Automation: is it enhancing or engulfing your content strategy?

Automation can bring tremendous gains – but don’t overestimate its potential at the expense of quality content.

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We in marketing circles hear a great deal about the mind-blowing potential of automation in all its forms. But cold, hard evidence is often hard to come by.

Now Digiday is reporting car giant Kia has managed to triple conversion rates by introducing a chatbot via Facebook Messenger.

The case of Kian

Dubbed Kian and pictured above, Kia’s new baby is proving a real boy wonder.

Kia’s aim was to distill its 800-plus websites on which customers could take their first step towards a purchase into a single source. In the four months since launch, Kian’s conversion rate of 21% has dwarfed Kia.com’s measly 7% – despite the latter being the company’s flagship website.

Acting as a single point of contact, Kian has also helped Kia to boost its social media engagement to new heights.

Content Desk has historically been cautious about the benefits of AI in content marketing amid persistent industry frenzy (just Google “artificial intelligence content marketing” – there are think pieces on the topic going back years, each as insipid as the next). But it’s interesting to see a real-world example of companies profitably integrating chatbots into their wider marketing strategy.

However, success stories like Kian come with their fair share of caveats – for your marketing, your consumer base and your content.

The Cee’d for success?

Kia’s chatbot experiment worked well because it satisfied conditions specific to the company’s product and audience – conditions that might not be so easily replicated for marketing teams elsewhere.

By selling specific products (cars) Kia has a refined idea of who its target audience is and what sort of questions they are likely to be asking.

Be they on vehicle maintenance, new ranges or specifics about individual cars, the necessary information can be fed into an algorithm by marketing teams to be spat out on the other side for curious consumers.

Such a solution might not work so well for B2B consumers, where audiences are often smaller and enquiries are wide-ranging but require intricately informed responses.

In cases like this, a knowledge bank filtering industry-specific content into streams tailored for individual users makes much more sense.

What next?

Chatbots aren’t a failsafe innovation from a marketing perspective. But there are certainly lessons to be learned from Kian. It provides consumers with what they want based on where they already are. Put simply, it complements Kia’s existing content.

This is where the future lies for the AI-content marketer relationship, as explained by Progressive Content’s Sam Gallagher in a recent blog post. AI can “augment our creative expertise in exciting and revolutionary ways”, but attempts at automating that creative expertise wholesale have met with floundering results.

See, for example, Microsoft’s gratuitous introduction of a chatbot in 2016 and its ensuing murderous rampage.

There’s no doubt that automation is in vogue in the creative industries. But the key is to use technology to enhance the creativity you already possess (like Kia) rather than as a vanity investment in flawed machine learning (like Microsoft).

All of this is good news for content creators. Credible copy and fresh formatting might not have the flashy appeal of a tool like Kian, but such tools can’t work at all without a solid content backbone. As industry clamour around AI gains in volume, the Content Desk message remains the same: use with caution.