05th Dec, 2019

How AI Improves Copywriting

Here’s an Amazon product description for hair gel gone awry:

“It is of moving rubber hair wax. With a resilient finish as many times as can move. Representing the air lift the hair soft, tender, and springy.”

Funny? Yes. What the brand intended? Definitely not.

Despite outdated examples such as the above, AI copywriting solutions can now produce compelling on-brand copy that outperforms what human copywriters alone can produce. While examples like this provide headline fodder for tabloids and clickbait for digital news, they were never the state of the art of AI for copywriting. Worse, they provide a distorted and inaccurate view of what is currently possible.

The technology works by analyzing enormous volumes of sample text to pinpoint patterns in word choice, syntax, and narrative themes. It then defines rules around them. Language-generating AI like Persado’s goes further to identify specific words, phrases, punctuation, formatting choices, and narrative elements that perform better than control copy.

Learn More: AI in Marketing: Benefits, Use Cases, and Examples

When a brand uses AI for copywriting, the technology leverages what it knows about natural language, a brand’s voice, and successful campaigns. The resulting AI-generated messages can push the brand into new areas that outperform the status quo and deliver real business impact. JPMorgan Chase saw that first-hand in a recent campaign:

The technology gets better and more advanced every day. “When there is a sufficient corpus of information available, you get strong output,” says Kat Dessenon, Head of Campaign Management for Persado. Experiments continue to improve AI language generation, from efforts to use AI to produce science fiction stories to the folks at The Next Web using AI to produce daily articles about bitcoin.

How do brands deliver business impact by adopting AI for copywriting? The following benefits are already delivering value to marketing.

AI for copywriting empowers human copywriters to do more high-quality work

It takes a lot of copywriting to deliver effective, on-brand messages across multiple channels. Email, websites, search, social media, video streaming… Each channel demands a different format and adjustments to length and tone, while staying consistent with the brand message and approved language.

AI for copywriting can take over some of the more mundane and repetitive tasks of crafting messages.

  • Does the brand have style standards all messages must follow? An AI system can check messages to ensure compliance.
  • Does the brand have “do not use” words that should never appear in its marketing messages? AI for copywriting can identify and swap them for preferred language.
  • Does the brand have a lowercase first letter in its name? The AI can catch when a copywriter adds a capital.

A number of simple AI apps from the consumer tech space offer useful reference points. Grammarly, a simple plug-in, catches grammar mistakes, misspellings, and bad usage before writers publish that critical email. The Just Not Sorry Chrome extension flags words and phrases that make the writer sound weak or lacking credibility.

“Will these tools write the email for you?” asks Kat Dessenon. “No. But they will improve the quality of your work. AI can be used as a tool to strengthen writing. It can make writers more aware of quirks, and help avoid clichés or even suggest keywords that readers will respond to.”

AI gives copywriters superpowers

A tale of two headlines showcases the power of AI for copywriting to empower creative professionals to do their best work. Imagine that two retailers want to increase sales of summer dresses. A copywriter at one of the retailers updates last year’s top-performing headline with, “All dresses 25% off this week only.” This headline will probably generate performance spikes on account of the discount. It’s indistinguishable, however, from every other brand trying to sell summer dresses.

A copywriter at the second retailer instead conducts a machine learning experiment to mine thousands of headlines and identify the high performers. That exercise reveals that the concept of “prestige” and being at the “center of attention” motivates customers to buy. With that insight, she writes the headline “Own the room. Summer styles are here.”

The second headline leveraged customer-centric insights that resonate with actual customers to activate the brand in a meaningful way.

That’s the superpower of using AI for copywriting.

Dessenon continues, “At Persado, we use AI to help automate some aspects of content creation to increase efficiency, which allows my team to focus on more strategic tasks that require human judgment. This is one of the biggest benefits to businesses. Its purpose is not to replace the human workforce but to free up their time for work that computers can’t yet do on our behalf.”

AI’s ability to improve copywriting quality at scale and to capture untapped opportunity will only grow over time. But no matter the size of the organization and the amount of data used to train the algorithms, copywriting excellence should maintain a human touch. “Do your research into the quality of the output of any AI tool you are using,” urges Dessenon. “Get sample output so you can make sure the value is there.”

In other words, don’t let the air lift the hair soft.


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