Getting Started with AI Marketing Operations
AI marketing operations is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and tools in the field of marketing.
AI marketing operations is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and tools in the field of marketing.
AI marketing operations is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and tools in the field of marketing to streamline and enhance various marketing-related tasks and processes which were once manual or repetitive.
The future of a lot of tasks that currently sit under marketing, digital marketing and web-design/development is most certainly in the hands of AI tools. Repetitive manual tasks that involve building will be automated and digital marketing will be replaced by AI and ML.
Most people are thinking about physical automation being the biggest threat to jobs but digital jobs are first on the chopping block.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are already doing jobs that marketers and digital marketers once did themselves, these ‘knowledge workers’ will have to shift to either more strategic & creative roles or lower skilled operational roles to maintain relevance.
As AI and ML tech advances companies are building these innovations into their existing products. Google & HubSpot are great examples of companies that have embraced AI in their products and surface the benefits to users, here are some ways AI is already being used in digital marketing operations:
These are incremental changes to tools that were once only used by highly skilled workers. For example managing a Google Ads account could be a complex process with lots of ads to manage and keywords
PPC specialists will be replaced by automated ad campaigns shortly. Google Ads has already removed a lot of the manual adjustments you used to be able to make to campaigns opting for a more automated approach where you essentially let Google's AI figure it out for you.
There are still circumstances where the AI doesn’t have enough data to run good campaigns and you can at the moment overspend on campaigns by using Broad Match key terms, but, give it a few years and those issues will undoubtedly be ironed out.
So, the next industrial revolution will be digital. When we talk about the last industrial revolution we are talking about physical machinery that helped facilitate mass production of physical products. Now, the products that are being mass produced are digital in nature.
Digital content, graphics, videos and websites. All of these digital assets are now being produced at a much faster rate and without the need of a ‘skilled worker’. Even the most complex of these - websites - are easier to produce, and coding, currently one of the most revered and sought after skills, will eventually be replaced by machines.
The first skilled workers that are in the firing line are web developers and copywriters. The next will be designers, digital marketers and marketing in general.
These ‘skilled’ or ‘knowledge’ workers as they were coined in the 50’s will be replaced by more operational roles that don’t need to know ‘how to build a website’ or configure a Google Ad - AI productivity tools will do this for you.
With AI helping us be more productive and automating tasks that were once-deemed skilled such as web development, and certain aspects of digital marketing - the role of marketing will shift to be more strategic and operational. Marketers are likely to become the operators of the machines rather than the ones doing the work.
With more of the ‘doing’ being handed over to AI, we (the humans) will have to shift our focus to creative strategy because when the volume of things increases due to mass-production of digital content, the value will shift into the content that is more creative and engaging than the rest.
With the creatives being busy, well, creating. There will still need to be someone to ‘operate’ and maintain the machines. Although this could be done by the creatives, when things are done on an industrial level you are going to need someone to ensure your digital machines are a) kept in good working order and b) are doing what they are supposed to.
As we have outlined, mass-production of digital content is what is going on at the moment. Content is really important for marketing and especially for B2B and B2B SaaS marketing. In the next section we’ll explain the importance of content marketing and how you can produce content effectively using AI.
In B2B SaaS marketing a lot of time and effort has to be put into education and building authority in a space or topic. This is because a large part of your audience is not ready to buy from you right now so you have to produce content that is useful for their day-to-day business lives, ignoring the fact you sell software that can improve it.
Beyond this, content fuels everything in marketing. If you want to run a campaign or start some paid social media campaigns you need content for those campaigns. Content is especially important for Search Engine Optimisation.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is all about content. Large amounts of quality content naturally means more visibility in search engines. In simple words it is better to have lots of content on your website than none.
Creating the content is the problem, or not the problem but the difficult part and it can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to SaaS SEO.
In the past you would have to employ specialist copywriters in niche technology fields to churn out high-quality content for B2B SaaS websites, and beyond that you may just be producing content you think is useful, but you don’t know that for sure - it is only when you go to look at your analytics a year later when you realise no reads it.
A large percentage of content published on websites never gets seen by anyone because it hasn’t been written with the users needs in mind, it’s been written from a selfish perspective, by a company that writes about what it wants to.
But enough about the problem, the solution is a combination of data, AI tools and modern content management systems like HubSpot and Webflow that enable marketing teams to produce high-quality useful content for their audience in an industrial fashion. Not only is it useful, it will generate new business through a low-cos, high-return strategy we all know about - SEO.
Creating content for your website should be approached like a production line and with the use of AI productivity tools the mass production of content has become easier and easier. In this next section I’ll walk you through how you can build your own digital content production line to help build awareness and authority in your chosen area.
Before we do that, it’s important to change your mindset on content production for your website. As much as possible you should see it as a performance marketing strategy rather than a brand marketing strategy. Just like in paid advertising where you measure Cost Per Click and Return on Ad Spend, you should also be measuring metrics for your content performance, each piece being treated as an investment you want to make a return on.
I believe you should treat content production like performance marketing. Each piece of content being measured like you would a paid advertising campaign. To do this you need to work out what the metrics are and how to attribute revenue to your content.
We use the metric of Return on Content Spend (ROCS) to measure the success of our content production. The spend should be calculated based on a rough estimate of time and salary to work out an hourly rate. So if it takes 8 hours to produce 2 pieces of content and the day rate is $500 then the spend per piece would be $250 as a simple example.
Let's say you pay a company like Team4 to manage your SEO content production for $2000 per month and in that month we produce 10 pieces of content, so each piece costs $200.
The return would be measured differently depending on your attribution model, but to make it straightforward, using first-touch attribution where the first touch-point is someone landing on the content first you can measure the return ($) if any of those contacts turn into paying customers.
To use an example, if you sell a SaaS product that has an average deal value of $30k and you produce 10 pieces of content a month. Let's say after 12 months you have produced 120 pieces of content costing you $24,000. You would only need one piece of content to be attributed as the first touch point to make a positive ROCS.
But, here is where the beauty lies. Unlike traditional performance marketing where you pay for the click and when you stop paying you don’t get any more clicks, with content you can continue to reap the benefits of that content long after it has been produced and only build on top of the that success by adding more and more content, building up a snowball effect.
The best and easiest way to track content attribution is to look at landing pages. A landing page is the first page someone visits when they come to your website, they ‘land’ on that page.
This is the simplest way to attribute new revenue to specific content you have produced. Some tools like HubSpot allow you to track this type of thing out of the box which is really useful. If however you don’t want to use HubSpot or pay for something similar you can just do a simple calculation to look at which landing pages lead to which deals and calculate the value.
Some marketing teams like to be more nuanced with their attribution reporting because they understand in reality many factors and touch-points contribute to the B2B SaaS Buying process, especially when the product is high value and more at the enterprise side of things.
If you want to take this approach you can use Linear Attribution which divides the weighting of revenue evenly across all touch points. So 10 touch-points would divide the revenue generated by 10 and assign it to each one. There are other ones too like U-shaped attribution and W etc etc.
Most modern marketing tools, like HubSpot and even Google Analytics (which is free..) enable you to look at attribution from different perspectives. So you can compare what attribution looks like from First-touch vs Last-touch vs Linear etc.
So before we start creating content we need to build the production line itself and the library where we are going to store all of this content.
Before we do anything we need to assemble the right tools for the job. So we’re going to need the following to get going:
These are the key components you are going to need to build your production line.
Before you create your content you need to design the library it is going to be kept in. If you are using Webflow for your website you can create a Collection. If you are using HubSpot we recommend you create a new blog.
A key element here is setting up a new url structure for this library, something like /learn or /learning can work well.
The reason for this is that it makes it easier to report on the content because you can filter by URL. It also separates this mass produced educational content from your more creative, thought-leadership and opinion pieces or company news and updates.
If you are not comfortable with editing page templates in either Webflow or HubSpot then you are probably going to need some help from a Webflow Designer or HubSpot Developer.
The key for designing the library is ensuring the templates for each piece of content have all the right elements in them so that you can just add the content in and the layout is all pre-configured.
Now you have your library ready, you need to start researching what to write about. Typically you want to research topics to align with what you sell. You should aim for a minimum of 3 topics to start with.
The important thing here is to approach keyword research as market research. You are looking at data of what people are looking for, this means you can answer those questions and produce content that people actually need rather than you producing content that you think they need.
Currently keyword research is a boring manual task but some tools are starting to emerge that will do this all for you. HubSpots AI copywriting tool does build into its recommendations keyword data so it is likely that manual time-consuming keyword research will become a thing of the past and copywriting tools will have this data built into them.
Well if everyone is doing the same thing then it is going to be very difficult. More and more emphasis will be placed on where the content is coming from and who produces it, using more signals to measure trust and authority.
You don’t have to do this bit but it is useful to plan out what you are going to produce. Typically this plan is sorted or grouped by topics.
If you use HubSpot Marketing Professional and Enterprise you will have access to HubSpot’s AI assistant and AI content writer which can help you produce quality content for your audience 100x faster than previously possible.
If you are or want to use Webflow instead you can use a free tool like ChatGPT to produce the content. One of the main benefits of this approach is that it is a lot cheaper than HubSpot. As of writing (2024) Webflow costs around $30 a month and HubSpot for all the features starts from around $800 a month.
This method is a bit more manual because you will have to create the content in ChatGPT and then either paste into a Google Doc or directly into Webflow to format. Its not much more work considering the difference in price between the two options.
This bit is something we haven’t found an AI tool for yet. Formatting the content with relevant images, headings and links. This bit you still have to do manually, for now. Image this part like packaging the product at the end of the production line.
It’s worth mentioning at this point that you can stack up and publish multiple pieces of content at once. In the past you would have to spend ages curating one piece of content but now with mass production of content you can produce and publish multiple pieces in a day.
One of the most important steps in mass production of digital content is measuring the performance of the content, because after all is said and done, the reason we are mass producing content is to increase our awareness online and the amount of traffic to our website which in turn will lead to more business, eventually.
To monitor content performance easily you need to use Google Search Console to monitor the number of impressions and clicks your content is getting in Google.
Impressions should increase before clicks and clicks should correlate roughly (not exactly) with your Google Analytics performance which shows you actual website traffic.
To monitor the performance of your mass produced content you should filter the results by the URL you used. So for example filter all impressions and clicks by page contains /learn like below.
This way you can monitor how well this mass produced content is performing in terms of early indicators. When it starts coming down measuring the ROI of your content i’ll refer you to earlier in this article when we talk about looking at attributing deals back to the original landing page.
New machines can make previously skilled work unskilled, that's what happened in the industrial revolution and this is the start when it comes to AI and marketing. This strategy may seem very basic and perhaps boring (which is why many people don’t do it) but it is the future of mass content production online, at least in a written format.
There are of course other factors that contribute to the success of content production, for example if you are putting this content on a brand new website it is unlikely to get found for a while. You still need to build authority and trust through the usual roots (links, reviews, pr etc.) but, once you have that, you should be churning your content out very quickly.
One rule of thumb is to always ask yourself, “is this content informative, useful and easy to digest?” if that's true then you can’t go far wrong even if you’re not writing much of it.
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