Copywriters, here's the TL;DR: ChatGPT isn't coming for your jobs. But it is changing them. Quickly.
When most non-marketers talk about ChatGPT and other AI-generated content platforms, they immediately assume the same thing they do about automation as a whole: that it will replace everyone’s jobs.
McKinsey predicts that 45 million Americans will lose their jobs to automation by 2030, and many other reputable research firms publish research with similar findings.
Although mainstream, the fear of robot-driven mass unemployment is often exaggerated. ChatGPT—a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that can generate content from inputted data—won’t replace copywriters.
It will, however, shift their job roles.
This article looks closely at ChatGPT, its limitations, and how to make your content stand out from the growing crowd of boring, monotonous, AI-generated pieces.
What Is AI Copywriting, and How Does It Work?
AI copywriting technology generates content based on user input. It uses natural language processing (NLP) and neural networks to produce content that mimics human writing.
ChatGPT—the OpenAI-backed Elon Musk affiliate—is the most recent and popular iteration. Although marketers have been using tools like these for years, business owners are now beginning to take note.
ChatGPT gets its name from its two primary features: Chat and GPT-4 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer).
The latter is a powerful language model that can produce human-like writing when given inputted data.
The former is, well, chat.
Put simply, it works like this:
- The user creates the prompt based on their desired output
- They hit “Enter”
- The GPT-4 algorithm then produces content from the data given
For example, if you provide it with the words “content creation,” it could generate a written piece about how to create blog content.
The Limitations of GPT-4
On its own, ChatGPT seems like a copywriter’s worst nightmare. After all, why pay for a human when you can get an AI to do it?
But watching a text generator write a blog and thinking, “this is definitely the future,” is akin to thinking, “this car has four wheels, so it must be a Lamborghini.”
Copywriting is a complex craft, and there are certain tasks that AI simply cannot do as well as humans—yet.
Limited grammar and vocabulary range.
GPT-4 generators write with a limited grammar range and vocabulary, meaning they may not be able to convey complex concepts in an ideal manner.
Asking an AI chat generator to talk about Ox Media gave us a general overview of our services. Although the lack of context in the prompt yields non-factual results (another limitation), that isn’t exactly the point here.
The main issue here is that the vocabulary repeats itself. Starting two sentences in a row with “Ox Media” and using “AI technologies” twice are two examples of how AI struggles with variation in language, something a human copywriter could easily avoid.
Lack of understanding of customer psychology
ChatGPT won’t sit down with your company and think through customer engagement tactics—and that’s a key part of copywriting.
Where a copywriter can look at sales and marketing data to craft language that speaks to customer emotions, ChatGPT relies on the data it is given to generate content.
It cannot organically think of ways that your words can really grab readers’ attention and take them on a journey. It simply regurgitates what you put in.
The need to produce output at all costs
When you hit “Enter,” GPT-4 generators are designed to write something, regardless of its relevance or quality. This means that the content generated may not be relevant to your target audience—or even make sense. Especially when it comes to dates, your content definitely requires a double-check for accuracy.
These statistics, for example, are helpful for guidance on where to look and how to interpret data for your article, but they aren’t at all that helpful or relevant. The September 2021 data cutoff renders most of what is written here useless.
That said, copy/pasting these stats into Google will usually turn up relevant studies from these sources, which you can use in your content.
Phrase usage makes it detectable as non-human
In their quest to detect machine-generated content, researchers have discovered certain patterns that can reveal its unnatural sound. One of these characteristics is the lack of idioms—phrases or sayings with a figurative meaning attached to them (e.g., “every cloud has a silver lining”).
Instead of using descriptive language that shows its use cases, this AI-generated paragraph describes natural language processing and semantic analysis as “options” rather than fundamental components of the software. This immediately indicates a lack of human touch to readers.
Now, your readers probably aren’t copy/pasting your content into an AI detector to check its authenticity. But the lack of idioms, dynamic phraseology, and context can still make it read unnaturally and—in the case of copywriting—less persuasive.
Copywriting is a science of subliminal messaging. Your readers may not necessarily be cognizant of these shortcomings. They just won’t convert.
Wordiness makes content less impactful
A January 2023 research paper uncovered patterns in ChatGPT content that deem it unsuitable for applications involving critical or sensitive information. Titled “How Close is ChatGPT to Human Experts? Comparison Corpus, Evaluation, and Detection,” the study lends insight into how far this technology has come—and how much further it needs to go before being considered safe for use with confidential data.
Astonishingly, in response to queries posed about finances and psychology, more than half of the people surveyed opted for responses from ChatGPT. But when it came to medical questions, respondents overwhelmingly favored straightforward answers—something AI couldn’t do.
We tried this out ourselves, asking how many times per day to brush your teeth.
The answer we all know (“twice per day”) is three words long. But it returns a paragraph every time.
How to Make Your Content Stand Out
Yes, ChatGPT can generate content quickly. But the reality of using AI-powered tools for copywriting is far more nuanced than that.
Google’s John Mueller said it best: “You don’t need AI to write bad content.”
You still need to have an understanding of the nuances of language, SEO best practices, and audience targeting. You need to recognize when the output of ChatGPT is working and when it isn’t.
Here are some tips for leveraging the power of AI writing tools without sacrificing your job security:
Think of it as a time-saving assistant
Your goal should be to find ways to use AI-powered tools to be more efficient and generate better content. Use ChatGPT to generate ideas, research topics, or even draft entire pieces of copy.
There are several time-consuming tasks writers can easily delegate to an AI assistant:
- Outline generation
- Spelling and grammar mistakes
- Content optimization
- Brainstorming anything
- Rewording, paraphrasing, and summarizing text
For example, we can brainstorm topic ideas for more ChatGPT-related content for our copywriter to turn into an awesome piece.
Rather than think about these topics on our own, we just added an extra two hours to our day.
Thoroughly plan your content before diving in
Writing with intention and purpose comes with many benefits. Before giving ChatGPT the reins, you should thoroughly plan every aspect of your content, including its angle, audience, goals, keywords, and CTA.
We asked ChatGPT for an outline for one of the topic ideas it gave us. Although it needs work, it’s a great starting point for a copywriter—one that would have taken us much longer to come up with ourselves.
Focus on content that converts, not content at scale
Web traffic is nothing more than a vanity metric if nobody’s actually handing you their money.
Perhaps it’s because of AI, but many people forget that content is a tool for conversion. It should be written in such a way as to make readers want to do something—whether it’s purchasing a product, signing up for an email list, or engaging with your brand.
For a plethora of businesses (and unfortunately, agencies) we’ve seen, content strategy looks something like this:
- Keyword and topic research on Ahrefs or Semrush only
- Generating a blog in 30 minutes or less using AI copywriting tools
- Optimizing it with a software like SurferSEO and nothing else
- Publishing it and moving on to the next one
Rather than posting 50 top-of-funnel blogs every month with no regard for originality, focus on creating quality content that engages your readers, builds trust with them, and ultimately results in conversions.
Bottom-of-funnel content like comparisons and product how-tos, for example, might not generate much organic traffic. But that doesn’t matter if it leads readers to the ultimate goal: buying from you.
Incorporate your brand knowledge
Use the time ChatGPT saves you on setup and general information to incorporate your brand’s unique point of view. Instead of turning to the same generic copy, use your knowledge to make it stand out.
This can be done in a variety of ways:
- Adding humor or wit to the piece
- Including industry-specific knowledge readers couldn’t find anywhere else
- Including your own experience based on clients or customers
- Diving into the nuances of the topic to bring out a unique angle
Through real insights, tips, research, and humor, their content delivers real value to its readers.
Keep an eye out for quality
AI-generated content should go through the same rigorous editing process as any other copy. Don’t rely on the tool to do all of the heavy lifting. You still need to edit, proofread, and refine its output.
A few things to look out for:
- Repetition: AI content generators tend to reuse the same language. Starting each sentence in a paragraph or blog section with the object (e.g., “ChatGPT”) is a dead giveaway.
- Lack of Originality: GPT-4 software are also likely to produce generic and unoriginal content, especially if they don’t know your niche well. Look for phrases like “it is important to remember” or “the key takeaway here.”
- Unnatural Flow: When reading generated content, look out for awkward phrasing or topics that might seem out of place. For instance, text that doesn’t clearly answer the heading preceding it.
- Brevity: GPT-4 generators usually produce run-on content that masks the true meaning behind it. Introductory sentences like, “keeping an eye out for quality helps businesses ensure that the content they publish is of a high quality,” are unimportant, unhelpful, and redundant.
- Factual Accuracy: Checking if all your dates, statistics, and facts are accurate is the difference between a shareable article and a worthless one. AI will unwaveringly deliver incorrect answers for the sake of returning something. And it isn’t worried about the implications that has for your business.
Put yourself in your reader’s shoes
Think about it this way: When you look for information, how do you do it? And what do you look for?
The vast majority of people skip the body text, and it’s the copywriter’s responsibility to make sure it’s still engaging and helpful.
Put yourself in the reader’s shoes, and ask yourself:
- Is it easy to find the context I need?
- Am I providing adequate detail to answer the questions people are looking for?
- Am I speaking to readers who will actually convert?
- Is my perspective based on my unique professional knowledge?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you’ll need to work to make sure the text is more helpful, persuasive, engaging, and human.
ChatGPT (and other AI-generated content tools) is here to help you get more done in less time, and do it better. It can reduce or eliminate the research, monotonous rephrasing, and other tedious elements of copywriting.
This means copywriters can focus their time on crafting messages with a human touch—the creativity and finesse that only real people can bring to the writing process.
In the end, AI writing tools won’t replace copywriters—but copywriters will need to become AI experts if they want to add value to their clients or respective organizations.