Copywriting — What Makes Copywriting Robotic?

What do we mean by robotic copywriting?  Simply put, robotic copywriting is not conversational and not customer focused, while it’s unnecessarily formal and complicated.

Here are four warning signs of robotic copywriting.

Shows a copywriting robot on computer outdoors in a field with grass and flowers. The message of the post is to avoid robotic copywriting.

1. Robotic copywriting doesn’t use personal pronouns.

One of the first signs of robotic copywriting is repetition of the company name. If you skim the text of many annual reports, for example, you will see the company name constantly repeated.  Maybe the copywriter thought it wasn’t appropriate to use ‘we’, ‘us’ or ‘our’ when referring to the company. But a key to effective copywriting is creating a conversational tone that includes personal pronouns.

Here’s a sample of how this was done in the Siemens 2006 Annual Report.

People Excellence: We’ve established a high-performance culture throughout our company. Based on clear performance goals, this culture enables our people to realize their full potential. To increase our global talent pool, we’re fostering talented young people worldwide. We’ve created new career tracks for experts and redesigned our management development program.

You will notice the copywriter used we and our instead of repeating the company name. In addition, the copywriter used contractions — we’ve and we’re — to give the copy a conversational feel.

Another way to avoid robotic copywriting is by being direct and using the word that’s most important to your readers — you.  The following examples show how much difference one word can make.

Before

  • Our clients get a full spectrum of advertising related services.
  • Our clients get common sense advice that helps them grow their businesses.
  • Our clients receive strategic and creative leadership across a full array of marketing communications.

After

  • You get a full spectrum of advertising related services.
  • You get common sense advice that helps you grow your business.
  • You receive strategic and creative leadership across a full array of marketing communications.

One of the first rules in selling is to assume the sale. Writing our clients does not assume the sale but writing you does.

2. Robotic copywriting is focused on the product or company, not benefits to the customer.

In The Copywriter’s Handbook, Robert Bly provides excellent examples that show the difference between copywriting that focuses on the needs customers and copywriting that focuses on the company or product.

Product-focused copywriting: ‘BankPlan is the state-of-the-art in user-friendly, sophisticated financial software for small business accounts receivable, accounts payable, and general ledger applications.’

Customer-focused copywriting: ‘BankPlan helps you balance your books and manage your cash flow. It also keeps track of customers who haven’t paid their bills. Best of all, the program is easy to use — you don’t need special training.’

So focus on your customers and their needs to avoid robotic copywriting.

3. Robotic copywriting uses big words and more words than are needed to convey the message.

Robotic copywriting also tends to use big words when simpler equivalents will work. For example, ‘Utilising our new software will facilitate an optimal outcome’ can be changed to ‘Using our new software will help you create the best outcome.’

Examples of large words and phrases that can be reduced include:

  • accomplish → do
  • ascertain → find out
  • disseminate → send out, distribute
  • employ → use
  • endeavour → try
  • expedite → hasten, speed up
  • facilitate → make easier, help
  • facility → building, warehouse, etc.
  • locality → place
  • however → but
  • therefore → so.

4. Robotic copywriting uses jargon and corporate buzzwords.

Many of these overused words are vague and have lost any meaning. They often can be expressed in a better way.

Some examples include:

  • Best practice
  • Core competencies
  • Deliverables
  • Driver
  • Incentivise
  • Learnings
  • Mission-critical
  • Operationalise
  • Paradigm shift
  • Value proposition.

Do these types of terms have a clear meaning when used in copywriting to promote a company’s product or services? Usually not. For a humorous look at business buzzwords, go to the Corporate BS Generator.

If you write or edit copy, keep these four points in mind to avoid robotic copywriting.