What could be more “human” than the written word? People have been using words to communicate and preserve ideas for millennia. Storytelling is part of who we are as a species. There’s no way a machine could ever replicate humanity’s skill with written language.
AI-generated language has made huge strides in the last decade. Now programs can write essays, press releases, and interviews. Computers can write sonnets. Written language is no longer unique to humans.
So what does this mean for human writers? Do the copywriters here at Sigl Creative need to find a new career? Should you, a business owner who didn’t major in English, use AI tools to do your copywriting for you? Should we all start preparing for the eventual SkyNet takeover?
(Okay, maybe that last one was a bit dramatic.)
We’re looking at the state of AI in copywriting as it stands now in the summer of 2022. With constant tech innovations, is this just a passing trend, or is AI the future of written content?
How Does AI Copywriting Work?
There are tons of AI copywriting tools on the market right now. Copysmith, Copy AI, Anyword, Jasper, Hypotenuse—there is no shortage of choices, but all these programs work in more or less the same way.
Tell the program what kind of content you’re writing (blog posts, social media captions, CTAs, etc.), input a subject, and let the program work its magic. The program may ask you to select a tone and template to refine your results.
Then the AI generates your copy. Yeah, it’s that easy.
AI works by “learning” from examples. An AI program will “read” thousands of pieces of copywriting, then use these examples to determine what good copywriting looks like. Mimicking the pieces it has read, the program will generate new content. The more pieces the program has read, the better the content it creates.
Technically, that’s how human copywriters learn, too. We read, imitate, and create, but at a much slower rate than a program like Jasper or Copysmith. What takes a human years to learn and hours to practice, AI can do in seconds.
Are Computers Going to Replace Copywriters?
The short answer is no—at least not any time soon.
Current AI copywriting tools cannot do everything a copywriter can. Copywriting is more than spitting out words onto a page. It requires research and creativity, the ability to take existing ideas and transform them into something new and interesting.
Plus, AI lacks a certain je ne sais quoi with language. English is a complicated language with lots of rules and exceptions. In copywriting, it’s sometimes appropriate to break those rules. AI-generated copy often sounds stilted and inhuman—because it is. Human copywriters have creativity, intuition, and imagination to guide them. AI has experience and algorithms, which just aren’t enough.
Even blog posts “written” by AI tools are only partially machine-generated. Most of these blog posts require a significant amount of human help, like this post by Neil Patel. AI wrote 25% of the post, while a copywriter had to do the other 75%.
AI tools are great for generating headlines, CTAs, blog topics, subheadings, and other short-form copywriting. You can use AI to create outlines for your longer pieces of copy, but you’ll probably need to do the bulk of the writing yourself.
Automation can be a handy tool used in conjunction with a human writer. But it’s no replacement for the creativity and nuance of a person.
The Turing Test
Ever heard of the Turing Test? Or maybe you watched The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch. Mathematician Alan Turing proposed a test to determine whether computers could “think.”
The gist of the Turing Test is this: if a human and a machine answer the same questions, can a human blindly judge which answers come from the machine? If the machine’s answers are indistinguishable from the human’s, the machine has sentience.
Right now, AI copywriting tools do not pass the Turing Test. AI-generated copy almost always needs a human touch to be comprehensible.
This shortcoming isn’t limited to AI copywriters. Most language-generating computer programs cannot pass as humans. Remember those computer-generated sonnets? When presented to a panel of experts alongside poems written by humans, the judges picked out the AI sonnets every time.
Your audience wants to read stories from a person, not a machine. They want insight, emotion, and care. If you send your audience AI-generated copy without editing it or adding to it, you might confuse or even alienate your readers. You may save time on writing, but you’ll lose money in the long run.
When Should You Use AI for Copywriting?
We’ve established that AI is no substitute for a human copywriter, but it has its uses. Here are some situations where an AI copywriting tool can benefit your business:
- Blog post ideas and outlines. Some people find brainstorming and outlining to be the hardest part of blogging. If you’re struggling to come up with topics for your blog, you can use an AI tool to generate titles, subheadings, and outlines.
- Headlines and CTAs. Struggling to think of the perfect words to entice readers to open an envelope? Can’t come up with a compelling CTA on a landing page? AI tools can generate dozens of headlines and snappy phrases in seconds. Not all of these phrases will be winners, but you’ll probably find several usable ones.
- Email subject lines. Good subject lines are incredibly important for successful email marketing, but it can be difficult to think of creative ones for every single email. Let AI generate a long list of subject lines, and you can choose the ones you like.
You can also use AI copywriting tools for blog posts and web content, but be careful. You should never post AI-generated content without proofreading it first. If you’re not confident in your own proofreading skills, use a program like Grammarly to check for grammatical errors. Grammarly, like all AI, isn’t perfect, but it is a handy, time-saving tool for the untrained copy editor.
AI isn’t out to get the Sigl copywriters (phew!). At least not in 2022. With the ever-changing landscape of tech, AI copywriting could improve dramatically, but it will be some time before computers are ready to fully replace human writers. For now, AI is a great tool for brainstorming blog posts, subject lines, and headlines, but leave the long-form copy to humans.
Maybe you considered using AI for copywriting to save time, but you’re unimpressed with how much extra work it requires. Schedule a call with Sigl Creative. Our (human) copywriters will find the perfect words to tell your business’s story.