Content is a pillar of digital marketing.
No matter what you want to achieve, you need some kind of content in order to attract and engage your audience – be in a newsletter that will inform them about your latest features, or a how-to video that solves a particular issue, or an educational blog post. Even a product description on an e-commerce web page also qualifies as a piece of content.
In other words, content is a building block of your overall marketing strategy.
But the problem is you need a lot of it. And what’s even more important, it has to be superb. Long story short, it takes a great deal of time, effort, and resources to come up with all the content you need.
Technology has been tackling this challenge for quite some time, and natural language generation (NLG) seems to be a solution for scaling your content marketing.
WHAT IS NLG?
Natural language generation is a branch of artificial intelligence whose primary purpose is to produce verbal or written content consisting of meaningful words and phrases in a human-like manner. In other words, this advanced technology uses vast amounts of data and translates them into stories with the help of powerful algorithms.
It’s worth mentioning that NLG can write, but it can’t read – that’s the role of another similar branch of AI called natural language processing (NLP). Its role is to analyze unstructured data and turn it into numbers that will be fed to NLG and out of which human-readable text will be produced.
In a nutshell, what we have here is artificial intelligence, which is an umbrella technology encompassing a wide variety of different subset technologies such as NLP, NLG, neural networks, and others.
The main use case of AI is processing and analyzing massive sets of both structured and unstructured data, and interpreting their meaning at an immense speed. So, it’s clear that such data-driven machines can analyze and produce content for different purposes in no time.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF NATURAL LANGUAGE GENERATION?
This brings us to our first question – how to produce a lot of relevant, personalized, and engaging content relatively quickly?
Natural language generation has been commercially implemented, meaning that there are tools capable of generating content for various digital marketing purposes.
Some of them include:
A predictive typing feature that offers smart suggestions and corrects typos and grammatical errors is an example of partial automation. It eliminates repetitive writing and helps users draft their copy faster. This AI-powered functionality has been available in Gmail through its Smart Compose, and it learns from your preferences when picking from one of its available suggestions. The synergy of NLP and NLG technology is capable of reading your emails while you’re writing and predicting what you want to say next, based on the context in real-time.
Some major publications, including The Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Bloomberg, have been using NLG for some of their reports and short articles. For example, Bloomberg News leverages Cyborg, an AI-powered system, to produce thousands of company earnings reports. Similarly, the Washington Post has its own proprietary robot writer, Heliograf, to churn out high school football league reports. Such intelligent machines allow writers to focus on more important stories that require critical thinking, creativity, and literary craftsmanship.
Conversational AI or chatbots automate customer interactions and provide 24/7 customer support by answering questions and helping website visitors find what they’re looking for. These smart algorithms are capable of mimicking human communication, thus engaging customers. In other words, conversational chatbots can be configured more intelligently so that they don’t only generate already predefined and canned phrases, but converse on an almost human level. However, for an effective enterprise chatbot implementation, a detailed strategy has to be put in place.
E-commerce stores need well-optimized product pages in order to attract the right audience. This means coming up with unique product descriptions, which can be a repetitive, tiring, and time-consuming task. NLG can harvest all the relevant product information and generate different description versions for products that are almost identical. Besides, big stores can have catalogs containing tens of thousands of items that need descriptions – and NLP can produce this gargantuan amount of content very quickly.
HOW TO GET STARTED?
While this technology is revolutionary and game-changing, it still has some limitations. This means that it’s essential to do your research and consider whether NLG is the right thing for scaling your content marketing.
Here are some factors to take into account before you embrace this sophisticated tech:
- Do you have a use case? As helpful as this technology is, at the moment, it can be used only for data-driven content. You can’t expect it to produce a regular blog post, which is the result of a creative process based on critical reasoning. NLG works only if you provide it with cold, hard data that it can make use of and transform into a narrative. So, if you’re publishing reports, summaries, or fact-sheets, then this technology can be beneficial for your business. If your content doesn’t heavily rely on facts, figures, numbers, and repetitive structures, then NLG isn’t the right fit.
- Is your data structured? NLG needs structured data in order to be able to produce content. This means having well-organized CSV files, with impeccably structured columns and rows. For this technology to deliver value, you should clean up your data before feeding it to the NLG system.
- Calculate your ROI. NLG is a sophisticated technology that takes time to set up and configure. If we bear in mind that you have to pay for it, it’s logical that you should assess the value you’ll get by implementing it. Analyze how long it takes you to produce your reports and articles at the moment, and establish how much time an NLG system would trim and whether you would benefit from this acceleration.
Natural language generation has immense potential to disrupt content marketing, although it’s still in its infancy. If you identified one of the use cases discussed in this text as being important in your business, it’s a good idea to give this technology a thought as its benefits can be immense.
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Editor and Marketing Manager
Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.