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what if? so what?

What If Generative AI Becomes Better Than Humans at Content Marketing? An Interview With Eve Sangenito. 

Listen up, content marketers! Are robots about to take your job? Don't panic just yet. In this episode, Jim and Kim talk with Eve Sangenito, principal, digital marketing and customer experience at Perficient, about generative AI and its potential impact on content marketing. From photorealistic image generation to 24/7 content creation, the possibilities are endless. Tune in and learn about the benefits and strategic implications of incorporating AI into your content marketing workflow.

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Guest Profile

Eve Sangenito

Eve Sangenito is a principal at Perficient with a focus on digital marketing and customer experience solutions. She helps organizations deliver grow revenue, market presence, brand credibility, and productivity. Over more than 20 years she has built corporate and agency teams and designed performance-driven digital marketing programs for brands across industries.

Meet the Host

Jim Hertzfeld

Jim Hertzfeld is Principal and Chief Strategist for Perficient. For over two decades, he has worked with clients to convert market insights into real-world digital products and customer experiences that actually grow their business. More than just a strategist, Jim is a pragmatic rebel known for challenging the conventional and turning grand visions into actionable steps. His candid demeanor, sprinkled with a dose of cynical optimism, shapes a narrative that challenges and inspires listeners.

Erica Stock Lee

Erica is a Director of Digital Strategy Consulting at Perficient. She works with clients to produce digital experience strategies and convert strategies into tactics. She specializes in Commerce, Digital, Retail, & Consumer Markets Strategy & Innovation.
Special thanks to our Perficient colleagues JD Norman and Rick Bauer for providing the music for today’s show.

Episode 35: What If Generative AI Becomes Better Than Humans at Content Marketing? - Transcript 

Eve (00:05):

Search intent is an area that writers tend to struggle with. Like there are terms that are sometimes have multiple meanings and trying to figure out what those multiple meanings are can be challenging. A really simple example is the term crystal light. So, crystal light can mean many different things. It can mean Crystal Light the brand. It can mean crystal light like a chandelier. So, knowing what people might be querying or searching for or trying to get information about can be challenging.

Jim (00:33):

Welcome to What If? So What?, the podcast where we ask what's possible with digital and figure out how to make it real in your business. I'm Jim Hertzfeld.

Kim (00:42):

And I'm Kim Czopek.

Jim (00:43):

Today, we'll ask What If? So What? And most importantly, now what?

Kim (00:47):

In our first episode of this season, where we talked Chat GPT with Brian Flanagan, I mentioned the content generated from these kinds of AI was the first time I had really considered a robot might be taking my job. Sure enough, last week Forbes came out with an article echoing that same sentiment and with the recent releases of Chat GPT four and Mid Journey VER version five, which can actually generate photorealistic images from natural language. I have to think any content marketer is shaking in their boots, but the article made two important points. First, don't panic. The robots still aren't taking our jobs. And two, AI isn't a replacement for the creative process, but it's an opportunity to look for ways to incorporate AI into your content marketing workflows that drive efficiency, not replace the creative process. So, this brings me to our what if this time around. Jim, what if generative AI could be your full-time 24-hour content marketer on the team?

Jim (01:49):

Hey Kim. I have a hundred things I'd like an entire robot to do, not just generate content. It’s a great time to be alive. I mean the generative AI movement is, it sort of certainly hit peak awareness, but, it's still really early. Like with anything new, there's things that will be resolved. I mean, there's inaccuracies and out of data information and there's misinformation and it's moving quickly. I still think what's going on here is not just a shift in automating things, but it's really a shift in the way we even think about what we're trying to do. So, content for years was you push it out and somebody consumes it. In this sort of ideal generative AI world, the content is sort of coming at you as you ask it, right? It's really changed the whole mode of the way that we interact. So, it's not what marketers are spending weeks or months agonizing over, it's like what's the robot going to tell me right now? There’s a lot of other things happening with content. We're in a cookie-less world, right? We're in a post GPR, CCPA World. Content needs to find a different mode as well, it needs to be short, you know? Content is video, we have to keep people from scrolling. This is great to talk about content, but my “so what?” is, do we really need more content anyway? I love this tension; I love this disruption. As always, we have questions. So, we brought Eve Sangenito, who's the principal on our digital marketing team and content marketing veteran, at Perficient. Eve, welcome to the podcast. Maybe you can starting by setting us straight with a brief definition of what content marketing is today.

Eve (03:32):

Thanks, Jim. Sure, happy to talk about that. Content marketing is actually not just about writing, which sometimes it's perceived that way and it's actually not really intended to be about advertising either. It's really about creating, publishing, and distributing valuable content and information to a targeted audience that has an interest in a specific type of information or area of focus. The goal for businesses is really around building authority in those topic areas and becoming known for that authority and building trust and loyalty among a following. So that's when it's working at its best. That's really what content marketing is all about. Content marketing has long been a tough arena for a lot of businesses, and even sort of freelance writers who participate in it. A lot of people produce content, like Jim mentioned. There's a lot of content out there. The concept of content noise has been around for a while of like, how do you sort of meat out the content that's effective? When you're talking about quality content marketing, it's really, as I mentioned, building credibility and trust with readers. That's a high bar that not many businesses can achieve. You have to bring a lot of things to the table in terms of expertise, in terms of looking at data and analysis and trying to understand what are the topics of interest or the content types of interest to your readers and you need to continually produce over time. That can be exhausting. In terms of the creative and ideation process and making sure that you're looking at the data and analysis to see that you're getting the kind of engagement that you're striving for. Generative AI can really help with that process. I know the sort of perception or some perceptions are that it could be the death of content, but actually I think it can be the elevation of it. If applied in the right ways, it can help. Content creators become a lot more strategic.

Kim (05:14):

That's pretty interesting, Eve. You know, the article I referenced, and we'll put the link in the show notes, talks about the effectiveness and efficiency you can get using AI through content generation. And you're talking about it being more strategic. That's probably a better way to put it. Beyond that, why would any business entertain using AI to generate content in their content marketing efforts? You know, maybe get down to what does it mean to be more strategic or effective or efficient? What are the benefits, why?

Eve (05:46):

Sure. So, as I was describing what the ideal of content marketing is, I would say this doesn't, in my opinion, change the standards of what High Cup quality is. The North Star has really always been about putting out something unique that is not just contributing to that noise and replicating the same information in a different form. It's been about bringing expertise in those different areas that we mentioned, also trying to address the kinds of information that people are looking for, being helpful and useful, while also understanding kind of the intent that you're trying to serve with that. Sometimes that's an area of content market and that comes into play quite a bit. Are you targeting the right intent? Are you actually giving them the information that they need? People also expect that to be personalized and cater to them as well in engaging formats, whether that be like actual formats, like multimedia or different formats by channel. Different social media channels as an example, that requires an understanding of your audience that you're targeting, the skills to do insightful data analysis, to inform your planning and what you want to be writing about, and what you want be publishing to engage with that audience. It requires that expertise that I mentioned. One of the other areas that content creators often struggle with is an overall strategy, planning, and promotion. They write a piece of content and then how to make sure that they’re bringing it to the forefront as of where the people I'm trying to reach are spending time. It's going to be easy and efficient for them to access. So that's really the ideal of what you're trying to do with content marketing and all of that is kind of hard.

Jim (07:20):

Eve, one of the things that resonated with me is building authority and trust. I get that because there is so much noise, individuals are, the burden is on them to figure out, you know, is this hype? Much like this podcast, is it hype, is it real, is it not real? How do you go about applying that, ensuring that authority and trust with great content?

Eve (07:44):

There's a lot of different aspects. One is to be contributing information that is authoritative, quality, and meaningful in terms of, you're actually informing people of things they do not know or helping them elaborate on a concept. Another part of content marketing, which isn't so much about the writing piece, but about the engagement is creating a dialogue with your audience. For example, if you publish a blog post as one simple example and you don't engage or respond in the comments, engagement is a way that you build that relationship as well. So, it's a vehicle in many ways, both about surfacing that information and helping you build authority in areas that you want your audience to know that is a focus area for you and you can come to this source to get sort of all the valuable information, but you can also engage and interact in various forms and that relationship starts to build, like you may think about different content experiences that you follow, right? In what way are they sort of elevating your interest areas or helping you achieve a task or things like that? Knowing that’s the principles for content marketing, which I don't think have really changed, Generative AI can be really helpful in a lot of different ways. So, if you think about the pressure of coming up with various different topic ideas, things that are going to resonate with your audience, be relevant to them, all of that takes a lot of different skillsets well beyond writing. I think that's a misperception that occurs quite a bit. One thing is data and analysis. This is part of how you are informed by what is engaging your audience, the data that you can see, where the engagement is happening, the pages and topics of most interests, or if it's video, what kinds of video we're getting more views. That data analysis requires a different kind of skillset to analyze. So, you can actually use generative AI to synthesize that data and give you, in layman's terms, the insights that your writers and strategists may struggle with gleaning. So that's one area. Another area is audience insights. Although we always recommend, in terms of our perspective, direct audience insights, voice of the customer or reader for so to speak, you can also start to get ideas about just what are typical, generalized things that tend to be common areas of interest by a given audience. It can start to give you ideation insights into what your readers may want. I think in the future, there's also a number of areas that are sort of still in development. So, in the future, I think it can really help writers with understanding search intent potentially. I did a little testing on that, and the tools are readily available. With some of the types of search intent queries that we would typically query and other tools, maybe not quite as sophisticated there yet, but search intent is an area that writers tend to struggle with. There are terms that are sometimes have multiple meanings and trying to figure out what those multiple meanings are can be challenging. A really simple example is the term crystal light. So, crystal light can mean many different things. It can mean Crystal Light, the brand. It can mean crystal light, like a chandelier. Knowing what people might be querying or searching for or trying to get information about can be challenging. In theory, you can use some of these tools to give you variances that you might be perceiving if you're not using other tools that might not be available to you for budget reasons and things like that. It didn't quite get it right when I tried it. In that case, that was a query that I tested, but I think it will continue to evolve in those areas. Another area is mining social media insights. So, what are people talking about? These topics today, there's a lot to synthesize there if you don't have access to the right tools, and it can again, surface that in real time and give you some directions to at least consider and pursue. A few other areas where it takes a lot of planning and ideation are things like proprietary data studies. Proprietary data studies can be a really effective form of content marketing because you're bringing very unique content, unique data that nobody else has brought to the market and hopefully on a topic that's going to be useful to people. Coming up with those ideas that are going to sort of have that kind of traction and get the visibility, sometimes even media coverage can be a strategic effort that takes a lot of time and investment. So, you can use it for ideation of things like that in addition to different content types and derivatives. As an example, you plug in a page and say, write me a blog post about this page in that type of form, write me a post that should be on a social media channel. That's another area, the content derivatives that arrive out of content marketing. Expanding the reach of your content can be a challenge in terms of all of that needs to be factored in. What are the different requirements on the channels that you're writing on? If there's a visual component, and you might not have the visual skillsets directly or have that big of a team in order to do that. So, it can be really helpful there. Another area, like at a small-scale level, is multilingual translation. You can plug in a page and ask it to tell you how that would translate into these different languages. One area that's really evolving with some of the things that Kim mentioned to the beginning is visual media. It is getting really sophisticated, creating, supplemental visual media for your text-based content or even to stand on its own. One other area is content performance analysis. So, one thing that's a really important part of content marketing to see if it's working is benchmarking your content and then analyzing how it's performing over time based on different trends and data. Generative AI can help analyze that for you.

Kim (13:10):

That is fascinating. In particular, the visual aspect of what generative AI could do. Those are a lot of great how’s, Eve, one of the things we always like to ask is what is one thing a listener can do today to improve their content marketing or use AI more effectively in your content marketing efforts?

Eve (13:30):

I would say test it. These are great ideas for generating, supporting ideation or supplementing skillsets that you might not have on a team, or that might have bandwidth issues. There are quality issues still, and that is one of the areas that's really important if you're going to use Generative AI for even ideation, you have to make sure that your understanding is it accurate, the information that you're getting back, and what kinds of scenarios can you use it for. So, testing it is a great start and you want to incorporate QAing within your testing process so that you can get used to that process of, okay, this might be a great idea that I sort of got out of a query that I put in or something along those lines, or the output that I got for a visual. You want to make sure that you're sort of QAing as part of that process, because a lot of times there is inaccuracy still, it's still in its infancy. Just getting that into your form and the approach is one first start that content marketers can take.

Kim (14:24):

It makes a lot of sense. So maybe you shouldn't staff your entire content marketing team with AI, but with the right approach and definitely the right quality assurance to your point. Generative AI can make good content creators and good inspiration. Maybe make your teams more effective, letting them focus on what they're really good at, which I think is the human part. Thanks so much, Eve, for the great conversation today. All human generated, by the way. We look forward to hearing from our next expert on the next episode of What If? So What?

Jay (14:58):

You've been listening to What If so What? The Digital Strategy Podcast. From Perficient with Jim Hertzfeld and Kim Czopek. We want to thank our Perficient colleagues, JD Norman and Rick Bauer. For our music today, subscribe to the podcast and don't miss a single episode. You can find this season along with show notes at perficient.com

Thanks for listening.