Content creators are increasingly being asked to do more work with less time and fewer resources — which is why more and more forward-thinking companies are arming their best people with AI writing tools. How can AI empower you and your marketing teams to do more?
Writer’s Head of Marketing Ryan Johnston recently moderated a webinar on this topic, with Robert Rose, chief strategy advisor for the Content Marketing Institute, and Ranjan Roy, the VP of strategy at disruptive lingerie startup Adore Me. Together, they discussed how AI writing platforms are changing content creation, as well as best practices for teams looking to integrate AI into their content creation processes.
This webinar addressed common misconceptions about AI writing, as well as three major questions about marketers’ usage of AI writing: why, when, and how. Here are some of the main takeaways from Ryan, Robert, and Ranjan’s discussion. You can also watch the full webinar recording on demand.
What AI writing actually is (and isn’t)
To understand why marketers are using AI writing, it’s important to understand the real capabilities — and limitations — of AI writing tools. But, as Robert Rose pointed out, it’s not always easy to discern truth from fiction when there’s a lot of misinformation about AI that’s based in fear.
“When you work with a new technology that affects the creative process, there is generally fear involved,” said Rose. “It’s either going to replace the creative, or it’s going to allow uncreative people with capabilities that they quite honestly haven’t earned.”
Both of these fears, he argues, are unwarranted, because AI writing software is an extension of human creativity, and not a replacement for it. Ultimately, great writers are still needed to come up with original ideas and establish the strategic frameworks within which AI writing tools are deployed. “It’s not about coming up with the great idea,” said Rose. “It’s about helping you expand scale and create consistency in the ideas that you’re creating.”
As Rose describes it, his “big a-ha moment” from his research on AI writing tools was realizing that “AI writing makes you extend whatever talent and effort you have into a useful tool.” He also compared AI writing tools to other advances in creative technology: “in many ways, it’s not different than Photoshop, it’s not different than sampling, it’s not different than PowerPoint — it’s not different than any other technology that has come along to help the creative process.”
Ryan Johnston agreed, saying of AI that “it’s the augmentation, it’s the extension — it’s helping you do your job as well as you can.”
“AI writing makes you extend whatever talent and effort you have into a useful tool.”
Chief Strategy Advisor
Content Marketing Institute
Why top marketers use AI writing
Once you start thinking about AI as an extension or augmentation of writers’ existing talents, it becomes clearer why under-resourced and overworked marketing teams see so many benefits from AI writing software.
First, the “augmentation” and “extension” made possible by AI writing allow teams to scale the capabilities of their best writers. However, as Ranjan Roy noted, AI isn’t “magic”: scaling content production still “takes plenty of work, and to do it well is going to take the same talent and the same work that it’ll always have taken.”
Second, AI writing platforms open up more opportunities for writers to focus on interesting creative work, by automating the repetitive, rote tasks that take up so much of their time. AI writing software is well-suited for certain types of predictable tasks, and by giving these tasks over to AI, human writers are more free to work on high-level strategy.
“The most exciting part of all of this is if you can avoid doing the most repetitive, rote tasks and have something that helps you do those at a greater scale and then get to work on the campaign-level stuff, the more creative stuff,” said Roy. He then went on to say, “there’s no shortage of genuinely creative stuff that’s going to need to be done: that’s not going away, those opportunities are always there. When people are able to take more action in that part of the world, because the day-to-day, more monotonous stuff is being taken care of — I think that really is the dream.”
When top marketers use AI writing
In his recent whitepaper, “The Co-Created Future of AI in Creative Content Strategy,” Robert Rose identified three major areas of the content creation process in which marketing teams have effectively integrated AI:
- Extending scale: nowadays, it’s not enough to create one piece of content and be done with it: you also have to be prepared to summarize and remix each piece of content in a variety of different ways for a variety of different platforms. “There are a lot of things that businesses do today when they create content that require the ability for us to do a lot of different versions of it,” said Rose. He went on to talk about the webinar itself as an example: “There’s a lot of meta-content that surrounds something like a webinar. You’re responsible for writing the abstract that’s going to go on a website; you’re responsible for writing the post that’s going on Twitter, etc.” AI writing software is very well-suited to these kinds of meta-content tasks, like summarizing and rewording existing content, or providing multiple variations on titles and headlines.
- Increasing speed-to-market for content: AI writing software can provide basic drafts and outlines much faster than a human can, especially for primarily informational content like SEO blog posts, help center articles, or job descriptions. “AI starts to help organize thoughts and provide a basic draft of something that you need,” said Rose. Writers then get to take on the role of a content strategist or editor.
- Creating better consistency across platforms: especially for a business creating and promoting content across many different platforms and channels, it can be very difficult for writers to manually ensure that content is consistently on-brand. With the help of AI, however, it becomes much easier to enforce brand guidelines and head off stylistic inconsistencies. “When all of that content is coming in from freelancers or from ad hoc services or agencies, AI can help check and look at the consistency of those things,” said Rose.
How top marketers use AI writing
After discussing Robert Rose’s research on the AI writing landscape, the webinar shifted to discuss how a real company — Adore Me — was able to effectively incorporate AI writing software into their content creation process.
Ranjan Roy was initially motivated to bring AI writing to Adore Me because he wanted to find a way to improve their style guide. Specifically, he wanted to find a more scalable way to standardize and educate the team around sustainability communication.
“We’ve been making a number of inroads around sustainability, launching a number of new products,” said Roy. Prior to implementing an AI writing solution, they had been using a shared Google Sheet full of terms, but their manual process was time-consuming and difficult to use. Now, with Writer, whenever anyone on the team is writing — whether they’re a copywriter, UX designer, or marketer — they get automated, in-line guidance on which words are appropriate or not appropriate to use, and why. “What we love is if you type in ‘recycled nylon,’ it’ll provide some other suggestions of how you can speak about that type of fabric,” said Roy.
Implementing Writer’s automated Styleguide got him thinking about how else Adore Me could use AI in their content creation process. “We are pre-setting these very narrowly defined rules, and this helps me think through how natural language generation works — it’s all prediction, taking a much bigger set of rules,” said Roy. So he identified one of their content creation processes that follows predictable patterns: writing descriptions for Adore Me’s thousands of products.
“The more structured a piece of content is, the better a candidate it is for AI content generation: it’s all about rules. It’s all about prediction,” said Roy. “You take a product description — there are very set rules around it; there’s certain terms that take priority over others. So it felt like the perfect candidate.”
To ensure that Writer’s CoWrite AI would output content in Adore Me’s “spirited wingwoman” brand voice, they provided tens of thousands of samples to serve as training data. “We’ve had years of copy, email, subject lines, Facebook ads, all written in this voice,” said Roy.
After training their custom model, they did extensive testing to see if using AI-generated copy for their product descriptions would affect their conversion rates — and as it turns out, there was no detectable impact on conversion rates. “That lack of anything notable was actually the best possible outcome,” said Roy.
Final words: advice for marketers who want to know more
The panelists closed out the webinar by giving advice to people looking into the AI space. Both Roy and Rose agreed: the absolute best thing you can do to learn is try AI writing software for yourself.
“Spend a good amount of time and really try to understand the fundamentals of it,” said Roy. “You don’t have to understand how a generative transformer model works. But seeing it over and over in a number of different use cases, starting to get an understanding of what is possible — I think that’s the most important thing that you can do as a writer right now, or as a creative or as a marketer.”
Rose concurred: “You’ve got to immerse yourself in it and just try it. Just go play: understand how it works. Understand both the capabilities, and the limitations.”
To learn even more about how AI content generation will change the way we market content and hear more insights from our panelists, watch the full webinar recording.
If you want to see the full extent of Robert Rose’s recent research into AI writing, you can check out his new whitepaper, “The Co-Created Future of AI in Creative Content Strategy.”
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