Mention artificial intelligence in just about any industry, and you'll likely be met with anxiety. Content marketing circles are no exception. I regularly hear questions like, "Is AI going to replace writers?"
The fear of AI does marketers a disservice. It deters brands from using content intelligence technology to make their writing more precise, more consistent, and more impactful on a large scale. The reality is that AI-based content intelligence tech is already helping innovative content teams measure and improve their content, freeing writers to do excellent creative and strategic writing work.
What Is Content AI?
Simply, via natural language processing and machine learning technology, intelligence tools can create basic written content from scratch, but they can also read and analyze existing copy. They can judge the topic, voice, clarity, consistency and more.
Why do content marketers need this? More than $26,000 is wasted per employee per year on editing and maintaining lousy content. And content AI is the most meticulous copy editor you've ever met — the stickler who fixes every grammar and spelling error and demands every piece of content adhere to your style guide. Imagine that your company's content style guide dictates that using the Oxford comma is a must, that "such as" is always preferable to "like," and that the target audience is made of "customers," never "consumers." An AI writing assistant could change this sentence:
→ "Consumers look for brands to include personal touchés like social media responses, direct mail correspondence and gifts."
... into ...
→ "Customers look for brands to include personal touches such as social media responses, direct mail correspondence, and gifts."
Content AI gives writers immediate feedback to get content on brand. It also helps turn overly complex sentences into clear, plain language. An AI program could, with apologies to Abraham Lincoln, simplify the language in the Gettysburg Address:
→ "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
... becomes ...
→ "Eighty-seven years ago, our fathers founded on this continent a new nation for the liberty and equality of all people."
Natural language generation is predicted to become an $825 million market by 2023. Marketers, who often lead the way in bringing cool new tech into organizations, need to understand how to work with AI, not in spite of it.
The Fear of Content AI Is Misplaced
The biggest fear regarding content AI is that it will replace the art and act of writing and the humans who do it. In reality, AI is more of a best friend to creators. It can't think creatively itself. It doesn't muse on the perfect sentence or have an instinct for an emotive metaphor.
Instead, AI partners with writers and editors. It takes over all the little tasks that drain creative energy — like looking for errors in spelling or grammar and identifying outdated messaging.
The transformation this brings to companies can be extreme. Imagine a team of 100 writers and five editors (a common occurrence). Without a content AI platform, the editors would be working overtime to whip all that content into shape. But with an AI writing assistant on their side to catch style, language, voice and clarity issues, writers can continue to crank out content, and editors have help getting through their side faster.
When the Associated Press's AI system stepped in to write articles, for example, it didn't replace the news service's journalists. It just took on the more tedious tasks, giving the journalists the freedom to research more in-depth, valuable stories. Some companies use content intelligence to develop email subject lines at the touch of a key. This saves marketing teams time while keeping the content on brand.
And that's really where content AI shines: building and maintaining a consistent brand voice. At Qordoba, we recently spoke to a media agency with a small team of six writers. They work with all of the company's media partner brands to define and refine their voices. It's been difficult for them to maintain consistent voices for so many individual brands. They're going to use content AI to maintain different style guides and term banks for each brand partner. It will help the different brand writers use the right voice and terminology before any editor steps in — or before it's too late to make changes.
The demand for creative skills will continue to grow between now and 2030. Content AI is an essential piece of the puzzle to empower teams to create clear, consistent, on-brand content at scale. So while marketers and copywriters focus on the bigger story, an AI writing assistant can micro-edit and generate suggestions based on the company's content guidelines.
3 Ways Content AI Can Improve Your Writing Process
Here are three ways content AI can make content production more exciting and effective for everyone involved:
It Helps You Build and Maintain a Consistent Brand Voice
A unified brand voice makes a lasting impact on your audience. Consistency gives your writing sticking power. And when you have only 15 seconds to make an impression before readers move on, that extra stickiness could be make-or-break.
According to our recent study, non-professional writers (folks who aren't trained in copywriting and editing) create 90% of the content developed for businesses. They need to feel comfortable using and manipulating their brand's voice. AI can provide that needed guidance, which doubles as writing training.
For example, if your company prefers an informal voice over a formal one, AI could point out the use of long, complex words and stiff, technical sentences. It would flag:
→ "Please proceed to the next stage of the process."
... and suggest the writer be more conversational with ...
→ "It's time to move to the next step of your process."
Having access to a tool that helps you achieve absolute consistency in your voice and tone makes it that much easier to be authentic. One of our healthcare organization clients produces thousands of pieces of content per year, and the core marketing communications team can't edit all of it before it gets published. Content AI helps other writers follow their guidelines, whether they're writing health content, policy information, or copy for TV and radio ads. With that consistency, they're able to build trust and loyalty with their audience and patients.
It Runs the First Line of Editing Defense
It's hard for humans to catch errors (especially our own) while editing. We accidentally skip typos and and twice-written words when proofreading content because our brain can autocorrect them. Did you catch the "and and" in the previous sentence?
AI writing assistant doesn't make those mistakes. It doesn't skim. It can tirelessly check for errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, voice, tone and preferred terminology. Content AI can change:
→ "I love alll kinds of transportation; trains, plans and cars."
... to ...
→ "I love all kinds of transportation: trains, planes and cars."
Little mistakes are easy to make when a company's producing an overwhelming amount of content. When a senior vice president approached us about using AI, her overworked team of nine was struggling to keep up. The ratio of company writers to editors is high, and her team's role is to approve content and enforce guideline compliance. The system wasn't working smoothly or efficiently enough.
For them, that's where an AI writing assistant steps in. The team uses content AI to review content first — checking for basic errors and inconsistencies in writing style, brand voice and terminology — before passing it over to the human editors. They no longer need to run a fine-tooth comb over content to catch grammar, spelling and punctuation errors, which decreases the time the editors spend per piece.
It Helps Keep Your Messaging Current
By updating your company's messaging, you can better appeal to target audiences and improve your brand's identity. But clearing your content of outdated messaging is a seemingly endless task when you're just a human sifting through countless web pages and documents. Now you can share with a content AI tool the terminology or phrases you need to replace and trust technology to find and flag content that should be removed in an instant.
This is especially useful when your company is going through a rebrand and content overhaul. At another customer's company, the marketing team had just hired its first copywriter to scale and maintain consistency when the customer reached out. She's in charge of updating messaging quarterly. For instance, that team decided to replace the word "cheap" with "affordable" in all marketing content. "Cheap" can communicate negative connotations such as "low-quality," while "affordable" is more akin to "economical" and "reasonable." They decided that the latter word choice presented the company in a way that appeals to newer generations who prioritize value and quality over low prices. Content AI helped them find every unfavorable word and reduced the time they spent on the refurbishing process.
It's not yet time to fear the introduction of AI into the content world. For marketers, AI is just here to ease the burden of editing by helping every writer in your organization to create clear, consistent, on-brand content.
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