If you’ve been in the marketing space for a while, it might seem like AI is taking over. From chatbots to virtual assistants, there are so many ways that technology is changing how we do business.
03:22 – Feedback from a research perspective. Will gives his input on where we are and what’s ahead.
07:33 – The most basic level of at which people copywrite. These are the people most likely to be replaced by AI.
09:35 – When you realize writing copy is about thinking. The tools may be getting there pretty soon.
11:16 – You’re thinking more like a copywriter. Is AI of any use to advanced writers?
15:08 – Are you a master at the craft? At this level, the tools are more likely a distraction.
17:53 – Recap and conclusions. Will and James offer their verdict on the usefulness of AI.
Previous guests have already established that AI is a thing in online marketing. They’ve talked about it with regard to SEO and with paid traffic. And today James and Will discuss AI as it affects sales copywriting.
James has heard and read plenty about the increasing power of the tools, and his team actually use one for pre-work and research. He’s interested, however, in hearing from someone for whom copywriting is bread and butter. Growth Labz is a marketing agency, helping people with email, campaigns, funnel, paid traffic, and the like. And at the core of that is words.
So has AI taken over just yet? Or is there still some human factor involved?
It’s an interesting discussion, says Will. He definitely thinks AI will be up and coming, and there are places it will be good for.
“AI, the more data it gets, the more you feed the machine, the smarter it gets.”
The more you feed the machine, the smarter it gets. So this, thinks Will, will be a very different conversation in five years’ time. What’s interesting now is where it is, the right applications for it, who should be using it, who shouldn’t. And will copywriters like him be out of a job soon?
James doesn’t think the tools could replace humans just yet. In his own experience, when using one, he still relies largely on his copywriting muscle, what he knows from long exposure to copy, writing things down for a basic level and then using judgement factors like context. But he wonders if Will thinks differently.
Feedback from a research perspective
Will thinks there’s different levels. He’s currently using the tools more from a research perspective, to know what’s coming ahead that might, years down the track, derail the business.
His view at the moment is that the tools are okay for idea generation. They’ve tested the effectiveness of many different platforms, and not one has returned output that they could place in the market without changing and testing.
So Will thinks we’re at the very beginning. He doesn’t feel the tools are as good as their sellers make them out to be. And he has his own set views on what level of copywriting the tools will replace, and how quickly they’ll do that.
James thinks it takes an experienced person to see the output and tell good material from rubbish. In his own business, they have access to a tool, which they feed keywords and ideas to generate a sort of base for the final copy, which his team writes. The proposed end material goes into an approval channel in Slack, where James himself looks over it and makes tweaks if necessary.
As mentioned in a previous episode with Trevor “Toecracker” Crook, a change as minute as adding an S or changing the context can vastly multiply the converting power of a headline. And James has always said, one of the biggest challenges we have when we’re online is finding an offer that converts, to which copywriting is core.
In terms of replacing copywriters, says Will, he views copywriting as four different levels, two of which can quite easily be replaced by current tools.
But he also feels the two remaining levels offer a kind of finesse, a subtlety that you just miss with tools. Yes, software is getting smarter, you can have better tools, but it’s always going to need some level of polish. This is especially true in a competitive market space, where you’ve got rivals with bigger budgets, or who have been a brand for longer.
The best way to discuss the topic, Will and James decide, is to go over the four levels, look at cases where the tools could be used, and talk about where they could be effective in the next year to two years, as well as where they might replace levels of copywriters in time.
4 Levels of copywriting
1. Entry level copywriters
The first and most basic class are the entry level copywriters. They’re either just starting out, or copywriting isn’t their full-time profession or passion. It’s a way of making money on the side.
This, thinks Will, will be the first group to be replaced by software. The tools available now are smart enough to take very direct headlines and very simple-to-write headlines and spit out what you need.
Obviously, there’s still a little bit of context in terms of what you’re promoting. But for most local businesses, or people in markets where competition is low, who would normally use these entry level copywriters, an AI writer could actually be a good alternative for them.
Basically, says James, if you’re starting out or you’re an entry level copywriter, the tool will get you to a minimum standard that’s better than if you have no comprehension whatsoever.
2. Amateur copywriters
Stage two, says Will, is where copywriters have gotten some experience. This is when they start realizing that to copywrite isn’t just to type words into a page, it’s about the thinking process.
People at this level generally hit the mark about 50 percent of the time. They need a little less direction from clients; they can think through some of the copy themselves. But they’re still very reliant on templates and frameworks and other direction externally to help them craft the copy.
This is a level some tools might start reaching soon, maybe in the next 12 to 24 months.
James would say that’s where his team started. They were sort of amateur, getting an awareness of copywriting based on what they were doing. Then they moved to the next stage, stage three.
Stage three for Will is where you’ve got good experience under your belt. You’ve really tapped into the mindset of a copywriter. The one biggest takeaway for the writers Will trains is, copywriting is literally a thinking process. Can you think better than the next person? If you can, you’re going to be a better copywriter.
Advanced copywriters start really thinking about, how do we weave in emotion, how do we weave in the story, how do we capture people’s attention and hold it? And ultimately, where do we want people to go? They understand there’s a flow and a reason behind the copy.
They might not have a lot of finesse or subtlety or the emotional pull that a master copywriter would have. But they at least understand that you’ve got to start from looking at the customer’s perspective. You’ve got to build a narrative, take them along with you, and ultimately get them to take some kind of action.
It would be very hard, observes James, for a robot to pick up on a business’s core narrative. And how could it process emotion? As a copywriter, it wouldn’t know the stories, and wouldn’t be as vulnerable, or have those little sensitivities that show that the writer is human.
An advanced copywriter can likely beat the tool, and would be using it for pre-work or getting ideas, just to not have to start with a blank screen.
“The tools just aren’t quite there yet.”
Will tested a tool recently, plugging a podcast transcription in to create an article. The result wasn’t something he’d put his name to. There’s a lot of context the tools have yet to learn, and that’s where a human copy editor is needed. The tools just aren’t quite there yet.
4. Master copywriters
Number four, says Will, would be the top 10 percent of copywriters. This is where copy takes a combination of understanding, not just technically how to write copy, but understanding business, understanding of human psychology, understanding of markets and economics, and a really deep level understanding of what makes people tick.
For lack of a better phrase, master copywriters, Will says, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” They can be soft where needed, and they can really hammer the right points where necessary. And software, he thinks, is still a long way off from that.
Will gives as example a recent client whose service helps people whose houses are about to be repossessed. He tested the copywriting software, plugged all his thoughts around the product into the tool, and got a result that was very aggressive: Are you about to lose your house? Well, you need to take action now, because if you don’t…
Emotionally, says Will, these customers didn’t need extra hammering, and the software didn’t pick up on that. Leveraging somebody else’s story and hitting the right emotional points without overdoing it is something so hard for a machine to comprehend. Will it ever get to that point? Will doesn’t know. But he doesn’t see it happening in the next five or 10 years.
Recap and conclusions
So for entry level and amateur copywriters, James concludes, a tool could be quite useful. As soon as you bridge into advanced and master copywriting, it’s really just something to give you ideas or creative inspiration, or to generate something rough that you can tune up and polish.
Yeah, says Will. He thinks, if you look at it from a copywriter’s perspective, it’s a double-edged sword. It can be useful, but it can also be quite dangerous if you’re not at the right level, where it can easily replace you.
To summarize from a business owner’s point of view, it can be a really good thing to have if you know what output you’re expecting, or if you’re good enough to understand the result that the software gives you. Otherwise, it can be really damaging to your brand and quite dangerous as well.
So basically, says James, if you’re an entry level number one, AI generated copy will probably be better than what you can come up with by yourself. As you get into amateur level, you’ve got to be careful not to let it overpower you. And once you get into advanced and master stages, then you still have all the power, and the tool is good for creative ideas.
It will be interesting to review this episode in time. For now, this is Episode 844, and our guest is Will Wang. James can’t say enough about Will’s marketing talents. If you have a serious business and need help with a project – emails, copywriting, paid traffic, funnels – get hold of him at growthlabz.com.
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