ALK Digital Marketing Solutions

10 Free Ways I’ve Used AI for Marketing in the Past 10 Days

(And How it’s Fallen Short)

AI for Digital Marketing Blog Cover

If 2020 was the year of the QR code (hi COVID), then 2023 is the year of AI. It’s all I seem to hear about in the digital marketing space. And it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. 

As with other industry-molding innovations, I knew from the start that I needed to be using it – and using it frequently – if I wanted to stay ahead. 

I began working with AI in early 2023, mostly playing with ChatGPT prompts. By mid-2023, working with AI has become part of my daily routine as a digital marketer.

Even just in the past few months, AI has made great strides. But it still has major limitations. In this article, I’ll share real examples of how I have used AI for marketing in the past 10 days, along with the ways it has fallen short.

Email Responses
AI Tool Used: GPT For Gmail

First of all, if you have a Gmail account and you haven’t yet discovered Google Workspace Add-Ons, I encourage you to take a look! Google WorkSpace add-ons are enhancements to the Google Workspace (Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc.) that aim to increase productivity.

I recently discovered GPT for Gmail, and I find that I use it from time to time for quick responses. From within gmail, the add-on allows you to formulate a reply with a quick prompt and a choice between formal or casual tone.

I recently used it to decline an invitation to work with a white label agency:

How it Fell Short

As you can see, the “formal” tone was much too formal. But, unfortunately, the casual was also too casual, employing terms like “hey there” and “heads up”. I ended up condensing the formal version and tweaking for my response:

It probably only saved me about 30 seconds or so, but I think there’s potential for this technology to amount to much greater time savings in the future. And for those who overthink responses or who are slow at typing, it could be a game changer.

Keyword Research
AI Tool Used: ChatGPT

One of the top recommended uses for AI for marketing is for keyword research. A few days ago, I tried it out for one of my clients: an architecture firm in Honolulu.

When finding ideal keywords for a client, it’s best to find keywords that are highly relevant with lower difficulty and higher monthly average search count. In an ideal scenario, I would have a spreadsheet of all possible keywords sorted by relevance (high to low), with a secondary sort for difficulty (low to high) and a tertiary sort for monthly search volume (high to low).

In my prompt, I gave a summary of the architecture firm I was representing and tasked ChatGPT with providing “20 questions or keyword phrases” to discover them. I also asked ChatGPT to rank these keywords with the sort order that I described above. As requested, I received a dump of 20 keywords:

AI for marketing keyword research

How it Fell Short

Then, I asked ChatGPT to provide the actual score for difficulty, the actual score for relevance and the actual number of average monthly searches so that I could use to back up these suggestions with data. I was disappointed when I received the following response:

While ChatGPT provided great suggestions for keyword research tools, this brought me back to non-AI tools I’ve used the past. UberSuggest and SEMRush have added AI features for content writing for keyword targeting, but not for sorting.

With ChatGPT’s new integration with Google Sheets, incorporating keyword data into its knowledge base will allow for far more sophisticated data management in the future.

Ad Copy
AI Tool Used: ChatGPT

I decided to try ChatGPT for ad copy to see if that might be a better fit. 

ChatGPT is only as good as the prompts you feed it, so I worked to be as specific as possible. I explained that I was a digital marketing freelancer representing a health insurance company based in Hawaii, tasked with providing ad copy for Meta (Facebook) ads. 

I gave ChatGPT its source material, which happened to be the script for a video commercial, and asked it to provide two sets of ad copy suggestions: one marketing to Hawaii residents and one marketing to Hawaii business owners. Lastly, I provided character limits for Meta headlines and descriptions.

ChatGPT AI for marketing ad copy

How it Fell Short

In general, it was a good start. It helped me avoid the problem of the “blank slate” and gave me a base to work from. 

But there were two main problems with the ad copy. For one thing, the ads I was working with were heavily geared toward a local Hawaii-based audience. ChatGPT was smart enough to pick up on things like the use of an ‘okina (apostrophe) in “Hawai’i”, but it wasn’t smart enough to use culturally sensitive Hawaiian words like Mālama correctly. 

In addition, the ad copy felt mass-produced. Because that’s what AI does – it mass produces. The best ads – and the best ad copy – are built to stand out from the masses.

AI for Creative Branding Ideas
AI Tool Used: Canva Generative Text to Image

Let me start off this section by telling you that I am in a band. And we just decided on the name “Midnight Pancakes”. Don’t laugh. 

We needed some creative designs to accompany our social media and event posters. I was curious to see what Canva’s new text to image tool would create. 

The generator allows you to type in a text-based prompt and choose a style. I tried out a few prompts and eventually got something that was a good starting place using the prompt “pancakes with music notes and the moon”:

Test of Canva Text to Image AI

How it Fell Short

I started with the prompt “pancakes at midnight with music”. Canva didn’t seem to be able to recognize what “midnight” or “music” meant. I learned that you need to use very specific visuals for this tool, not vague ideas. 

I think it was more funny than useful. But it can certainly get the creative juices flowing.

Email Subject Line Creation
AI Tool Used: ChatGPT

Email is probably the most underrated and underestimated marketing tool of all. If you’re not working on compiling the first-party data of subscribers and sending at least an annual update to them via email, you are missing out.

But coming up with email content and then writing a subject line that won’t get buried in busy inboxes is a challenge. So I put ChatGPT up to the task. 

In my case, I had written the email already without ChatGPT’s help. I provided the full email copy and requested that ChatGPT summarize to a subject line of 60 characters or less:

How it Fell Short

As you can see, I then asked it to adjust its suggestions. Since ChatGPT didn’t have the names or personal details of subscribers, it was left with other options for defining a good subject line: urgency, curiosity, offers, relevance or timeliness. 

It did an okay job, and this gave me a good starting point for tweaking. But ultimately, a company knows its list of subscribers best. Wherever possible, content should be personalized.

Display Ad Creative
AI Tool Used: AdCreative.ai

One of my clients is a boating company, and one of their goals was to increase conversion rates through their website. A great way to do this is to utilize re-marketing (targeting your website visitors) alongside an exclusive offer. 

Creating a set of display ads for Google can be time consuming, as you want to match creative across several ad dimensions for the best reach. I had recently heard of AdCreative.ai and decided to give it a try. Quick disclaimer on this one: AdCreative.ai is not a free tool. However, it does offer a free trial. 

The site first prompts you to establish branding for your ads, with options for a website, logo, three colors, a brief company description and a font (under advanced settings). Then you can choose your display ad size and generate a preview:

Trying out AdCreative.AI for AI Display Ad Creation

Clicking “Create” takes your assets and combines them into more than 100 design variations.

How it Fell Short

 Graphic designers, you’re in luck. Of all the AI tools I use regularly, this one has the most room to improve. The AI doesn’t yet seem intelligent enough to determine the subject of an image so that it doesn’t cover it up. In addition, it won’t limit your text to fit the size of creative you’ve chosen:

Also, I didn’t love that it only allows for one photo option and that you cannot upload a light and dark logo variation. 

If you’re looking for a quick and easy ad creative that you might have to tweak a lot to get it right, this is an option. But choosing your dimensions and using a template in Canva or Indesign (or hiring a professional!) is probably a better bet for most companies.

Special Dates for Content Plan
AI Tool Used: Microsoft Bing AI Chat

One of my clients is a developer of Google Workspace Marketplace add-ons. When creating a social media content plan for them, I wanted to highlight some key dates or holidays. 

To make this process faster, I turned to Microsoft Bing Chat search. I started with as specific of a prompt as possible:

“I am a digital marketing freelancer representing a client who offers productivity apps through Google Workspace Marketplace. As part of their social media strategy, I would like to determine key dates and special events. Please provide suggestions for productivity based holidays and Google Workspace Marketplace Key Dates, such as the launch date.”

It was a bit of a double-barreled question, so I wasn’t sure how well the search engine would handle it.

Bing Chat AI for social media content calendar special dates research

How it Fell Short

This search saved me a lot of time and gave me a few options for quick and easy social media posts that would highlight relevant holidays or dates. Searching for this information link by link would have taken a lot of time. However, sometimes reading through those links can provide more opportunities, such as this article that covered even more relevant dates.

Social Media Captions
AI Tool Used: ChatGPT

The second step of my social content plan for the Google Workspace add-on developer was to prepare social media post captions. 

Within the same chat where I had provided ChatGPT with information on the developer and his add-ons, I asked it to prepare short social media caption ideas for me. Then, I prompted it to provide captions that would encourage follower engagement:

AI for social media caption generation

How it Fell Short

I noticed that each caption idea overused emojis and hashtags. In the final content plan that I pitched, my captions included more sentence structure variety.

The point of hashtags is to gain additional reach by linking the post to an idea or concept that a lot of people may be following. I questioned how popular ChatGPT’s hashtags #GoogleMagic or #EmojiFun might be. When utilizing hashtags, it’s best to go through a similar process to keyword research, where they are selected and used strategically.

Generating Alt Text for Images
AI Tool Used: Ahrefs AI Image Alt Text Generator

With around 1 billion people using Google Images daily, optimizing images for search is an opportunity you don’t want to miss out on. In addition to the SEO value, adding alt text (text that describes an image on a page) also allows visually impaired users to access your content. 

But describing each and every one of your images takes time. So I was curious how well AI would do. To test it, I submitted one of my images to Ahrefs’ free tool AI Image Alt Text Generator:

Ahrefs image alt text generator sample

How it Fell Short

Overall, I was surprised by how well the software identified the content of the image. However, I noticed that it had strangely identified the scenery as Kauai. I actually photographed this image in Moanalua valley in Oahu. 

So if you do use this software, be sure to double-check the details and tweak as needed. I also feel this tool would be most useful if it could process images in bulk, which is where this sort of task takes the most time.

AI for Marketing Summary
AI Tool Used: ChatGPT

I’ve tasked AI with summarizing this blog in 10 sentences or less. I modified it slightly to reflect my own voice, but I think AI does a great job of summarizing. Here is what it produced:

In 2023, AI has become a focal point in digital marketing. Embracing this trend, I have integrated AI into my daily routine as a digital marketing freelancer. While AI has made great strides, it still has its limitations.

For email responses, the GPT for Gmail add-on proved handy, although its formal and casual tones frequently miss the mark. In keyword research, ChatGPT excelled in brainstorming, but lacked critical data metrics. 

Ad copy creation with ChatGPT provided a useful foundation but required additional localization. Canva’s Generative Text to Image tool, while occasionally amusing, offered creative inspiration rather than precise designs. In email subject line creation, ChatGPT’s suggestions were a solid starting point, but personalization will provide a better user experience.

AdCreative.ai sped up ad creative generation, though it is not yet comparable to the visual judgment of human graphic designers. Microsoft Bing AI Chat was a valuable time-saver for content planning around special dates. For social media captions, ChatGPT’s suggestions were a little heavy on emojis and hashtags, but still time-saving. Lastly, Ahrefs’ AI Image Alt Text Generator displayed surprising proficiency in identifying image content, but some fine-tuning was needed. 

Overall, while AI tools have streamlined various aspects of digital marketing, it’s crucial to understand their strengths and limitations, and to complement their outputs with human expertise for optimal results.

Want to use AI to achieve your Digital Marketing Goals? Let’s work together.

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