What is the future of copywriting?

Nick Harland
August 2021

Say hello (to ChatGPT) and wave goodbye? We've gazed into our crystal ball and looked at 5 ways in which copywriting might change in 2023 and beyond.

Copywriting has changed a lot over the years. What started out as a job populated by hard-drinking, well-dressed, Don Draper types has evolved into a complex and multifaceted field. Laptops have replaced pen and paper, Facebook ads have replaced magazine ads and search engines have replaced newsstands. 

The modern copywriter is now expected to have knowledge of concepts like SEO, UX and information architecture. It has expanded into several different areas, with specialist copywriters covering increasingly obscure niches. But what does the future hold from here? Let’s take a look at how copywriting could change in the future. 

And yes, obviously we're going to talk about robots.

The growth of AI copywriting

I'm gonna level with you. I am a human, and I am currently writing this blog out on my laptop. No bots or AI copywriters were involved in the creation of this piece. Incredible, right?

Well, despite the rise of chatGPT, human copywriters are still the norm - just about. But there’s no doubt that AI copywriters are getting better. We tested out some of the most popular tools, and were quite surprised at just how good they were. And then came ChatGPT. So we can only predict that these tools are going to get even better as they get more refined. As they get better, they will inevitably grow in popularity.

But we’re not quite signalling the death knell for the human copywriter just yet. In our experience, AI-powered copywriting was pretty effective at churning out shorter form content - ads, emails, landing pages - things like that. The end result takes a bit of editing to get right, but it certainly gives you a good start. Beyond around 200 words, however, the results were very uneven indeed.

In fact, the inability to write longer form content is probably AI's biggest shortcoming. Which brings us onto our next prediction...

Longer form content

AI copywriters (and novice copywriters) might just about be able to churn out passable copy, as long as it’s less than 200 words. But beyond that, it’s easy to tell the difference between copy written by a pro and copy written by a bot or novice. So based on that, we predict the demand for high-quality copywriters to write longform copy is likely to increase.

There has been a trend in recent years to oversimplify and dumb down online content. The train of thought is that blogs should be short and easy-to-digest, because people have no time to read your colossal 500 word blog.

But we don’t think that’s true at all - and nor do Google. There will always be a place online for in-depth content written by professionals, particularly when there are so many charlatans out there posing as writers. We’re bombarded by online content, and the only way to cut through the noise is with high-quality writing that makes people sit up and take notice. In the future, that will increasingly come in longform content.

More copywriting niches

As new industries appear, niche copywriters will inevitably pop up to cover those new fields. Whilst Mad Men-era copywriters wrote copy targeted at very general, non-specific audiences, nowadays the total opposite is true. You’ve got fintech copywriters, SaaS copywriters, crypto copywriters - and pretty much everything in between.

We expect the demand for niche copywriters to keep growing as new industries appear. However, that doesn't mean generalist copywriters will lose their appeal. After all, it’s always valuable to approach a piece of copywriting from an outside perspective. Being an expert in your field can sometimes mean you use jargon and overly technical language, but a generalist writer could be better at adapting the copy for a wider audience. Both approaches have their merits.

Writing for the user experience

UX writing is an interesting sub-field of writing that has popped up in recent years. It’s all about writing the microcopy (tiny bits of copy) that you’ll see around digital products such as apps or websites. A UX writer uses language to guide the user through a product in the most efficient way possible. It differs from copywriting in the sense that UX writing is only done with the user experience in mind. It is solely concerned with the user experience - not with views, clicks or conversions as copywriting is.

We already mentioned the recent trend for oversimplified copy, and it seems to be a result of UX writing. But this trend doesn’t take into account that different people consume content in different ways. Some want it stripped-down and simplified, sure - but not everyone. 

We expect copywriting to become more data-driven, with the needs of the user in mind. And in time, perhaps we'll realise that there can be more than one idea of how content can be written, organised and consumed. Not every copy has to be simplified to within an inch of its life. The most important thing is writing the right copy for the right audience.

The human touch

All of these predictions for the future of copywriting could be neatly summarised in one phrase: the human touch. It’s the answer to AI copywriting. It’s the key to high-quality, longform content. It’s at the heart of writing for the user experience.

We don't think bots will ever be able to get to the heart of what makes humans tick, or how to connect with them on an emotional level. And they’re two of the most important things about writing.

If everybody started writing AI-powered content that follows the same rules, nothing would ever stand out. All online content would fall into a homogenised mess of dumbed-down language and one-sentence paragraphs. But that approach will never cater for the breadth and depth of people who read online content.

If you want to connect with your reader and make your written content stand out from the crowd, there really is no substitute for quality writing by a quality (human)writer.

Maybe it’s not quite time to surrender to our robot overlords just yet.

Nick Harland