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Ask Why Before You Buy Content Tech (Even AI)

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Ask Why Before You Buy Content Tech (Even AI)

For as long as I can remember, marketing teams have faced a thorny problem: Technology.

In the pre-internet days, I helped marketing teams wrestle their presentations onto CD-ROMs to share with their sales colleagues and manage their outbound customer email campaigns in Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets.

If only a few words in that sentence made sense to you, remember I’m a Gen Xer. Rough translation: “In my day we had to walk five miles in the snow to implement a marketing strategy.”

Technology makes up a core part of any go-to-market strategy today. But marketing teams haven’t gotten any better at managing the acquisition and implementation of the plethora of tech it takes to power their work.

But it’s not for lack of investment.

Gartner’s 2023 CMO spend survey found marketing leaders have seen their teams’ productivity fall to new lows, despite technology investments in the last few years. As the research points out, 75% of marketers say they’re under pressure to cut martech spending this year. Yet Gartner also found the biggest new investment among CMOs this year is … wait for it … technology. And the most significant decrease? Labor.

75% of marketers say they’re under pressure to cut tech spending, yet it’s also their biggest investment this year, according to @Gartner research, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Think about that.

Marketing teams spend so much time acquiring, implementing, learning, and managing technology that they have little time to work on whatever they bought the technology to help them do. It’s a never-ending hamster wheel.

What marketing leaders don’t know about buying technology

I’ve worked with many brands to help them select content and marketing technologies, from content and digital asset management to marketing automation and customer data platforms.

In almost every case, the process begins with understanding how the new or replacement technology will fit into the marketing process. But, in most cases, no defined process exists. It happens with all kinds of marketing and content technologies. But it’s particularly apparent in how content and marketing leaders approach adopting new generative AI tools.

Instead of starting by focusing on the new, sophisticated capabilities tech products offer, marketers should first figure out which existing (or at least designed) processes the new technology purchase will amplify, standardize, or scale.

I am researching the integration of AI into the content and marketing processes. I’ll preview two findings from the report in development.

First, among the 200 marketers surveyed, 84% say they experiment with or actively use generative AI technologies to create content. However, only 17% of that group has a formal workflow process that includes generative AI.

84% of marketers say they use generative #AI, but only 17% of that group has formal processes, according to unpublished research by @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

That follows the pattern for many innovative marketing technologies over the last 20 years.

In consulting with companies selecting generative AI tools, I’ve learned brands aren’t sure how, where, or even why the tool makes sense for their marketing teams. Yet, they know it’s an “important” capability that’s attracted the interest of senior management, who might supplement (and, in some cases, replace) content creators.

Here’s the punchline: Organizations that successfully integrate generative AI into their marketing and content processes don’t use the tools to create awesome blog posts or the next great e-book.

My research suggests their successes come from using generative AI to shift workflow processes. They use it to summarize longer pieces, create derivative content like abstracts, and provide services like real-time translation, automated contextual email responses, and meeting notes.

Early success with generative #AI in marketing involves workflow processes, not #content creation, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

These successful marketers use generative AI tools not to be more creative but to standardize and scale their derivative marketing and content work. That gives them more time to be more creative on original work.

As Gartner suggests in its research, these marketers are “doubling down on scenario planning and balancing efficient near-term execution with investments that enable them to build future-forward capabilities.”

Processes make technology work

Sustainable strategies that involve AI (or any other technology) aren’t about creative words, images, and channels. They are about the activities and processes that free up bandwidth, so teams can create.

To measure, improve, or work on those activities and processes, the people in the organization must understand and agree to them.

Engineer and professor W. Edwards Deming once said systems and processes cannot understand themselves. He also said this: “Hard work and best efforts, without knowledge from outside, merely dig deeper the pit we are in.”

But what does that mean?

I didn’t have a system or a process for writing my latest book. But I can predict I will get it to the publisher on time. I know what I’m doing. Many marketers lack a process for creating content, yet it happens. They seem to know what they’re doing.

You or I might produce our content on time or get great results from playing around with generative AI technology. But what about the rest of the organization? Do your colleagues understand what you’re doing? Can anything scale if everyone does their own thing?

At many companies, teams go rogue and purchase their own technology because it takes too long to follow the official acquisition path or the approved solutions don’t do what they need.

I’ve seen enterprise marketing and content technologies get hacked into doing things they were never intended to do. A marketing team I worked with turned a human-resource workflow tool into a content calendaring tool. It worked great – until it didn’t. Now, they are looking to replace it.

I know a Fortune 100 company’s marketing team that manages one section of a website by editing HTML content in the cells of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and uploading it to a server. That clunky process stayed in place until a new employee tried it and asked, “Isn’t there a better way to do this?”

Technology can serve as an extraordinarily valuable resource. But even generative AI is only as good as the process it’s intended to standardize and scale. If you use technology to automate ad hoc tasks, you’re not scaling or standardizing.

The next time you think about adding generative AI or other technology to your marketing or content stack, ask if you can define the process and activities that you want it to standardize and scale. Only buy or add something once you can.

Defining the processes and activities you want to improve will clear up many of the questions you have about how technology will help you create more value – or even if it can.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Missed ContentTECH Summit live but still want to learn how to manage, and scale great content experiences across all your platforms and channels? Register today to watch it on demand (it’s free). 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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Take back your ROI by owning your data

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Treasure Data 800x450

Treasure Data 800x450

Other brands can copy your style, tone and strategy — but they can’t copy your data.

Your data is your competitive advantage in an environment where enterprises are working to grab market share by designing can’t-miss, always-on customer experiences. Your marketing tech stack enables those experiences. 

Join ActionIQ and Snowplow to learn the value of composing your stack – decoupling the data collection and activation layers to drive more intelligent targeting.

Register and attend “Maximizing Marketing ROI With a Composable Stack: Separating Reality from Fallacy,” presented by Snowplow and ActionIQ.


Click here to view more MarTech webinars.


About the author

Cynthia RamsaranCynthia Ramsaran

Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for CNBC.com and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.

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Revolutionizing Auto Retail: The Game-Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

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Revolutionizing Auto Retail: The Game-Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

In a groundbreaking alliance, Amazon and Hyundai have joined forces to reshape the automotive landscape, promising a revolutionary shift in how we buy, drive, and experience cars.

Imagine browsing for your dream car on Amazon, with the option to seamlessly purchase, pick up, or have it delivered—all within the familiar confines of the world’s largest online marketplace. Buckle up as we explore the potential impact of this monumental partnership and the transformation it heralds for the future of auto retail.

Driving Change Through Amazon’s Auto Revolution

Consider “Josh”, a tech-savvy professional with an affinity for efficiency. Faced with the tedious process of purchasing a new car, he stumbled upon Amazon’s automotive section. Intrigued by the prospect of a one-stop shopping experience, Josh decided to explore the Amazon-Hyundai collaboration.

The result?

A hassle-free online car purchase, personalized to his preferences, and delivered to his doorstep. Josh’s story is just a glimpse into the real-world impact of this game-changing partnership.

Bridging the Gap Between Convenience and Complexity

Traditional car buying is often marred by complexities, from navigating dealership lots to negotiating prices. The disconnect between the convenience consumers seek and the cumbersome process they endure has long been a pain point in the automotive industry. The need for a streamlined, customer-centric solution has never been more pressing.

1701235578 44 Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai1701235578 44 Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

Ecommerce Partnership Reshaping Auto Retail Dynamics

Enter Amazon and Hyundai’s new strategic partnership coming in 2024—an innovative solution poised to redefine the car-buying experience. The trio of key developments—Amazon becoming a virtual showroom, Hyundai embracing AWS for a digital makeover, and the integration of Alexa into next-gen vehicles—addresses the pain points with a holistic approach.

In 2024, auto dealers for the first time will be able to sell vehicles in Amazon’s U.S. store, and Hyundai will be the first brand available for customers to purchase.

Amazon and Hyundai launch a broad, strategic partnership—including vehicle sales on Amazon.com in 2024 – Amazon Staff

This collaboration promises not just a transaction but a transformation in the way customers interact with, purchase, and engage with their vehicles.

Pedal to the Metal

Seamless Online Purchase:

  • Complete the entire transaction within the trusted Amazon platform.
  • Utilize familiar payment and financing options.
  • Opt for convenient pick-up or doorstep delivery.
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Hyundai’s Cloud-First Transformation:

  • Experience a data-driven organization powered by AWS.
  • Benefit from enhanced production optimization, cost reduction, and improved security.

Alexa Integration in Next-Gen Vehicles:

  • Enjoy a hands-free, voice-controlled experience in Hyundai vehicles.
  • Access music, podcasts, reminders, and smart home controls effortlessly.
  • Stay connected with up-to-date traffic and weather information.

Driving into the Future

The Amazon-Hyundai collaboration is not just a partnership; it’s a revolution in motion. As we witness the fusion of e-commerce giant Amazon with automotive prowess of Hyundai, the potential impact on customer behavior is staggering.

The age-old challenges of car buying are met with a forward-thinking, customer-centric solution, paving the way for a new era in auto retail. From the comfort of your home to the driver’s seat, this partnership is set to redefine every step of the journey, promising a future where buying a car is as easy as ordering a package online.

Embrace the change, and witness the evolution of auto retail unfold before your eyes.


Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

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How to Schedule Ad Customizers for Google RSAs [2024]

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How to Schedule Ad Customizers for Google RSAs [2024]

It’s no wonder that responsive search ads have steadily grown in popularity in recent years. Through Google’s machine learning capabilities, RSAs provide a powerful way to automate the testing of multiple headlines and descriptions to ensure a closer match to user intent. The benefits are clear: RSAs mean broader reach, better engagement, and improved performance metrics.

However, all these benefits come at a significant (but reasonable) cost – they can be extremely difficult to manage, especially when it comes to updating ad copy to promote limited time offers.

I know this firsthand – I work with several ecommerce clients with promotions that constantly change. Not too long ago, I found myself going through the consistently tedious process of updating a client’s RSA headlines and copy. As I was making the changes, I thought to myself: “There must be a better way to update this ad copy. I shouldn’t have to use find and replace so many times while pausing and enabling my ad campaigns.”

After expressing this to my colleague, Jordan Stambaugh, the two of us agreed there must be a better way. But we’d have to make it happen. A few weeks later, we put that idea into action and created a more efficient process for updating RSA ad copy on a scheduled basis. If you want to try this process for yourself, just keep reading.

Responsive Search Ad Customizers 101: Basic Options & Execution

Before diving into the process of scheduling automatic updates for your RSA customizers, it’s essential to understand some key Responsive Search Ad fundamentals.

First, you can customize three main options within RSAs: the Attribute Name, the Data Type, and the Account Value. Each of these plays a vital role in personalizing your ads:

  • Attribute Name: This is essentially the identifier for the customizer. It is how you’ll reference the specific piece of information you’re customizing within the ad. For instance, if you’re running a promotion, you might name an attribute “Promotion.”
  • Data Type: This indicates the kind of data the attribute represents and it determines how the information can be formatted and used within the ad. Common data types include Text (for plain, non-numeric text), Percent (to represent percentage discounts), Price (to denote monetary values), and Number (for any numerical value).
  • Account Value: This is the default value for the attribute that you set at the account level. It acts as a fallback if more specific values aren’t provided at the campaign or ad group level.

For example, if you wanted to promote a 10% off discount using RSAs, you’d use the “Discount” attribute, a data type of “Percent,” and an account value of “10% off.” Then, when someone is searching for products, Google would test automatically inserting a copy regarding a 10% off promotion into your ad.

Once you’ve set up the right customization options, you can start to format your RSAs with customizers.

Here’s how:

  • Start by typing in {
  • Click on Ad Customizer then select your attribute
  • Google will populate your attributes that are already uploaded
  • For a simple offer, use the “Default text” attribute as a catch-all. This will ensure your ads run smoothly if Google can’t pull the right messaging from your RSA feed

 

 

How to Schedule Your Ad Customizers with a Feed

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s cover how to schedule your ad customizers.

Just follow this three step process:

1. Create the feed

Start by creating two sheets: The Parent sheet, and the Child sheet. The “Parent” sheet will act as the primary data source, while the child sheet will pull data from the parent sheet.

We’ll start by building the parent sheet. After opening the sheet, start by renaming the active tab to “Promotions.” Don’t skip this step, it’s crucial for referencing this range in formulas later on.

In your “Promotions” tab, head to the top row and label columns A, B, and C with the headers of your ad customizer attributes. For example, you might have “BrandSaleHeadline” as your attribute in column A, “text” as the Data Type in column B, and “Shop the Collection” as the Account Value in column C.

Once your headers are in place, move to cell C2. Here, you’ll input the expression =lookup(today(),F:G,E:E). This formula will play a key role in dynamically updating your RSA customizer based on the current date.

Next, go to columns E, F, and G, which will be used to manage your scheduling. In these columns, you’ll list out the different values your chosen attribute might take, alongside their corresponding start and end dates. For example, under the “BrandSaleHeadline” attribute, you might schedule various promotional headlines to appear during different sale periods throughout the year.

Here’s how your sheet might look:

Now look back at the first 3 columns on your sheet. They should look like this:

Now create a second sheet. We’ll call this sheet the Child sheet. It’s going to automatically pull in data from the parent sheet you just created, and will be the one you link to Google Ads later on.

Columns A, B and C will be almost identical to the child sheet, but we will be using a special formula later so we can automatically populate this. So, start by labeling Row 1 Column A “Attribute,” then the next column as “Data type,” then column C as “Account value.” 

Then go to C2 and use this expression to populate the right account value from the parent document: =importrange(“[PARENT DOCUMENT URL HERE]”,”Promotions!C2″)

Your sheet should now look like this:

We recommend adding a date range with default text for any days you’re  not running a promotion. In the example above, we have “Shop Our Collection” appearing as default text.

2. Input attributes

Once you have your feed created, the next step involves inputting your attributes into the Google Ads platform. This can be done either manually or through a bulk upload.

For the manual approach, navigate to “Tools & Settings” in your Google Ads interface, then go to ‘Setup’ followed by “Business Data.” Here, you’ll find an option for “Ad Customizer Attributes.” Click the plus sign to add your attributes. It’s crucial to use the same attribute names that you’ve established in your Parent Google Sheet template to ensure consistency and proper data synchronization.

 

 

Alternatively, if you prefer the bulk upload method, again head to “Tools & Settings.” This time, select “Bulk Actions” and then “Uploads.” For this process, you only need to upload columns A to C from your template. 

Be aware that it might take some time for your uploaded attributes to be reflected in the business data section of Google Ads.

3. Set up an automatic schedule

At this point, you’ve almost finished scheduling your ad customizers. Navigate to Tools & Settings, then Bulk Actions, then Uploads, then click the Schedules tab at the top. Select your Child Google Sheet as the data source, and share your Google Sheet with the appropriate email.

 

 

And there you have it – Google will automatically pull in the data you populated in the sheets into your RSAs.

Common Challenges When Scheduling RSA Ad Customizers

When we test these sheets with our clients in the wild, we’ve uncovered five common challenges. Be on the lookout for these issues – solving them before they happen can save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Not scheduling your upload when the site changes 

The first and most significant hurdle is the mismatch between the scheduled data upload and website content updates. For instance, if the Google Sheet is set to upload at 11 am, but the website changes occur at 3 pm, there’s going to be a discrepancy where the wrong message could be displayed for several hours, or new messaging could appear prematurely. Conversely, if the website updates happen before the scheduled sheet upload, outdated promotions might linger until the new data is imported. Synchronizing these schedules is crucial; it’s best to align them so updates occur simultaneously.

Skipping QA during a message change

Another pitfall is neglecting quality assurance (QA) during message updates. It’s vital to regularly check the business data section to verify that the correct values are in place post-update.

Issues with the IMPORTRANGE function

Then there’s the technical aspect of setting up the IMPORTRANGE function correctly in the Google Sheets template. The ‘child’ template must reliably pull data from the ‘parent’ sheet. If this function isn’t configured correctly, data won’t be imported as needed.

Not sharing access of the Google template for automatic uploads

Pay attention to your access permissions for the Google Sheets template. Google will prompt you with the email address that needs permission to access the ‘child’ sheet for automatic uploads. Overlooking the sharing of your sheet with this address will prevent the system from working.

Having date range gaps in your parent sheet

Lastly, a common oversight is leaving date range gaps in the ‘parent’ sheet. Every single date must be accounted for without overlaps. A practical tip is to have an ‘evergreen’ backup message ready, scheduled to run continuously, ideally through the end of the year, to cover any potential gaps.

Conclusion

Leveraging Google Sheets in conjunction with Google Ads to schedule RSA ad customizers is a game-changer for managing dynamic promotional content. This process not only streamlines your workflows but also ensures that your ads remain relevant and up-to-date, reflecting current promotions without the need for constant manual intervention. 

By adopting this method, you’ll save significant time and effort, allowing you to focus more on strategy and less on the minutiae of ad copy updates. Give it a try and experience a more efficient way to manage your RSAs, keeping your campaigns fresh and engaging with minimal hassle.

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