From ChatGPT to Jasper and Midjourney, new platforms that use artificial intelligence to generate copy and images are generating a lot of buzz right now.
Marketers need to pay attention. These new products are the leading edge of a tsunami of powerful AI tools about to hit the world. And they have major implications for anyone involved in content creation.
What AI can create is now really, really good
Like many people, I was skeptical about the capacity of artificial intelligence to generate work that was as good as, or better, than what humans can create.
Over the last five or 10 years, many companies have been claiming to use AI in marketing technology.
For example, Marketo had a content AI feature that was supposed to recommend better content to users. And there were a number of lead scoring technologies that were supposed to be able to recommend which leads should be sent to the sales team.
It sounded great and a lot of people got excited. But these features didn’t really work very well; they had come too early in the AI lifecycle to be very effective, and they didn’t live up to the hype. I saw that first-hand, and it left a sour taste in my mouth.
I am much less skeptical now.
That’s because a new wave of AI tools is hitting the market, and. And these tools are really, really good.
Jasper is an AI content platform for writing and images. It claims, for example, to be able to generate several months’ worth of catchy and entertaining social media content within minutes.
DALL-E 2 from OpenAI and Midjourney can generate art and images. (At a recent talk at the MarketingProfs B2B Conference in Boston about harnessing your creativity, I noted that a piece of art created by Jason Allen had won first place recently in the digital art category at the Colorado State Fair. Allen created it using Midjourney.
And ChatGPT, created by OpenAI, has bowled people over since it was launched on Nov. 30, 2022. It’s a chatbot that can generate high-quality written content virtually instantaneously in response to a written prompt.
How good is ChatGPT?
Here’s what it wrote – in just a few seconds – when I asked it about the future of email and landing page creation.
AI has crossed a threshold. We’re now at the point where it’s good enough to be used quite easily by large numbers of people.
Marketers need to figure out how to use these new tools wisely
Now that we know that AI has passed what I call the “sniff test”, the challenge for marketers is to figure out how to use it in smart and efficient ways.
The possibilities appear mind-boggling. These things can generate all sorts of content. We’ve been testing them out just to get a feel for their capabilities.
For fun, we recently used an AI tool to write a funny poem about a piece of technology we didn’t like. The result was not only hilarious, it was super-accurate and well-written. In fact, it was probably better than what most humans could produce.
I needed to write some content for our new Inspiration Centre. I knew what I wanted to say, so I decided to play around with Jasper and see what it could come up with. I wanted to know whether Jasper could create something that was in line with what I wanted to say.
I was blown away by the result. Jasper created accurate and compelling content in the blink of an eye – about a feature that didn’t even yet exist.
This was a lightbulb moment for me. I realized AI for marketers had arrived.
So now the question becomes: What do we use it for, and how?
For example, do we eliminate human writers entirely?
It would be relatively easy to do so. I’m quite sure that people who aren’t as picky about written content as I am would be glad to use AI-generated content for everything.
But I don’t think it’s a good idea to do away with the human element.
Instead, I believe that AI-generated copy will be useful for specific tasks rather than for every bit of written content.
Take, for example, email subject lines.
It’s difficult to write a compelling email subject line, one that will make it impossible to resist clicking on that email.
We’ve been getting ChatGPT to review emails and suggest subject lines.
It will do so in the blink of an eye. And if you don’t like its first suggestion it will give you another, and another, and another, until you find one you like or get inspiration for something you might not have thought of.
Another potential use for these AI content generation tools is to help writers overcome writer’s block. You can put in a few lines of text, push a button, and the application will write the rest of your piece.
These seem like reasonable and useful applications for these new technologies, and I am sure there will be many others.
Information overload will be an ever-present danger
Until recently, it was difficult to access good artificial intelligence. You needed technical people and expensive infrastructure to use what existed, and as a result it was beyond the reach of the average person.
That’s not the case anymore. It’s become very easy for anyone to create AI-generated content.
Consequently, it will be tempting to generate a lot of material.
Marketers love to create content. New and compelling content can be good for SEO, and a constantly updated website gives the impression there’s a lot going on. It also gives marketers a reason to reach out to potential customers.
My big concern about these new AI tools is that they will unleash a tidal wave of content that will flood the Internet.
There’s a potential for a lot of that new content to be meaningless, and the sheer volume of it will make it even more difficult to deal with information overload.
Don’t discount the value of human-to-human communication
People generally do what’s easiest for them. I think most people will find it easier to get a blog post created for them at the push of a button, than to expend time and effort thinking about what they want to express.
And if AI-generated content can impress their bosses by getting a lot of likes, why would employees take the time to write things themselves? But I still think that when it comes to communicating with other humans, humans trump AI.
Because of that, I believe that people who are able to make it clear that their content is generated by people are the ones who ultimately will succeed in marketing.
The use of chatbots exploded a few years ago. They started popping up often, making it seem like someone was there; but all you were getting was an automated response. As more people used chatbots, more people on the other end started ignoring them.When there is a real human on the other end of the chat, I think customers are more likely to engage.
As marketing automation becomes mainstream, I think authentic human communication will stand out. People will figure out what’s authentic. They will be less receptive to anything they perceive as AI-generated, and they will pay more attention to material to what they perceive as human-generated.
I feel that we are right at the beginning of a big shift when it comes to AI-generated content in marketing. I would therefore encourage all marketers to become familiar with these new technologies. They should figure out for themselves where it makes sense to leverage the new tools, and where to remain with human-generated content, be it for emails, landing pages, images or anything else.
There will be all sorts of uses for AI, many of which we haven’t even thought of yet. For example, instead of just generating any old image, you could generate images that meet your brand standards in terms of colour.
Will AI be able to build entire emails and landing pages? Eventually, yes. You will be able to set the guardrails and have it produce everything you need.
I’m pretty confident that’s the future.
And for better or for worse, we will have to adapt – without losing the human touch.
Pierce Ujjainwalla (@marketing_101 on Twitter) is an entrepreneur, career marketer and founder of @revenuepulse and @knak. Marketing is his jam; doing it better with technology is his passion.