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Field Notes

Field Notes #033: How AI Fits Into the Content Marketing Marathon

how AI fits into the content marketing marathon

Content marketers everywhere are talking about the impacts and implications of generative AI for content creation. 

Our team has been asked many questions about how we utilize AI and if it’s a core part of our services.

The short answer is no. We’ve been testing and iterating on ways to use AI to support portions of our research (e.g., “analyze the top five Google search results for the query “content strategy,” give me a list of all the H2 headers and tell me five important topics that aren’t covered”) and distribution (e.g., “write a meta description for an article about content editing”). However, we do not use AI to produce content for clients.

Recently, we were challenged by a client who wanted us to use AI to quickly and cheaply produce content that would help his website rank quickly. 

I responded, “So, all you want to do is rank?”

“No, not necessarily,” this person said, “but we want to get as much out there as possible to increase awareness on the SERPs.”

Absolutely. That’s an irrefutable benefit of a solid content marketing strategy. 

But success indicators like ranking and SERP position are milestones at best. 

If content marketing is a marathon (a long game!), ranking on page one is the first race checkpoint, say 6 miles in. It demonstrates progress and helps you understand your pace and competitors, but it’s nowhere near the finish line.

Content written solely by AI can help you rank, yes. But it can’t empathize with your readers and customers, deliver a unique brand point-of-view, weave in product information, or intelligently place conversion opportunities. 

These elements help you hit further milestones—qualified traffic at the halfway point, subscriptions or content downloads by mile 18, free trial sign-ups and demo requests by mile 22, and content-driven revenue at the finish line.

Also, if you invest $X in AI content to rank, it’s a safe bet that you won’t recoup any of your marketing spend. At that point, why wouldn’t you spend $XX on pieces that rank and help your business make money? 

If anything, the former is a sunk cost because it’s very, very unlikely you’ll see an ROI. 

I’m not saying AI is useless for content marketers. There are ways to use AI to whip up a first draft or help you outline a piece of content, then layer on human eyes and editing. We encourage this approach.

In fact, generative AI is good for initial process crafting, remixing content for social media, and completing straightforward writing tasks like meta descriptions, summaries, bulleted lists, and emails. This is some of how we utilize it at Omniscient.

Generative AI is great for small teams with a small budget, one-person content shops with writer’s block, getting more mileage from excellent interviews, and anyone who needs to stress test copy before adding the human flair.

However, generative AI is bad for humanizing your content, sharing a unique POV from a true expert, exploring data in depth, and considering the customer journey through your content.

Good at some things, great at some things, and kind of bad at others. 

AI, it’s just like us. Wait a second…

Want more insights like this? Connect with me on LinkedIn.

1. How a One-Person Content Team Can Manage It All: Y’all have heard me talk about how much I love Tracey Wallace’s Contentment. This one is great for small teams—plus, you’ll likely find places and projects in which to use AI.

2.  Content Editing: How to Polish Your Writing for Publication: Our stellar editor Megan wrote up her best editing tactics. If you choose to draft your content with AI, definitely apply these tips.

3. How to Build a B2B Software Company with Community and Use AI Tools to Be More Productive with Austin Distel: Austin is the Sr. Marketing Director at Jasper and shared a ton of excellent tactics for how to leverage AI to be more productive—not let AI replace the critical parts of your business.

Allie Decker

Allie is co-founder and Head of Client Success at Omniscient Digital. She previously led content initiatives at HubSpot and Shopify.