5 min read

The Future of AI at HLM

By Scott Bell

Navigating AI's Impact on Your Business.

Are you concerned about the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and how it might impact your business? Or maybe you’re excited about its potential to drive innovation and efficiency throughout your organization. Regardless of your current or future sentiment on the topic, it’s difficult to deny there will be future implications of generative AI when it comes to content, imagery, audio, data, and more.

At High Level Marketing, we work with over 2,000 small and mid-sized companies that rely on our team and technology to drive tangible growth and results. In fact, our purpose as a company is to accelerate client growth by unlocking their true potential. To succeed in pursuing our purpose, we must assess how AI might impact our clients’ businesses, test it in a controlled environment, and then consider adoption.

Here's How HLM is preparing for the future of AI:

We Have a Sense of Urgency, But We Aren’t “Rushing” It.

There’s a distinct difference between having a sense of urgency and rushing to get something done. At HLM, we're prioritizing evaluating the use of AI and how it can contribute to our clients' success while increasing our staff's productivity. However, we're not immediately implementing its use. So why not rush it?

We believe that rushing AI adoption could lead to negative unintended consequences that erode our clients’ online visibility and bottom line.

We aren’t rushing organization-wide AI adoption because there isn’t enough evidence (currently) that suggests AI will improve our clients’ local search engine visibility and qualified inbound lead volume (which is our core business).


We're monitoring its impact on SEO.

Google emphasizes caution in using AI-generated content to manipulate search results. Google has been clear that whether the content is AI-generated or human-created, it needs to demonstrate expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EEAT). Therefore, if you outsource content development to AI without any real human intervention and expertise, the risks are high that your content won’t create marketing differentiation and consumer value, leading to poor search rankings. To further reiterate the point, Google’s Search Advocate, John Mueller, stated that AI-generated content is against guidelines.

We’re still in the infancy stage of AI.

Although AI has been around longer than you think, and marketers have been using it for years, there’s still much growth and maturation that needs to take place when it comes to generative AI. From our experience, AI can still provide false information, may show bias, and lacks human-level intuition. Because of this, we’re using caution before leveraging it for client work, knowing it could create downside risks.

We're watching its impact on local search queries.

As Bing leverages GPT-4 in its search engine and Google incorporates Bard, how users interact with Search Engines is certain to change and evolve. But how these changes will impact how our clients show online and rank is not abundantly clear. Absent this information (or at least a strong hypothesis), we must keep a keen eye on its development but be cautious about making major changes to our client’s local digital strategy.

We aren’t rushing org-wide AI adoption but will closely monitor how it develops.

Climbing search engines to rank for high-value keywords can take years to accomplish. But a big fall from the top can take only days if missteps are made in your website, content, and/or seo strategy. As a result, we aren’t rushing org-wide AI adoption but will keep a close eye on how it develops.

We See Opportunity.

As HLM takes a measured approach to leveraging AI in what we do, we see tremendous opportunities for leveraging it in the future to drive growth and create more value for our clients.

Here are a few areas where we believe the opportunity exists: 

3rd party tools and platforms will get smarter.

At HLM, we leverage a number of tools and platforms to conduct research and deliver services. These include SEMRush, Ahref, SurferSEO, Footprint™ (our proprietary platform), Google Search Console, Google Ads, and many others. These tools and platforms are widely adopted throughout the organization as we see them as critical for assessing keywords, local competitiveness, optimization, implementation, and delivering results. In the months and years to come, we expect these tools and platforms to further integrate AI technology which may transform how we interact with them and derive value. In addition, we believe there will be an onslaught of innovative technology that may offer something new to the market that our team will choose to adopt and leverage. 

We expect areas of efficiency, but not for the purpose of profit.

I’ve heard from other agency owners that adopting generative AI is going to “drive so much incremental efficiency that profit margins will expand”. I don’t buy into this notion as true margin expansion, AND value creation is never that easy to achieve. Historically, many have hypothesized that going “full robot” would drive competitive advantage level efficiency, but it rarely comes to fruition. Elon Musk wrote a few years back that “humans are underrated” after failing to pull off complete automation and realizing the importance of human interaction and ingenuity in Tesla’s supply chain.

With this in mind, I believe that some processes within our digital marketing delivery model will see efficiency, ultimately leading to opportunities for team members to divert more time and energy to other value-creation activities. One example might be building a website faster due to a limited need to code while allocating more resources to designing and developing cutting-edge website layouts that drive incremental conversion values. In other words, we foresee a future where certain aspects of delivering our services will become more efficient and allow our team to focus on other value-add input that continues to drive growth for our clients. 

Using AI may help our team(s) improve the delivery of services.

The greatest limitation a digital marketing subject matter expert has is time. As a result, creativity, research, data aggregation, and analysis may suffer as these all require large blocks of uninterrupted focus work. With AI, an abundance of opportunities exist for SMEs to get their hands on the data they need to help spawn creative ideas that will improve overall quality and outcomes.

Think of AI as an "intelligent assistant."

Here are a few ways our team is starting to test the potential power of AI: 

    • Researching our Client’s Local Competition
    • Keyword Discovery, Research, and Planning
    • Content Topic Research and Ideation
    • Website Audits
    • User Experience Improvements
    • Ad Copy Personalization
    • Paid Media Audience Building

How We're Preparing for the Future.

Despite not “rushing” into an organization-wide AI adoption, we’ve already started laying the foundation for operating and delivering great client value in an AI-driven environment. 

We have two cross-functional internal teams focused on product delivery methods and proprietary technology enhancements.

    • HLM's Product Delivery Group assesses the use of AI in our service delivery model to evaluate, test, and adopt the platforms and tools that will enable us to  stay competitive and deliver growth for our clients.
    • HLM's Technology Group assesses our CMS to consider next-generation technology that can be built, integrated, and deployed for the benefit of our clients.High Level Marketing has a suite of proprietary technology named Footprint™. Footprint includes an online assessment application that provides local competitive insights about how businesses are performing online, a CMS on which we build clients’ websites, and a reporting platform where clients can see our work in real-time and the outcomes we’ve delivered. We’ll continue to pursue our core values of “Learning Every Day” and “Embracing Change”. If we’ve learned anything in these past 14 years, it’s that to stay ahead of the curve, you have to make education and continued learning a focal point and be willing to evolve. As an organization, we’re constantly striving to bring next-generation learnings to our team that impact not only individuals but the organization as a whole.

Our clients can rest easy knowing that as technology evolves and changes, the team at High Level Marketing will be at the forefront of testing and adopting the latest innovations if they prove beneficial for marketing outcomes. 

The Bottom Line.

Although AI has a bright future, at High Level Marketing we’re being thorough in our evaluation of its application and are delaying company-wide adoption until we have solid proof that it will increase our clients' local search engine visibility and lead generation.

We believe immediate adoption can have unanticipated negative effects. Furthermore, because it impacts Google's results, we’re wary of the dangers of modifying search results using AI-generated content.

We also understand that because AI is still in its infancy and lacks human-level intuition, we must proceed with caution when using it for client work. We anticipate that as AI technology is further integrated into the tools we use today, these third-party tools and platforms will become smarter. We also expect that some aspects of providing our services will become more efficient, freeing our team to concentrate on other value-added contributions supporting our clients' ongoing growth.

Are you looking for a digital marketing strategy that’s out in front of the AI evolution? Don’t go it alone. Let our expert team ensure your business stays ahead of the curve. Get Started Today.

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Let's Do This.

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