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Authenticity vs AI: How to Stand Out from the Noise!



Authenticity vs AI: How to Stand Out from the Noise!

How to build a content campaign that drives sales quarter after quarter. 

We all know the importance of creating content– but creating content for the sake of it doesn’t often result in increased sales. Content campaigns are a great way to engage your audience, build brand awareness, and drive sales quarter after quarter.

In this article, you’ll learn how to create a 90-day content campaign that will deliver lasting value to your business, move prospects through the customer journey more efficiently and effectively, and drive sales! Let’s get started!

6 Levels of Customer Awareness

As your prospects move through the customer journey, their awareness of your brand and offer increases.

In 1966 Breakthrough Advertising, marketer and author Eugene Schwartz identified five stages of customer awareness. Since then, digital marketing has evolved significantly, creating the need for a sixth level of customer awareness that DigitalMarketer introduced.

First, we’ll walk through each level of customer awareness and then create a content campaign that moves prospects through these levels to increase the speed and efficiency of your customer journey. 

1. Unaware Stage

Customers in the unaware stage have no knowledge of the problem or perceived need for a solution. To catch a prospect’s attention and keep it, we need to stop the scroll. The best way to do that is with entertainment! 

Types of entertaining content for the unaware stage: 

  1. Shock and Awe
  2. Amazing Demos
  3. Data/Research


Tip: As you scroll social media and the internet, think about the advertisements and content that catch your attention. 

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2. Problem-Aware Stage

Customers in the Problem-Aware Stage know they have a problem but don’t know if a solution exists. They are in need of hope as they search to discover if a solution is available. 

Types of hopeful content for the problem-aware stage:

  1. Question & Answer (Q&A)
  2. How-Tos
  3. Brand Case Study
  4. Success Stories 


Tip: Leverage tools like AI to help identify what questions customers may have in your industry or niche. 

3. Solution-Aware Stage

Customers in the Solution-Aware Stage are researching and comparing their options. They need clarity so they can efficiently and effectively choose the best option for them. 

Types of clarifying content for the solution-aware stage: 

  1. Demos
  2. Tricks & Hacks
  3. Comparisons


Tip: Spend some time researching your competition to understand exactly what your customer is comparing you to so you can address their concerns.

4. Offer Aware Stage

Customers in the Offer Aware Stage are getting ready to make their decision but want to confirm that their choice is going to deliver the outcome they want. They need assurance that you are the right choice

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Types of assuring content for the offer aware stage: 

  1. Testimonials
  2. Social Proof
  3. Behind-The-Scenes


Tip: Ask existing customers about the main objections they had before buying and create content that overcomes those objections.    

5. The Most Aware Stage

Customers in the Most Aware Stage know you are the best solution for them, but they need a reason to buy now instead of waiting for a better time. The best way to motivate action is with novelty. 

Types of novel content for the most aware stage: 

  1. Scarcity & Urgency
  2. Feature Release
  3. Product Launch
  4. Promotion, Sale, Bonus


Tip: There are many ways to create a sense of urgency, scarcity or loss aversion in your customers without sales, including bonus stacking and limited-time offers. 

6. Disengaged Stage

Customers in the Disengaged Stage need to be reminded of their connection to your brand and why you are an important part of their life. They need to be romanced so they can feel the ‘warm and fuzzies’ beyond what you are selling.  

Types of romance content for the disengaged stage: 

  1. Origin Stories
  2. Behind-The-Scenes
  3. Bloopers
  4. Mission Statements


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Tip: Think about your experience as a consumer and reflect on times when you became disengaged with a brand. What caught your attention and brought you back? 

The 90-Day Campaign Framework

The purpose of the 90-day campaign is to leverage your organic content to move prospects through the levels of customer awareness and lead them to a promotional period.

This ensures that more prospects are offer informed and ready to buy while giving your content an overall strategy and consistency across platforms. Most businesses have a significant promotional period, sale, launch or event each quarter, making this an ideal timeline. 

Evergreen Content

One of the biggest benefits of this framework is that your content is evergreen, meaning it will continue to drive traffic and conversions long after it’s published. You can easily drive ads to your pillar content, leverage remarketing ads to those who visit your pillar content, repurpose content for future campaigns, and make simple updates to keep the content relevant. 

Campaign Offer & Theme

The 90-day campaign is used to promote one offer, and each piece of content created should be directly tied to the offer and the ideal customer. Choosing a unifying theme beyond just your offer can help tie all content throughout the campaign together and increase its effectiveness.

Effective themes are taken directly from your customer avatar and can be a) a problem that your offer solves, b) a fear that your offer overcomes or c) a perspective shift that your ideal client needs to successfully achieve their desired outcome.

Campaign Timeline 

The 90-day campaign timeline starts with 8 weeks of pre-promotion, followed by a 2-week promotional period and finishes 2 weeks of post-promotion nurturing. 

Authenticity vs AI How to Stand Out from the Noise

Content Distribution

There are three primary distribution channels used in this content campaign. However, additional channels may be added. 

  1. Website (Blog) 

The first channel is your website, where you will post pillar content pieces in the form of articles, videos or podcasts. These pillar pieces should include advertisements for your lead magnet to increase email subscribers, along with advertisements for the chosen offer you are promoting throughout the campaign. 

  1. Email 

You will be splintering and distributing the pillar content to your email list to drive traffic to your website and increase engagement. During the promotional phase of this campaign, you’ll send a promotional email sequence to drive sales.  

  1. Social Media 

You will also be splintering and distributing pillar content to social media channels with the goal of driving traffic to your website and delivering value to your audience in advance of the sale. 

Creating & Splintering Content 

Each piece of pillar content is splintered to create nurturing emails and social media content. This reduces the overall workload of the campaign because you are only creating the pillar pieces from scratch, and all other content is simply splintered from the existing content. This also allows you to move prospects on your social media channels and email list through the levels of customer awareness, increase email subscribers and drive traffic to your website.

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Sequence Matters

As Ryan Deiss says, “sequence matters!” You don’t want to ‘propose on the first date,’ which is why this framework is so effective in nurturing relationships, warming up leads, and increasing conversions. It’s important not to alter the sequence of this framework; however, you can increase the amount of content used in a campaign. 

The Promotional Email Sequence

Each piece of pillar content should promote your lead magnet, and you should also promote your lead magnet on your marketing channels throughout the pre-promotion period.

Each week of the campaign, you send out nurturing emails to your list, and although some leads will join your list later in the campaign, you can leverage email analytics to identify the warmest leads on your list by their open rates and click-through rates.

The email promotional campaign is designed to continue moving prospects through the levels of awareness while driving sales or conversions. 

On all emails except the first and last email of the sequence, I recommend providing a “soft opt-out” option for subscribers to unsubscribe from the promotional email sequence without being removed from your list. This tactic decreases unsubscribes while allowing you to better segment your list for future campaigns. 

Romance After The Campaign

Prospects often need additional nurturing post-promotion, especially if they didn’t feel ready to buy. The post-promotion period is used to reconnect with your audience and nurture them with value before beginning another campaign. This can be a buffer period to strategize and plan your next campaign. 

Campaign Best Practices

Here are a few best practices to help you make the most of this 90-day campaign framework.

Campaign #3

This campaign framework is incredibly powerful, but like most marketing campaigns, consistency is critical. Often the first few campaigns will involve a lot of testing and learning and may not deliver instant results.

The most dramatic results come with consistency, and usually, the third campaign is when you’ll start noticing dramatic sales increases. Give yourself time and recognize that there are no silver bullets to success, but following this framework consistently will be about as close as possible. 

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Video Marketing

There’s no denying the power of video marketing, and showing up consistently on video is like adding a turbo boost to your relationship-building abilities. Whenever possible, leverage video marketing throughout the campaign. 

Overcome Objections & Answer Questions 

If you know the common objections and questions your ideal customers will ask, address them in your content. Use FAQ sections in your pillar content to tackle those common objections and questions, and distribute the information to your email and social channels.

AI & Execution 

You can leverage the power of AI throughout the campaign, from planning to execution. AI can be used for topic ideation and building your pillar content. You can also summarize and splinter your pillar content into emails and social media posts.

Optimizing the AI output is the key to successfully using AI in this process. You will not see success using this framework if you simply let AI do the work for you. You must add your brand voice and optimize the content to meet your ideal customers’ needs and wants. 


With this 90-day content campaign framework, you can create content that moves prospects through the customer journey more efficiently and effectively while driving sales. The process is simple to understand and execute, helps you develop valuable evergreen content, works for any industry, and can be replicated time and time again.

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Comparing Credibility of Custom Chatbots & Live Chat



Building Customer Trust: Comparing Credibility of Custom Chatbots & Live Chat

Addressing customer issues quickly is not merely a strategy to distinguish your brand; it’s an imperative for survival in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace.

Customer frustration can lead to customer churn. That’s precisely why organizations employ various support methods to ensure clients receive timely and adequate assistance whenever they require it.

Nevertheless, selecting the most suitable support channel isn’t always straightforward. Support teams often grapple with the choice between live chat and chatbots.

The automation landscape has transformed how businesses engage with customers, elevating chatbots as a widely embraced support solution. As more companies embrace technology to enhance their customer service, the debate over the credibility of chatbots versus live chat support has gained prominence.

However, customizable chatbot continue to offer a broader scope for personalization and creating their own chatbots.

In this article, we will delve into the world of customer support, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of both chatbots and live chat and how they can influence customer trust. By the end, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of which option may be the best fit for your business.

The Rise of Chatbots

Chatbots have become increasingly prevalent in customer support due to their ability to provide instant responses and cost-effective solutions. These automated systems use artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to engage with customers in real-time, making them a valuable resource for businesses looking to streamline their customer service operations.

Advantages of Chatbots

24/7 Availability

One of the most significant advantages of custom chatbots is their round-the-clock availability. They can respond to customer inquiries at any time, ensuring that customers receive support even outside regular business hours.


Custom Chatbots provide consistent responses to frequently asked questions, eliminating the risk of human error or inconsistency in service quality.


Implementing chatbots can reduce operational costs by automating routine inquiries and allowing human agents to focus on more complex issues.


Chatbots can handle multiple customer interactions simultaneously, making them highly scalable as your business grows.

Disadvantages of Chatbots

Limited Understanding

Chatbots may struggle to understand complex or nuanced inquiries, leading to frustration for customers seeking detailed information or support.

Lack of Empathy

Chatbots lack the emotional intelligence and empathy that human agents can provide, making them less suitable for handling sensitive or emotionally charged issues.

Initial Setup Costs

Developing and implementing chatbot technology can be costly, especially for small businesses.

The Role of Live Chat Support

Live chat support, on the other hand, involves real human agents who engage with customers in real-time through text-based conversations. While it may not offer the same level of automation as custom chatbots, live chat support excels in areas where human interaction and empathy are crucial.

Advantages of Live Chat

Human Touch

Live chat support provides a personal touch that chatbots cannot replicate. Human agents can empathize with customers, building a stronger emotional connection.

Complex Issues

For inquiries that require a nuanced understanding or involve complex problem-solving, human agents are better equipped to provide in-depth assistance.

Trust Building

Customers often trust human agents more readily, especially when dealing with sensitive matters or making important decisions.


Human agents can adapt to various customer personalities and communication styles, ensuring a positive experience for diverse customers.

Disadvantages of Live Chat

Limited Availability

Live chat support operates within specified business hours, which may not align with all customer needs, potentially leading to frustration.

Response Time

The speed of response in live chat support can vary depending on agent availability and workload, leading to potential delays in customer assistance.


Maintaining a live chat support team with trained agents can be expensive, especially for smaller businesses strategically.

Building Customer Trust: The Credibility Factor

When it comes to building customer trust, credibility is paramount. Customers want to feel that they are dealing with a reliable and knowledgeable source. Both customziable chatbots and live chat support can contribute to credibility, but their effectiveness varies in different contexts.

Building Trust with Chatbots

Chatbots can build trust in various ways:


Chatbots provide consistent responses, ensuring that customers receive accurate information every time they interact with them.

Quick Responses

Chatbots offer instant responses, which can convey a sense of efficiency and attentiveness.

Data Security

Chatbots can assure customers of their data security through automated privacy policies and compliance statements.

However, custom chatbots may face credibility challenges when dealing with complex issues or highly emotional situations. In such cases, the lack of human empathy and understanding can hinder trust-building efforts.

Building Trust with Live Chat Support

Live chat support, with its human touch, excels at building trust in several ways:


Human agents can show empathy by actively listening to customers’ concerns and providing emotional support.

Tailored Solutions

Live chat agents can tailor solutions to individual customer needs, demonstrating a commitment to solving their problems.


Human agents can adapt to changing customer requirements, ensuring a personalized and satisfying experience.

However, live chat support’s limitations, such as availability and potential response times, can sometimes hinder trust-building efforts, especially when customers require immediate assistance.

Finding the Right Balance

The choice between custom chatbots and live chat support is not always binary. Many businesses find success by integrating both options strategically:

Initial Interaction

Use chatbots for initial inquiries, providing quick responses, and gathering essential information. This frees up human agents to handle more complex cases.

Escalation to Live Chat

Implement a seamless escalation process from custom chatbots to live chat support when customer inquiries require a higher level of expertise or personal interaction.

Continuous Improvement

Regularly analyze customer interactions and feedback to refine your custom chatbot’s responses and improve the overall support experience.


In the quest to build customer trust, both chatbots and live chat support have their roles to play. Customizable Chatbots offer efficiency, consistency, and round-the-clock availability, while live chat support provides the human touch, empathy, and adaptability. The key is to strike the right balance, leveraging the strengths of each to create a credible and trustworthy customer support experience. By understanding the unique advantages and disadvantages of both options, businesses can make informed decisions to enhance customer trust and satisfaction in the digital era.

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The Rise in Retail Media Networks



A shopping cart holding the Amazon logo to represent the rise in retail media network advertising.

As LL Cool J might say, “Don’t call it a comeback. It’s been here for years.”

Paid advertising is alive and growing faster in different forms than any other marketing method.

Magna, a media research firm, and GroupM, a media agency, wrapped the year with their ad industry predictions – expect big growth for digital advertising in 2024, especially with the pending US presidential political season.

But the bigger, more unexpected news comes from the rise in retail media networks – a relative newcomer in the industry.

Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain how these trends could affect marketers or keep reading for his thoughts:

GroupM expects digital advertising revenue in 2023 to conclude with a 5.8% or $889 billion increase – excluding political advertising. Magna believes ad revenue will tick up 5.5% this year and jump 7.2% in 2024. GroupM and Zenith say 2024 will see a more modest 4.8% growth.

Robert says that the feeling of an ad slump and other predictions of advertising’s demise in the modern economy don’t seem to be coming to pass, as paid advertising not only survived 2023 but will thrive in 2024.

What’s a retail media network?

On to the bigger news – the rise of retail media networks. Retail media networks, the smallest segment in these agencies’ and research firms’ evaluation, will be one of the fastest-growing and truly important digital advertising formats in 2024.

GroupM suggests the $119 billion expected to be spent in the networks this year and should grow by a whopping 8.3% in the coming year.  Magna estimates $124 billion in ad revenue from retail media networks this year.

“Think about this for a moment. Retail media is now almost a quarter of the total spent on search advertising outside of China,” Robert points out.

You’re not alone if you aren’t familiar with retail media networks. A familiar vernacular in the B2C world, especially the consumer-packaged goods industry, retail media networks are an advertising segment you should now pay attention to.

Retail media networks are advertising platforms within the retailer’s network. It’s search advertising on retailers’ online stores. So, for example, if you spend money to advertise against product keywords on Amazon, Walmart, or Instacart, you use a retail media network.

But these ad-buying networks also exist on other digital media properties, from mini-sites to videos to content marketing hubs. They also exist on location through interactive kiosks and in-store screens. New formats are rising every day.

Retail media networks make sense. Retailers take advantage of their knowledge of customers, where and why they shop, and present offers and content relevant to their interests. The retailer uses their content as a media company would, knowing their customers trust them to provide valuable information.

Think about these 2 things in 2024

That brings Robert to two things he wants you to consider for 2024 and beyond. The first is a question: Why should you consider retail media networks for your products or services?   

Advertising works because it connects to the idea of a brand. Retail media networks work deep into the buyer’s journey. They use the consumer’s presence in a store (online or brick-and-mortar) to cross-sell merchandise or become the chosen provider.

For example, Robert might advertise his Content Marketing Strategy book on Amazon’s retail network because he knows his customers seek business books. When they search for “content marketing,” his book would appear first.

However, retail media networks also work well because they create a brand halo effect. Robert might buy an ad for his book in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal because he knows their readers view those media outlets as reputable sources of information. He gains some trust by connecting his book to their media properties.

Smart marketing teams will recognize the power of the halo effect and create brand-level experiences on retail media networks. They will do so not because they seek an immediate customer but because they can connect their brand content experience to a trusted media network like Amazon, Nordstrom, eBay, etc.

The second thing Robert wants you to think about relates to the B2B opportunity. More retail media network opportunities for B2B brands are coming.

You can already buy into content syndication networks such as Netline, Business2Community, and others. But given the astronomical growth, for example, of Amazon’s B2B marketplace ($35 billion in 2023), Robert expects a similar trend of retail media networks to emerge on these types of platforms.   

“If I were Adobe, Microsoft, Salesforce, HubSpot, or any brand with big content platforms, I’d look to monetize them by selling paid sponsorship of content (as advertising or sponsored content) on them,” Robert says.

As you think about creative ways to use your paid advertising spend, consider the retail media networks in 2024.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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AI driving an exponential increase in marketing technology solutions



AI driving an exponential increase in marketing technology solutions

The martech landscape is expanding and AI is the prime driving force. That’s the topline news from the “Martech 2024” report released today. And, while that will get the headline, the report contains much more.

Since the release of the most recent Martech Landscape in May 2023, 2,042 new marketing technology tools have surfaced, bringing the total to 13,080 — an 18.5% increase. Of those, 1,498 (73%) were AI-based. 

Screenshot 2023 12 05 110428 800x553

“But where did it land?” said Frans Riemersma of Martech Tribe during a joint video conference call with Scott Brinker of ChiefMartec and HubSpot. “And the usual suspect, of course, is content. But the truth is you can build an empire with all the genAI that has been surfacing — and by an empire, I mean, of course, a business.”

Content tools accounted for 34% of all the new AI tools, far ahead of video, the second-place category, which had only 4.85%. U.S. companies were responsible for 61% of these tools — not surprising given that most of the generative AI dynamos, like OpenAI, are based here. Next up was the U.K. at 5.7%, but third place was a big surprise: Iceland — with a population of 373,000 — launched 4.6% of all AI martech tools. That’s significantly ahead of fourth place India (3.5%), whose population is 1.4 billion and which has a significant tech industry. 

Dig deeper: 3 ways email marketers should actually use AI

The global development of these tools shows the desire for solutions that natively understand the place they are being used. 

“These regional products in their particular country…they’re fantastic,” said Brinker. “They’re loved, and part of it is because they understand the culture, they’ve got the right thing in the language, the support is in that language.”

Now that we’ve looked at the headline stuff, let’s take a deep dive into the fascinating body of the report.

The report: A deeper dive

Marketing technology “is a study in contradictions,” according to Brinker and Riemersma. 

In the new report they embrace these contradictions, telling readers that, while they support “discipline and fiscal responsibility” in martech management, failure to innovate might mean “missing out on opportunities for competitive advantage.” By all means, edit your stack meticulously to ensure it meets business value use cases — but sure, spend 5-10% of your time playing with “cool” new tools that don’t yet have a use case. That seems like a lot of time.

Similarly, while you mustn’t be “carried away” by new technology hype cycles, you mustn’t ignore them either. You need to make “deliberate choices” in the realm of technological change, but be agile about implementing them. Be excited by martech innovation, in other words, but be sensible about it.

The growing landscape

Consolidation for the martech space is not in sight, Brinker and Riemersma say. Despite many mergers and acquisitions, and a steadily increasing number of bankruptcies and dissolutions, the exponentially increasing launch of new start-ups powers continuing growth.

It should be observed, of course, that this is almost entirely a cloud-based, subscription-based commercial space. To launch a martech start-up doesn’t require manufacturing, storage and distribution capabilities, or necessarily a workforce; it just requires uploading an app to the cloud. That is surely one reason new start-ups appear at such a startling rate. 

Dig deeper: AI ad spending has skyrocketed this year

As the authors admit, “(i)f we measure by revenue and/or install base, the graph of all martech companies is a ‘long tail’ distribution.” What’s more, focus on the 200 or so leading companies in the space and consolidation can certainly be seen.

Long-tail tools are certainly not under-utilized, however. Based on a survey of over 1,000 real-world stacks, the report finds long-tail tools constitute about half of the solutions portfolios — a proportion that has remained fairly consistent since 2017. The authors see long-tail adoption where users perceive feature gaps — or subpar feature performance — in their core solutions.

Composability and aggregation

The other two trends covered in detail in the report are composability and aggregation. In brief, a composable view of a martech stack means seeing it as a collection of features and functions rather than a collection of software products. A composable “architecture” is one where apps, workflows, customer experiences, etc., are developed using features of multiple products to serve a specific use case.

Indeed, some martech vendors are now describing their own offerings as composable, meaning that their proprietary features are designed to be used in tandem with third-party solutions that integrate with them. This is an evolution of the core-suite-plus-app-marketplace framework.

That framework is what Brinker and Riemersma refer to as “vertical aggregation.” “Horizontal aggregation,” they write, is “a newer model” where aggregation of software is seen not around certain business functions (marketing, sales, etc.) but around a layer of the tech stack. An obvious example is the data layer, fed from numerous sources and consumed by a range of applications. They correctly observe that this has been an important trend over the past year.

Build it yourself

Finally, and consistent with Brinker’s long-time advocacy for the citizen developer, the report detects a nascent trend towards teams creating their own software — a trend that will doubtless be accelerated by support from AI.

So far, the apps that are being created internally may be no more than “simple workflows and automations.” But come the day that app development is so democratized that it will be available to a wide range of users, the software will be a “reflection of the way they want their company to operate and the experiences they want to deliver to customers. This will be a powerful dimension for competitive advantage.”

Constantine von Hoffman contributed to this report.

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