Next-Level Content Productivity: How 200+ Marketers Harness Generative AI to Create Content

Author's avatar Content Marketing Oct 2, 2023 18 minutes read

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    Peter Caputa

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    Ever since the release of ChatGPT last November, generative AI has been the number one topic in the online marketing community.

    And while human creativity is still indispensable when it comes to content creation, many believe that generative AI can “add steroids” to it and further enhance it.

    But how much exactly does generative AI impact productivity in content creation? Which tasks is it the most useful for, and how are other marketers taking advantage of it?

    That’s what we set out to find out with our new research, which already gathered 209 interesting takes directly from marketing professionals.

    Here are the main areas generative AI is impacting the most:

    This article is a part of Databox’s broader research with Penguin Strategies on “How are Marketers Using Generative AI and Is it Really Saving Time?” We’re still open to contributions and would love to hear your insights. Take the survey now to access preliminary results and have a chance to be featured in our final report. We also invite you to join Penguin Strategies’ Benchmark Group for B2B Tech & SaaS Companies.

    Brainstorming Topics

    Coming up with fresh ideas all the time is tiresome.

    Sure, brainstorming sessions with your team often start out fun, but by the end of the sessions, it turns to “yeah, but we can’t do that because of X”.

    And while great content ideas can sometimes come rather quickly, with most marketers, it’s generally a few hours-long process that involves quite a bit of head scratching.

    But with more than 85% of companies saving more than 25% of their time with Generative AI, it looks like this doesn’t have to be the case anymore.

    Using Generative AI

    What’s more, coming up with fresh angles isn’t the only schedule relief. Most companies find Gen AI helpful in many ways – from Brainstorming topics to Optimizing for SEO.

    Generative AI help

    As for brainstorming, the best thing about generative AI is that it can generate dozens of ideas and new angles in a matter of seconds. With the right prompts, you can use it to draw connections between seemingly unrelated topics.

    Instead of both coming up with new ideas and reviewing them, generative AI helps you focus on only the second part.

    Drew Estes of Simple Strat says that using AI for this purpose “speeds up his work about 10% to 25%.”

    “The biggest boost in productivity is brainstorming. To be specific, we use it for generating lists of ideas for topics, blog sections, etc., and choosing the best ones as starting points to write from.”

    Related: 20 Ways to Fill Your Editorial Calendar with Highly Relevant Topics

    Writing Outlines

    You can’t have great content without great outlines.

    Outlines serve as the backbone of any well-structured piece and ensure that the writer can follow a cohesive narrative. But creating them is no easy feat.

    You need to research the topic in detail, analyze the most popular content that’s already out there, go through competitors’ outlines, and then spend the rest of the time making sure everything is frankensteined together properly.

    But it looks like generative AI can speed up the process.

    Once you have an idea ready, you can turn to AI to propose a comprehensive content structure. It can suggest key sections, headings, and subheadings that relate to the specific topic.

    And if SEO is also in the picture, the AI can provide you with relevant keywords and phrases to integrate within the outline.

    While this outline will still need human touch and fine-tuning, it could save an hour or two when you need it the most.

    For Dhawal Shah of 2Stallions Digital Marketing Agency, using generative AI in these early stages of content creation “saves precious time and effort.”

    He says, “this initial content outline helps me structure my thoughts, ensuring that I cover all essential points and maintain a logical flow throughout the piece. Additionally, AI’s ability to rephrase and reword content ensures that my drafts are not only original but also adapted to suit different contexts and audiences.”

    Erik Norsted of Olive & Company says that he’s also seen the “biggest improvement in quickly building out fully formed ideas and outlines.”

    “Generative AI gives us the ability to research topics and fill in gaps in our thinking in a fraction of the time it used to take.”

    Writing a First Draft

    Getting that first draft of content ready is arguably the most grueling part of any type of content creation. If you have any writers in your network, you’ve probably heard about them talking about the “staring at a blank page for hours” syndrome.

    But with the release of generative AI, the blank page pandemic seems to be calming down.

    Nowadays, you can use AI to generate the initial text for your sections based on the outline and prompts you feed it in seconds.

    If you do a good job of explaining your preferred style, tone of voice, and core ideas, AI can be a game-changer in this part of content creation. It’s like having a full-time content assistant that works pro bono.

    With the time you save with AI, you can focus more of your energy and creativity on the editing process, which is far more important.

    Barry Rickhuss of MattressNextDay praises AI’s ability for initial drafting and says that “we no longer have to start with a blank piece of paper.”

    “We can prompt accordingly, and the ideas presented allow us to start from a first draft and then refine and tweak accordingly.”

    CJ Lloyd of Utah’s Best Home Pros states that with proper prompting, “it provides substantial time savings.”

    “If the subject I am writing about does not require extensive research, I would utilize AI to produce a first draft; occasionally, it only requires a few edits and modifications before it is ready to publish.”

    Repurposing Content for Different Channels

    For many marketers, repurposing the same content for different channels can be a bit tedious, seeing that you have to present those same ideas over and over again in different formats.

    But at the same time, this is one of the best strategies for extending your reach on all key channels. Once you have quality content, why not squeeze all the value you can from it?

    By refining the content to suit the specific formats of each channel, generative AI can play a significant role in repurposing.

    You can use it to analyze the original content and generate new versions that are tailored to the tone, style, and format of the target channel.

    For instance, it can transform a lengthy blog post into a series of engaging social media posts, while also making sure that the core message remains intact.

    It’s also great for creating concise summaries of long-form articles or reports that can then be shared on short-form content-based social platforms like Twitter.

    Corey Donovan of Alta Technologies is one of our respondents who use AI for content repurposing, and he says that it “saves our marketing team hours every week.”

    “What used to take multiple hours of manual work now only takes a few minutes to generate and no more than 30 minutes to edit. This frees up the marketing team to be able to focus more on big picture strategy and ensuring that our marketing efforts bring in consistent results.”

    Doing Research

    How well you conduct your research directly affects the quality and success of the content you put out.

    And while this isn’t something you can solely rely on AI on – with a big reason being “hallucination” issues – it can speed up your research process and get you to certain conclusions faster.

    Now, there are several types of research that generative AI can help with.

    For example, you can use it for competitor research by feeding AI their content and having it break it down the strategies they used and why they used them.

    Or, if your research process involves a large volume of articles and research papers, AI can help summarize and extract key information much faster.

    You can also ask it specific questions related to your topic, but make sure to fact-check the information AI gives you due to hallucination concerns and potentially false data.

    Another use case is market research, which is what Luke Hancock of Bin There Dump That leverages.

    “For any business development, market research forms a significant role in knowing the interests of our audience. With Artificial intelligence and its impact on our market research, it is now easier to gather information rather quickly and efficiently.”

    He says that “conducting questionnaires and surveys has never been this easy, along with the ability to create custom questions for individual customers. Moreover, the efficiency of Artificial Intelligence to analyze the feedback is also helpful in understanding our customers’ perspectives and preferences in the long run.”

    “For any business development, market research forms a significant role in knowing the interests of our audience. With Artificial intelligence and its impact on our market research, it is now easier to gather information rather quickly and efficiently.”

    He says that “conducting questionnaires and surveys has never been this easy, along with the ability to create custom questions for individual customers. Moreover, the efficiency of Artificial Intelligence to analyze the feedback is also helpful in understanding our customers’ perspectives and preferences in the long run.”

    Luke Hancock

    Luke Hancock

    Marketing Manager at Bin There Dump That

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    Cody Candee of Bounce also uses generative AI mainly for research.

    “We don’t use it for content creation in building the actual structure of a post, but rather to perform the foundational research needed to know which direction we would like to go in our marketing campaigns.”

    Related: Content Ideation: Best Practices and Tools for Content Marketing Success

    Editing Content for Grammar, Readability, and Conciseness

    Even with a ton of grammar tools available online for free, it’s still possible for some grammar mistakes to slip through the cracks, especially if you’re dealing with any type of long-form content.

    Readability is another common pain point that can emerge and it’s all the more likely if you don’t have any experienced editors to go through content before publishing it.

    But with generative AI, you can now fix both of these problems with one stone.

    Just one example of this is, if you’re using ChatGPT, you can ask it to proofread your work and rewrite it to an 8th-grade reading level. Or, you can use it to cut out fluffy parts and keep the key points more concise for the audience.

    Again, you’ll still need human touch, but the process can become so much easier if you’re leveraging AI properly.

    Mariusz Baran of We Clear Everything says that his strategy when it comes to editing is to “ask the AI whether it likes the article.”

    “This way, it suggests some potential improvements in a list. Finally, I implement the improvements which I like.”

    Sam Weisfeld of Finimpact also talked about editing and how generative AI has “significantly affected my productivity in content creation. I am able to edit my content for grammar, readability, and conciseness more efficiently.”

    Write Great Content 

    We already talked about generative AI being able to provide you with a solid first draft that you can later edit into a quality piece of content – but can it write great content right off the bat?

    Technically, with the right prompts and explanations, you could get AI to write some truly captivating content. But you’ll still need a human to go through it, fine-tune the edges, and make sure everything’s up to par.

    Many business owners make the mistake of directly copy-pasting AI’s content onto their website, without having anyone with an “eye for good content” go through it beforehand.

    Alex Alexakis of PixelChefs says they use AI to “come up with a comprehensive and well-researched post that is more engaging and persuasive than anything we could have written on our own. I’ve noticed significant changes in our content creation process since I started using generative AI. We’re able to create content that is more likely to be shared and read.”

    Georges Fallah of Vbout shares that their AI tools have provided them with an array of engaging subject lines and captivating post ideas, leading to a higher engagement rate. “As a result, we’ve been able to connect more effectively with our audience and maintain a consistent brand voice across various platforms. Furthermore, generative AI has allowed us to scale our content creation without a corresponding increase in our resources, helping us maintain a steady content output. While AI can’t replace human creativity and insight, its ability to augment our work has made it an invaluable tool in our content strategy.”

    Editing Content to Match Tone and Style

    Similar to how you can use generative AI to edit your content for grammar and readability, you can also prompt it to match your brand’s writing tone and style.

    For starters, you can prepare a text dataset that exemplifies the tone and style you want.

    This can include existing content or any other texts that capture the essence of what you’re looking for. With these examples, AI can create templates you can follow while generating content.

    The key is to use explicit instructions to guide the AI’s output. You want to specify the level of formality, the emotional tone, vocabulary preferences, and sentence structures you want.

    Include specific examples within your prompts to help the AI understand precisely what you’re looking for.

    Alex Contes of ReviewGrower says that thanks to generative AI, he’s been “free to experiment with a wide range of voices and tones in my work, cater to a variety of audiences, and breeze through any number of creative writing assignments.”

    “Thanks to generative AI, we’ve been free to experiment with a wide range of voices and tones in my work, cater to a variety of audiences, and breeze through any number of creative writing assignments.”

    Alex Contes

    Alex Contes

    Co-Founder at ReviewGrower

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    Ilan Nass of Taktical Digital also uses AI for editing purposes and says that it’s key to “carefully select AI-generated material that fits our brand’s tone and principles to preserve the authenticity of our company.”

    Optimizing for SEO

    Another popular generative AI use case is SEO optimization.

    And while there are a few different ways you can use AI to optimize your content for SEO, the most popular method is using it for keyword research.

    For example, you can ask ChatGPT or Bard to list some of the most relevant topics for a specific audience, in a particular niche.

    Say you run a personal development coaching program – you can ask AI to list topics related to the target audience’s interest in this industry.

    This gives you a good starting point for blog post ideas and the main topics that should be included.

    Then, for each topic you get, you can ask AI to provide you with a list of keywords related to it that you can either sprinkle throughout the content or maybe use in your title and subheadings.

    To circle back to the personal development example, Bard might give you keyword phrases like “how to stop procrastinating at work”. You can then use this insight to write an article on “X Useful Tips to Stop Procrastinating at Work Starting Next Monday”.

    However, remember to also cross-check all the keywords you get from generative AI with specialized SEO tools like Ahrefs or Semrush to make sure the phrases really are worth targeting. 

    Alexander Hollingsworth of Oyova says that in terms of SEO, “generative AI has definitely proven its worth.”

    “It supports semantic SEO by suggesting related topics for each blog post. This capability allows us to create a rich web of interconnected content, enhancing our site’s visibility and reach on search engine results.”

    For Ilija Sekulov of Mailbutler, generative AI “saves me the time of analyzing competitors’ articles for headings and keyword distribution.”

    And if you want an easy way to stay on top of whether generative AI is making a difference in your SEO efforts, you can download one (or more) of Databox’s 25+ SEO dashboard templates for free.

    Simply connect your data source, drag-and-drop your key SEO metrics, and watch as your free dashboard populates with all of your most relevant insights. You can even turn the numbers into easy-to-understand visuals with just a few clicks of a button.

    Related: Conduct a Thorough SEO Content Audit Using This 10-Point Checklist

    Get Featured In Our Next Generative AI Report

    This time last year, generative AI was just a buzzword for something that might disrupt the industry at some point in the next few decades…

    But today, it’s practically impossible to ignore it. Generative AI has infiltrated almost every area of digital marketing and it’s advancing at a rapid pace.

    And one area that seems to be affected the most is content creation.

    However, with so many different ways to utilize generative AI to increase content creation productivity, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of information and end up with an opposite outcome.

    To help filter out this information and see exactly how much generative AI impacts productivity in content creation, we talked to 209 marketers who are actively leveraging this new technology.

    We’re still in the process of gathering insights from marketers in our survey and will release all of the most important data in a few months’ time with our partner, Penguin Strategies.

    If you’re a marketer who’s using generative AI for content creation and have some interesting insights you want to share, we’d love to hear them!

    You can still take the survey and get a chance to be featured in our final report.

    And more thing… if you’re a B2B Tech and SaaS business, Penguin Strategies recently launched a free Benchmark Group for B2B Tech & SaaS Companies.  You can instantly benchmark your performance data with other businesses of similar size in your niche.

    If you’re in another industry, don’t worry, you can still join our Benchmark Groups and find a cohort that best suits your specific business. You can instantly see how you stack up against other companies in your niche, completely free.

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    Article by
    Filip Stojanovic

    Filip Stojanovic is a content writer who studies Business and Political Sciences. Also, I am a huge tennis enthusiast. Although my dream is to win a Grand Slam, working as a content writer is also interesting.

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