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Where will copywriting be in 5 years?

Anna Metcalfe

Cantaloupe Ltd | B2B Specialist | 2020 Award Winner | Time-Served Marketer

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2020 hampered many things. It also accelerated countless others. Throw it all in the pot and we’re in the middle of rapid change – however you look at it.

So, where does this leave copywriting?

What with video marketing exploding, the march (race) of Artificial Intelligence, and attention spans plummeting, should I just pack my pencils away now?

I don’t think so.

Copywriting and content writing are in demand more than ever. And this could be the start of a great era for wordy creators.

Remotely together

I can see you, but I can’t touch you. That’s how we’re living in early 2021. Face-to-face meetings won’t return to the same level for some time – if ever. People all over the world have learnt that running your business remotely is possible.

We were forced into this situation, but we prefer aspects of it now.

People are spending more time than ever online. And that includes business people. The figure I’ve seen mooted about is a 70% rise in online activity.

Whatever the numbers, it’s clear all shapes and sizes of business are spending more cash on their online presence. Content writers rejoice. And web copywriters can feel chipper too.

Now we’ve experienced remote working, the value of a continual online presence is crystal clear.

Customers are also leaning heavily towards online communication. They want to build relationships with their favourite brands and suppliers – aligning with those matching their values. This demands plenty of decent copy for online activity, social media, and email.

What about video?

Fair point. Perhaps I’ve taken the wrong tangent? But I don’t think so.

Video is growing off the scale. It was always coming.

81% of businesses use video as a marketing tool. And 59% of execs say they’d rather watch a video than read text.

Doom?

Nope. Because people continue to want choice. It’s not always possible to have a video blaring away. And some topics are easier to digest (and refer back to) in words.

It also depends on the business sector and the target audience.

Video is a core part of the mix – rightly so. But I say ‘mix’ for good reason. The internet would be a very odd place if ALL we could access were billions of videos and no written words.

And tech?

Voice search is transforming how we find things on the internet. Millennials, especially, prefer to verbally search than type.

That’s certainly changing the structure of some keyword search terms. They won’t say: “Spa hotels Worcestershire.” Instead, they’re more likely to ask: “What spa hotels are in Worcestershire?” It’s a more natural language that can be advantageous for copy.

Write as you speak, and all that…

I’m told eyewear will be the next thing after the Apple watch (I’m still not there). Google Glass is one concept – I’m sure there’s more.

WiFi will also become faster and more widespread worldwide.

Great for video!

And copy.

Whilst these new mediums need words in a format that works for them, it’s good news for copywriters.

More communication channels lead to more communication content.

Another tech-related trend is big data. Knowledge about customers is becoming scarily specific. Segmentation will become more precise and copywriters must react accordingly.

No longer will you create mass, or even lightly segmented communication. You’ll increasingly be asked to get right into the nitty-gritty.

Targeting is set to improve and copy must hit the mark.

AI: the oversized elephant in the room

Ah, but us copywriters are doomed when the clever robots come, surely? They’ll take away our pencils and steal our clients.

It’s hard to miss the pace of artificial intelligence encroaching so many business sectors. And yes, it’s already touching copywriting.

I read about the Washington Post testing AI back in 2016. They’d created AI technology called Heliograf. Around 300 short reports on the Rio Olympics were created without human intervention. Copywriter-free. And nobody noticed.

In fact, Heliograf produced 850 brief articles in a year, drawing from content within a central database. It was basic and, well, robotic.

The thing is robots are only as good as the information they’re fed. Humans are more sophisticated than that. They have emotions and creative thoughts. They can *feel* emotions and empathise with readers’ frustrations. Robots can’t.

Many human copywriters are psychologists in the making.

I’m not saying AI isn’t going to get better and gain its place at the copywriting table, but I don’t think it’s going to become capable of creating every level of business copy in demand just yet.

Yes, if a business wants to churn out basic and repetitive informative articles, an AI system might become just the job. But I’m not letting a robot near my brand voice any time soon.

So, see AI as your friend. It could take away the dull bits of writing and leave you with more creative fun.

Plummeting attention, did you say?

Yes, I did. And I left this point to the end to see whether you got this far… you did? Well done, you’ve proved my point.

Yes, attention spans are dropping.

Yes, copy must be concise and to the point.

But on many occasions (and this is one) long-form copy will grab your readers’ attention and keep them reading. The value for your business can be huge.

Hallelujah for copywriters. I believe the future looks exciting so long as we hone our skills to the best of our ability and embrace the rapid changes around us.

In fact, I recently read the world needs more copywriters, not less.

Now, where did I put my pencil sharpener?

First published on cantaloupemarketing.co.uk

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