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Artificial intelligence, or AI, has become a trending topic amongst many in the business world since late 2022. While the technology had certainly existed beforehand, it was with the launch of ChatGPT on November 30 that marketers really began to take note. After all, the artificial intelligence chatbot surpassed 1 million users in its first five days, and now has over 100 million users with receiving approximately 1 billion visits per month.

Cordula Pfluegl, Marketing Director at TNW

“We are now seeing how Chat GPT has set a record for the fastest growing app. It reached 100m users in only two months.”

Finding itself so quickly adopted by our tech-curious world, even top marketers were left with a number of questions to solve—and fast—or risk getting left behind. In what ways could they utilize it? How could they detect it, or protect their companies from poor use? Was it really going to be the biggest marketing trend in 2023? And in which areas of business could it have the most impact?

To begin a conversation and open dialogue on all these thoughts, we interviewed 20 CMOs and marketing executives on the top 5 new marketing trends leaders need to know, and surprise surprise, 13 of them mentioned artificial intelligence almost instantly.

In this article, I’ve combed through our interviews to pull out the most common themes and answer how today’s top CMOs are leveraging AI in marketing. Whether it’s to create content (and careful here, you’ll still want to read the section on that), make better decisions or simply free up valuable time from tedious tasks, read on for what our community of CMOs had to say. 

Ben LeDonni, Founder of Creative Multimedia Solutions

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) including automatic content creation (text creators or image creators) like ChatGPT and DallE-2 are all the buzz right now.”

1. Content Creation

The most common theme amongst how marketers were leveraging AI, was that they were using it to produce their content. A task that’s reported to take B2B content marketers an average of 33 hours (or around 82% of their work hours) each week, you can imagine the opportunity here to improve on efficiency, or to scale output without adding additional resources like team members, budget, or time.

Aub Wallace, Co-Founder of Dandelion Branding

“Use it to write your content. Focus your energy on editing and making sure that your content is accurate and relevant for you and your audience. What I’m really saying is: invest in a good editor that understands your brand voice.”

But it’s incredibly important to note that ChatGPT is still in its infancy, and cannot replace the skill, personality, and brand understanding of an actual, human editor. It was on this precise point that our interviewed CMOs urged caution, pointing out that potential customers still very much prefer for a company to not only inform or educate (which can be done through AI), but to do so with personality through a distinct brand voice (which is much, much harder for it to do).

Aub Wallace, Co-Founder of Dandelion Branding

“Your audience should be able to identify you by your copy. This is important because the world is trending towards AI content. A brand’s personality is what will keep them coming back.”

In fact, according to the Sprout Social Index, consumers surveyed had reasons why some brands stood out more than others, with forty percent saying memorable content, 33% saying distinct personality and 32% saying compelling storytelling. While ChatGPT can certainly aid you in this effort, it simply cannot (at this stage at least) compete with humans on all three.

Jennifer Greenjack, Director of Marketing at Creative MMS

“This may or may not be music to a marketer’s ears, but in a nutshell, ChatGPT spits out content based on the very few details you feed it with. While not perfect, it helps get the content started which can save time for sure. It is still recommended that the person who is “writing” the content review what the bot provides and make revisions based on what’s needed.”

For some companies, there are also concerns on the impact that ChatGPT will have on search engine optimization and content marketing for SERPs. While we have yet to see the results on this, Forbes states that AI can certainly help to automate and improve tasks like keyword research and content optimization, “including understanding the semantic relationships between keywords, identifying search trends and predicting user behavior.” That said, we highly recommend that at this stage you do not use it to write content in its entirety.

Kevin Ruane, CMO at Precisely

“The recent launch of ChatGPT has certainly raised some fascinating questions about the role AI can play in more quickly and cost-effectively creating content. There will be a rise in marketers adopting this as a tactic in 2023, but it will be interesting to see what the impact of it is on overall engagement – after all, can AI really replicate the human expertise traditionally used to create and deliver valuable content for customers?”

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2. Amplifying The Human Touch

Jason Tsai, CMO at Captify

“Everybody’s talking about it. It’s definitely going to change the world. But let’s not forget that people don’t really want to talk to robots.”

Jason Tsai, CMO at Captify, speaks some wise words in the quote above. As an ongoing point from the last section, your customers will be able to tell the difference between content generated or experiences created by AI over humans, and they simply don’t want to talk to (let alone be influenced by) robots. Regardless of the industry amongst our CMOs—it could be SaaS, finance, or even insurance–there was always one resounding theme:

Linda Goldstein, Executive Vice President of Customer Experience and Marketing at CSAA Insurance Group

“Technology should augment the human touch, not replace it. There are many industries, insurance being one, where technology can facilitate research, guide a self-service purchase process, and even close the deal. However, insurance is a bit more complicated than purchasing a widget, and many still want to validate their choices with a human. Technology can be an enabler to facilitate but should not replace the human touch. In our world, this means creating digital experiences that supplement human interaction.”

So it isn’t to say that artificial intelligence has no place within marketing. In fact, it’s very much the opposite. The difference is that AI should not be the prevailing creator of your content, campaigns, or strategies, but rather a tool in implementing the smaller steps within it. Use AI to perform keyword research, help with content ideation, summarize market research or write simple product descriptions for your web store. But leave the branding, article writing, and personalization efforts to humans—who know other humans best.

JD Dillon, CMO at Tigo Energy

“There may well be a place for AI-based communications, but companies will differentiate via the skill of their marketing […] Customers will respond to human and personalized communication.”

3. Freeing Up Valuable Time

When not being used specifically for content creation, the power AI yields to free up much of the modern marketer’s time is massive. Imagine less time spent on tedious tasks like brainstorming, outlining, and researching and more time spent where it really counts—like in personalizing content and experiences, actively engaging with customers to build relationships, and responding to customer queries even faster.

With fully engaged customers bringing in 51% higher revenue and sales than actively disengaged customers, this opportunity is not to be underestimated. The same study also found that they spend over 23% more, on average. 

Alexandra Bjertnæs, Chief Strategy Officer at Meltwater

“The marketing industry will really begin to take advantage of opportunities to save time through AI-generated content development and create more meaningful moments with customers through quality and timely customer service.”

Much in the same way that we turn to certain marketing tools like marketing automation software or social media management software, AI platforms like ChatGPT will simply become another tool at a marketer’s disposal. Of course, as with any, this still requires training and a learning curve for best use cases and best practices, but it’s worth investing the time so that you don’t fall behind.

Jason Tsai, CMO at Captify

“Writers and designers who embrace technologies like ChatGPT or DALL-E in the same way that they embraced Photoshop or spell-check—as another tool in their belt that can help them elevate their art.”

Because we know that when an opportunity such as this comes around, competitors will be clamoring to use it to their advantage. According to ZoomInfo, 83% of businesses say AI is a strategic priority for their businesses today, and with over 1 billion users now actively testing the tool, you’d better believe your competitors are sharpening their edge.

Mary Gilbert, CMO at Folloze

“Purpose-built AI will be adopted at scale. Not to replace marketers, but to make them more agile and enhance their ability to deliver personalization at scale. Learn how to apply it now.”

And while the worry of competitors gaining market share through innovative use of AI is very real, the worry that AI itself will take over marketing jobs is not of concern for our CMOs. At least, not yet. While I’ve seen many mentions of this fear on professional platforms from LinkedIn to Reddit forums—and Neil Patel found that 55.5% of people believe AI will replace human marketers in the near future—our top CMOs don’t see this happening any time soon.

Marina Zubic, CMO at Async Labs

“Unavoidably, AI tools are already becoming a part of our private and professional lives, and marketing is no exception. While many fear these technological advancement will replace our jobs, I don’t see it that way. I think this can help all of us perfect and optimize our work, and we should use its benefits. For example, my team has actively started using tools like ChatGPT and not to replace their skill, but to help them work more efficiently.”

Again, they point to seeing ChatGPT and AI platforms as a useful tool to be embraced, and not feared by today’s marketers. Yes, it’s important to manage it effectively and to stay ahead of competitors, but humans are still an essential ingredient in any marketing strategy, as only humans are capable of the creativity necessary to have a truly unique campaign.

Christina Kozloff, CMO at Plenty of Fish

“No, I do not believe robots will replace marketers. But I do believe we can leverage AI and machine learning to evolve our messaging and visuals more quickly, particularly within digital media placements. By leveraging these tools, marketers can personalize, optimize, and tailor marketing messages to specific audience segments, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates—as well as deeper brand affinity because you can reach only the most relevant people for your business with the most relevant messages and imagery.”

4. Making Impactful Decisions

The last and final way that many of the CMOs interviewed discussed utilizing AI to their advantage was to use it in making decisions. This may not come as obvious as content creation or reduction of inefficiencies, but it certainly is interesting. Daniel Klein, CEO and Founder of Joseph Studios, introduces the idea as a way to remove bias:

Daniel Klein, CEO and Founder of Joseph Studios

“The great thing about AI is it’s an excellent way to remove biases from your decision-making process. AI can pull us out of that and help us make much more sound decisions. Imagine a world where, from an e-commerce perspective, you were able to input your business objectives, and then a systematic programmatic approach to decision-making.”

And he has a point. Because while the pitfall of robots is the uncapped creativity that humans are capable of, their strength is to think logically, not emotionally, and therefore make totally unbiased decisions. Could there be a perfect world where humans and AI work in tandem to produce optimal results? Ben LeDonni, Founder of two digital organizations, Creative Multimedia Solutions and Deploymint, is looking into it.

Ben LeDonni, Founder of Creative Multimedia Solutions

“These tools will provide, not only upside an opportunity as far as differentiation, but potentially efficiency in the way they may be able to create contact or do research. As a matter fact, we’re doing strategy for clients on how to leverage these tools right now.”

Looking To The Future

Considering how quickly artificial intelligence and ChatGPT has already been adopted by marketers and businesses worldwide, one can only assume that it will continue to evolve quickly. While there’s no saying with 100% certainty where we will end up, our top CMOs are likely to have a good eye. After all, they’ve seen all kinds of trends and innovation within the span of their careers, and have found either found ways to make it work for them or ways to move on without wasting critical time and money.

Jason Tsai, CMO at Captify

“AI is just the latest in a long line of technologies that promises human-like interactions with the efficiency and accuracy of robots. But like the technologies before it (automated phone menus, voice recognition, Clippy, etc.) it will be years before the interactions can pass the human sniff test. Amidst all the noise about AI, there will be a population of marketers that leans into humanity to make real connections with their fellow humans.”

So while I hope that you found this article useful in the different ways you can use AI to your advantage, it’s important to stay on top of it as things evolve in the future. There will inevitably be more uses, more similar tools emerging, and more ways that you can ‘trip up’ your brand by using AI in the wrong way.

Alexandra Bjertnæs, Chief Strategy Officer at Meltwater

“However, as with any new trend, there’s the potential for missteps along the way. It’s going to be highly important for organizations to use chatbots and other AI appropriately—take the time to make sure your new tech is working appropriately and be ready to respond if something falls flat.”

In reality, AI is just another digital marketing platform that can help us do our jobs, and do them faster. So stay open to trying new things and experimenting with AI in various tactics, but be ready to adjust your strategy if something doesn’t work. This is new territory for us all, so we’d love to hear how you’re using AI in your business.

What lessons have you learned, tricks you’ve adopted to save time, or questions do you have about what’s next? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to The CMO newsletter for more future content.

Cordula Pfluegl, Marketing Director at TNW

“Some other honourable mentions apart from Chat GPT: Unbounce, and puzzlelabs”

By Stephanie Hood

Stephanie Hood is an experienced marketing professional and Editor of The CMO. With nearly a decade spent as Marketing Manager at Discover Holidays and Executive Editor at VIVA Lifestyle & Travel, she built her career leading editorial and marketing teams and strategies that turn six-figure budgets into seven-figure profits. She now enjoys connecting with the world's top executives to learn their secrets to business success, and shares those insights right here with her community of like-minded professionals. Curious what she’s uncovered? Be sure to sign up for The CMO newsletter.