Chat GPT is all over the news right now. It’s an amazing tool which will probably change the marketing landscape in ways we can’t even imagine but it has limitations. Our email marketing experts put it to the test and here’s what you need to know.
ChatGPT is a powerful language generation model that you can use for many applications. Its ability to understand and respond to context, as well as complete a given prompt or text makes it a powerful tool in a marketers toolbox. However, it’s important to be aware of its limitations and take steps to mitigate any negative consequences. If you’ve not tried it, it’s open and free to the public and you can test it for yourself right now, free of charge.
It will provide precise explanations of complex ideas within seconds. Ask it to write 500 words about Act 3 Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet and it does it straight away, convincingly. Ask it to summarise the key events of the French Revolution – no problem.
But what’s it like at creating marketing texts? If you believe the hype it’s pretty good, but as with most things, the truth is much more nuanced.
One of the best things about Chat GPT is the speed it works at. I’ve spent my whole career in marketing and I’ve done a fair amount of copywriting. I can write a pretty good sales email, but it’ll take me an hour at least. Chat GPT can do it in seconds. Watching it generate line after line of perfectly written text is almost hypnotic.
But if you’re planning to use Chat GPT to write your sales emails, or any other kind of marketing text, there are things you need to know.
Chat GPT is only as good as the instructions you give it
Chat GPT will do exactly what you tell it to do. To get the best out of it, you must give it very specific instructions because:
- Chat GPT sales emails tend to be very formulaic
- It doesn’t know about your company style guide
- It’s not aware of your brand values
- It’s not aware of your target audience or customer personas
- It will not represent your company culture or appeal to that of your customers
Let me give you an example. If you ask Chat GPT to write a sales email about two completely different products, it will write them in an almost identical way. We asked it to write a sales email about a child’s toy and a solar panel for a private residence.
See for yourself. In both cases I simply asked “please write a sales letter for X product.” Here are the two emails side by side, unedited:
|Subject line||Introducing the newest addition to our toy collection – the [Toy Name]!||Save money and reduce your carbon footprint with our Solar Panels|
|Opening||Dear valued customer,||Dear valued customer,|
|Para 1||We hope this email finds you well. We are excited to introduce our newest addition to our toy collection – the [Toy Name]! This toy is perfect for children of all ages and is guaranteed to provide hours of entertainment and fun.||We hope this email finds you well. We wanted to let you know about our latest offering – Solar Panels for your home. With energy costs on the rise, it’s more important than ever to find ways to reduce your energy bills and decrease your carbon footprint. Our Solar Panels are the perfect solution to do both.|
|Para 2||The [Toy Name] is made with high-quality materials, ensuring it’s durable and safe for children to play with. Its unique design and interactive features make it stand out from other toys on the market. It’s also easy to clean and maintain, making it a perfect addition to your child’s toy collection.||Our Solar Panels are made with the highest quality materials and are designed to last for decades. They are easy to install and require very little maintenance. With our Solar Panels, you can generate your own electricity and reduce your reliance on fossil fuels. This not only saves you money on your energy bills but also helps to reduce your carbon footprint.|
|Para 3||We understand that finding the perfect toy for your child can be a challenge, which is why we’re offering a special promotion for a limited time. Order now and receive a 10% discount on your purchase. Plus, for a limited time, we are offering free shipping on all orders over $50.||Panels can be a big decision, which is why we’re offering a special promotion for a limited time. Sign up for a consultation today, and receive a free estimate for your home. Plus, take advantage of our limited-time offer and receive a 10% discount on your purchase.|
|Para 4||Don’t miss out on this opportunity to give your child the gift of fun and entertainment. Order now and take advantage of our limited-time offers.||Don’t miss out on this opportunity to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and take the first step towards energy independence.|
|Close||Thank you for choosing our products.
|Thank you for considering our products.
Despite dealing with different products, these two emails are very similar and that illustrates my point nicely.
Apart from the exclamation mark in the child’s toy email, there is no discernable difference in tone. When you break it down paragraph by paragraph you can see exactly how formulaic it is, practically identical, even down to the sentence structure and punctuation. Once you’ve read a few basic sales emails from Chat GPT you’ll be able to spot them a mile off.
The problem is nothing to do with Chat GPT, it’s done exactly what we asked of it. The more information you give it the better it becomes.
A human copywriter would know that the audience and purpose of these two emails are different but Chat GPT won’t make inferences like that. You have to tell it precisely what you want.
But that’s not all. There are at least two other very serious problems with these sales messages. If you’ve not spotted them, go back and have another look.
Notice the first word of each paragraph, it’s all about the company or the product. A good sales letter is customer focused, it should make the customer the hero of the story, not the company. Neither email talks to the customer directly until paragraph 4 and where’s the call to action? What is the customer to do if they want more information? These messages are so hopelessly focused on the company and product, that they don’t tell the reader what to do next.
To get the best out of Chat GPT you must make no assumptions
So how do we go about fixing these problems? To get the best out of Chat GPT you must make no assumptions, and tell it precisely what you want and who it is writing for.
In our second attempt we rephrased the question and gave it a lot more detail. I think the result speaks for itself.
The request was this:
“Please write a customer focused sales email selling solar panels for private residences. Note that the company tone of voice is positive, direct, authoritative and scientific. Please include a persuasive call to action in two different places.”
The result is better but it still feels like the tone is not quite right:
P.S. Don’t hesitate, reply to this email or give us a call to schedule your consultation today and take advantage of our limited-time discount offer on solar panel installations. Act now and start saving money while supporting a sustainable future.
I have to admit that the technology behind this AI is incredible, but when it comes to persuasive sales messages it needs to be in the hands of someone who already knows what good looks like.
We spent hours tinkering and tweaking the precise terms to get the best sales email from Chat GPT and in the end we gave up.
… “Make it a bit less formal”… “please write it with a lower/higher reading age”… “make it friendlier”… “include the following benefits…”
My advice is to use Chat GPT to help you with the basic ideas. Get it to do the research, ask it to list the features and benefits. Make it suggest new subject lines or more persuasive CTAs, but do the writing yourself. No one knows your business and your customers better than you do.
All customers are people and all businesses are made up of people. That’s a fundamental truth which we ignore at our peril.
But what do you think? Have you used Chat GPT to create persuasive and convincing sales emails? What about the things we haven’t talked about here, like social media updates, or landing pages?