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How to Use AI Writing Software in Your Content Process [Sponsored]

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How to Use AI Writing Software in Your Content Process [Sponsored]

Provided by Writer

Stop! Hopefully, you read yesterday’s post, 6 Tips for Writing Content That Drives an Immediate Response. (If you haven’t had a chance, I recommend taking a look before you continue reading.)

Great! Now we can get to the good part. That article you read was drafted by AI writing technology – specifically, CoWrite by Writer. My objective was to put AI writing to the test, then share a first-hand account of the experience. Below, you’ll find a complete breakdown of every step of my process, from drafting the initial copy to editing and preparing it for final publication.

I needed to choose a topic for the article to get the ball rolling. At this point, my primary concern was finding the proper focus, so the piece would resonate with the CMI audience and meet the criteria provided to me by CMI’s editorial team. The quality of the resulting draft would be my top concern later in the process, but I just kept it in the back of my mind for now.

After some back-and-forth with the editor, we settled on an idea we both felt would be relevant for the CMI audience: “# Tips for Writing Content That Drives an Immediate Response.

Assuming CoWrite would be able to work with this title and topic, I knew the number of tips included in the article would inform how my first draft would be written. So, I kicked things off by inputting the necessary details into our outline generator.

Step 1. Outlining the article

The setup

My first step was to confirm the appropriate inputs for accurate outline generation. This can vary, depending on which AI writing tools you’re working with; but for CoWrite, specifically, I needed to provide:

  • The proposed title (required): 6 tips for writing content that drives an immediate response
  • SEO keywords (optional): content, immediate response, writing content
  • CTA (optional): left blank

I submitted the inputs and anxiously waited to see if AI could accommodate my needs or whether I’d have to go back to CMI to workshop a different idea.

The AI output

Below is exactly what I received back:

  • The Importance of Driving an Immediate Response
  • Tip #1: Write a Compelling Headline
  • Tip #2: Write to a Specific Person
  • Tip #3: Make it Easy to Read
  • Tip #4: Use Active Voice
  • Tip #5: Use Power Words
  • Tip #6: Create a Sense of Urgency
  • Conclusion

I recognized it might need some fine-tuning, but at least it confirmed that AI was capable of delivering a draft on the topic I chose. I shared the outline with CMI before moving forward.

My revisions

I used this original outline to create the first draft. Yet later in my process, I decided the AI-generated copy for Tip #5 (Use Power Words) wasn’t the right fit for an audience of experienced marketers. So I returned to the outline generator, reentered the prompts, and requested an expanded set of tips.

One of the additional tips (Add Visual Interest) seemed much more contextually relevant. So, I was able to replace the problematic tip and continue working on the article without having to start all over from scratch.

Curious how effective AI content generation is these days? Take a look behind the scenes of an article written with CoWrite from @Get_Writer. #sponsored Click To Tweet

Step 2: Adding key discussion points  

The setup

The next step was to identify the tips I’d use to support the discussion in each section of the article. No additional inputs were needed here, as I could carry over the tips generated by AI for the initial outline.

At this point, I did take note of the time (2:15 pm), so I could gauge how long it might take to complete the process from here.

The AI output

CoWrite provided multiple tips I could select and apply to each section or modify as needed. In the image below, you can see the options supplied for Tip #3 and how the interface enables writers to reorder key points or add their own.

My revisions

At this point, I could have taken the opportunity to work in some specific stats, quotes, or talking points of my own. However, I wanted to see what the drafted article would look like with minimal intervention. Knowing I could always revisit this step and generate a new draft, I moved on without adding further input.

In retrospect, it might have been helpful to have CoWrite add specific stats and examples at this stage. Since I knew both would strengthen the final article, it would have saved valuable time and effort to rely on AI rather than having to add those details manually at the end.

Step 3. Creating a draft

The setup

After reviewing the key points, I was ready to create a first draft. Again, there were no new inputs needed at this stage – as part of its workflow for writing an article draft, CoWrite simply leveraged the information supplied in the outline.

The AI output

The AI writing tool automatically generated a draft, along with a quality score and a series of improvement suggestions. As you can see in the screenshot below, the objective feedback I received was as follows:

  • Overall score: 85
    • The score reflects the number of suggestions compared to the overall length of the article.
  • Suggestions: 38
    • This counts up the number of suggested changes related to punctuation, writing style, clarity, and more. Note that I used Writer’s default style guide here, though the AI can also be configured to work with other style guides.
  • Grade level: 9.0
    • This score is based on the Flesch-Kincaid readability formula.

My revisions (objective)

Objectively, I accepted the quality score as proof that AI produced a good foundation. Yet I also felt it necessary to read through the article myself so that I could form a subjective opinion on its quality.

I worked through all the suggestions – most of which were related to style or clarity (per Writer’s style guide). While I did get a laugh when it recommended changing “immediate” to “instant” (“use simple words” is listed right under Tip #3, after all), I couldn’t bring myself to make that change.

To complete the initial editing phase, I accepted the remaining suggestions. I also took note of a few things that stood out:

  • All of the section headlines were written in title case. They needed to be changed to sentence case.
  • Passive voice was commonly used throughout the article.
  • In the bulleted sections, the style guide didn’t like the use of capital letters following a colon (unless the next word was a proper noun).

Based on my time stamps, it took me about 20 minutes to address the suggestions sufficiently to move the article into the next phase.

My revisions (subjective)

After working through the low-hanging fruit – grammatical and stylistic errors – I read the article thoroughly to determine how much rewriting might need to be done.

Here, I focused on percentages – was I 50% of the way there? 70%? 90%?! Yet, I also kept in mind the stated intention of this exercise: to keep the article as close as possible to the AI-generated draft while still meeting everyone’s standards (CMIs, yours, and mine).

My conclusion was that the AI-generated draft got me about 75% of the way to achieving that goal without requiring any fundamental intervention on my part. But I did have a few thoughts about what would help bring the article into better alignment with the editorial guidelines I received from CMI:

  • In contrast to many of the CMI articles I reviewed for my reference, the AI-generated draft seemed to lack a clear voice or personality. In retrospect, this isn’t surprising. But, to really make the article my own, I would need to invest much more time manually refining the copy.
  • While, on the whole, the draft might have lacked a strong “author” personality, there were still passages where CoWrite varied its writing style and approach to make the content more engaging.
  • Some sections contained repetitive phrasing or sentences that didn’t really add anything useful to the conversation. Most of the time, I simply removed those passages, though I used Writer’s ReWrite feature (currently in beta) to simplify or enrich some redundant phrases.
  • The most challenging requirement was the need to include specific examples and links to relevant source materials. While CoWrite did provide an example of active vs. passive voice, it just wasn’t the right fit for this article. As noted earlier, I would have saved myself some work if I had better leveraged the “key points” step.
  • The tips varied widely in the amount of content supplied and how it was presented. For example, the explanation provided for the third bullet under Tip #3 (“Make it easy to read”) was (ironically) too “short and simple” to be helpful, so I had to expand it to provide better value.

Step 4. Editing and revising the article

After writing and editing both articles (the AI-written one and the one you are currently reading), I sent them to CMI for feedback. As you might expect, both required some minor revisions and restructuring on my part before the editorial team moved it into their process for final editing and production.

But there was still one larger piece of feedback to reconcile: The AI-written article needed more sophistication and advanced recommendations to really benefit the CMI audience.

That feedback prompted me to swap out Tip #5 (as referenced earlier) and do some rewriting to strengthen certain points. It also explains my earlier note acknowledging I could have done more during the outline and key points stages to produce a stronger draft.

It’s worth noting that the latest wave of AI content generation technology provides the ability to train AI based on your content. Using that functionality, I could have provided customized input (sample pieces of content) and received an output that was better aligned with the CMI audience’s needs. I would have explored this option if I had not been up against a deadline.

The latest wave of AI content generation technology provides the ability to train AI based on your content, says @ryanejohnston #sponsored. Click To Tweet

As someone who has not written an article for a third-party publication in quite some time, CoWrite saved me a lot of time and frustration. The initial process of going from title and topic to actual first draft was incredibly quick and efficient, and I spent zero time staring at a blank piece of paper, wondering what to write.

As expected, the heavier lift came during the editing process after I had the first draft. I tracked it as taking from 2:15 pm to 4:37 pm to manage (with some Slack and snack breaks mixed in). A coworker gave it a second round of edits, which brings my estimate up to about 2.5 hours of editing before sharing that draft with CMI.

Addressing the feedback I received from CMI tacked on an additional 45 minutes of editing and rewriting before I submitted the updated draft. Going from title to submitted draft in under 4 hours is a big win, considering how rusty I am at writing.

There are a few tips that I’d provide anyone looking to get started with AI-generated content:

  • Start with a strong topic that you feel confident writing about – with or without AI
  • Consider all the elements that need to go into a great article and incorporate them into your process (stats, quotes, etc.)
  • Think like an editor when working with AI writing, and you’ll get great results.

Now it’s time for the real question: My dear reader, what did you think of the article you read prior to this one? What were your initial thoughts, and what are your thoughts now, having read all the details on how it came together? Do share them in the comments!

About Writer

Writer is the leading AI writing platform for teams. Writer empowers GTM leaders to build a consistent brand across every customer touchpoint. Automated language generation and writing suggestions make it possible for teams to accelerate content, align with their brand, and empower more writers across all types of content and communications.

Writer recently launched CoWrite, which helps you produce high-quality, on-brand first drafts in a fraction of the time, using AI that is custom-trained on your best content. You can learn more about CoWrite on our product page: CoWrite.



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State of Content Marketing in 2023

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State of Content Marketing in 2023

I just pressed send on the manuscript for my book to be released in September. It’s called Content Marketing Strategy (snappy, eh?), and Kogan Page will publish it.

Last week, marketing professor Philip Kotler wrote the foreword. I won’t spoil it, but he mentioned the need for a strategic approach to owned media.

He writes, “(T)he company doesn’t carry an account of showing these marketing assets and their value. As a result, the company cannot show the CEO and company board members a return on owned assets or content.”

Luckily, my upcoming book shows exactly how to do that. Funny how that works out.

In any event, all this struck me that now is an opportune time to look at where the beloved practice of content marketing stands today.

First, let’s go back to 1999 when Kotler published Kotler On Marketing, one of his more than 70 books. The latter 1990s – a time of tumultuous change – fueled most of the thinking for the book. But he knew that it was merely the beginning.

Kotler concluded the book with a section called “Transformational Marketing.”  In the next decade, he wrote, “marketing will be re-engineered from A to Z. Marketing will need to rethink fundamentally the processes by which they identify, communicate, and deliver customer value.”

Well, it’s taken over two decades, but it’s finally happening.

Consumers have changed, but marketing operations are just starting to

In case you didn’t notice, almost every marketing conference these days starts with the same four or five requisite slides:

  • Digital technologies, such as search and social media, empower consumers today.
  • Consumers research, engage, buy, and stay loyal to brands in ways that have fundamentally changed.
  • First-party data and privacy are of the utmost importance.
  • Artificial intelligence begins to threaten the idea of the usefulness of search and pressure companies to deliver better and more personalized experiences.

You get it. Consumer expectations in the age of the social, mobile, and AI-driven web are different than they were.

However, the continuing challenge in 2023 is that content and/or marketing operations in enterprise companies are only beginning to evolve. Most marketing departments have remained as they were when Kotler wrote his book — they still work from mid- to late-20th century hierarchies, strategies, and processes.

Most marketing departments still work with mid- to late-20th-century hierarchies, strategies, and processes, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Content marketing isn’t new, but a content marketing strategy is

For hundreds of years, businesses have used content to affect some kind of profitable outcome. But the reality is this: Whether it was John Deere’s The Furrow from the 1800s, Michelin’s guide to car maintenance in the early 1900s, or even Hasbro’s GI-Joe partnership with Marvel in the 1980s, content was not — and is not for the most part now — a scalable, repeatable practice within the function of marketing. In short, companies almost always treat content marketing as a project, not a process.

That fundamental change will finally take hold in 2023. It could happen because of the digital disruption and ease by which you can now publish and distribute content to aggregate your own audiences. It could happen through the natural evolution that the ultimate outcome – more than the marketing – matters more.

As we roll through 2023 and beyond, content — and the exponentially increasing quantities of it produced by every organization — deeply affects not just your marketing strategy, but your business strategy. Content in marketing is now bigger than simply content marketing, and it should be dealt with as a component of that business strategy throughout the enterprise.

#Content in marketing is bigger than #ContentMarketing. Treat it as a component of the business strategy, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

In 2023, the No. 1 focus of my consulting and advisory practice these days: help companies transform content into a repeatable, scalable, and measurable function that drives value through a multi-channel strategy. It’s bigger than publishing a blog, creating a lead-generating resource center, or sending an email newsletter. Today’s content marketing team is being absorbed into marketing because marketing and its various operations are fundamentally transforming into a content-producing machine.

It is not good enough to produce content “like a media company would.” The goal must be to operate as a media company does. Your job is not to change content to fit new marketing goals. Rather, your job in 2023 is to change marketing to fit the new business content goals.

Your job in 2023 is to change #marketing to fit the new business #content goals, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The unaware builds a case for the aware

The term “content marketing” continues to evolve. Even today, I run across those who still call it “brand publishing,” “custom content,” or “inbound marketing.”

My take matches with what Kotler described in 1999. I always thought the term “content marketing” would become part of “marketing” more broadly. In 2023, that happened. So, returning to the lexiconic debates of 2013, 2014, or 2015 doesn’t seem terribly productive. Content marketing is just good marketing, and marketing is just good content marketing.

That said, two kinds of companies do well at the broader view of content marketing. Some of them, such as Cleveland Clinic, Red Bull, Arrow Electronics, HubSpot, and REI, have purposely devised content marketing strategies as differentiating approaches to their marketing. They are succeeding.

Others, like Amazon, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Peloton, backed into a smart content marketing strategy. But executives at those companies probably don’t recognize it as such. If asked (and some have been), they would say acquiring or launching a media company operation was just a smart business strategy to diversify their ability to reach their consumers consistently.

They’re right, of course. Many have yet to read books about content marketing, been influenced by the Content Marketing Institute, or even recognize content marketing as a separate approach (as far as I know). And they are also succeeding.

Consider this proof: As I write this article, six companies have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Four of the six wholly or partially use the business model of media creation to further marketing and business strategies. Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon are all, in part, media companies that also sell products and services.

Why would you not avail yourself of that same model?

The future looks cloudy and bright

As for the overall state of enterprise content marketing, it’s in transition, as all marketing is. As a focused project-based approach, working in ad-hoc ways across a business, content marketing appears to have proven its worth. Hundreds of entries every year to the Content Marketing Awards feature myriad case studies using content marketing techniques in strategic ways to profitably affect business results.

And yet, it remains to be seen whether you can make content marketing a scalable, repeatable, measurable function within marketing.

As to what the discipline’s future holds? At last year’s Content Marketing World, one of my favorite events, the Executive Forum gathered senior leaders from brands succeeding with content marketing. As we talked about the future, one participant said: “The only certainty is change. I can’t tell you where or when, but I do know there will be change, and this is the principle we build on now.”

As for my take, Kotler’s idea of transforming the marketing function seems to have gotten lost along the digital road traveled by marketers. In so many cases, marketing – and especially content – remains just an on-demand service function within the business. Its sole job is to produce ever more voluminous amounts of content that describe the value of the brand (or its products or services) so that sales can sell more efficiently, customer support can serve more effectively, and all manner of customer interfaces are more beneficial to both sides.

However, and maybe because I need to rationalize now that my book is finished, I passionately believe it’s finally time for marketing to reclaim its ability to create value — not just reflect it in the polished shine of your traditional products and services.

Almost 27 years ago today, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay called Content is King. In it, he said that “(C)ontent is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

It certainly was one of his more prescient moments. Nearly three decades later, his words have proven true. The essay title has become the rallying cry for thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs who now make their living on creating, managing, optimizing, and measuring content on the internet. (A Google search for “content is king” nets more than 1.7 million results.)

But it’s the last line of his essay that I find the most visionary: “(T)hose who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”

That’s what content marketing is for me in 2023. It’s just marketing – optimizing the value of ideas, experiences, and products in a marketplace of content.

Time to get to work.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just five minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Watch previous episodes or read the lightly edited transcripts.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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27 Best About Us and About Me Page Examples [+Templates]

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Your about page summarizes your history, values, and mission — all in one place. That’s a tall order for just a few paragraphs. If you’re feeling stuck, turn to these about-page examples for inspiration. 

about us page example: laptop held in palm of hand

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MARKETING

MarTech’s marketing operations experts to follow

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MarTech's marketing operations experts to follow

Marketing operations is what makes the magic happen. These are the folks who see that your martech stack doesn’t get stuck. They are the maestros, modelers and makers who make sure the trains run, the data is digestible and that you have the programs you need. Where would we be without them? That’s too scary to think about. Here’s our list of MOps experts who have the ear of the profession.

Darrell Alfonso

Darrell is director of marketing strategy & operations at Indeed and the former global marketing ops leader for AWS. He’s the author of “The Martech Handbook: Build a Technology Stack to Acquire and Retain Customers.” In addition to speaking at many conferences, Darrell was named one of the Top Marketers in the US by Propolis 2022 and among the “Top Martech Marketers to Follow” in 2020 by Martech Alliance. He’s a regular and popular contributor both to MarTech and the MarTech conference; you can find all of his articles at this link.


Eddie Reynolds

Eddie has been in business a long time, starting his first company when he was 14. “A pretty minimal enterprise,” he told one interviewer. “I had a tax ID number, a legal entity, and a company name. I even had the IRS coming after my dad for sales tax that I failed to report properly.” Today he is CEO and revenue operations strategy consultant of Union Square Consulting. He publishes The RevOps Weekly Newsletter and the podcast RevOps Corner. Eddie’s large LinkedIn following attests to the quality of the insights he shares there on  sales, marketing, service, and admin roles. 


Sara McNamara

Sara is an award-winning marketing and sales operations professional whose work has been recognized by awards from the likes of Salesforce (Pardot), Adobe (Marketo), Drift, and LeanData. She is a Senior Manager, Marketing Operations at Slack and a martech stack (+ strategy) solution architect. That and her passion for leveraging technology and processes to improve the experiences of marketers, sales professionals, and prospects, explains why she’s a regular guest on MOps podcasts.


Ali Schwanke

Ali is the CEO and founder of Simple Strat. The firm specializes in helping companies get the most out of HubSpot — from CRM strategy and setup to marketing automation and content creation. She is also host of HubSpot Hacks, “the #1 Unofficial YouTube show for HubSpot Tutorials” and has been a guest speaker at the MarTech conference.


Mike Rizzo

Mike’s career in marketing operations showed him that there is a real and significant MOps community. That’s why he founded MO Pros/MarketingOps.com, the fast-growing online community for people in marketing operations. He is also co-host of Ops Cast, a weekly podcast. 


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About the author

Constantine von Hoffman

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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