Millions of years ago, our ancestors and their tiny brains were just starting to walk upright and learn how to make tools that could help them survive to see the ripe old age of 16. Flash forward to present day, and we modern humans have used our significantly larger craniums to develop robot technology – like computer-generated content – that is on the verge of overtaking our entire species.
OK, that’s an exaggeration. But we’ve still invented some pretty incredible stuff.
Like marketing automation, for example, which has completely transformed a marketer’s day-to-day job. From prescheduling social media posts to distributing an email to thousands of contacts at the click of a button, our jobs have become a lot easier over the past few years thanks to technology.
But even with all the logistics of distribution, reporting and monitoring taken care of, it still takes a human to create the actual content that’s being automated. And even though there are career paths, agencies, specialists and freelancers that have focused their lives on crafting quality content backed by a strong marketing strategy, some companies believe computer-generated content will have the same impact as copy written by an actual human.
The Rise of Computer-Generated Content
Almost out of nowhere, companies like Automated Insights and Persado have appeared, boasting software programs that create content that’s nearly identical to what a human can develop. So far, the programs are mostly only used by large companies, like the Associated Press (AP), for short-form pieces like financial recaps, tweets and mobile push notifications.
Each program is different, but the main idea is that they use algorithms to dissect pre-existing data and compile it into a digestible, human-friendly article. Or, they take existing content, like a tweet, and rewrite it to satisfy their algorithms and hopefully their human readers. So that 500+ cell spreadsheet filled with nothing but stock market statistics can be transformed into a readable – although underwhelming – news piece.
The scary thing is that these companies have bigger goals in mind. Not only do they want to take over the world in terms of this tedious content creation, they are also setting their sights on possibly taking over the development of longer forms of inbound marketing content, like blogs, eBooks and landing pages.
Any good digital marketer knows that this content is the foundation of inbound marketing success. As opposed to traditional outbound marketing methods like cold calling and interruptive advertisements targeted to a broad audience, inbound is focused on bringing the sales-ready customer to you, which takes a wealth of background knowledge and an expert-level marketing strategy.
Limitations of Automated Writing Software
Wait. So, if these companies have their way, eventually your favorite blog could be written by a MacBook?
Not quite. There are a few reasons why we think that won’t be the case:
- There is no strategy behind the content process.
Without a strategy, you’re basically just taking shots in the dark every time you write something. There’s no keyword research, it’s not written with SEO in mind, there are no internal links to related materials. Plus, a computer doesn’t understand your value proposition. They haven’t created buyer personas that analyze each of your potential customers. What do they know about your goals or what your potential clients are trying to achieve?
- Humans still have to do the heavy lifting.
These programs can’t create copy out of thin air. They rely on humans for inputting data or providing previous content and specifying the semantics. Regardless of the program, you’re still going to need either a CSV file filled with statistics or pre-existing content to even begin using the software.
- Software doesn’t have a personality.
You know what helps content gain a bunch of social shares and a ton of webpage views? Humor! Personality! Emotion! Also known as things a computer can’t do. A human touch is what makes content relevant and relatable. Don’t believe me? Grab your iPhone and try having a conversation with Siri. That lady is mean.
- Shouldn’t someone still proofread this stuff?
If I had a dollar for every time Microsoft Word green underlined something that I and the AP Style Guide knew was grammatically correct, I’d have enough money to buy all of these software companies and turn them into ice cream shops. Bottom line: Computers can still make mistakes.
- There are serious length restrictions.
As of right now, these programs are unable to write long-form content. Most of them can only handle copy that’s 600 characters or less, which is basically the length of four tweets. That means the following – which are critical pieces for a content marketing strategy – are out of the question:
· Landing pages
· Press releases
· And on and on and on…
Plus, it seems like large companies are the only ones that are able to use these programs, since software that is only able to create email subject lines costs roughly $3,000 a month.
The Future of Digital Marketing
The fact that these automated content generation companies have digital marketers, copywriters and proofreaders on staff says everything you need to know about the importance of an actual human taking care of the marketing strategy and content development.
But even if you’re still thinking that these programs can solve your content creation woes by cranking out lightning-fast social media posts, news articles and possibly blog posts and eBooks in the future, you may need to dial it way back and rethink your marketing strategy. Rushing through content creation likely means you’re lacking a strategy and all of the necessary components that help inbound marketing tactics become successful.
We still have quite a way to go before our robot overlords descend onto Earth and start pumping out strategic blog posts that convert beyond our wildest dreams. And while a computer is always going to beat me in checkers, I bet myself and the rest of Vital’s writers could out-pun, out-wit and out-strategize that computer-generated robot to an embarrassing level.
Want to hear more about what an inbound marketing strategy is all about? Get in touch and we’ll give you the rundown.