Conversations around artificial intelligence (AI) and marketing are heating up. People who do marketing are looking at how AI can help them do their jobs better and more efficiently.
AI and marketing look like they’re going to be together for a very long time. With that in mind, I think we need to make sure marketers are using AI responsibly, which includes knowing when and where AI might be helpful – and where it may not be so useful.
It’s especially true when we’re talking about lead generation and inbound marketing campaigns. This isn’t just about content creation, where AI appears to have set up a beachhead, but in all the other parts of marketing that are just as important to success.
Here’s a guide to using AI to help your company actually generate more leads.
Before we get into it, a little about the state of AI tools right now. We’ve been testing a wide variety of AI tools at the Square 2 Lab, and while helpful, the tools are still heavily reliant on the prompts you’re providing them.
In short, to get the output you want, you have to know what to ask the tools to do. While this isn’t a showstopper, it’s important to know that it might take you a couple of attempts to get out what you want.
Keep that in mind as you wade through the areas, but overall, we think AI can help you today.
It’s probably one of the first applications for AI that marketers can actually use – write me a blog article on inbound marketing using the keywords lead generation and inbound marketing. Bang, a new blog article.
Does this mean you can copy and paste the article the AI wrote directly into your blogging platform and hit submit? I don’t think so, although not everyone is going to agree with that position.
First, I find most AI-powered blog articles to be factual but not aligned with your brand or your voice and tone. This is probably going to get better as the AI tools start to learn your voice and tone.
In the meantime, this application of AI is still valuable, specifically to get an outline or to get a draft blog article that any writer can take and make their own. This is a time-saver and should be something bloggers are using right now.
The more you blog, the more opportunities you have for your site to rank for keywords, which drives visitors. And the more you blog, the more readers are getting to know your company. If your blog articles have conversion points (and they should), this can improve lead generation over time.
Speaking of conversions, this is one of the key playbook items around inbound marketing. In addition to blogging, there are other conversion points on your website, and content typically drives them.
The content could be e-books, tip guides, whitepapers, assessments, quizzes, videos and even website pages that educate visitors and encourage them to act.
AI can provide optimized content ideas and copy for many of these assets.
Here are two specific examples:
Your demand generation campaign may include running paid social or paid search ads. A major advantage of AI is the ability to quickly create a larger collection of potential ad headlines, so you can test those live on the platform of your choice.
Instead of testing three to four ad headlines, now you can test 20 to 30.
You’re going to start noticing a theme here. All of those headlines won’t be perfect or even usable. But the time it takes AI to generate 20 to 30 ad headlines is going to be radically faster than any human working to do this.
The more you test, the smarter your ads. This is a great application for AI if lead generation is your goal.
Copy for your CTAs (calls-to-action) fall in with the ad headline copy section above. CTA copy is usually found in buttons or in graphics on your website and in emails.
Just like with the ad copy, now you can use an AI platform to get many more CTA copy options. These can then be tested to determine which CTA copy options produce better results.
One tip the AI tool might not know is what agencies like Square 2 have learned over the past 20 years – use first-person language for the best results. For example, Schedule My Consultation rather than Schedule Your Consultation.
Again, the more you test, the smarter your CTAs and the more leads you’ll generate.
One of the best ways to keep visitors returning to your website and keep Google ranking you highly is to regularly add pages to your site. However, writing website page copy is harder than most people think.
First, it should be optimized for specific keywords. Then it should be about your prospect and not about you. The copy should be emotional, compelling and disruptive.
Finally, it should be specific to the people you know who are visiting that page, either down to their persona or their stage in the buyer journey.
All this conspires to make what sounds easy much more complex. This is where AI comes in. Now you can simply ask AI tools to create your website copy by using the prompts identified here – make it emotional and compelling; write for this specific persona; and use these keywords.
Viola, new website page copy! You can even ask for AI to recommend images, and the coding AI tools will create the code for the site so that your developers don’t have to.
All in all, this allows you to create new pages that are SEO optimized and written for your specific audience, and you can do it in little time.
This is one of the non-content-related areas where AI seems to be helping with lead generation. Inbound marketing specifically relies on the idea that your company website can be found when prospects are searching for you.
Your site can be found on Google, on social platforms and on other related websites across your community.
AI can help with this effort.
First, AI can give you a list of potential websites where backlinks would benefit your site both from a domain authority and a referring visitors perspective. Both provide a lot of value to your marketing efforts.
Domain authority helps Google see your site as respectable, and referring links help drive up visitor numbers. The more backlinks you have, generally the better your site performs.
Next, you can have AI look at your site from an SEO perspective. Once it knows your keywords, phrases or questions, it can suggest improvements to your page copy, tags, meta descriptions, image text and more.
Once you make these changes, you’ll likely see rankings increase for the pages you’ve applied this effort to. The higher the rankings, the more visitors. The more visitors, the more leads. The more leads, the more new customers.
Lead nurturing is one of the most underused marketing tactics in the tool kit. Every time someone converts on your website, you should have a lead nurture campaign that triggers.
The campaign should be designed to work them through their buyer journey, giving them additional offers that let them signal to you how fast or slow their journey is progressing.
AI content tools can help create these emails. Tell the tools who the email is intended for, what new offers you want to provide them and the length of your email sequence.
Like all AI content tools, the emails will likely need some work to make them tuned to your voice, tone and brand, but the head start AI provides will be extremely beneficial.
Make sure you plan on testing the nurture campaigns’ performance and making optimization adjustments over time.
All these inbound marketing techniques are critical to getting visitors to become leads. All these techniques take optimization over time. All these tactics require you to monitor and measure their performance against benchmarks and your own baseline performance data.
Use AI to get these programs off the paper and into your prospects’ hands. In days, or weeks at the latest, you should see your results pick up. Remember, done is better than perfect.