We live in a world in which a robot can write copy to attract a robot in order to sell a human a robot through a robot, and lots of people are pretty damn excited about the prospect of that.
Others are horrified. Are we really going to eliminate the human element from the very human art of writing? Must we have machines do everything?
The truth, of course, is nuanced. We can’t completely ignore emerging technologies that could make us better at our jobs, but we also can’t completely surrender to these new technologies. The internet era has been a struggle for marketers to embrace technology in a way that enhances the human experience. We all know (and see, and feel) that marketers have not lived up to the high ideal of “better living through technology” for their companies’ customers.
We can do better, and with generative AI now on the scene, we must. We need to use this exciting new species of robots to supercharge our humanity. The key is to not get swallowed up simply pushing and pulling the levers on our ever-growing martech stack (the science), and to always remember to keep the human element front-and-center in the work we do, every day (the art).
Science can help us understand customer behavior. Art is built upon empathizing with that behavior.
Science can help us find patterns in the way the universe works. Art is how we find meaning (and beauty) in those patterns.
Science shows what works and what doesn’t. Art is what makes whatever works, work.
Here’s a framework for melding art and science when it comes to content creation that will help your business create sustainable, trust-based relationships with your ideal customers.
Start with understanding your audience (art and science)
Content creation should be built on a foundation of science. This means examining your own website analytics and developing insight into the keywords that matter to your audience. You should also study whatever trends and statistics you can find that are applicable to your industry and your customers. There is tremendous insight to be found in the numbers that exist, whether they be your internal data or available external information.
But this data is not the answer; it’s an input. Gaining understanding requires human interpretation, something best gained by having your marketing humans talk to customer humans. Having a perceptive person ask the right questions and get insight into the humanity of their work situation can bring the data to life.
Create content that resonates (mostly art)
Creating content starts with an idea, ideally based on something you uncovered in the section above.
We all struggle at least some of the time trying to figure out what content to create. Often, we just need a push to get the gears in our brains turning. Chat GPT is a great brainstorming tool for this—it can generate dozens of ideas in just a few seconds. Most of these ideas will be lame, but they will help you think of a much better idea.
It’s vital that you don’t just ask ChatGPT and take a look at Google Trends and give people (err… algorithms) what they want; give them what they desire—this requires the empathy that an algorithm or an AI just doesn’t have. It requires human understanding of the emotions that your audience is experiencing in order to create something that they will not just consume, but care about.
Push back against the temptation to over-engineer your content—often imposed on you by quota-obsessed sales folks (I understand why they’re obsessed; it’s their job). There’s a balance to be found here. We need to set things up so that we can keep score, but we can’t get obsessed with the score.
Content must lead to some action (science)
On the other hand, the content you create for your company needs to serve a business purpose, which means it needs to create some sort of action with your audience.
This does not mean that they’re going to email and ask you to send along a contract. But what is the collective action that occurs over time? Metrics like email subscriptions and website visits are typically vanity metrics, but they can be useful in determining the overall worthiness of your content.
Don’t be in a hurry. The action might be simply reading another blog post or other section of your website, or following your company on LinkedIn.
You must measure and improve (science)
Applying science (and math) is how you professionalize your artful content. If it doesn’t perform for the business, you’re just another boring starving artist.
Determine the metrics that truly measure the goals you want to achieve. The metrics that are important to you are not necessarily off-the-shelf KPIs like website visits or email sign-ups. It’s whatever truly provides an indication of your progress (or lack of it).
If every piece of content you produce is driven by a mathematical equation, it isn’t going to work. The best (and by “best,” I mean most infuriating) example of this is SEOs dictating that blog posts “have” to be at least 1,500 words because posts of that length perform the best. That belief is the idiot’s complete misunderstanding of cause and effect (here’s the secret of why a blog post “performs:” It’s because that longer post provides more value because it’s well-researched and/or well-written.. Not because it was just pointlessly long).
To activate both the science and art of content, you need to have smart analysts who can understand the numbers aspect of creating an audience, and you must also have great writers and video producers who have the ability to create something beautiful. Something that resonates. Something that impacts the audience.
By embracing art you can give your content some soul, even if you’re writing about ERP systems or service lifecycle management or insurance.
If your content becomes formulaic, the audience will see right through it. If it looks like ChatGPT wrote it, people won’t be moved.
And you will fail.
So our advice is to try something radical: Mix the art with the science. In other words, be human.