Should you be using an AI writing tool?

AI writing tools are all the rage these days. 

The promise is alluring. Having artificial intelligence-powered software write your content for you. 

  • Need a blog post? Have AI write it.
  • Need to create social media content? Have AI write.
  • Want a high-converting cold email? Have AI write it. 

Sounds nice, but does it work?

In this article, I review the current state of AI writing tools for sales and marketing professionals. I tried two of the most common tools, Jasper and OpenAI, to see what the hype is all about.

What are AI writing tools? 

AI writing tools are… Actually, I’ll let the tools describe themselves. Here is what Jasper said when prompted, “What are AI copywriters?”:

“AI copywriters are automated writing tools that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create human-sounding content for businesses. This type of technology has been gaining steam in recent years, allowing business owners and marketers to quickly and effortlessly generate large amounts of content for their campaigns. The AI behind these tools is capable of understanding and analyzing the text, figuring out patterns of writing, and then crafting effective copy from the given data. The goal is to create high-quality copy without the expensive price tag associated with finding a real copywriter. As AI technology continues to evolve, it’s certain that more businesses will add AI copywriters to their teams, making sure they have access to top-notch written content at low costs.”

Not bad… A little self-promotional, but that’s to be expected.

Said a little more simply, AI writing tools assist in creating content using artificial intelligence and machine learning software. They aim to develop human-like text, that can be used in social media posts, emails, blogs, websites, and more. 

These tools are powerful. And they will likely change the way that we create content. However, it’s crucial to recognize that these are just tools. And tools are only as capable as the person using them.

The Power of Tools

I’m always amazed at the musical talent of somebody like Yo-Yo Ma. He has an incredible ability to play beautiful music on the cello, bringing to life the music of classical composers from hundreds of years ago.

But what if you handed me his $2.5 million cello? I couldn’t play Bach as he can. I couldn’t even play Hot Cross Buns. More likely than not, I’d just squeak out terrible noises before handing the cello back to its rightful owner. 

Yo-Yo Ma knows how to use a tool, the cello, to make beautiful music. I don’t. The difference is not the tool, but the person using it. 

AI writing tools, like a cello, are most powerful when used with somebody who understands how to use them. 

So what does it mean to “use” an AI writing tool? There are two essential skills you must possess:

  1. Writing – You need to be a good writer and content producer. This is because you need to know what text you are seeking. If you don’t know the outcome you want the tool to create, you won’t know what inputs you need to feed it.
  2. Programming/Logic – AI writers are software that responds to commands. You need a basic understanding of programming and/or logic to fully take advantage of what these tools offer. You don’t need to be a full-stack developer, but you need to be comfortable “programming” intentional commands. 

You can leverage AI writing tools in your creative workflow if you have existing writing skills and can effectively dictate commands into the software. 

AI Writing Workflow

From my experience, the most important aspect of these tools you need to get right is the input or information you feed to it.  It will produce a poor result if you cannot give the tool good commands. 

Even small changes in input commands can dramatically affect the tool’s outputs. 

For example, I asked the software to write a LinkedIn post about “retargeting ads” for me. One from Jasper and one from OpenAI. I provided additional context and audience information to Jasper.  Below are the results.

Jasper’s Output

OpenAI’s output

In both cases, the content they produced was accurate and could be used for a LinkedIn post. But as you can see, the content is different, with different tones of voice, and with different calls to action. 

This reinforces the importance of correctly inputting the proper commands to get the desired output.  

What are the use cases for AI writing tools? 

You’re probably wondering if you could benefit from using these tools in your sales and marketing strategy. The answer is… maybe.

You will be disappointed if you expect high-performing content to be created from scratch. These AI writers are not magic pills that can make something great out of nothing. You need to creatively input explicit commands to get useful results.

And even with the proper commands, the tools are limited in the scope of what they can produce. When I asked them to write a blog post on specific topics, they produced 3-5 very generic paragraphs. Never anything I’d publish on my website without heavy editing. 

However, there are some legitimate use cases you may consider:

  • Idea Generation – AI copywriters and bots are good at coming up with ideas for content creation. This is especially true for topics with lots of relevant information fed to their data models. They can provide great “starter” content that you know is relevant based on existing data and audience logic. 
  • Content Outlines – These writing tools are also great for creating content outlines. They can create lists, FAQs, and structured data in ways you expect from a machine. Inserting your creative text can then turn these into fully fleshed-out content pieces. 
  • Filling Specific Content Gaps – If you are creating content and struggling to fill a specific gap, the AI writing tools do a great job of responding to specific inquiries. For instance, if you need explanations of topics, product descriptions, or summaries. 
  • Editing Assistance – Nearly everyone can use the most basic AI writing tools for editing assistance. For instance, Grammarly is software that helps rewrite your text to fix errors and improve your overall writing. 
  • Chats and Queries – While not writing tools directly, conversation AI tools continue to expand their role in chatbots and responding to human queries. From a business perspective, this will enable more human-to-ai interactions in and outside your organization. 

So yes, there are certainly use cases that sales and marketing teams may consider using AI writing tools. However, is it worth the effort and cost (for paid services like Jasper)? That’s debatable.  

In their current state, I believe that a great content writer does not need AI writing assistance. These tools are unnecessary if you know your audience and the topic you are writing about. 

However, for those who need help with content ideas or are writing more “generic” content, these tools can produce decent content with the right inputs. I could see this being useful for creators making content on behalf of somebody else or an unfamiliar topic. 

What will the impact be?

The conversation around AI writing tools often evolves into a discussion on their impact on society at large. Are they replacing writers? Is everything going to be AI produced? Are we going to be living the Matrix soon!? 

I don’t buy into the hyperbole. AI writing is just another technological advancement. It WILL impact the way we work. But like every other technical tool, it simply provides leverage to skilled workers.

These tools will likely continue to improve and become more valuable over time. Just like spellcheck was once a revolutionary tool in word processing software, AI writing tools will eventually become another common tool we’ll learn to use.

Conversational AI, such as chatbots, will further revolutionize how we interact with information. Querying data and receiving responses will become much more natural as these AI-powered chatbots improve. This will have significant implications in terms of web search and website SEO. But what that means to content marketing is yet to be determined. 

At this stage in their development, AI writing tools are still in their infancy. If you haven’t already tried them, it’s worth checking them out. And while you might not be using them now, you should keep an eye on them as they continue to innovate. 

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