ave you heard? AI writing software can write marketing content for you!
Using ‘deep learning’ and ‘natural language processing’, it can write anything from simple digital ad copy to long-form pieces such as blogs and articles. Or so it says.
As someone who makes a living as a content writer, I find myself deeply intrigued. Can software really be that good? As you might imagine, I’m a little bit skeptical.
I’m open to the idea that AI writing software could produce short-form content rather well. I also know from first-hand experience that writing and SEO software is often super helpful for polishing final drafts. It tidies up grammar, or technically improves your content for search results. Grammarly is a well-known provider in this space.
But my intuition says that AI couldn’t produce original or creative content at the equivalent level of an experienced human writer. Not when it comes to anything more complex than simple adverts or a basic and factual blog.
I’m aware that there are many entrepreneurs and small business owners out there who don’t have the budget to regularly hire writers. A software program might be a viable alternative for someone who is single-handedly running a business. Or perhaps you’re in a pressurized marketing team that could really use help getting content drafts started to save some time. Also, not every writing requirement is that complex.
Apparently there are a number of well-known businesses already using it, including Alibaba for product descriptions, or Associated Press for simple articles like announcing game scores. That’s not exactly the same scenario as handing over all of your brand’s marketing content creation to an AI writer though…
Let’s start off with some typical challenges I have as a human writer. There are some things in the list which I think AI writing software it might actually do quite well, like pull together concise research by scanning the internet quickly, or adding in keywords for SEO. I also suspect there will be several shortcomings requiring human intervention.
I’m going to try out five well-known and affordable AI writing programs for myself using a few different content types.
You’ll get to see how the actual results pan out!
Skip To What You Need:
- Challenges For Content Writers
- AI Writer
- Article Forge
- Jasper (Formerly Jarvis.ai)
- More AI Writers To Investigate
- To Sum It Up
Challenges For Content Writers
My personal experience as a writer covers both B2C and B2B audiences, using both creative and technical styles of writing. I work mostly with long-form article content, evergreen website content and product descriptions.
My writing can be inspiring women to purchase a luxury beauty product from an aspirational brand, advising tourists what to do on holiday, or convincing business owners that they’d benefit from purchasing particular software or retail stock. It varies quite widely.
Here are some of the typical challenges I contend with when producing any long-form content or product description:
- Understanding the goal - I have to read briefs, consider the overall goal of the piece and make sure I achieve it. There can be room for interpretation, I’ll have to fill in gaps based on my own discernment, or I might need to ask questions for more clarity.
- Understanding the topic - There can be lots of information about a topic that I need to research and understand before I can write coherent and informed content within the requested word count. If the word count is quite limited, I’ll need to be selective about what contextual information to include or omit.
- Clarity of message - This relates to understanding the aim and the topic and then being clear about what I’m saying. My writing must obviously make logical sense, be easy to follow, and I can’t use conflicting information. I have to use a structure so that information flows with human logic and helps the reader easily follow the thread of thought or develop their understanding.
- Incorporating brand messaging, USPs and calls to action - This needs to be done naturally. It’s an important part of developing unique and on-brand content that stands out against competitors. I also regularly need to mention specific products, link to more company content, and lead up to relevant calls to action.
- Relating products or services to needs and benefits - I have to tie customer challenges or desires to the particular product or solution on offer, demonstrating an understanding of the typical customer’s needs and drivers. This can take a bit of creativity when it’s less factual subject matter, such as associations for the scent of a perfume and feelings it might evoke.
- Opinion-based slants, or original ideas - I can be asked to produce an article that takes a selective view and opinion-based stance on a topic that resonates more with one human belief system over another (audience targeting). The same goes for finding unique ideas or conclusions - I need to consider different human perspectives and how information could be interpreted differently. And when it comes to writing great original copy that improves SEO performance, that takes quite a bit of human creativity.
- Adapting the tone of voice - The tone of voice I use across businesses (or even across articles for the same business) will vary depending on the brand identity and guidelines, target audience, subject matter, publishing platform and the goal of the piece. This is really important for connecting with the reader based on why and where they might be reading the content.
- Choosing wording and using nuance - Same as above, I need to choose wording that connects with the target audience. I have to meet them at their typical level of understanding with phrasing or terminology that will resonate with them. Sometimes it requires nuance and subtlety, using suggestion, connotation or emotive wording in order to be influential.
- Incorporating SEO techniques - It can take me a little time at the end of an article to go through it and see where I can fit in more keywords, add backlinks and more content suggestions, or make my writing more reader-friendly. You can’t forget that content is ultimately for humans and not search engine bots, so it still needs to read naturally after incorporating these elements.
- Using general discernment - For example, when I’m adding hyperlinks where the reader might need more information or context. I have to use discernment regarding the information I link to and how that sits with the brand. I wouldn’t link to a competitor website or an organization with conflicting values.
And of course, this doesn’t include the strategic aspects of deciding what content to write and where to publish it in order to engage specific audiences at different points in the sales funnel. That’s another specialism in it’s own! However, martech can still be very helpful in that sphere by providing data such as engagement statistics, keyword volume research or trending topics.
Before we proceed, a quick note about language and translations. Having worked in organizations that translate English copy for international target audiences, I know that AI-generated translations rarely deliver adequate copy. English doesn’t translate literally into other languages without the human ability to interpret and rephrase or paraphrase correctly for the specific language. Combining that with my distinct lack of foreign language skill, I’ll be focusing on English content only.
So with no further ado, let’s see how AI writers measure up against these content writing challenges.
Let’s Take Some AI Writing Software For a Spin!
Here’s a summary for seven platforms I tried out using free trials.
Hopefully this gives a relatively fair reflection of the AI writing capability out there. I’ve also listed more providers that offer free trials in the next section.
Don’t just take my word for it - definitely try them out for yourself!
1. AI Writer
AI writer can generate articles or reword text for $19 per month on their basic plan.
- Article generator - This is a very basic interface that works by inserting the heading of an article. That’s the only input you can give it. You’ll have to take whatever it decides to give you in terms of content and word count. (You’ll be given the article in two versions - one with the sources, and one without.)
- Text rewording - This lets you insert articles you’ve already written, and the AI will reword and optimize it for you. You need to provide a headline to guide the rewording. (Note that this won’t work for summarized text such as bullet points in a brief.)
So AI Writer is really just for generating blogs and articles. However, if you’ve already written some ad copy, webpage content or product descriptions, you could run them through the rewording tool for alternative versions to choose from. Or you could create unique versions of competitors’ content.
I asked it to write an article with the title of Half Past Nine’s last insights article, which was ‘iOS 15 Update: Email Marketing Is Up Next On Apple’S Privacy Conquest’.
Here’s the opening paragraph it gave me:
“According to EA and DICE, Battlefield 2042 will have three distinct and outstanding multiplayer experiences, and Battle Royale is not one of them. The first is Out of War, described as the next generation of Conquest, a game-changing mode we've seen before in the Battlefield franchise.”
Okay… That has absolutely nothing to do with email marketing. And there were no headings or logical structure. It did go on to mention email marketing aspects, but it in no way answered the title proposition. So we’re not off to a great start.
There were also issues when I asked it to write an article using the title ‘Can AI Software Write Marketing Content?’ Here’s an excerpt:
“It is hard to overlook the hype surrounding AI-based text generation in the field of content marketing, where a variety of tools are used for everyday tasks. For journalists, it doesn't matter what comes next, it's with some fear that we're calling up some of the top tools used to generate articles and blogs with the most relevant words (ahem, training writers, switching). Check out our article on how AI applications can speed up content creation to learn about the various AI-driven content marketing tools that make life easier for content marketers."
It doesn’t make sense, and it’s pretty safe to say I wouldn’t use much of the text in a final article. It would take me a bit of time to rework it into something coherent and supplement it with my own research.
Perhaps the topics I’m setting are a bit complex. To test something simpler, I asked it to reword some basic ad copy. I asked it to reword two simple sentences for buy 1 get 1 free pizzas at Pizza Hut. Here’s what it returned:
“Buy 1 and get 1 free at Pizza Hut. Buy 1 and get 1 FREE at Pizza Huts, a chain that has been around for more than 50 years."
Again, this is not adequate marketing copy that I could just copy, paste and publish.
WordAi is not a content generator per se. It’s a basic interface that ‘spins’ existing content into more unique versions.
Spinning can be useful for repurposing old content or a competitor’s content for your own business, and creating more content variations for SEO purposes. For example, if you have a product in multiple size or color variations, you could write multiple unique product descriptions to improve SEO performance.
WordAi is available for the equivalent of $29 a month if you pay annually, or $49.95 for a monthly subscription.
Using this article, I pasted it into the WordAi spinning tool. Here are the opening lines of the ‘super unique spin’ it gave me, with ‘WordAI Uniqueness of 83%’:
"It is certainly the very last thing we needed in addition to Covid-19 as well as the danger of snap lockdowns looming overhead. But on the other hand, we're seeing continued customer need as pressured parents start looking for more ways to keep children entertained in your home. In case you've been able to place orders to the inventory which you want, you may also be coping with doubt about getting deliveries on schedule. Then there is the dilemma about how much of this cost climbs you are able to pass on to clients while maintaining retail prices workable.”
Oh dear. It was all given to me in one giant paragraph of relative gibberish with no coherent structure. Perhaps you could keep producing more spin versions until you got some useful sentences to extract.
Swiftly moving on…
Writesconic offers a whole range of content type options, from digital ad copy and social media copy to e-commerce, website and article copy. It can also provide copy in 8 international languages.
A Starter subscription is just $10 a month!
There are 6 main content categories to choose from. It’s then narrowed down into specific platforms or content types, like Facebook Ads, Product Descriptions, Landing Pages or AI Article Writer.
I really like that it provides these specific content type options! This is definitely more along the lines of what I would expect to see from an AI writing tool that can genuinely support production of a full spectrum of marketing content tailored for specific channels.
I selected the Blog Intro Generation option first, and fed it the title ‘Can AI software replace content writers?’. It then gave me 5 intros to choose from. They were all reasonable enough, although four would still require a bit of editing. This one was definitely the best:
“AI software is the latest buzzword in the content marketing world.
As AI continues to evolve, many influential marketers predict that AI will replace content writers in the near future.
But is that true? And if it is, should you be worried?
In this article, we explore the topic of AI and content marketing.”
I gave the Facebook Ad generator a go next. Here’s what I entered:
It generated 5 text options to choose from, presenting them visually with the option to download the text. The first two you can see below:
I generated a few more tweaking the inputs slightly, and the results actually weren’t terrible.
So how does it perform writing a whole article?
First, it generated 5 potential article outlines for me to choose from. As with the others I’ve tried so far, you can’t set word count parameters. Here were the final inputs I selected:
It gave me just over 570 words, but it didn’t quite make sense unfortunately. Here’s a sample:
I’m a little disappointed it didn’t do better on the article as I was holding out more hope for this one. However, it might still be a worthwhile tool if you want help generating multiple ad copy options, or short and simple social media posts.
4. Article Forge
As the name suggests, Article Forge is for generating articles. It features a choice of 6 European languages, integrates easily with your Wordpress site and can schedule publishing for you. There’s also an API integrator for other CMS platforms.
You can get Article Forge for the equivalent of $27 monthly if you pay annually, or $57 with a monthly subscription.
I’m excited to see that Article Forge offers more control over the content length and uses keyword for inputs. As per the screen shot below, you choose your primary and secondary keywords, article length, and if you’d like links added. It has an integration with WordAi to add ‘spinning’ options to choose from, plus it can add images and videos.
Here’s what I put in:
Here’s a sample of what I got back:
Hmm. It definitely lacks a coherent or logical narrative, and it’s also a very dry read without any personality. No sub-headings are provided. But at least the sentences actually make sense.
I tried it with a few other subjects and received very similar results, all in the same ‘academic’ tone of voice.
It decided to use a first-person narrative when I asked it to write an article with a primary keyword input of ‘sensory and fidget toys’. Here’s the sample for reference:
It referenced a business called My Sensory World, even though I didn’t add that as a keyword. Perhaps you could treat that as a placeholder to insert your own business name, if applicable.
There’s no coherent structure, and personally I wouldn’t use this.
AdZis aims to give you unique product descriptions and original blogs and articles for Shopify. Note that these are two separate tools with different login areas. You create an AdZis App account based on whether you’re using Shopify or another ecommerce platform.
If you use Shopify, you can start with as little $9 for 10 credits. For other ecommerce sites, you can start for $19 for 50 products.
Unfortunately I can’t trial the blog writer as I don’t have a Shopify store to link to, which is required for creating an account. But I can have a go with the product description writer without connecting a store or uploading a catalogue.
First you select whether you want to generate from text or a URL. I’m using text to test it.
Next you need to choose a product category - one of which hopefully fits your product or it won’t work.
Then you select the ‘tone of voice’ for either social media, a product description or ad copy.
Based on the type of product chosen, you’re asked 4 or 5 questions to gain more information about the product. You choose the answers from a drop-down list. The options you’re given are by no means exhaustive, so if the correct information isn’t there, you’d have to select ‘I don’t know’.
And here is the final result!
I tried this a few times and got copy of varying quality. I’m sure you can reach your own conclusion.
Copy.ai starts off with a friendly welcome video about how to use their platform. Here, you’ll have access to many more input variables than the other platforms I’ve tried so far. You can also choose from 26 input and output languages (including US and British English).
For a solo business user, it costs $35 a month. Other businesses will need to get in touch for a custom subscription that meets your specific needs.
There are 10 main categories of content type to choose from with a whole host of content-specific sub-options. From ads and blog tools, emails and event copy, pretty much every content marketing need is covered.
For social ads, you can select for Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn or general. The Startup Tools section will even help you quickly generate your mission, value proposition, brand voice and mottos. Pretty cool. You can also feed it with your existing website content to help it match your brand style.
Starting off with product descriptions, you’ll be able to enter your brand or product name and a brief description.
If you select the optional checkbox to target a more specific audience, you’ll get 3 more input boxes to fill in.
I entered in my Umi water bottle information and received 7 output variations, which I could selectively ‘heart’ to save for later, or generate more versions of.
These are very good - all 7 variations have coherent descriptions with a variety of ideas I would use!
I gave it the audience targeting inputs of ‘fitness and outdoor enthusiasts’, so it’s great that it has used this information to mention related activities like hiking, camping and the gym. However, I am particularly impressed that it has gone further to create several user benefits without me providing these as inputs. For example, it states that the stainless steel product is BPA free, easily fits into backpacks, is durable and leak-proof, among a few others.
I’m anticipating some good results for social media ads and posts too, so let’s give Instagram Captions a quick try.
Enter a short description of what your post is about, then as with product descriptions, you can select the checkbox to enter additional audience targeting information. Helpfully, it’s actually pre-populated the main input for me from the product descriptions I just generated.
Seven caption options are returned. Here’s what I got:
It’s come up with a few decent ideas here that I could easily tweak or make more versions of, including emojis and a hashtag suggestion.
Let’s finish with something more complicated. How will Copy.ai fare with some bullet points to create a blog article from?
I’ve created some bullet points from this article to test. I can enter a blog title and limited bullet point information up to 400 characters. As before, I can also add in the additional targeting options if I want to.
Below are my bullet point inputs:
And what I got back:
It generated a paragraph per bullet point. I tried this a few times, and the results I got were consistent with the sample above.
It talked about the toy industry or toy products but wasn’t completely relevant for my inputs, missing keywords that I wanted to include like impulse purchases. It doesn’t flow particularly well. Nor does it provide the source of any research statistics mentioned.
I could tweak the inputs and generate more versions to get more content I like, but the 400 word character limit for inputs is a little restricting. I’d have to work through my blog article paragraph by paragraph if I wanted all my key points included.
I’m feeling a little disappointed again. I could potentially pull some information from this content to help me write a blog article. But as with the other tools, I doubt it would save me much time or brain power for writing a well-structured article.
However, the product description writing capacity really did impress me. Having played with a few more features, I think Copy.ai is overall the strongest performer so far.
7. Jasper (Formerly Jarvis.ai)
Last but not least, Jasper (Formerly Jarvis.ai) is another multi-purpose AI writer for marketing content, giving you outputs for the wide range of marketing content channels, even extending to video content. Content is in English only.
Jasper.ai doesn’t actually offer a free trial, however you can pay for a month and request your money back in 7 days if you’re not satisfied.
The Starter package is $29 a month for 20,000 words. The Pro version is $109 a month for unlimited words with more features, and Boss Mode is the most advanced package at $119.
Start in the Templates section, where you can choose from the neatly organized content type tabs that covers a complete range of marketing needs.
You can select how many output variations you’d like, and choose your own tone of voice for inputs, which is interesting. I wonder how well that works…
I’ll begin with product descriptions. Here are the input fields, with the generated outputs on the right:
It also gave me a description with an ‘optimistic’ tone of voice that it had selected for me:
It the most natural and engaging human tone of voice that I’ve seen yet - so the tone of voice selection does actually seem to work! And just like Copy.ai, it’s coming up with product features and benefits that I didn’t feed it, which is definitely really helpful.
I’m also really interested in the Creative Story option under the Social Media tab. Creative writing is obviously more challenging. So here’s a little bonus sample snippet using the witty tone of voice, just for fun!
It’s exciting to see a tone of voice function that does really work!
Moving onto the Ads section, you’ll get Facebook and Google-specific ad content, as well as the Content Improver tool.
Here are the inputs for a Facebook ad. My favorite output of the first 3 options was the last:
No complaints here!
Touching on the Content Improver tool, running some copy through it also turned out some high quality variations. This could be used to create more unique copy for SEO as well as help you improve what you already have.
These are certainly useful variations of the original content that could be published.
Let’s round things off and check out the blog writing capabilities. This is done via the Long Form Assistant tool, which you’ll need to pay a Pro subscription for.
Here are my inputs below on the left, and the content it wrote for me on the right, following on from previous paragraphs I’d already written:
I must admit, I’m impressed with this. It lets me select article length, choose keywords and provide a high-level brief. I can work through the article adding my own headings and prompts, and keep generating more paragraphs of copy as I go. And it works consistently with the tone of voice I started it off with.The end result far surpasses anything else I’ve seen yet for original long from content.
If you’re interested in learning more about how the Long Form Assistant tool works, watch a helpful demo video here.
I believe I’ve left the best to last with Jasper!
Overall, Jasper is similar to Copy.ai in its content type versatility, but it takes the tone of voice capability further. That’s not a small thing - it makes a very big difference.
It also excels far beyond the others with the Long Form Assistant. You’ll need to pay more and still put work into providing article structure, writing prompts and brand-specific messages or links. But it will save you quite a bit of time filling in body content to a high standard. I think this is a much more pragmatic way of using AI for writing articles while still retaining control over the all-important narrative.
More AI Writers To Investigate
If you’d like to explore more of the options out there, here’s a shortlist with a free trial.
- Copysmith - Generates multiple versions for different copy types.
- SEO Content Machine - Generate content for SEO ranking with link building functionality.
- Articoolo - An article generator than can also spin old content for an SEO boost.
- Kafkai - Creates unique articles for SEO and affiliate marketing.
- Zyro - A website builder than can auto-generate website copy.
- Anyword - Generate copy for ads, emails, landing pages, content and more.
To Sum It Up
I think my job is still safe for now!
The overall quality of content I received was a little lower than I was expecting, particularly in regard to long form blog content.
Long form content is one of the more time consuming tasks for marketers, and by the look of it, the need for human editing isn’t disappearing anytime soon. The tools don’t offer enough cognitive power on their own in order to remove the need for human writers at the wheel. Almost all of the blog content I generated required considerable reworking. Jasper.ai was the exception, performing better because of the superior input functionality and interactively working through the articles with you.
In terms of keywords for SEO, Article Forge and asper.ai were the only two products I tested that had keywords functionality. However, by the time you’ve edited the articles with Article Forge, you’d need to review the keyword count separately to check it still met requirements. Jasper.ai performed significantly better.
Starting off, I had assumed that AI writing software would allow you to enter more content criteria and parameters than what I generally discovered. Again, Jasper.ai was the exception.
You could purchase a cheap subscription with a number of these platforms to quickly produce more low-effort content regularly. That might potentially help websites quickly boost ranking to some extent (although bear in mind that Google uses a weighted range of ranking criteria). However, without a strong brand vision and quite significant human editing, the content wouldn’t be brand-enhancing or influential for a human reader. What’s the point of getting people to your website if they don’t get a positive impression and quickly navigate away without engaging or completing desired actions?
Based on the software I tried, I think the functionality provided by Jasper.ai, Copy.ai and Writesonic would prove most helpful - and in that order. I’d use all of them for creating multiple ideas and wording options for digital ads, social media posts, or prompts to get started when writing blog articles. However, for original product descriptions and blog article content, Jasper.ai is the only one I’d pay a subscription for.
Jasper.ai did actually change my mind about whether a subscription with one of these platforms would be 100% worthwhile. I can see that it would save a writer considerable time in filling out product descriptions or articles without spending as much time on research or playing with wording. Of course, you’d still need to work in brand-specific messaging, calls to action and links to other relevant content.
I haven’t investigated all of the options out there, and I have no doubt that the overall standard of AI technology will continue to evolve and improve over time. Personally, I won’t be signing up for a subscription quite yet, but I will definitely be watching this space…
So there we have it. I hope you found this review helpful!
Before you go, why not check out more digital marketing insights from Half Past Nine? :)