The Dangers of Auto-Generating
Marketing to your customers using an automated website builder such as Wix or Squarespace can be like showing up to a job interview wearing jeans and a T-shirt you bought off the rack, while your competition arrives wearing a tailored suit. Even prospective clients or customers who don’t know much about websites likely have enough experience to have absorbed an unconscious understanding of what feels generic and uninspiring, compared to a site tailored to your brand. This is why branding and digital marketing are disciplines that humans study, and companies such as WebOracle in South Melbourne apply the psychology and science of what makes humans choose one product over another, which can’t be automated.
Customers make 95% of their purchase decisions based on unconscious urges, especially with expensive purchases. Often customers who pay higher prices are trying to buy the emotions they attach to a product, a sense of belonging in which the image of your company gels with how your buyer wants to perceive themselves. People might not be able to explain why they went with a competitor that has a custom-built website – they’ll have an ineffable feeling that your competitor’s online presence tells a more congruent and compelling story.
Auto-generated websites or content can have their place if there is a competitive advantage to being the first in your market to have an online presence – known in MBA parlance as the “blue ocean strategy” – but even then, you get one shot at first impression, and sometimes it is better to have no website for an extra few weeks than an amateurish generated website that risks lasting damage to your brand. If you have invested in your offline branding material, you may as well throw all that money out the window if when you go online you launch a website that looks like your thirteen-year-old made it from a template yesterday afternoon.
Some companies have had success with an intentionally low-fi feel to some of their content as part of guerilla marketing campaigns, such as augmented reality games that include blog posts from characters involved in a story that relates back to the company’s brand and message, but you want to play this note intentionally and it’s not the vibe you are going for with your main website.
Recently Wix has launched an automatic AI content generator which might seem tempting when you are dealing with tight timelines and budgets, but keep in mind that as much as the advancements in AI have been amazing, OpenAI’s classifier does a good job of detecting AI-generated content. You can also bet that savvy customers will be able to feel something is not quite right about the robotic generic sounding copy that AI is able to produce for you at the touch of a button.
Indeed, ChatGPT has surpassed one billion monthly page visits and the average netizen will be familiar with its robotic “voice.” It’s easy to imagine search engines may eventually devalue AI-generated content in the quest to provide relevant search results that users want to read. Do you want to be on the wrong side of the AI-detection equivalent of Google’s historic penguin penalty, which wiped out many businesses that relied on questionable SEO strategies in the past? The truth is, if you disregard the need to provide a useful website to people, and want to check a box saying you have “a website” by auto-generating it, you would not deserve traffic. Humans who end up on your website will likely be savvy enough to navigate away because generic AI-produced websites are becoming as obvious and tacky as a site with a spinning 3D animated gif saying “Under construction.”
What to do Instead
There are no shortcuts to remaining relevant to your customers, and we should be wary of what seems like a quick way around offering value to people. There is no workaround that avoids providing value to your customers and respecting their time and attention – if you also want them to trust you enough to invest in your product or service.
On a positive note, the rise of automatically generated websites may help lower the bar for standing out from the pack. After all, when some of your rivals come to the job interview wearing jeans and a T-shirt, all you have to do is put some amount of thought and care into the way you present yourself and you’ll be ahead of many who want to take the easy way out using automatic website generators. But if you don’t have the expertise in-house to do this, there are affordable and effective options to outsource this work. Remember that the generators do cost money for commercial usage anyhow, and they carry the hidden cost of not showcasing your brand in an effective way.