For many people, the phrase artificial intelligence (AI) still belongs to the realm of science fiction. The term often conjures images of fantastical characters like RoboCop or Iron Man’s J.A.R.V.I.S., but AI is not some illusory technology of a far distant future or a parallel universe.
In fact, AI is everywhere — from your Alexa device to the spam filter in your email inbox. And as for those more advanced AI technologies you’ve seen on the big screen? They’re closer on the horizon than you might think.
The world of marketing has not been immune to this AI revolution. According to a 2021 study by the MarTech Alliance, 64% of B2B marketers considered AI to be an integral part of their sales and marketing strategies. One of the newest ways brands are leveraging AI to gain a competitive edge is through the use of AI copywriting bots.
But what exactly are AI copywriting bots? And will they ever replace real copywriters? In this blog post, we’ll explore:
- What AI copywriting is and how it’s being used by marketers today
- How an AI copywriting bot stacked up against one of our own (human) writers
- Alternative AI marketing tools to help optimize your business
What is AI copywriting?
AI copywriting uses a technique called natural language processing to mimic the linguistic patterns of human language. Developers train AI copywriting bots on massive data sets of written text, which help them learn and navigate the language in much the same way humans do. Based on the patterns uncovered in their dataset, the bots can then craft new, original copy.
Rather than developing their own language prediction models from scratch, most commercial AI copywriting tools use existing language prediction models such as GPT-3. The job of these commercial tools is to provide an intuitive user interface allowing everyday content creators to unlock the potential of AI technology.
How does AI copywriting technology work?
AI copywriters are not smart enough to know what you need them to write and when — at least not yet. Instead, AI copywriting tools rely on the user to input certain parameters about the content they want the bot to create.
Once you’ve provided your bot with these parameters, it identifies and analyzes similar content from across the web and shuffles it around to craft its own take on the subject. The more high-quality and specific directions you provide the AI copywriter, the more high-quality and specific the final copy will be. But more on that later.
How is AI used in digital content publishing?
AI copywriting tools claim to be able to automate the most time- and resource-intensive creative tasks. To gain a competitive edge, content creators and marketers are constantly seeking new ways to leverage AI in digital content publishing.
The most popular AI copywriting tools on the market purport to do everything from crafting quippy social media captions to drafting long-form, SEO-optimized blog posts. Programs like Jasper.ai (formerly known as Jarvis.ai, until Marvel accused the company of treading on Tony Stark’s toes) offer users AI copywriting solutions for more than 50 unique use cases. With promises like writing copy five times faster than humans and boosting conversion rates by up to 30%, it’s easy to see why so many marketers find AI copywriters alluring.
But it begs the question…
Will AI replace copywriters?
The Lightning Media Partners team specializes in producing high-volume, high-quality content for digital publishers. Naturally, like most writers who make a living crafting original and creative copy, we were intrigued by the proposition robots could be coming for our jobs. To find out for ourselves what AI copywriters mean for the future of digital publishing — and our 401(k)s — we challenged an AI copywriting tool to go head-to-head with one of our own writers. (Spoiler alert: we don’t anticipate updating our resumes anytime soon.)
Putting AI copywriting to the test
We don’t mean to brag, but there’s a reason digital publishers trust us as their one-stop content marketing agency. If an AI copywriting bot was going to stand a fighting chance against our tried and true editorial process, we were confident it would need to be the best of the best.
We experimented with several different AI copywriting tools before settling on a contender for the final showdown. The candidates ranged from bots generating entire blogs in a single click, like Ai-Writer, to bots that guided the writing process at a much more granular level, like Anyword.
Ultimately, we settled on Jasper.ai. Not only is Jasper one of the leading AI copywriting tools on the market, but we were most impressed by the quality of copy it generated in our preliminary tests. We were looking for a fair fight, after all.
Jasper also comes with a robust menu of features, giving us the most flexibility in attempting to generate an article that could rival one of our own. In the end, we threw our champion, an article on SEO audits, into the ring and gave Jasper three attempts to write a knockout article:
- We gave Jasper an outline for our article and asked it to fill in the blanks.
- We gave Jasper the introduction to our article and let it do the rest.
- We gave Jasper a suggested title, description, and target keyword for the article and let it take the reins.
Here’s what we found.
What AI copywriting gets right
AI copywriting tools on the market today make some pretty lofty promises about the time and money they save content creators — but can they deliver? Despite our skepticism, we discovered there are a few things AI copywriters do well.
Simulating human language
We’ll admit it: we expected the copy written by Jasper to feel choppy, awkward, and, well, robotic. But most of the sentences Jasper wrote sounded surprisingly human. In some cases, they even sounded like they were written by one of our own writers. Take a look at the following sentences:
Sentence A: “Think of an SEO audit like a health report for your website.”
Sentence B: “Think of an SEO audit like a safety inspection for your car.”
Jasper wrote Sentence A. Our writer wrote Sentence B. The construction of both sentences is identical.
More often than not, the bot’s writing was indistinguishable from that of a real copywriter. While Jasper lacks a distinctly human advantage in other areas, crafting coherent and grammatical sentences is usually not one of them.
Producing high-volume content
Another area where Jasper excels? Speed. AI copywriting bots are fast. They’re able to churn out hundreds of words in mere seconds at the click of a button. With the average human typing speed hovering around 40 words per minute, real copywriters could never keep pace with Jasper — even if they were typing complete gibberish.
Related article: Good Reasons to Publish More Content on Your Website
Jasper’s promise to help “speed up your content pipeline” by producing content up to five times faster is one of its biggest selling points. Faster copywriting enables digital publishers to produce content at a much higher volume, opening the door to all the potential business benefits of scaling your content output.
So what’s the catch?
What AI copywriting can’t do
Investing in a robot that can emulate human language while writing articles in a fraction of the time might seem like a no-brainer. But for all its promise, we found there were still a few key things Jasper simply couldn’t do.
Logically structure content
Jasper may be able to convincingly mimic human language at the sentence level, but the more you ask it to write, the more the bot struggles to coherently organize its thoughts.
When given only a title, description, and target keyword for a blog post, Jasper returned a thin, structureless skeleton of an article. At only 300 words, Jasper’s attempt was roughly one-fifth the length of the blog it was attempting to rival. The format of Jasper’s article — three densely-packed paragraphs without any subheadings or other structural markers — also betrayed how little the bot knew about optimizing digestible content for the web.
Jasper also seemed to have a memory problem during our tests. Here’s a sentence crafted by Jasper from that same article:
“By following the steps outlined above, you can create a successful SEO audit that will help improve your website’s search engine ranking and bring more traffic to your website.”
On its own, this is a perfectly fine sentence for the conclusion of an article about conducting an SEO audit. There’s only one problem: the “steps outlined above” Jasper mentions? They don’t exist anywhere in the article. Jasper didn’t realize it was referencing steps that it had never provided.
Even when we gave Jasper our own outline to work with, the bot struggled to structure its writing in any kind of logical order. It often felt like Jasper was trying to race to the finish line while ignoring the overall vision of the article. We frequently had to “babysit” our bot, deleting conclusion sentences or CTAs that came too early in the piece.
And though Jasper was not immune to these struggles with structure and continuity, many of the other AI copywriting tools we tested fared even worse. An article drafted by Anyword reassured readers it would explain Google Search Console “below” but never got around to it. A different article from Ai-Writer began four paragraphs in a row by providing a definition of an SEO audit, seemingly unaware it had already done so.
The longer an article we asked the bots to write, the more disjointed and redundant the article was. It often felt like Jasper wiped its memory after each sentence or paragraph, writing each new section without acknowledging what came before or what it planned to do next. This can be a real problem, as longer blog posts are better for a site’s search engine ranking.
When comparing the final results, our AI copywriters wrote hundreds of words but felt like they had very little to say.
Be truly original
AI copywriting bots like Jasper work by studying and replicating content that already exists. While this is what enables them to convincingly mimic human speech patterns, it’s also what prevents them from creating anything truly original.
Does that mean AI-written content is plagiarized? No. We ran everything Jasper wrote for us through a plagiarism checker and found no issues. But while AI bots can create copy that is technically unique, it will still sound like every other article on the same topic.
Why? Because bots lack the element of human creativity. Reading a sentence written by Jasper felt like déja vu — we’d seen it before. In fact, sometimes we’d seen it in another article that we asked Jasper to write. Consider these two sentences:
Sentence C: “This is because what works today may not work tomorrow and what worked last month might be outdated now.”
Sentence D: “Keep in mind that SEO is an ongoing process and what works today might not work tomorrow.”
Jasper wrote both sentences in completely isolated environments. Two out of the three times we asked our AI copywriting bot to discuss the importance of SEO audits, it produced strikingly similar sentences.
Does that mean these sentences are bad? Not necessarily. A quick Google search reveals this exact phrasing is littered throughout many well-performing articles on the same subject, which is likely what inspired Jasper in the first place.
But a successful content marketing strategy requires innovation, not imitation.
And that’s where Jasper misses the mark. Jasper can’t write content that stands out from the crowd because it’s too busy trying to emulate it. Creating groundbreaking, original content that inspires your audience and captures your unique brand voice is still something only a human can do.
Save you time
Jasper’s ability to produce high-volume content could save content creators countless hours if the content it created was also high-quality. But in the time we spent with Jasper, we found using an AI copywriter to craft an article that was up to our standards took longer than it would for our (fully human) editorial team.
Yes, Jasper can write hundreds of words at lightning speed. But Jasper doesn’t create a polished final product that’s ready to go live on your website. While the AI copywriter might have helped us get words on the page more quickly, our team spent much longer reworking and revising the draft in order to make it publication-ready.
As we already mentioned, Jasper required considerable guidance to draft long-form content that was both coherent and consistent. To the tool’s credit, the AI copywriter includes a feature-rich text editor that makes revising the bot’s copy intuitive. But just because editing Jasper’s work is straightforward doesn’t mean it’s fast — especially when you find yourself needing to help the bot course correct as often as every other sentence.
In addition to structural issues, here are some of the most common items we found ourselves fixing for Jasper:
- Incorrect or outdated information. The internet contains plenty of inaccurate information, all of which is fair game to an AI copywriting bot. For example, Jasper referenced Google Webmaster Tools in one of the articles it wrote for us, seemingly unaware the product rebranded to Google Search Console nearly seven years ago.
- Keyword optimization. Jasper allows you to indicate what keyword(s) you want to target in your copy. But in our experiments, the bot seemed unsure how to incorporate keywords naturally. In one case, Jasper forgot to include the target keyword entirely. Of course, even if Jasper were an SEO copywriting expert, you would still need to take the time to do your own keyword research.
- Awkward phrasing and grammatical errors. Sometimes, Jasper omitted a necessary word, for example, writing “one page another” when it should have written “one page to another.” Other times, Jasper seemed to use the wrong words entirely, as when it asked “When should I hire an SEO audit?” And every once in a while, Jasper would confuse us completely, as when it told our readers their site needed to have “H tags (like H).”
In the end, our editorial team spent as much time guiding Jasper through the writing process and revising the finished draft as we did crafting the original article from scratch. And after refining the blog Jasper had written, it still never managed to capture the brand voice and vision of its rival.
Jasper impressed us with its ability to craft sentences that sounded authentically human. But when Jasper attempted to string those sentences into more cohesive, long-form content, the quality of its output significantly decreased.
AI copywriting bots might be a good solution for overwhelmed content creators who need to fire off a quick product description or social media caption. But when it comes to building the kind of creative, search-engine-optimized, long-form content brands need to elevate their content marketing?
Let’s just say we won’t be joining the AI revolution anytime soon.
Alternative AI marketing solutions
Some creative jobs simply require a human touch. But there are plenty of other marketing tasks where you can still leverage AI to improve your organization’s efficiency.
Many organizations are using AI-powered marketing analytics software to automate the process of measuring and reporting campaign performance. By using machine learning to make sense of large amounts of information, AI tools can save marketing teams countless hours of sifting through and cleaning up data. Marketing teams can then reallocate those resources to tasks requiring more human nuance, like content creation.
While AI tools might not be advanced enough to create compelling, long-form content that converts, there is still a role for AI in digital content publishing. Instead of risking your publishing strategy with lackluster, AI-generated content, consider adopting AI tools to optimize these other marketing tasks.
Related article: 7 Reasons to Hire a Content Marketing Agency
Social media management
Many social media management tools today already include AI-powered features to help marketers optimize their social media strategies. But if you’re not taking advantage of these tools, you’re missing out on valuable insights to help boost engagement and streamline your workflow.
Wondering what time of day to share your post on LinkedIn or which hashtags to use? Platforms like Hootsuite and Loomly use AI to help take the guesswork out, analyzing data from global trends and your own account performance to deliver real-time insights about when, where, and what to post. Other tools, like Missinglettr, will even curate social posts for you, using AI to identify your brand’s most promising content and automatically integrating it into your content mix.
Instead of spending hours researching social trends, analyzing your account metrics, and manually scheduling posts, let AI do it for you. By tackling these more routine marketing tasks, AI can free up your schedule and optimize your social media performance at the same time.
Related article: Tips to Help You Manage Your Business’s Social Media
If you’re investing in paid advertising, your ads need to be optimized for the greatest ROI possible. Luckily, most major ad platforms today include AI-powered tools to help you do just that.
Programs like Google Ads constantly monitor campaign performance in order to maximize your advertising budget. Many of these AI-powered tools use automated bidding strategies, measuring the data they collect against your campaign goals to automatically set bids and target the high-intent audiences most likely to generate conversions. In addition to optimizing your ad spend, you can also use AI to create responsive search ads that automatically tailor your paid ad copy to each customer’s search.
Using AI to automate tasks like bidding automation, budget control, and demographic targeting can save you time and money on your paid advertising strategy and enable you to allocate those resources to other projects.
Brand reputation management
Brand reputation management begins with delivering an excellent customer experience. AI can help you conduct valuable market research and use those insights to tailor your offerings to the wants and needs of your target audience.
Social listening tools like Falcon.io and Linkfluence use AI to tap into consumer conversations across the web and give your team actionable insights from your target audience and industry competitors in real-time. Other tools, such as chatbots like IntelliTicks, use AI to interface with customers directly. Using natural language processing, they quickly and coherently provide answers to frequently asked questions and improve the overall customer experience.
These AI-powered tools can’t run your company for you, but they can make it easier to tune into your audience and design an optimal brand experience.
An outstanding customer experience begins with delivering outstanding content. Our editorial team specializes in creating original branded content designed to captivate your audience and drive conversions — and unlike robots, we never need a tune-up. Contact us today to learn how Lightning Media Partners can help you scale your content creation without sacrificing quality.