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Why Copywriting is Still Relevant in the Age of Chatbots

Man using chatbot on mobile phone

You know what it’s like. You go to a new website and within roughly 300 milliseconds, a box pops up on your screen with some weird CGI boy or girl offering to help.

“Hey,” the bot says breezily. “Need a hand?”

“No!” You say. “I’ve only just got here. P**s off!”

It’s the digital equivalent of the shop assistant who buttonholes you while you’re still crossing the threshold and getting your bearings.

“Leave me alone,” you (or, more correctly, I) want to shout.

But they’re here to stay, at least for now. And the interesting thing about chatbots is that someone has to write their half of the conversation. A copywriter, perhaps.

We are the people who take commercial goals, from selling more stuff to keeping a customer from abandoning their purchase, and achieve them using the written word.

Just as with video scripts, voice-overs, press ads, pop-ups and emails, the words presented to the reader are the only things that will push or pull them into buying.

But even if we leave aside the explicit need for talented wordsmiths to craft scripts for bits of AI, that leaves a humungous amount of work for professional copywriters to get their teeth stuck into.

Chatbots appear on websites. As do pictures and words that illustrate, describe and sell the products the chatbots want to “talk” about.

So, for every chatbot there’s a website that needs copy. And there’s an important distinction between chatbots and static copy. The chatbot has been programmed to respond to the customer. Whereas the copy is there to lead the customer.

We know that people aren’t always rational. We can’t rely on their asking the right questions to allay their fears. Or to search out the real reasons why buying from us would be good for them.

But well-written copy can do exactly that. By thinking about our customer in advance, we can empathise with them, so that when we write our copy it establishes rapport, builds trust and answers their questions anyway.

And what about all those places where chatbots have a hard time surviving? IRL, for example. For the moment, at least, when we’re walking down the street, there isn’t a virtual sales assistant hovering by our side asking us whether we need any help.

Funnily enough, and despite the spouting of digital marketing prophets, all the ways of talking to customers that have ever existed, still exist. Even telegrams.

We can send letters, erect billboards, plaster the sides of buses, trucks and taxis, call people, place ads in newspapers and magazines, send product samples in the mail, buy time in TV and radio shows and before films, hire stands at trade shows and exhibitions, put unaddressed mail through front doors, print booklets, posters and recipe books … oh, you get the picture.

And they all need copywriting.

You can sharpen up your copy skills for chatbot scripts and old-school media with the practical and advanced techniques I share with you in my new book, Persuasive Copywriting. Grab your copy now.