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How to use generative AI for marketing

Organizations can use generative AI to write marketing content and analyze customer data quicker than a human. However, the tool requires basic prompt engineering skills.

Generative AI doesn't replace human creativity in marketing, but it can enhance it.

Shortly after OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November 2022, professionals in many industries took an interest in generative AI. These tools run on foundational models, such as large language models (LLMs), which developers train on massive data sets. Marketers can use generative AI tools to automate and enhance various tasks, such as content creation, search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing segmentation. However, they must also consider its risks, like creating unoriginal content and concerns for data privacy.

Explore four ways generative AI can help marketing teams increase productivity.

4 ways marketers can use generative AI

Generative AI's ability to write content and analyze large data sets makes it a suitable tool for various marketing use cases.

1. Marketing copy generation

Marketing teams write a lot of content, including ad copy, product descriptions and blog articles, which can take considerable time and effort. However, generative AI tools, like ChatGPT and Google Bard, let marketers speed up the writing process for both short- and long-from content. For example, a copywriter can prompt a generative AI tool to create 50 promotional tweets for their organization, and the tool does it almost instantaneously.

A screenshot from ChatGPT that shows how the tool can generate promotional tweets
Marketers can use generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, to generate social media posts.

A content marketer, on the other hand, might use generative AI to write full-length blog articles. The marketer can prompt the tool to write the article from scratch, or they may craft an outline themselves and have the tool flesh it out.

A screenshot from ChatGPT that shows how the tool can write blog articles
ChatGPT can help marketers structure and write blog articles.

Generative AI tools can write more quickly than humans, but marketing leaders may have concerns about the quality of the content -- and rightly so. AI content can feel overly formulaic or lack the right tone if marketers don't use highly specific prompts.

A skilled prompt engineer knows which information to include in their prompt to get quality results. For example, an advertisement for life insurance needs a more serious tone than one for a pizza delivery app. Generative AI users must refine their prompts when tools generate content that misses the mark in terms of tone, style or level of detail.

Free tools, like ChatGPT and Bard, serve a general audience, but some paid tools, like Jasper AI, cater specifically to marketers. These tools offer prompt templates to help users input the right information for different types of marketing copy.

2. SEO keyword research

To create a successful blog, content marketers should know which topics their audience cares about. Keyword research tools show the words, phrases and questions people put into search engines, which can help marketers identify blog post ideas that their audience wants to see. While many keyword research tools charge a monthly fee, marketers can use ChatGPT and Bard to conduct keyword research for free.

To begin, content marketers can ask the tool to list key topics related to their industry or audience. For example, a marketer for a sustainability reporting software company may prompt the tool to list topics related to sustainability in business. The prompt then offers a high-level overview of what a blog post might cover, including key topics, like circular economy and sustainable supply chains.

A screenshot from Bard that shows how the tool can break topics into subtopics
Organizations can use generative AI tools, like Bard, to break topics into subtopics.

Next, marketers can prompt the tool to list keyword phrases for each topic. These keywords can help marketers come up with specific article topics and titles to attract the right audience to their website.

A screenshot from Bard that shows how the tool can offer relevant SEO keywords for a given topic
Marketers can use Bard to conduct SEO keyword research.

For the topic of sustainable supply chains, Bard might respond with keyword phrases, such as "water-efficient supply chains" and "energy-efficient supply chains." A content marketer may then use this insight to write a blog post titled "5 tips to create a more water-efficient supply chain," or "Best practices for an energy-efficient supply chain."

Bard learns from up-to-date internet information, so marketers can use it to find trending keywords. ChatGPT's free version, on the other hand, is based on data from September 2021 and prior, so it may offer outdated results. However, ChatGPT's paid version -- ChatGPT Plus -- integrates with the Bing search engine to access more up-to-date information.

If teams use Bard, ChatGPT or ChatGPT Plus for keyword research, they can still use specialized SEO tools, like Semrush and Ahrefs, to verify search volume and cost-per-engagement information.

3. Marketing segmentation and personalization

Marketing teams can enhance market segmentation efforts if they integrate a generative AI model with a data lake or customer data platform that contains a large amount of customer and prospect information. Customer segments -- groupings based on common characteristics -- help organizations understand their customers and offer personalized experiences.

To create accurate segments, marketing teams must analyze a lot of data, which can take considerable time. However, generative AI can automate this process, as it can analyze large amounts of data more quickly than a team of humans.

Generative AI's underlying LLM can also let marketers use natural language to uncover new customer segments. For instance, a retail store marketer that integrated store data with a generative AI tool could ask the tool, "Which customers are most likely to show interest in our upcoming Father's Day offer?" The tool could analyze all relevant customer data to generate a group of customers the team may not have identified previously.

Marketers can then use generative AI to craft personalized outreach for specific segments. For example, a marketer for an online surf shop could prompt a generative AI tool to write personalized email offers for specific segments.

A screenshot from ChatGPT that shows how the tool can write for different audiences
ChatGPT can tailor marketing copy for different audience segments.

However, organizations must consult with risk management departments before they add generative AI to their segmentation process. Many governments regulate how organizations store and use customer data, such as personally identifiable information, so businesses must ensure their generative AI tools work in compliance with these laws.

4. Marketing survey creation

Organizations conduct market research, often in the form of surveys, to understand consumers' wants and needs. Marketing teams can use generative AI to quickly create a variety of marketing surveys, such as segmentation, purchase process and customer loyalty surveys. This automation can save marketers' time and increase overall productivity.

A screenshot from ChatGPT that shows how the tool can create a marketing survey
Generative AI tools can quickly create marketing surveys.

As with most AI-generated content, marketers may need to fine-tune their prompts or edit the tool's output. However, generative AI can quicky offer marketers a foundational survey draft, which they can augment and edit as they see fit.

Risks of using generative AI in marketing

If marketing teams fail to edit AI-generated content or ensure data privacy, a generative AI tool can do more harm than good.

Common shortfalls of the technology include the following:

  • Low content quality. If marketers lack basic prompt engineering skills or use AI-created copy without making their own edits, the copy can feel unoriginal and superficial. A blog that lacks originality and depth may struggle to rank on search engines against competitors that use human writers.
  • Content that doesn't match brand tone. Free generative AI tools don't inherently understand how to write content in line with a brand's particular style or tone. Marketers need to carefully phrase -- and often refine -- their prompts. They also may need to manually edit the results to match the brand's tone.
  • Knowledge limitations. Generative AI tools may have a knowledge cutoff date. For example, ChatGPT's free version doesn't know about events that happened after September 2021 because OpenAI stopped training the tool's foundational model in that month. Therefore, it cannot offer insights into current events or trending SEO keywords.
  • Data privacy issues. Not all generative AI tools have guardrails in place to store sensitive data in compliance with privacy regulations, like GDPR and CCPA. To prevent a data breach, organizations should consult with risk management teams before they put customer information into a generative AI tool.
  • Bias potential. Many LLMs that power generative AI tools were trained on a wide array of internet content. Therefore, political or racial biases found on the internet can make their way into responses, which can damage a brand's reputation.

Generative AI has the potential to automate various tasks and boost productivity, although the tools require marketers to alter their creative processes. To reap the benefits of generative AI, organizations can offer basic prompt engineering training and guidelines to help marketers efficiently use the tool in their daily activities.

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