work. Just look at these AI generated examples:
Yep, those are certainly all hands. This might take a few tries.
This post will age quickly (and not well as the robots get smarter and stronger), but as of today the best way to think about AI tools in digital marketing is like the difference between a hand saw and a motorized saw. One might seem a lot more powerful and get all the attention, but it can be very dangerous to use without a skilled operator behind it.
AI: A Tool to Support Your Digital Marketing Success
We’re thankfully not at a point where AI has taken over quite yet, but our potential robot overlords can still help digital marketing agencies and other professionals save time, make adjustments, and improve their overall efforts.
Looking for an agency that will help you stay ahead of the proverbial curve? Reach out to us today to see if we’re a good fit for your digital marketing needs.