Alastair Kane Search Marketing, Search Marketing Partner 1200 627

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22 April 2024


Skynet becomes self aware

There are countless films about the future and none of them seem to paint a particularly bright picture. In the classic Terminator, the reason for the rise of the killer robots was a computer network called Skynet becoming self aware, triggering a nuclear war and the destruction of humankind as we know it.

As a freelance SEO consultant I am always looking for ways to become more efficient. I’m a one man band juggling all the balls necessary to run a business, so researching AI tools as a means to streamline processes is essential.

However, after several months trying out various tools, I have come to the conclusion that AI still doesn’t provide any real shortcuts to effective B2B marketing. The tools that I tried may speed up key tasks, but we’re still a long way off being replaced by the machines.

Shiny object syndrome

As I work with B2B companies, I am fairly active on Linkedin. Over the past year I’ve found some of the claims regarding AI in my post feed, ranging from slight embellishments to outright lies.

I feel there is a tendency as marketers be prone to shiny object syndrome. I am certainly susceptible to this myself!

It doesn’t seem that long ago that everyone was talking about the Metaverse and how that would send shockwaves through the marketing world.

The Linkedin chatter about NFTs has died down somewhat compared to a couple of years ago. And claims that SEO is dead have been surfacing at odd intervals over the past 20 years.

Last year the hot topic was AI. There were wild claims being made and my Linkedin feed was often populated by posts describing how someone had managed to increase organic traffic by x000s % in a matter of months.

My thoughts regarding these posts were ‘yeah but what is the quality of that traffic like’? And what do you define as a conversion?

Because when you dig beneath the thin veneer of these claims, I tend to find that they don’t translate into a valuable business outcome. They are simply vanity metrics designed to grab attention on Linkedin.

Having tested out a few AI tools in recent months, I feel that AI enthusiasm currently outpaces its practical usefulness in a marketing capacity.

That being said, I’m no AI Luddite. I use it in my work everyday. I just think that its current applications have to be realistically downsized.

Benefits of AI in B2B marketing

There is little doubt that the potential for AI to cut the time needed for simple tasks that require minimal creativity is massive.

From the printing press to the internet, technology has been making our lives easier for centuries. And AI is no exception.

There are many ways that AI is helping B2B marketers today.


AI is a great tool for jumpstarting the content ideation process. LLMs are trained on enormous datasets meaning AI tools can access all sorts of content from articles, social media posts etc that make for a powerful way to generate ideas. Think of it as a quick way to collect ideas without having to spend hours researching online.

AI-powered chatbots

Chatbots use AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to converse with humans.
They are revolutionising B2B marketing and, according to Outgrow, 58% of companies that have embraced chatbots are in the B2B space.

AI chatbots can provide 24/7 customer service, help with lead generation and can personalise website experience which is key to building rapport with potential customers and helping develop meaningful interactions during the buyer journey.

Google Ads automated bidding

Google Ads automated bidding removes a lot of the grunt work typically associated with manual bidding strategies. 

Automated bidding strategies such as Maximise Clicks, Maximise Conversions etc use Google’s AI to optimise for specific campaign goals with data that the advertiser would not be able to see.

For example, this ‘hidden’ data could include how frequently a particular individual has visited product pages on a competitor’s website, thus signalling a high propensity to buy. 

This would trigger the Google Ads auction system to increase the bid when this prospect is searching on Google for the product or service, in order to drive this potential customer to the target website.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking automated bidding allows for ‘set and forget’ campaigns. Like any platform that uses AI, the output is only as good as the data inputted.

Rubbish in, rubbish out!

You have to feed the Google Ads AI machine with the right data to enable a campaign to achieve your expected goals.

Predictive analytics

AI’s ability to crunch massive amounts of data is a game-changer for B2B companies. It removes the guesswork from decision-making replacing it with insights no human could uncover alone. 

AI tools let marketers dig deep, uncovering patterns in customer behaviour and important market trends.

AI anticipates  customer preferences, what drives them to buy and when they might churn. This lets businesses be proactive, adjusting their approach to keep customers happy.

Marketers can figure out which channels are actually working using AI tools. This allows businesses to better align the market with the big picture delivering a real impact on the bottom line.

Customer segmentation

Accurate customer segmentation is key for creating the right message needed to engage your target audience. 

Segmenting manually can be a laborious process and is prone to inaccuracies due to the often large datasets involved.

AI empowers B2B marketers with the ability to swiftly and accurately pinpoint their ideal target groups.  It gives them the insight required to tailor offers to each customer’s individual needs, fostering a personalised connection that would be challenging to establish without AI’s assistance.

My journey with AI so far

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’ve been testing various AI tools to learn more about their application and find ones that can help me with my work as a B2B search marketer.

I’ve been investigating three areas.

Content creation

I have tried a few AI writing tools as well as ChatGPT. Here are some tools that I’ve tried:

Given that these tools didn’t exist a few years back, it is astounding how the technology has advanced in such a short timeframe. In under a minute you can have a 5000 word blog post that reads reasonably well.

However, just because you can produce content at scale doesn’t mean you should! 

My main issue with using AI writing tools is that they all work from the same LLMs, meaning the output is sub par.

AI can’t match human creativity and can’t express unique viewpoints, which is so important for B2B content to communicate as it helps a brand to differentiate, which is vital to a business’ longevity.

As Seth Godin puts it in Purple Cow:

“In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is failing. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”

Scaling content with AI and failing to add the much needed element of human creativity, is ‘not standing out’.

The long term consequences of this is disappearing into the cacophony of online noise.

Image creation

I find the world of AI image generation fascinating and I have tested a few of the more common ones, such as DeepAI, DALL.E2 and Canva’s own AI tool

What fascinates me is the often quirky nature of the output.

One example that comes to mind is when I tried to create a picture of an audiologist providing a hearing test. The result was a bizarre and unsettling image of a woman audiologist with one hairy hand and one non-hairy hand!

This experience highlights the challenges that AI image generators face in understanding and interpreting complex concepts. 

AI image generators are obviously still in their early stages of development and have limitations in terms of their ability to accurately and consistently interpret and translate complex concepts into visual representations. 

I haven’t yet found an AI image generator I am happy with. I feel my current lack of success with these tools so far stems from the quality of my prompts. 

Perhaps I am not making myself clear enough to the AI tool (…and make sure the woman audiologist doesn’t have any hairy hands!).

No doubt AI image tools will get better over time. For now I will keep on testing by honing my prompt skills.

Linkedin posts

As I work with B2B companies, Linkedin is an important platform for me. I try to post regularly but finding the time to write good posts is a challenge for me. I was therefore keen to find ways that AI could help me write Linkedin posts at scale.

I tried a tool called Taplio for a month or two. Although the output was reasonable, I felt it needed my input to get the post to a standard I was happy with. 

I understand this is par for the course with any AI writing platform. But in all honesty I felt it was easier to write the post myself and use a free tool like ChatGPT for post ideation.

The future of AI in marketing

I feel that marketing (and the world) is in the midst of a paradigm shift and nobody can truly predict how the cards will fall. 

There will always be the early adopters who espouse the benefits of a new technology unleashed upon the world in one camp, and the reluctant Luddites in the other.

Personally I think I am in the middle of the two camps. I know that I need to become savvy with AI in order to survive in this Brave New World. However, I am slightly cautious of the ‘AI is the best thing since sliced bread’ enthusiasm as I think we are still a way off from AI replacing human marketers.

However, what is certain is that marketers need to keep informed about AI due to its ability to unlock efficiencies. If not, we may find ourselves commercially unviable a few years from now.

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