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AI Writing Assistants: What Are They and Should You Use One?

AI Writing Assistants: What Are They and Should You Use One?

Jill Schneider
August 25, 2022

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Artificial intelligence (AI) writing assistants are computer programs that generate content quickly on any topic for any industry. Content writing problem solved! Well...not so fast. Stay with me here. There are several different AI-based writing assistants available on the market. As a copywriter, I can't bring myself to provide you with a list. You're going to have to do that yourself. Don't look just yet, though.

Each of these services offers its own set of features. It's best to research them if you are thinking about crossing over to the other side of the written word. Most AI-based writing assistants can help you with writing tasks like:

  • Generating ideas
  • Writing content
  • Rephrasing content
  • Spell checking
  • Grammar checking
  • Researching topics
  • Formatting documents

I won't lie. I use one for editing to help me catch spelling and grammar errors and check for plagiarism when editing someone else's copy. In fact, I'm writing this piece in one, so it can catch my mistakes as I write. We all make them. No one is perfect. Will my copy still need another set of eyes? Absolutely. 

How Do the Services Work?

The ones I checked out offered different plans for a monthly fee. They varied from as low as $27 per month for a basic plan up to $400 per month for a premier plan. There's one that will even publish to WordPress for you! (That's not useful if you use HubSpot like we do).

The Technical Side of How AI Writers Work

An AI writer works with the help of Natural Language Generation (NLG) by converting computerized data into human language based on existing content, algorithms, and machine learning. Simply put, it is able to create patterns in data and draws a conclusion from it, like the language style of the audience, rhetorical devices used, or even specific words. Over time the AI writer learns and improves to create higher quality content.

What's the Quality of the Writing?

I decided to test one out myself, so I randomly picked one that offered a free trial, requested a 500-word blog article, and put in the title "The Benefits of AI Generated Content For Marketing." I clicked create content, and 3 minutes later, I was rewarded with a piece of content. Here's the intro paragraph:

AI in content marketing can help marketers increase their ROI through competitive analysis and market research. Marketers can use AI to perform competitive analysis or evaluate content optimization. With the help of AI, marketers can view predictive analytics and create relevant content based on the data. Predictive analytics helps marketers observe consumer behavior and create profiles based on those actions.

As an experienced inbound marketing content writer, here are just a few of the problems that stood out:

  1. There is no hook — The statement that evokes the reader's emotion and interest, so they want to read more.
  2. The sentences are simply statements that define a term in the previous one. They don't flow cohesively together and aren't at all engaging.
  3. The word marketing in one form or another is in the 4-sentence paragraph 6 times.
  4. There is nothing unique that stands out about this paragraph.
  5. The paragraph lacks a value proposition; what the reader can expect to get from reading the rest of the article.

The draft was one big block of text with no headers to separate ideas and make the article skimmable. There were places where bullet points could have been used to break up ideas and draw more attention to them. To say it needed a lot of improvement is an understatement.

What You Can Expect With AI Writers

Data gathered from outdated sources

AI writers gather information from sources on the internet. We all know there is a lot of outdated information out there AND information that has not been fact-checked. Just because 100 different people claim a statistic in their content doesn't mean it is true. It's a quick way to lose your reader's trust if they are ambitious and fact-check your information.

Writing that doesn't fit your brand voice

Every brand has a voice. It is your brand's personality and the unique way you present to the world. Brand voice needs to be consistent to build trust. Artificial intelligence presents facts in a cold, academic manner with no feeling or tone which can cause a disconnect with your readers.

Unable to string together persuasive text

When writing content for blog articles, we must be persuasive to keep the reader engaged. First, we lay the groundwork to identify a problem and provide the reader with a value proposition. As we move through the article, we present evidence that establishes our argument and then conclude by building on top of the reader's new understanding. AI writers provide fact after fact, and they can't reflect back on previous paragraphs.

Things AI Can't Replace

  1. Creativity — Creative writing attracts an audience, shares human experiences, and uses words to convey emotion or feeling. This comes with experience and a lot of trial and error. 
  2. Empathy — Building strong, emotional relationships naturally with customers is done by acknowledging and appealing to the role emotion plays in their decision-making. Machines don't have feelings. However, researchers are trying to develop that ability. But until then...
  3. Improvement in writing skills — One of the best ways to improve learning is by doing it. We become better researchers and writers as we write and research.
  4. Experiences — We learn through the experiences we've had throughout our lives. That knowledge shapes our writing.

You Might Be Surprised to Know

Some major publishers have created AI Journalists!

Forbes — Bertie, is an AI-powered CMS (Content Management System). It's an artificially intelligent publishing platform built exclusively for in-house newsrooms, expert contributor networks, and partners. It offers real-time trending topics to cover, suggestions on how to make headlines more engaging, and offers relevant images to supplement the content.

The Washington Post — Heliograf, is their in-house automated storytelling system designed for hyperlocal coverage. It can produce complete articles from quantitative data, allowing them to cover all high school football games in the local area each week. The Washington Post will be able to cover every game for which they have statistics, and fans will have near-instant coverage to read.

Interesting Factoid: In Google's eyes, content written by AI falls under the category of auto-generated content, which could lead to a manual penalty

What are AI writers good for?

Artificial Intelligence writers can be useful for initial proofreading like I mentioned above (see, I'm reflecting back on what you learned earlier in the article). BUT you still need to manually proofread the copy and have another set of eyes check it. You can use AI writers for your content creation if you are short on time, have writer's block, or maybe need an outline for a topic. BUT if you feel you must use an AI writer for your content writing, make sure you add your brand voice to the copy, consider headings and layout to make the piece readable, and fact check, fact check, fact check! And by all means, closely read it for consistency, flow, and proofread for errors.

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