Kim Moutsos is a familiar name to me and anyone else who subscribes to the Content Marketing Institute’s email newsletter. When I see Kim’s face in my inbox, I know great content is going to follow.
And this interview is no exception. Kim brings the goods and I know you are going to get a lot of useful information out of this. Specifically, we discuss…
- Can AI content be used for good?
- Is there too much content in the world?
- How important is it to measure content marketing ROI?
- Should everyone have an editor?
- What is the future of content marketing?
Digital Transcript – Edited for Readability
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Hello, everybody. How are you doing? That’s great. I’m so happy to hear it. My name is Jon-Mikel Bailey. Most people know me as Jon or various other names. And welcome to the Wellspring Digital Chat, where we go out in our post-apocalyptic sort of death machine and we rally up marketers. We keep them corralled in a pen, and then we systematically will just pull one out, do an intro, and then we put them back in the pen.
They’re well-fed. They’re all taken care of. It’s all good. No, no marketers are- well, they’re not really harmed that bad. These intros are getting more and more ridiculous as we go. So anyway, Kim Moutsos- is it “Moot-sos?”
Kim Moutsos: Moutsos! Yeah, very good.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Awesome. Kim Moutsos is a familiar name to me and anyone else who subscribes to the Content Marketing Institutes newsletter should be familiar with Kim as well. When I see Kim’s face in my inbox, I know that great content is going to follow, so I asked Kim to join us. So Kim, please welcome and please take a moment to introduce yourself to our audience.
Kim Moutsos: Jon, thank you. I’m so happy to be out of the pen for these few minutes. I really appreciate it.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Exercise is important!
Kim Moutsos: It is, right? I agree. Fresh air, light, all this easy to deprive us of on a regular basis. And so while I’m in the pen, I’m generally leading the team of writers and editors at the Content Marketing Institute. And for anyone who hasn’t heard of CMI, CMI is the organization behind the Content Marketing World Conference, which brings together thousands of content marketing professionals every year, often in Cleveland, in fact, historically, almost always in Cleveland. But for the first time, we’re heading to Washington, D.C., which I’m personally very excited about.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: That’s my backyard!
Kim Moutsos: Yeah, will I see you there, Jon? Are you going to be there?
Jon-Mikel Bailey: I am sure going to try and make any promises, but I will try.
Kim Moutsos: Okay. Well, if I get to get out of the pen for that week, I hope you also can join me there. Yes. So my job is really to keep that conversation and the learning that people experience in the content marketing world going year-round. Right. So by articles and videos and opportunities for people to interact with us.
We like to keep the conversation about best practices, trends, and news in the content marketing industry going. And yes, if you subscribe to our daily newsletter, you see my smiling face every day, minus the glasses and the ponytail. So maybe you’ll recognize me.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: You got to shake it up for the for the live, Kim.
Kim Moutsos: Right. Right.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: So, yeah. And just as a reminder, a public service announcement to anyone listening to this, Content Marketing Institute is the number one resource, in my opinion, for great articles and resources relating to content marketing. Everybody needs content. Check it out if you haven’t. I highly recommend it. And as she said, Kim lives and breathes content on a daily basis.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: I am fortunate because I get to pick her brain. Very lucky am I? Pretty lucky. In fact, probably the most lucky person in the world. I am luckier than most lucky people. I’m very lucky. I have a lot of luck.
Kim Moutsos: You also have the keys to the pen.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: I have the keys to the pen. Enough talk. So, Kim, you ready?
Kim Moutsos: I’m ready.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: All right, let’s jump in.
Can AI Content Be Used for Good?
Jon-Mikel Bailey: So I want to get your take on a topic that, you know, everyone seems to care about these days. ChatGPT and especially AI-driven content. I wanted to see if specifically you think people can use AI for content in an authentic and transparent way. I mean, can AI content be used for good?
Kim Moutsos: Yeah, I mean, I’m a little disappointed that you asked me about this because I thought we were going to talk about something more timely and current. Now, of course, as you said, it seems to be the only thing that everyone’s talking about now that we’re not talking about TikTok and things like. But can it be used for good?
Of course. Of course. It’s a tool, right? I think any tool in the right hands can be used to build things up and shape them. Destroy, for better or worse, I think, you know, if you think of AI as a tool, you’re in good shape. It can be a tool to help people communicate with other people better. The best uses I can imagine for AI are to assist human intelligence and skill, but not to replace it.
And I think one of the best humans I know working in content right now is Ann Handley who has written books and of course is the face behind Marketing Profs and the great newsletter called Total Anarchy. And she wrote recently, which I love, “AI is not the creator at the keyboard, AI is the helper perched on your shoulder.”
And I think that’s exactly right. AI did not write those lines. Ann wrote those lines because she knows what it’s like to be a writer and to work in this industry and is one of the people who you know, I think is very smart about how to use AI and many, many people. I think we’re going through a weird moment where everybody’s really excited and everyone’s experimenting and everyone’s kind of terrified.
But I think that’s going to settle down. I think after this initial rush of, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, what is this thing? How’s it going to affect the future?” I think we’re going to settle down and figure out ways to use it that will involve people. It’s not going to replace people. And I think we’ll see a lot of of good and bad coming out of AI.
And it’ll be there for us to watch and participate and figure out how to use in the best way. So can AI be used for good? Yes. Is being used for good right now? Probably a little bit of yes and a little bit of no. I actually heard from a reader the other day who told me that their executives are forcing the writers to use AI to produce content, not ChatGPT, a different tool, and I think it’s important to remember that chat isn’t the only thing out there, right?
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Yeah, absolutely.
Kim Moutsos: And then actually put their own bylines on these AI-written pieces and I don’t think that’s the best use of the technology. I think with, you know, with time and experimentation, people are going to figure that out because just producing the content is one thing. And I think we’re going to talk about this too. Is the content valuable and successful for anyone, the brand side or the consumer side is a whole other question?
Jon-Mikel Bailey: And we’re having some issues with your video, but we’re just going to roll it if you’re cool with that. Sure, It’s kind of positive. Your audio is spot on and it’s the words that you are saying that matter more than anything.
Kim Moutsos: Oh, I hope I’m not making weird faces. I probably am.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: You’re fine.
Is There Too Much Content in the World?
Jon-Mikel Bailey: So I wanted to follow up on that. You know, we’re already producing a staggering amount of content every day. I don’t know what the latest stat is. They keep making some grandiose statement about more content that was produced yesterday than ever in whatever period of time. So with AI, of course, now, I imagine that the amount of content produced daily will continue to grow, grow probably exponentially.
So what would you say to a cynic, a cynical marketer, or business owner, or whoever says that there is already too much content and that they should not make more content?
Kim Moutsos: I mean, I’d ask, are there too many books in the world? If that person says yes, then I’d end the conversation there.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Then we weep for that person.
Kim Moutsos: Yes, absolutely. Are there too many instruction manuals in the world or there are too many news outlets in the world? Maybe. Are there too many movies in the world or are there too many instructional videos in the world? I mean, there will always be a need for content that entertains, educate and otherwise fills a need for the person consuming it.
And luckily, there are billions of people in the world, right? And their needs change from moment to moment. Job to be done versus job to be done. And, you know, I think the real trick is getting that content to the person that that moment that they need it. And maybe that’s a place where AI can actually be particularly helpful.
But is there too much content? No. Is there too much bad content? Probably. Is there too much-unused content? Sure. But that’s a very different question from too much content. I mean, the world is changing. If we just said, okay, no more content ever. I mean, things would be very stale and irrelevant very quickly.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: I mean, our content consumption has also increased radically.
Kim Moutsos: Absolutely. I mean, also for better and worse, right? I mean, there are two sides to that coin as well. But I think content that’s useful, helpful, entertaining, there’s always going to be a need for that. What it looks like might change and what it features from moment to moment should change because people change and the world around us changes and that creates new needs all the time.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Absolutely. And I got to be honest with you, you’ve renewed my hope for content marketing in the world. And the cynic I mentioned was me.
Kim Moutsos: Well, I hope I’ve convinced you.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: I am convinced and I am ready to go forth and create great content.
How Important Is It to Measure Content Marketing ROI?
Jon-Mikel Bailey: So in a recent content marketing survey that we ran, we found that over a third of the respondents said that measuring ROI on their content marketing efforts was one of their biggest concerns. So I wanted to ask somebody who lives and breathes content daily, how important do you think ROI is when measuring the success of a content campaign, or does it sort of matter?
Kim Moutsos: Yeah, well, yeah, right. Of course, it matters. And of course, it depends. We see this too in our own research that our ROI comes up, as a real challenge for content marketers. And I think what’s behind that is a couple of things. First of all, measuring anything is really hard. It takes agreement about what to measure and then involves, you know, corralling people and getting everyone to see things the same way.
That’s never easy. It takes agreement about what the numbers mean when it comes when you actually getting some numbers behind it. Right. And then there’s the technology snafus and the inevitable manual labor that goes into it. The solutions are never as easy as the software vendors make it sound right, and there’s almost never one technology involved, right?
About all the different ways that we use content in a business And I mean just right there, you see the problem. But I think that’s not the only problem. I wonder whether calling it ROI is the right phrase to use. I think ROI, and again, who I know you’ve had on your program wrote a good article about this, which I’d be happy to send to you. ROI sort of gets people thinking I’m going to see dollars to dollars comparison.
I put this many dollars and I get this many dollars out and content is a more complicated proposition than that. And it’s not- it’s not that you can’t see financial gains from content. Of course, you can. They don’t always fit neatly into the quarterly reports that you might do or the, you know, monthly reports or even six months.
And, you know, attribution is a big question. It’s very rarely I wrote this article, I sold this something, right, that this is not the role of content in sales for the most part. If that’s what you’re looking for, then you probably want to do something a little more direct PPC ads or something that’s very dollars in dollars out, but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t and shouldn’t measure the impact of content.
And the impact of content can look like a lot of things, right? It can. It can be brand awareness, it can be a brand lift, it can be cost reductions compared to what you would otherwise pay to get people’s attention and ultimately, eventually revenue. When you can figure out the attribution models that make sense for your business and your goals.
But like with anything, I think starting with the goal, why did you get into creating content in the first place and measuring against that? It’s probably not that you got into it to immediately make sales from the content. You got into it for a variety of reasons to help with your overall marketing. Not all of marketing goes directly to revenue eventually, but there’s, there’s a path, right?
And content is a piece of that path.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Absolutely I agree 1,000% and I think what it boils down to, in my opinion, is that sometimes marketers or business owners or whoever aren’t willing to kind of, you know, dig a little deeper and figure out the true value of the content there. They’re sort of like surface level. Well, we didn’t see any sales generated from this blog post.
In fact, ergo, blogging doesn’t work, right? So, yeah, I love the way you broke that down. That makes a lot of sense.
The Importance of Editors in Content Marketing
Jon-Mikel Bailey: So as you stated you are the Vice President of Editorial at Content Marketing Institute which is crazy to be the voice version of editorial for the Institute on content marketing. So kudos for that.
And it’s probably a daily struggle to deal with all that great content. But I love having an editor who keeps me honest and ensures that the content I produce is high quality. And I wonder, do you think everyone should have an editor of some sort for their content or the content efforts of their organization? What value does an editor bring to a content campaign, in your opinion?
Kim Moutsos: Well, I think I’m really going to shock you, Jon, but my answer is yes, Everyone needs an editor.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: That’s crazy.
Kim Moutsos: I need an editor. Everybody. Editors need editors. Writers need editors, everybody. Communicators need editors. Right And there are so many levels of editing that can be involved. And what’s right for your organization probably depends on two things what you’re doing with content and what you can afford.
Right? If you are really starting out in content, and you’re bare bones, you’ve got one person running all the content. That person, of course, also needs an editorial eye. AI can be an assistant, there’s Grammarly, there’s Hemingway, and I use those tools. But you also need the person who can review the suggestions of the tools and know whether that’s right.
Here’s another thing that editors do editors, whether they’re trained editors or the second pair of eyes on something, can give you an additional perspective. Is the way that I’m thinking about this or explaining this clear to someone who doesn’t have the knowledge, the sort of base level of knowledge that I need? So if I’m a business owner or I’m an SME at a brand and I’m explaining something new, I probably have, you know, a wealth of knowledge behind what I’m saying.
But you need that person to say, “Yeah, that’s great. I’m sure it sounds great in your head, but I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
And someone who can put themselves in the shoes of someone brand new and say, this is not clear. I think really that’s the role of an editor more than, of course, you want somebody to catch or misplace typos and commas and whatnot.
That’s a basic function of editing. But I think even more important than that, you need someone who can help you keep your audience in mind. That’s number one. And check that what you’ve written, said, plan to say, etc. makes sense to the audience that will be consuming it, listening to it or reading it or watching it.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: It’s fantastic advice, actually for the most part, when I write a piece, I have two editors. I have Alex Tsygankov who works here at Wellspring, and he will edit to make sure that it is legit real digital marketing content. And I haven’t said anything stupid. And then I have Sammye Klein, who’s our project manager here, who will actually go through all of my content and just check for, you know, grammar or readability, things like that.
So, you know, I can’t personally survive without an editor. I think, you know, I wouldn’t get compliments on my writing. I think all the compliments I get on my writing should go to my editors.
Kim Moutsos: I feel the same way about my own writing. I mean, I think that every piece of writing is improved by an editor and thoughtful editor. And I love how you put it there. Not everyone can have two different people in that function, but when you can, I think that only improves it, you know, to have it’s hard to read for both, right?
It’s hard to read at the content level, the sort of flow and structure and meaning, and then also look for the tiny little details.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. It’s funny because, you know, it’s I think sometimes to your point, I think, “Oh, this piece I wrote is brilliant,” and then I’ll give it to Alex and Alex’ll go…
“Well… You can- you know- I don’t understand what you’re trying to tell me here,” or whatever. So yeah, absolutely.
Kim Moutsos: That happens a lot. And then there’s the spinach in your teeth, right? You want somebody to tell you, “Oh, no, You made an embarrassing gaffe there,” right? And so hopefully your editors like you and won’t let you go out in the world with spinach in your teeth.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Well, and the crazy thing is even if you have, you know, ten editors every once in a while, something still gets through.
Kim Moutsos: It’s really true. It’s just it’s really true. And if I had to pick, it would be a misplaced comma or a period over something much, much worse.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: You cannot rely on spellcheck or Grammarly because sometimes a misspelled word if it is spelled correctly, as a different word can end up in quite an embarrassing situation. So yeah.
Kim Moutsos: So I think outward. Yeah, all of those things.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: I think we need to band together and rally the rest of the marketers in the pen and go ahead and establish a National Editors Day where they get celebrated with the posts on Facebook. They get, you know, gift baskets and things like that. Let’s make that happen.
Kim Moutsos: Does that exist?
Jon-Mikel Bailey: You know, sitting here thinking.
Kim Moutsos: We should make this look that it looks good, it lets us ChatGPT.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Yeah, let’s ask ChatGPT.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Exactly. Exactly.
What is The Future of Content Marketing?
Jon-Mikel Bailey: So I want to, as someone who reads a lot of content about content marketing, I want you to put your crazy hat on and look into your crystal ball and look into the future and tell me what you see. What is the future of content marketing?
Kim Moutsos: Yeah, well, I’m going to be honest and say, I don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows, right? We- we’ve all had that surety about the future knocked out of us in the last few years. Right. But I can tell you what I hope. I mean, I hope the future of content involves all the best things that we talked about today.
Right? The ability to for people to use tools to communicate better with people, figuring out how to produce the right amount of content to help somebody at the moment when they need it and I think that’s when content will have the biggest impact of all. When we are able to use the tools at our disposal to get that right thing in front of the person who needs it at that right moment.
Kim Moutsos: It’s not going to be everyone. It’s not going to be every moment. Right? But if we can create content for a specific audience, sometimes down to the level of a specific person, and figure out a way to get that content to that person, when they need it, that’s a win win on both sides. And I really think to get there, it’s going to be a refinement of all the things that we talked about, people understanding other people, people using tools to help with analysis and delivery and personalization and all the things that are hard for us to do as people at scale, you know, involving data and whatnot.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Right.
Kim Moutsos: But still having that human connection that can only come from people communicating with other people. So that’s my hope for the future. What will actually happen and what do you think? I’m curious. I mean, you’re talking with people all the time about content and producing it yourself and studying it yourself. And I’m curious about your take on the future.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Man, I don’t know either. I agree. I think there’s going to be kind of I don’t want to say backlash, but I think there will be a lot of unintended consequences stemming from, you know, what will likely be heavy use of AI. And I think roles will shift a little bit. I think I think actually there, you know, will probably be new jobs or maybe new titles created where people are going to have to sort of police the AI and make sure that that it still has like you said, that that human voice that human touch, nobody wants to talk to a machine.
Sometimes you don’t even realize you’re talking to a machine. But given long enough, I think if you can figure it out, think they all have their sort of their flaws. You know, maybe in the future it’ll expand and get better. And I will instead of, you know, instead of having to ask a question and read an article, it’ll just go in through our neural link and the content speak downloaded.
And we’ll, we’ll just know like, like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. You know, we’ll just, we’ll just know Kung fu. But yeah, I think it’s- I think it’s going to take a lot of- a lot of work to make sure that the machines don’t get away from us and we don’t end up relying on them so much that we lose the value.
Kim Moutsos: Yeah, I think that’s really true. I think that period of rocky experimentation has started obviously, and it will be rocky for a while and- and then hopefully things will smooth out and we’ll figure out the way to really remember that- that people are in the driver’s seat for better or worse. Right. I mean people yeah it’s human content trained these I think for better or worse.
Right. And so a lot of the difficulties and the surprising turns some of these experiments have taken show the worst parts of human nature. And hopefully, we can get that under control and figure out how to get bring out the best parts of human nature.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: I have renewed hope for all of this. Now, I appreciate that. No, I think that’s a great place to end it. And I really appreciate all the advice that you’ve given in here. I think I know that anyone who listens to this, and watches this interview, will come away with a renewed sort of passion for content marketing.
And that’s exactly what I hope for as the outcome from today’s interview. So I really appreciate it.
Kim Moutsos: I hope so. Thanks so much, Jon. I really enjoyed my time outside the pen.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Now get back in the pen.
Kim Moutsos: All right.
Jon-Mikel Bailey: Thanks, everybody. Bye.
Kim Moutsos: Take care. Bye bye.