AI copywriting – should we be worried?


A creative asked me the other day if I had seen an article about AI… Artificial Intelligence… and how it was being used to write marketing copy.

The story was about a company which was expanding into the US after success here with ‘robots’ that create optimised copy for social media, online ads and more.

The creative wondered if I was worried.

Not, really.

To me, it’s a bit like photography.

Digital cameras (and camera phones) are the norm today. But there are still people who love to shoot with film and produce physical prints.

And the images, digital or film, are created by the eyes behind the lens. And those eyes, for now at any rate, still belong to human beings.

AI still has a long way to go before it replaces people. (No hint of irony that it took humans to create the funding for the robots doing this AI copywriting – without humans the robots would be dead in the water).

One of the reasons for that is we humans are complex creatures. We are unique on this planet.

What separates us from other species is not just our intellect. What lifts us ‘above’ all other life on earth is the quality, complexity and range of our EMOTIONS.

AI can use algorithms for certain, logic-based, tasks (like SEO optimisation and testing). But, as yet, it does not have the capacity we humans have for understanding the deepest and finest nuances of language.

If you look at the most successful adverts or sales letters in history, they all work because of ONE thing.

Emotional appeal.

And, for now at any rate, no robot can understand human emotions the way a human being can.

It is not a brother, a sister, a grandmother, a grandfather, a nephew or niece. It has never been born from the womb. It has never raised a child. It is not a parent. It is not and never will be a mum or a dad. It does not know what it is like to have loved, nursed and looked after a pet… or watched it die. It has never had to feel the pain of losing a loved one.

It has never fallen in love. It has never swum in the sea, felt the tide wash over its feet or strolled along the softest sandy beach.

It has never tasted the finest wine. It has never eaten a meal made with love and affection.

Without that full range of emotional experience, a robot can never ‘feel’ the way a human can.

And it is that which limits how far AI can break into writing or copywriting.

Writing is all about the emotions.

Here is some advice I gave some small business owners a few weeks’ ago. You might find it helpful for your business and marketing efforts…

“When writing for your prospect/ideal client, you consider who you are talking to. You have an often-strong sense of their pains, problems and challenges. You are also aiming to understand the conversation going on in their mind.

People are motivated away from something or motivated towards something. This leads to the copywriter making use of emotional triggers to find the right words.

Underlying emotional triggers are what grabs a person’s attention, keeps their eyes glued to your page… and ultimately guide them to make a buying decision.

Emotional triggers are part of the internal drivers which influence how someone thinks, behaves and responds.

A simple way to get started is to take the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.

Which of these is relevant to your audience?

Which can you use to craft words and phrases which touch deep with the reader, have them feeling butterflies in the stomach or hairs standing up on their skin?

Take Greed.

You can appeal to this trigger with appropriate language. For example…

“Most investors will get wiped out. But those who know this secret will get filthy rich”

“My practice reported DOUBLE the patients/clients I was seeing just two weeks ago.”

“Plus, this FREE video is yours to keep. Whatever you decide.”

What other emotions can you tap into to help you craft your copy? Try…

Anger, betrayal, revenge, fear, forbidden, frustration, happiness and health, hope, love/caring, passion, powerlessness, relaxation, sadness, security, shame, surprise or urgency.


Here are some examples of copy which use this emotional theme (trigger word stated first):

CHERISH – “You’ll be able to cherish the time you spend with your family, rather than worrying about your non-stop pain.”

FEEL – “If you feel deep down in your heart that this is the right thing to do, then what are you waiting for?”

IN TOUCH – This magical program will bring you in touch with feelings you never realised you had.”

LOVE – “You’re a good parent. You love your children. You want the best for them. So why would you take a chance?”

SWEET – “The sweetest thing you can do on your first date is revealed in chapter three of my new book.”

So, think about your reader. Name the primary emotional trigger underlying their wants and need. Use consistent, relevant words and phrases which tap into the trigger.”

And here’s the thing.

People’s senses are more highly-tuned than you might believe.

They can pick up the fake, the phoney, the artificial. So for AI to take over the world of writing, it will have to find a way of not just sounding human but BEING HUMAN.

It’s not there… yet.

But it does get you thinking, doesn’t it?

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