Will Robot Bloggers Support or Undermine Content Quality?

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Can an algorithm replace or supplement content created by your employees? Some businesses say "yes" as they adopt algorithm-based solutions that are designed to churn out marketing content and other materials. Writers know that creating engaging content is difficult, and they also know that the proverbial beast must be fed. Businesses that have created a blog, YouTube channel or Twitter feed (and let's face it, that's nearly everyone) also know this is true.

In a Forrester Research survey of about 110 B2B marketers, 87 percent said they struggle to produce content that engages their buyers. Sixty-two percent said they produce content on a campaign-by-campaign basis and 47 percent said they focus on creating content for distribution channels like their company website, email, and social media. "Altogether, this data shows an acute focus on acquisition that practically ignores the remainder of the customer life cycle," writes Forrester analyst Laura Ramos.

Developing engaging content takes time and vendors claim they can lighten the burden with automated content. One such vendor is TechValidate, which offers software that generates marketing content for B2B customers. The company emails questionnaires to a client's customers and uses an algorithm to process the responses and produce content that marketers can plug into case studies, testimonials, and charts.

"Companies want to produce case studies and other content that they can show to prospective clients but it's become nearly impossible to manually gather the information you need and quickly produce targeted materials, especially when a business serves different verticals," says Evan Huck, senior manager of business development at TechValidate.

If a client's customers are unable to provide a direct testimonial or ROI stats, TechValidate aggregates the data through its questionnaire. "This way our clients can say, for example, 'according to research from an independent party, our financial services customers saw an 80 percent lift in conversion rates," Huck explains.

The seven-year-old company has about 300 customers, which include companies like Hootsuite, HP, and IBM.

Companies are also exploring automated content on the B2C side. In June, the Associated Press revealed that it will begin using software by Automated Insights to automate the production of US corporate earnings stories. Doing so enables reporters to focus on more analytical stories, according to the company.

Certain content is best produced the traditional way, e.g., by humans, agrees Huck. "Experts should still provide their own insights for white papers to make them valuable for users," he says. "We're not trying to replace the analytical thinking that a person brings to the table."

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