It’s the second week of January and although it’s a new year, I’m still the same old me. Back at work, I’ve got new enthusiasm powered by an endless stream of holiday treats that came across my plate in December, but I can already see the bright shiny content strategy I dreamed up in November slipping away.
Sure, I’ll execute on the big stuff; those pillar posts will happen, for sure, and I’ll refresh some key pieces of content so they don’t fully atrophy. But the fun stuff that makes me love content marketing and pushes me professionally? It’s already disappearing in a sea of new priorities, limited bandwidth, and requests. Like I said, same old me.
Here’s the thing: it’s 2024 and I can be the same old me but with a fleet of powerful new sidekicks. I’ve got a better chance of not just bringing my content strategy to life, but even strengthening it as I go through the year—because AI tools are fully coming into their own. And they’re giving content marketers a whole host of gifts including but not limited to:
- Free time: AI tools really have freed me up to think strategically with support in ideating, creating, and editing all types of content. Plus, you can send me whatever nameless, faceless voice recording/blurry images/notes you have, and I don’t have to spend a whole day sorting through them by hand.
- Automation of the time-sink tasks: Tools I’ve tried (and listed below) allow me to try new (and send more polished) content types without the time required to learn a new skill or spend hours on nit-picking editing.
- Augmentation for other core strategic skills: Data analysis with a co-pilot makes it so much easier to stay creative without missing a beat from all the data my strategy generates.
I’m going to give you a look behind the curtain for what I’m planning for my own content strategy development, plus the tools I can use to bring it to life.
AI is a whole new chance to improve our content strategy game
A strategy-first approach to content isn’t a muscle we content marketers often fully flex outside of yearly and quarterly planning sessions. If you do, then good for you, and I am not jealous at all.
I always set out to achieve based on a strategy and I do so every time with the best of intentions, but life and business and huge, urgent requests get in the way. And lately, AI-generated content is also becoming a bit of a distraction in its own way. AI is still young at most organizations, and I’m starting to find content floating across my desk created by well-meaning colleagues. Yet, they’ve created it with no guardrails, processes, or standards. And it definitely wasn’t created with our content team’s strategy in mind.
Without some gatekeeping, this kind of content is risky for both our strategy and our brand reputation.
Plugging a prompt into ChatGPT or any other tool doesn’t translate into great content: despite what some teams seem to believe, more content isn’t better content (even if it was relatively low cost).
But rather than putting the onus on team members to leave the content to us, the pressure is really on us as the content team. It’s up to me to tap the sign and lean even harder into the strategic side of content marketing and sharing that strategy.
Here’s how I’m going to do that and how I will use AI to help:
- Get in on the data action: Your wider org already has AI tools to parse customer and sales data. Plus, the brand, growth, and paid marketing teams have all this kind of data, too. Get yourself a copy of those reports and pull out those themes for content that aligns with what your customers are talking about. Pro tip: Get those into your own preferred/allowed AI tool for a complete summary that works for your content strategy purposes.
- Look for gaps in seconds: Ask AI about the most appropriate keyword opportunities for our ideas. Then, prompt AI tools to get an idea of saturation (i.e., is everyone creating content about this subject?) and summaries to help look for gaps that you can sift through.
- Share, share, share internally: We get lots of requests for new content because teams don’t realize how much content we already have that probably works (or works with a few tweaks) for their purpose. AI tools are great for putting together docs, guides, and libraries to let everyone access the content and content calendar. It’s life-changing busy work now available to complete in seconds. Add in an integration to Slack or Teams to share the docs whenever asked and all of a sudden, you have more time than you know what to do with (not really, but the automation does feel good).
Remember: the value of AI for content marketing is parsing huge amounts of data quickly and accurately, which is half the battle in content strategy.
If the above is my plan, the next question is: how do I stay focused while building out my strategy and chasing new requests? Well, look no further.
4 content marketing trends we’re excited for in 2024 with the help of AI
Content marketers (by content marketers, I mean me) have a lot of feelings about AI tools. There’s grief because I know that there will always be a cohort of (incorrect) people who think that an algorithm can replace me. There’s fear that I'll be called a “cheater” by using AI. But then there’s opportunity in that AI might make the sticky parts of our jobs easier, and it comes with a big exhale.
I’ve been to a lot of AI webinars hosted by content marketing practitioners & the AI tools themselves, particularly in the last few months of the year. As the year marches on, the sentiment in the group chat is starting to move towards closer to optimism than at any point in the last year.
AI isn’t a replacement; it’s a co-pilot so I can focus on flying the plane (the strategy) and have a second pair of eyes to assess the validity of my ideas and hopefully make them that bit better.
Without further ado, here’s where I’m directing my AI tools’ efforts this year:
1. Master Copy Creation
Machine learning is an incredible tool for copy creation, and we’ve already been using it for years for suggested text, SEO, and more (I love Clearscope and Grammarly). But with the advent of ChatGPT, we’re able to use generative AI to shore up parts of content writing that we all hope to do better: perfecting tone of voice or writing for different channels.
ChatGPT is actually really great for this, which is fantastic news because tone and switching mediums are where so much content falls down because of lack of time, briefing that misses the mark, and because it’s a difficult skill to master. By the time you do, you’re likely no longer in the content creation trenches anymore.
At the same time, ChatGPT isn’t going to nail your specific brand voice with one round of prompts. You can and must edit the content because even as the outputs get smarter, it still sounds like…an algorithm wrote it. But what will it do for you in seconds?
- Transform reports & long-form content into exec summaries
- Create one pagers and short-form content from lots of notes
- Generate copy for slides based on a brief
For this one, all you need is ChatGPT and a good understanding of how to prompt it. If you want to dive deeper, have a look at how content marketing influencers are using ChatGPT.
If you’re an Optimizely user (like we obviously are), you’ll get access to Opal, the AI assistant we built to accelerate the entire marketing lifecycle. We launched our copy generator for Web Experimentation this year, which reduces time and effort in coming up with new ideas and covers all your bases by testing ideas you might not think of (or ideas you’re biassed against).
A word on the elephant in the room:
There’s still some fear that Google is going to penalize the use of AI content. The consensus so far is that you won’t be punished just because you used automatically generated content. So, if you get a blog across your desk that clearly came from a tool, you don’t have to panic.
With that said, quality remains the key guideline Google judges. If your content is valuable and relevant and follows the same principles you use today, then it’s all good.
Where you’ll run into issues is if you pursue quantity over quality with poor, irrelevant, or duplicate content. But the same penalties already apply today.
So, if you’re using tools to improve content that’s tied back to your strategy and you’re not using content to spam Google, then you’re all good.
Gartner predicts that, someday soon, using human-generated content is going to be a differentiator, but it’s still very early to understand what will dominate the next few years. Having both skills is a must for the foreseeable future, and it’s nothing to be afraid of.
2. Create a video production house
We’re inspiring, educating, and selling with video—and we’re now doing it all in under 30 seconds.
ICYMI, 2023 was the year big brands started throwing resources at ultra-short form video content, and the early results suggest that we’ll see a lot more of it in 2024.
The rise of YouTube shorts and its early adopters like Nike have shown impressive results, and that’s great news for content marketers. It hasn't just scored improved conversions and engagement, but according to Think with Google, it costs less! Truly a way to do more with less that isn’t painful.
Some compelling stats:
- YouTube Shorts reached 30B views per day on launch in 2021 -- and it hit 50B by February 2022
- Ericsson believes 80% of all mobile data consumption will be video streaming by 2027
Does growing interest in video make you feel like you’re in a hostage situation? Do you say “yes I do video” in the least convincing voice possible, knowing you’ll owe your design friends a favor? Or is it just me?
Spending more time on video is way less daunting than it used to be, particularly if you’ve got a strong game plan to work from.
Among a few of the web tools that will finally allow you to confidently create videos to your heart’s content (regardless of your level of video production experience):
- Descript lets you edit videos by editing the script, perfect for those who love words but not timestamps (plus, it works for podcasts, too!)
- Fliki takes the sting out of video creation with AI voices that never say “um” in 75+ languages
- Visla turns a script into a new video so you never need to learn how to edit a video
- Opus Clip takes your feature length film (if you’re like us) and creates a marketing sizzle reel (purpose for repurposing keynotes, full demos, and more)
3. Data and analytics
Every strategy comes with success metrics, and we can debate all day about the most effective content marketing KPIs, but one thing will remain true in 2024: we’ll need to share that data.
But data and analytics are getting so much easier than they used to be. With tools like Whatagraph and Supermetrics, you can pull together your content data in minutes from places like Ahrefs, GA4, Hubspot, and anywhere else your content data lives.
For me though, the joy of these tools isn’t just in the time saving and the superior visualization. I can also ask ChatGPT to help me interpret it (only available as the Marketing Data Analyst GPT via ChatGPT Plus at present). ChatGPT is perfect for simplifying enormous datasets generated by our big marketing websites and funnels. It doesn’t replace all my context, but it gets me started much faster and can sometimes pick up things I miss.
If I’d had this tool when I first started, I would have spent far less time wondering and more time doing (and probably negotiated more raises).
Here are a few resources to get you started:
- How to use ChatGPT for market research
- ChatGPT for data analytics (video)
- 11 of the best ChatGPT data analysis prompts you should know
P.S. Don’t forget about the individual data tools now available for different mediums. In fact, before you do anything, go have a browse of all the AI tools currently available if your mar-tech stack and in its periphery. Some of them will be ChatGPT rolled up into your existing product, but you’ll also discover tools like Podder, which helps you build out in-depth podcast demographics so you can create content that they want.
4. Reinvigorate your podcasting dreams
The state of podcasting is, some say, very much up in the air.
Podcast listenership is only going to keep growing in 2024, particularly in Latin America where double-digit growth is still happening. Plus, the big networks remain positive about the medium, despite some pretty significant failures that ultimately led to layoffs at Spotify, Wondery, and iHeart Media in 2023
And those same executives at the big media groups think 2024 is going to be the biggest year yet, in part thanks to AI. And that’s probably the one thing that we (me) and those executives have in common.
The year 2024 can be the year you finally take the leap into podcasting—or revive the dormant podcast you had back in 2020. Why?
AI can help you do the heavy lifting with your podcast so you can focus on making it the best it can be in your category. You’ll get tools for creating scripts, editing and processing, and even distribution. Even better, you can follow the lead of the industry and use your podcast to reach global audiences (customers) with the help of these tools.
But for longevity, quality, and a bit more fun: where does a podcast fit into your content strategy in 2024? Where does it fit into the wider marketing strategy and more importantly the budget? These questions are more important than deciding the topic for your comeback episode. Because without distribution and buy-in from your teams, you still run the risk of shouting into the void.
Once you know, these AI podcasting tools will change everything for you:
- Wisecut will cut and edit videos that are social media ready directly from your podcast
- ChatGPT or Jasper can put together a basic script for you to edit
- Podcastle will create better quality recordings and simplify your editing
- Clean Voice cleans up your content by eliminating filler words, silences, and stuttering
Here’s to 2024
Call me a dreamer, but I see great things for content marketing in 2024. Getting by with a little help from new AI tools to augment the busy-ness that gets in the way of perfecting our strategy and taking more creative risks is the different between January 1, 2024 and this time last year.
I’ll be back midway through the year to let you know how I’m getting on, but all going well, you’ll see the product of my eternal optimism across Optimizely’s marketing. More experimentation, more data, and more chances to really lean into this year’s trends.