How Do You Actually Use Channel Marketing AI?

How Do You Actually Use Channel Marketing AI?

Savannah Bobo

Man in glasses using computer - Using Channel Marketing AI

I read something about AI that stood out to me. It was a tweet that said “Why bother reading something nobody could be bothered to write?”

How Do You Actually Use Channel Marketing AI?

While part of me celebrates this sentiment, the other part of me (the part of me who earns a living as a digital marketer) offers counterpoints:

  • There are a lot of things you could be bothered to do, that you simply don’t have time/bandwidth for.
  • How many people were really reading the content you were writing before?
  • This question assumes that people can tell the difference between human vs. AI generated content in a blind test.

On that last point, if you dig into the research, it reveals something that may make some copywriters cringe: people have a slight preference for AI-generated marketing content. In a study published by MIT students, participants were asked to rate how satisfied they were by short pieces of persuasive (marketing) content on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being not convincing at all and 7 being very convincing. The results shook out like this:

  • AI content: 5.29 satisfactory rating
  • Human expert: 4.93 satisfactory rating
  • AI content finalized by a human expert: 4.95 satisfactory rating
  • Human-generated content finalized by AI: 5.23 satisfactory rating

The important thing to note here is that all the satisfactory ratings hover around the 5 rating. AI isn’t (yet) leaving us in the dust with 1-2 ratings above human-generated content. But the fact that marketing AI is just as convincing as marketing humans means something very important to marketers: we can use AI to make our lives easier.

To get a complete idea of how marketing can help, let’s fully define why marketers need help.

The Problem with the Old Marketing Solutions

The person who invented the laser called it “a solution seeking a problem.” Is that what AI is to marketers? Another tool that’s supposed to “streamline,” “optimize,” and “enhance” our workload, but really just requires more technical expertise and software management? Are current marketing solutions really broken?

I’m going to say “yes” to that last one, especially from a small to medium sized business (SMB) perspective. Here are the reasons why:

Reason 1: Digital Marketing Tools Are Huge Time/Money Investments

I’ve used three of the biggest marketing platforms on the market—Marketo, Hubspot, and Pardot. Marketo could accomplish amazing things in terms of triggering actions and specific automation scenarios, but it was a beast to learn. To really understand the system, it was recommended I use it for a year (just in time for the contract to renew), take a 10 hour course, then take a timed, proctored 1.5 hour exam ($175) to earn a certification that expired after two years.

Pardot has similar requirements in terms of how long it takes to learn how to use. Though there’s no $100+ exam, it requires expertise in the behemoth that is the Salesforce platform. Their courses for beginner, intermediate, and expert levels of admin certification range from 9 to 12 hours.

Hubspot certification is free and much easier to use, but more limited in how you can interact with leads and clients. While Marketo allowed me to trigger virtually any lead change (send them an email, send their sales rep an alert, change their status) based on nearly anything they did (opened an email, clicked an email, visited a specific webpage in a specific timeframe, etc.), in Hubspot I could only paint in broader strokes. I could send emails to specific lists of people and trigger emails automatically within campaigns, for example. To accomplish some of the more advanced things that Marketo is able to, you have to buy Hubspot’s Sales Hub product to go along with their marketing platform.

My big gripe is the same for all these tools. Despite the time and budget (starting in the $10,000/yr. range) resources they gobbled up, they still didn’t help me with the one thing that was most important and most time-consuming about my job: creating content that connected with my audience.

Reason 2: Marketing Always Gets the Shaft

Recent analyses by Gartner indicate that marketing budgets usually amount to 6-9% of a company’s revenue, a decrease from the 11-12% seen in years before the pandemic. This is evidence that companies reduce marketing spend when budget is tight, even though studies have historically shown that cutting marketing costs adversely affects sales and hinders competitiveness.

What does that mean? It means that you can sink all the time and resources required into the above tools and expertise, only to be hamstrung when companies start downsizing. Good marketing historically takes time. It takes time to master marketing tools. It takes time to test, retool, and experiment with messaging to find out what works. When it comes to revenue goals, though, time is a luxury marketers don’t have.

Fortunately, times are changing! With channel marketing AI, marketers can cut back without sacrificing sales, even when the economy isn’t booming.

Channel Marketing AI

A New Era

Generative AI tools can create content in the blink of an eye. This represents a significant leap forward, helping businesses overcome the most challenging aspects of content marketing: consistency and personalization.

Sentiment Analysis

Analyzing large amounts of data is one of the best ways to use AI. If you’re like most B2B marketers, you’ve probably gotten pretty good at collecting prospect and client data, but you’re still struggling to turn that data into actionable insights and strategies. Sentiment analysis is a powerful AI that scans large amounts of information and looks for patterns and commonalities.

Personally, I’ve used sentiment analysis to identify my audience’s pain points and challenges. I exported a couple of years’ worth of notes salespeople made on customer and prospect interactions. I then uploaded these notes in spreadsheet form to ChatGPT 4.0, asking it to show me text associated with the words “pain points” and “challenges.” You can do the exact same thing if you have notes on customer and client interactions. Here are some other ways you could use sentiment analysis:

  • Analyze feedback from customer surveys, online reviews, or social media interaction.
  • Assess the content on your website to see if your messaging and values are coming across to the average visitor.
  • Repeat those previous two bullets, but this time turn the analysis on your competition. Find out what your competition does well, where they’re struggling, and what you can do to become the better option.
  • Identify areas for improvement by looking for patterns in employee training and performance documentation.

Nothing makes me feel like I’m living in the future quite like sentiment analysis. It’s useful, doesn’t miss details, and it does in seconds what used to take me hours of tedious research.

Generative AI and Automated Content

Achieving consistent quality and timely content delivery with marketing AI involves a blend of tactics. Free AI tools like ChatGPT currently are programmed to “forget” all previous interactions for privacy/security reasons, making it challenging to create unique, informative messaging. However, businesses can:

  • Use AI for initial content outlines or brainstorming.
  • Experiment with various prompts to find the most effective ones, then save those in a document for quick use in future content creation.
  • Invest in AI content platforms that feature advanced learning and machine learning capabilities, enabling a more tailored content creation process.
  • Consider comprehensive marketing platforms that automate content generation and distribution, like Extu’s GoTu Grow, which offers automated monthly email campaigns for consistent customer engagement with minimal resource cost.

When you consistently offer helpful content that engages your audience, they recognize and trust you as an authority. Consistent marketing is the first step in defining who your brand is and what you’re all about.

Personalization Engines

Personalization is the process of creating content that speaks directly to the specific needs and interests of a customer group or individual. In an era of information overload, generic messages quickly get the delete-and-unsubscribe treatment. But it’s notoriously difficult to achieve effective personalization in a timely, scalable manner.

A marketing AI tool that can help with this is the personalization engine. Personalization engines analyze customer data to help you:

  • Identify the exact needs and preferences of each customer, then create messages that deeply resonate with them. Personalization engines use data to enhance messaging engagement and effectiveness.
  • Ensure the best time and channel for message delivery, improving the impact of marketing efforts. With instant data processing and predictive analytics, personalization engines identify the best timing and channel for reaching customers.
  • Optimize every marketing interaction for individual customers. Just one slam-dunk marketing message isn’t enough. Personalization helps you scale up those one-off successes into repeated wins. When you repeatedly provide insights that resonate with customers, you start seeing better conversion rates and increased customer loyalty.

Integrating personalization engines with CRM or marketing software transforms time-consuming tasks into efficient processes, enabling the creation of highly targeted messaging in moments.

In summary, AI content marketing tools present an invaluable opportunity for SMBs to marry advanced marketing tactics with the specific needs of their channel. By leveraging AI-driven tools, SMBs can improve their online presence, engage customers more meaningfully, and foster lasting connections, all within their existing budget and resource limits. Adopting AI in content marketing is a strategic move towards achieving significant growth and enhancing customer loyalty.