I say it all the time: copywriting AI is a bit like Samuel L. Jackson.
He’s one of the biggest actors in the world right now.
But he wasn’t always. In fact, he was an actor for 20 years before anyone even knew his name.
Then he bursts onto the scene in Pulp Fiction, chowing down burgers and spouting scripture, and suddenly he’s a superstar.
To everyone else, it looks like he’s gone from zero to Hollywood star in 0.6 seconds.
But to everyone in the know, it’s clear he’s been working up to this for a while.
Well, generative AI copywriting tools are the same.
Right now, they’re definitely having a moment. At least since ChatGPT launched and everyone suddenly started paying attention to generative AI and large language models.
But copywriting AI didn’t come out of nowhere.
In fact, at The Creative Copywriter, we’ve had our eyes on AI copywriting tools for a while.
Waiting for the moment that copywriting AI was ready for its big break.
Ready to burst onto the scene – guns blazing, cheeseburger in hand, dropping F-bombs left right, and centre – and turn the copywriting world upside down.
But, unlike a lot of other agencies, we weren’t scared by that.
In fact, we were pretty damn excited.
Because we knew this could be the start of something special.
And boy do we feel smug. Because we were completely right.
The CREATIVE COPYWRITER AI philosophy
As we’ve watched new generative AI tools enter the market (and seen some of them quietly fade into obscurity again), we’ve learnt a lot about the way copywriters and AI can work together.
And it mostly boils down to this.
AI can’t replace copywriters.
(So if you just fired your copywriting team, I’d get them on the phone and start grovelling.)
But it can definitely get rid of some of the non-creative stuff that takes up copywriters’ time.
Making way for more creativity. Spark. Pizazz, if you will.
So that the best copywriters can focus on just … writing great copy.
In other words, AI tools are here to help copywriters create better copy faster.
Right. Now that the whole philosophical bit is out of the way, let’s get down to business.
What can AI copywriting tools do? And what are the best tools on the market right now?
What can AI copywriting tools do?
Lots of the brands flogging AI copywriting tools want you to believe that they can do anything.
But there are some things that generative AI tools do incredibly well.
The copywriters who make the most of AI will know these use cases inside out, and will use them to take their copy to the next level.
AI clears the runway for great ideas
Let’s say I’m a strategic copywriter, and I’m working with a brand that offers a llama-grooming service.
I would normally start by looking up the benefits of llama-grooming.
Sayings about llamas.
Lists of words that rhyme with “llama” (not many, it turns out).
One of the items on one of those lists almost always sparks an idea. Which generates some words. Which eventually turn into a cracking headline, tagline, or turn of phrase.
But pulling together all that info takes time.
Wouldn’t it be better if all those little seeds of ideas were served to me on a silver platter?
That’s where AI tools can cut out all the grunt work, scouring the internet on my behalf to find what I’m looking for.
Or at least, the huge chunk of the internet that was fed into the tool’s data set.
Distilling everything down to a simple, easy-to-digest list. And leaving me with more brainpower to do the actual ideation bit.
AI is amazing at research and summarisation – and it lets you copy all its work
So, we know AI’s talented at uncovering information and then dragging insights out of it.
That talent comes in handy here too.
Remember those smart kids at school? The ones who always finished the homework three days early?
AI is like one of those kids.
And so was I, actually.
I know, I know, you wouldn’t think it now. My vibe is more the kind of kid who skipped lessons and rode a skateboard indoors. But I was actually a big old nerd.
Anyway, back to the AI.
When you need to research a topic, AI can do all the reading, evaluating, and understanding for you. Then it can present you with a neat report of everything you need to know.
It can also take a huge chunk of text and summarise it for you.
Imagine you just got off a call with a client. Instead of frantically looking through the transcript for those juicy valuable sentences, you simply input the transcript into an AI tool. The AI tool summarises the call for you, structures it into bullet points, and even creates a recap email or a blog post outline out of these notes.
Now that’s bananas.
But beware: AI can and does make mistakes just as easily as the smart kids at school. And sometimes it just makes stuff up entirely – that’s called an AI hallucination, and we’ll talk a bit more about that later.
So be careful. Because if you take the answers the AI gives you at face value, you could easily end up with more than a detention and a failing grade to worry about.
AI leaves writer’s block in the dust
When you’re trying to write pure gold, sometimes it helps to see someone else write something that’s pure shit.
AI tools just can’t write copy that’s as original, creative, or inspiring as a human can. Ask it to write you an intro for a blog, or a subject line for an email, or a cool tagline, and you’ll get a bunch of copy that’s just a bit … beige. Or overused, or clichéd – basically, just not good enough.
And honestly, that’s great.
Because it gives you a starting point.
Get some words down on that horrible blank page and start powering through that writer’s block. So you can then start making those words better.
Next time you’re writing a blog, try getting an AI tool to write the introduction for you. Then write the rest of the blog from there. And then go back and rewrite the introduction, now that you’re wonderfully warmed up and raring to go.
AI helps you come up with analogies and examples faster
You’re a copywriter writing some copy.
You’re in the flow, the words are flying from your fingertips, and you’re thinking that you might actually be the greatest writer of all time…
…and then you realise you need an analogy that shows how speedy your llama-grooming service is.
Or you need a simile that really captures the texture of llama fur.
Or you just need an example of a prominent llama-breeding country.
And the whole thing grinds to a halt.
You’re left staring at that blank page again.
Well, that’s where AI tools can come in. Functions like Wordtune’s new “Spices” feature allow you to immediately generate an analogy, an example, or even a joke, and then seamlessly slot it into your copy. So you can keep the flow going, without getting stuck down a cul-de-sac.
The limitations of AI (currently)
So, AI can be a powerful force for good.
But it’s not perfect.
In fact its limitations are bigger than the egos of all those LinkedIn gurus trying to sell you their “10 steps to marketing AI mastery” guides for £7.99.
And if you don’t understand what it can’t do, you’ll get yourself into trouble – and end up buried under a mountain of rubbish copy.
AI has some growing to do
AI copywriting tools – especially large language models like GPT – are still very much in their infancy.
Soon, the tools we’re discussing here will be joined by a horde of others.
And no one can predict what those tools will look like. Or what they’ll be able to do. Not with any certainty anyway – no matter what those LinkedIn “gurus” might be telling you.
You know, the ones who changed their job title to “AI optimiser” the day after ChatGPT launched. The ones spamming your feed with a new carousel about AI prompts every day.
So, instead of getting hyper-focused on what’s happening now, start thinking about the future. If you want to make sure everyone on your team – whether that’s your in-house copywriters, your marketing team, your wider company, or your agency partners – is making the most of AI, you should be:
- Digging into all of the latest AI tools and technology relevant to your field of work, rather than just the big and trendy stuff
- Mapping out the benefits and limitations of each of these different technologies
- Thinking about ways you can reap those benefits and avoid the limitations
- Mapping out current and potential use cases for these technologies and tools
- Starting to plan out how you can work all of the above into value propositions for your business (or, if you’re a lone-wolf copywriter, into new ways of working for you as an individual)
The AI tool that’s going to transform marketing for you and your suppliers might not have been invented yet – and that includes copywriting tools.
So don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
The best thing you can do is keep up with the technology and the market as it evolves.
And work with agencies and partners who want to use the most cutting-edge AI, instead of just picking one tool and sticking with it until the bitter end.
You can’t trust everything AI tells you
AI might seem like it’s cold and calculating.
But sometimes it hallucinates like a hippy at a Grateful Dead concert in 1975.
In other words – despite its confident tone of voice – AI sometimes makes stuff up.
You’ve probably seen the examples online by now. AI chatbots inventing facts, figures, names, and dates.
Or the conversation where Bing’s AI chatbot tried to gaslight a user in early 2023 into believing that it was, in fact, December 2022.
Most AI developers aren’t great at preventing their models from making stuff up yet. GPT-4, for example, has an accuracy rate of 75-80%. Which is definitely not terrible, but also not great.
And even when they’re not making things up, the fact is that your AI tools were still trained on content from the internet, which isn’t exactly infallible when it comes to telling the truth.
If the source material is wrong, the AI might be wrong too.
And if the AI is trained on out-of-date data, you might get out-of-date insights out of it.
ChatGPT, for example, is trained on a vast amount of data pulled from the internet. But it’s data from the internet of September 2021, which means some of the things it tells you are probably going to be out of date. At least until the model is retrained on new data, or is somehow connected directly to the internet and constantly updated and retrained.
So, if you’re going to use AI for research, make sure you take everything with a (pretty big) pinch of salt.
AI reuses content (like, all the time)
AI might be a great tool for enabling creativity, but it’s not really creative. Or original.
In fact, it is incapable of originality. That’s part of it’s DNA (currently).
The more we’ve used AI copywriting tools at TCC, the more repetition we’ve seen. Ask it a similar question, and you’ll get a similar answer. It’s not great at coming up with new ways to approach the same problem – which is kind of what marketing is all about.
And the more answers you see from it, the more formulaic they seem; it uses the same speech patterns, the same arguments, and the same structure for its sentences and paragraphs over and over again.
Basically, it’s not as smart or creative as it looks.
A bit like those LinkedIn gurus we were talking about earlier.
This really means two things.
First, relying too much on AI tools makes it easy to fall into a rut with your copy, recycling jokes, similes, and analogies.
Second, if one of your copywriters and one of your competitor’s copywriters give an AI tool similar prompts and receive similar outputs (which is highly likely), there’s a good chance that the copy they write will end up looking … well, the same.
You can bet your bottom dollar that a few companies are going to mess this up and end up accidentally plagiarising a competitor’s content in the next few years.
AI will level the playing field
AI is a differentiator for now. But once everyone has advanced AI copywriting tools, the playing field will quickly level again.
We’ll be back where we started. In a world where the human stuff – creativity, individual experience, and expertise – is what divides good copywriters and marketers from bad ones.
Because the best copywriters will be able to take the AI tools and fly with them.
They’ll be able to use their creativity, experience, and expertise to come up with prompts that get them the answers they need.
And then use those human skills again to turn those answers into sparkling copy.
Copy that compels. That convinces. And most importantly – converts.
A talented, AI-trained copywriter will be able to go above and beyond what they could do without AI.
And they’ll absolutely destroy a bad copywriter every time. Even if you give that bad copywriter the most powerful AI tool in the world.
Not to mention all those non-copywriters who are “AI prompt engineer marketing experts”. They’ll be left in the dust.
It will take people a while to figure that out. But the proof, my friends, will be in the pudding (or the ROI, or the conversion rate, or however you measure the impact of your copy).
It does mean, though, that we’re about to see an enormous wave of terrible, repetitive, passionless AI-generated copy.
But you’re not going to do that, are you? I can tell. You’re way too smart for that.
A few of our favourite AI tools (right now)
ChatGPT might be the most publicised tool on the market right now, but there are plenty of others that have been ready and waiting in the wings for a while.
Not all of them are diamonds in the rough – we’ve certainly played around with some real duds. But some of them are pretty darn sparkly in the hands of a talented copywriter or content strategist. (We’re both, FYI).
Here are a few of our favourites:
What is it?
Wordtune is a free AI copywriting tool that sells itself as a “personal writing assistant”. Instead of generating text from scratch like ChatGPT, it analyses your copy and suggests ways to punch up the impact or rephrase sentences that aren’t quite working.
Why we love it
Wordtune just released a new feature called “Spices” – little sprinkles of flavour you can use to add a little something extra to your copy. It’s a great shortcut when your copy is feeling a bit bland. It can rephrase sentences to make them more or less formal; add facts, stats, and examples; suggest analogies to illustrate your point – pretty much anything you can think of.
It’s not great at humour yet. Here’s what happened when we tried to get it to generate a joke about AI copy tools:
Not exactly a knee-slapper, is it?
Sounds like something you’d get out of the world’s worst Christmas cracker.
Wordtune also isn’t completely reliable – we’ve had a few error messages and long load times since we installed it. But we still love it.
What is it?
Frase AI is specifically designed to generate SEO-optimised content. From writing briefs and optimising existing content to writing keyword-driven blog posts from scratch, it’s got SEO locked down.
Why we love it
We’re still experimenting with Frase, but it looks like it could be an incredible way to generate briefs fast and optimise existing content.
While it can offer insights into how to SEO-optimise your blogs, Frase doesn’t provide you with any keyword data – unless you buy an add-on. So if you want to dig into the highest-performing keywords for your topic, or understand why Frase is making certain recommendations, you’ll need to use another tool (we use Mangools/KWfinder).
What is it?
You know it. The big kahuna. The one that started all of this fuss.
ChatGPT is essentially a very smart chatbot, based on one of the world’s most advanced large language models: GPT. Ask it a question and it will draw from its enormous database to generate an answer for you – whether that’s pulling together an outline for that blog on llama-grooming your copywriter is writing, compiling a list of product benefits, or generating text for a web page based on a brief you provided.
Why we love it
ChatGPT is a great shortcut for things like research, summarisation, and idea generation – we’ve talked about that in detail above, so I won’t go into it too much here. It can also generate a surprisingly decent first draft for a report or presentation, and write a pretty good non-marketing email. We also use it to summarise big chunks of text, like whitepapers or meeting transcripts.
ChatGPT IS NOT designed for copywriting, and it shows. If you’re looking for creativity and originality, look elsewhere. The first time you see it write something, you’ll probably be pretty impressed – but it’s less exciting when you start to see it reusing the same sentences and ideas over and over and over again. Not to mention its tendency to make stuff up every now and then. And the clichés it tends to jam-pack into every paragraph.
(If you’re familiar with the ‘Real Talk Lens’ from our 13 Lenses© framework – you’ll know that jargon and clichés kill conversions).
What is it?
It’s relatively new, but it’s already taking the marketing world by storm. Writer has a few different functions, but we’d mostly use it to make sure what we’re writing is on-brand and within our client’s TOV.
Why we love it
Writer doesn’t just make your copy easier to read – it can make it more on-brand too. Plug in some details from your brand voice guidelines and/or style guide and Writer will suggest tweaks to your writing style, terminology, and grammar to make it feel more like you. You can even feed it your best-performing content so it can analyse it and use it as a template to improve your copy in the future. That makes it an amazing tool for building brand awareness.
It’s more geared towards big enterprises than marketing teams – the focus is on keeping communications on-brand and in line with guidelines (or even legal regulations like employment laws).
And the “off-the-shelf” package only allows you to input one style guide, which makes it pretty much useless if you want to use it for more than one team or brand. It can also get expensive and complicated to implement for bigger teams. Finally, it doesn’t seem to be very stable, and we haven’t managed to get it to where we need it to be for our clients yet.
But there’s huge potential there for using Writer to control and manage the voice of an entire organisation (we work with companies like Aecom with 50,000+ staff members who create comms on the daily). So watch this space!
Robots and copywriters sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
The world of AI copywriting is already pretty darn complicated.
And it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the advice that’s out there.
But for us, it’s actually pretty simple.
Copywriting is evolving. And we’re delighted to be evolving with it; in fact, we’ve been waiting for this AI revolution for years.
AI will become just another tool for your in-house team or your copywriting agency.
Something that helps them do their best work, the way Photoshop helped designers reach new heights and create new kinds of content.
If your in-house team or your copywriting agency can keep up with the latest AI and learn how to use it to create the best content, you won’t just keep up with the competition.
You’ll be way ahead of the game.
Churning out content that sparkles like diamonds in a sea of turds.