Report: ‘Content Marketers Remain A Core Business Need’

Closeup of finger touching blue toned screen on tablet to illustrate Report: ‘Content Marketers Remain A Core Business Need’

A day will likely come when artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are so powerful and intuitive that they won’t need a human touch. But that day is not yet here.

I read through Conductor’s “SEO Trends and Predictions for 2023” report, and you should, too. It’s chock full of interesting insights into where we are today and where we will be tomorrow when it comes to digital marketing. (Sign up to download the report here.)

One clear takeaway: We still need content marketers.

This may or may not be a surprise to you, depending on where you sit within the emerging computer science/AI/content marketing paradigm.

AI and Content Marketing

Many of you probably think GAME OVER for humans now that AI is on the loose.

Others probably think that fears of AI are being blown out of proportion and that even thinking something like “AI is on the loose” is an indication that one has been misled.

A screenshot from a New York Times piece headlined, "A.I. or Nuclear Weapons: Can You Tell These Quotes Apart?" with a picture of a mushroom cloud to illustrate Report: ‘Content Marketers Remain A Core Business Need.’
Well, that’s dramatic. (From the New York Times.)

My guess is that the vast majority of readers fall somewhere in the middle — aware of AI’s potential for harm, abuse, and industry-wide disruptions if allowed to “run loose” but cautiously optimistic that we’ll find ways to regulate this emergent technology in order to take full advantage of its possibilities.

I’m definitely in this latter category.

I’ve seen what AI can do and what it can’t do for content creation.

I’ve seen its power, as well as its limitations, first-hand.

I’ve seen it put together a piece of content that reads like it was written by an expert.

I’ve also seen it produce something that sounds like it was written by an eighth-grader who wrote a book report without reading the book.

What we marketers must figure out is how best to harness that extraordinary power and overcome its limitations to make us more efficient and insightful when it comes to delivering great content strategies to target audiences on behalf of our clients.

So, yes, a time may come when AI takes over completely …

But it is not this day GIF

The Conductor Survey

Conductor says it compiled its report after surveying “a wide range of marketers at organizations of all sizes, from (small and medium-sized businesses) to enterprises. … In total, nearly 500 marketing and SEO professionals responded.” I found a lot of info worth exploring while reviewing the report. Here’s what stood out to me.

1. Marketing Still Needs Marketers

This is something that we already know at Webfor. AI-generated content from machine learning models isn’t nearly good enough yet. Not for blog posts, social media content, service pages, or anything else.

I mean, it does OK. But OK won’t cut it. In other words, AI still has a lot to learn.

Plus, as the report notes, AI content “needs fact-checking and often includes plagiarization. Additionally, Google has already begun flagging poor or spammy AI-generated content.”

In sort of a dark twist, it’s possible some content marketers will be replaced because of AI but not by it. Why? Because if an agency’s writers aren’t up to the task of editing AI for marketing success, then agency leaders will be forced to find people who are.

It’s a quality control thing. Even without hallucinations, plagiarisms, and downright shoddy writing, AI at minimum needs a human editor to ensure that all client content — especially organic-search-related content — reflects brand identity, voice, and tone while also satisfying searcher intent.

A kaleidoscopic moving image to illustrate AI hallucinations as part of a piece on AI and content marketing.
An AI hallucination?

AI Editors

That’s a very short summary of some of the problems and challenges that arise when using AI-generated content. And it’s why the content team at Webfor is also tasked with AI editing — a critical skill that all content writers are going to need in their marketing arsenal. No AI content that I’ve seen thus far is page-ready. It always needs an edit — sometimes multiple edits — to get it page-worthy.

In order to create content that moves products and services and builds brand awareness, we need collaboration between people and AI. This is true for all types of content marketing. These deep learning, natural language processing dynamos have the capacity and the potential to create valuable content at lightning speed, but they still need our help to do it.

General Agreement

Survey respondents agree. They see a big role for AI moving forward when it comes to a wide range of marketing tasks, but they understand that humans are needed to generate winning content for clients.

“From a search engine and user perspective,” the report notes, “more emphasis and value will be put on unique and original content written by humans for humans vs. AI-generated content.”

It’s important to note that survey responses were submitted before ChatGPT launched. The percentage of respondents who think AI is helpful in “aiding in topic generation/research,” content writing and other essential digital marketing tasks is almost certainly higher now than it was at the time of the survey simply because more people have become familiar with its abilities.

2. Content — and SEO — Still Reign Supreme

The report notes that 82% of respondents think SEO had a positive impact on their marketing performance and goals in 2022.

Furthermore, marketing and SEO pros think SEO will “continue to increase in importance for all businesses, regardless of size, due to its cost-effectiveness, ability to increase visibility and reach, and long-term benefits.”

Finally, 92% of respondents report that “content marketing had a positive impact on marketing performance and goals in 2022.”

3. We Must Think (More) Visually

Visual search will increase in importance as search engines favor visual results in SERPs. As the report concludes: “Now is the time to prioritize and invest in video marketing and video SEO.”Young woman browsing social media and smiling. Watching videos to illustrate Report ‘Content Marketers Remain A Core Business Need.'

That means content marketers must learn to tell stories visually so as to attract searchers toward content that answers their queries in interesting ways while remaining visually appealing and easy to digest.

This falls right in line with report recommendations that website managers improve both customer and user experience (CX and UX).

“It’s not surprising to see ‘improving the customer and user experience’ as the top SEO priority following Google’s updates last year and EEAT-related best practices and communication,” Aleyda Solis, founder of Orainti and an industry thought leader, says.

Of course, one will need to make sure site designs remain accessible and ADA-compliant for all users.

4. Increased SEO and Content Marketing Investments

Finally, while the survey found that marketing budgets will generally remain flat, SEO and content marketing budgets will likely increase. These budget increases for tried-and-true organic search marketing campaigns may help counter what many industry insiders think is an ongoing decrease in ROI for paid campaigns. Factors in this decreased ROI include “surging CPC rates for highly competitive keywords” and “evolving third-party cookie regulations.”

In other words, content marketing is here for the long haul.

What were your takeaways from Conductor’s “SEO Trends and Predictions for 2023” report? Do they differ from mine? If you’d like to share your thoughts, I’m happy to hear them! You can email me or get in touch on the socials.