Is AI in Search Changing B2B Content Strategies?

November 8, 2023

Most content marketers are at least somewhat concerned about the future discoverability of their content as search engines incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots into search. As it stands, optimizing for SEO is already one of the key content creation challenges faced by B2B marketers, per results from the Content Marketing Institute’s latest B2B content marketing report, produced in partnership with MarketingProfs.

AI’s integration into search engines is leading to some shifts in B2B content marketers’ SEO strategies, according to the report. The leading way they’re adapting is to sharpen their focus on user intent/answering questions, as cited by almost one-third (31%) of respondents. More than one-quarter have decided to create more thought leadership content (27%), while 22% are creating more conversational content.

Only 28% of respondents say they’re not making any of those changes, while about one-quarter (26%) are unsure.

While AI in search may have an impact on content discoverability, the technology could also have benefits for content marketers. Currently, 72% of B2B content marketers are using generative AI for content-related tasks. Most commonly, they’re leaning on these tools to brainstorm new topics (51%), while close to half are using generative AI to research headlines, keywords, etc. (45%) and to write drafts (45%).

For the time being, these tools aren’t being used nearly as much to produce non-text related assets. Only about 1 in 10 (11%) use generative AI to generate graphics/images, while 5% are using them to create/enhance audio and an equal 5% to produce videos.

The use of these tools is clearly in its infancy. The vast majority (91%) are using free tools, with far fewer (27%) paying for tools such as Writer and Jasper. Additionally, fewer than one-third (31%) of respondents say their organizations have guidelines for using generative AI tools.

Among those respondents who aren’t using generative AI, the most common reason given is concern over accuracy (36%), a recurring theme when discussing these technologies. Others cite lack of training (27%), lack of understanding (27%) and copyright concerns (22%) as barriers to their use of the tools.

Separately, but sticking with technology, the report indicates that the most commonly-used technologies to manage content are analytics tools (81%), social media publishing/analytics (72%), email marketing software (69%), and content creation/calendaring/collaboration/workflow (64%) tools.

These aren’t always proving to be successful. Just 31% said that they have the right technology in place to manage content across the entire organization. Although an additional 30% believe they have the technology, they admit that they aren’t using it to potential. A further 29% simply haven’t acquired the right technology.

Perhaps as a result, content management technology spending is expected to rise next year, with 45% believing it likely that their organization will invest in additional technology.

For more, check out the report here.

About the Data: The results are based on a July survey of “894 respondents, mostly from North America, who indicated their organization is primarily B2B and that they are either content marketers or work in marketing, communications, or other roles involving content.”


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