The role of human copywriters in a world of machines

Rise of the Robots

It started in manufacturing. And now the robots and their white collar counterpart, Artificial Intelligence (AI), are gaining a firm foothold in the marketing and communication industry. From copywriting to conversing on the phone, AI is making its presence felt in places most of us never envisioned. Getting jobs done at lighting speed for a fraction of a human wage. Which possibly makes you wonder whether you still need a human copywriter?

Well, that depends on what you want to achieve. If your audience are just numbers to you, and they don’t mind being treated as such, then maybe the machines are the way to go. But if you know your success depends on genuine connections, then keep your humans close at hand.

Volume vs substance

AI can churn out algorithm-friendly online advertising campaigns that deliver an abundance of clicks. It can save plenty of time composing standard communications and product descriptions. It can help you add reams of SEO content to your website. But AI doesn’t know how to really stimulate our minds. Even though it’s a bit more familiar with our online behavioural patterns than some of us feel comfortable with.

In the quest to delight the latest search engine algorithm, AI will beat humans hands down. Delighting the human audience, however, is another matter. That calls for the marriage of originality and substance only a human copywriter will come up with. Which is an interesting paradox, because the whole point of these algorithms is supposedly to give humans what they want.

Pointless exposure?

Keeping the machines happy, through impeccable use of keywords and non-human rules about what makes a sentence “readable”, will have them slavering to present your content. But if your human customer fails to be inspired when they read it, what have you actually achieved?

If your offering is very simple – e. g. you’re selling a straightforward proposition for a fantastically low price – the cash registers may well be ringing. But if sales depend on humans finding a deeper connection, your reward may be little more than the sense of smugness that comes from upping the click-throughs to your website. There are no prizes for force-feeding the web with yet more empty calories.

Sure. You’ll get more clicks, more visibility and better rankings. More potential to convert to sales. But where does that leave you when all your competitors deploy the same tactics? How can you win the numbers game and distinguish yourself when everybody has AI in their arsenal?

Interestingly, the one piece of SEO copywriting advice which has stood the test of time is “Write for humans, not for machines.” In other words, make human engagement your priority. Remember who your target audience is, who’s making the purchase decisions, and what really drives them. Until that day comes when the machines are in charge of the purse strings. Then we can all clear our desks.

Humans will be humans

To repeat myself. And risk being penalised by the machines. You need to remember who your target audience is. Humans have personalities. They have life experiences. They want to be entertained. They want to be inspired. They want to be part of the tribe, while being valued as individuals. In essence, they want to feel human.

In copywriting terms, this translates into demonstrating empathy and reasoning. It means inspiring your audience with fresh ideas, surprising them with unexpected twists and challenging them with personal opinions. Via enthralling content and presentation that’s infused with nuances of humour, cultural references and inventive language. Aspects that only a human copywriter can deliver.

Do you think a machine could have created this article?

Vive la difference

The machines have their uses. But discard humans at your peril. Without human creativity we’ll eventually find ourselves in a world of homogenised perfection. And then how will you gain competitive edge?