Using AI models for better email marketing

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Using AI models for better email marketing

30 Second Summary:

  • ChatGPT transitioned from “What’s this?” to It Will Destroy Copywriting Jobs in less than six months
  • Hype aside, ChatGPT and similar natural language processing models are a tool that a marketer can use to make the process of building meaningful relationships with customers more fruitful
  • ChatGPT doesn’t replicate your marketing skills, unique understanding of your brand’s value, or copywriting skills, nor can it spit out a strategic plan based on a few keywords — but it might give you the freedom to focus more on things that matter
  • ChatGPT is free to use for now. So give it a try and improve your command prompt skills to use it as effectively as possible

The hype cycle for ChatGPT has been in full swing. We’ve moved on from What is ChatGPT? to “ChatGPT will save marketing” to “ChatGPT will destroy copywriting jobs” in less than six months. That’s quite an achievement even by today’s standards of accelerated technology adoption.

With more than a million registered users ChatGPT is the best-known AI-driven natural language model. Some marketers say that ChatGPT and its image-generating cousin DALL-E will create content faster and more accurately than human creators.

Others have vowed not to approach ChatGPT, insisting that AL language models are just the latest shiny new toy for marketers and will never reproduce the human touch that turns great marketing from conviction to engagement.

Who is right? Everyone and nobody.

ChatGPT: Finally a tool just for copywriters…

Every other marketing function has tools to help them succeed. Until now, copywriters only had their brains and a few tools they had inherited from other channels, such as keyword generators for search engine marketing.

ChatGPT is a conversation creation and copying tool. Just as keyword generators have not replaced search engine marketers, natural language models like ChatGPT cannot replace skilled copywriters.

But as with any tool, be it a digital assistant, hammer or food processor, your success depends on how well you use it. And that is a product of your skills, knowledge and experience. In inexperienced hands, ChatGPT could quickly become malicious and produce irrelevant, confusing, ineffective, or even offensive texts.

Marketing leaders who think they can bridge the gap with ChatGPT and an intern are underselling their marketing teams and programs.

…a tool to create good first drafts

Copywriters draw on many sources to create effective messages for email. Here are three:

  • Pay: Customer and subscriber data, web and journey behavior, and test results that both passed and failed
  • Intuitive knowledge: The brand’s unique voice and value, the unique weaknesses of its customers and market, and where the intended recipients are in the sales funnel or customer journey with your brand
  • Strategic effect: What you want to achieve with this email or what you want your subscribers to do with it.

The foundation of this mountain of knowledge is the ultimate goal of every email you send. To convince the subscriber to click through your website from the email.

This is an important point that many marketers fail to understand. Because of this, you can’t just grab a copy from your website and paste it into an email. Or load a few prompts into the ChatGPT interface and wait while a copy is made before your eyes.

What you can do, however, is give ChatGPT enough information in a carefully crafted prompt so that it can provide a good enough first draft that you can then revise, refine, extend, and test.

This is where ChatGPT can save time, energy and intelligence. Even the best copywriters know the horror of the blank white paper or screen. Instead of waiting for inspiration or wasting time with one false start after another, let ChatGPT do the work for you.

Don’t expect originality or personality

For this reason, I stress that ChatGPT could provide you with a decent first draft, something like an advanced search result, and not a polished final version ready for approval.

As an AI language model, ChatGPT does not engage in original thinking. What you get is the result of millions of connections based on how the model was built, what others searched for, and what content the model, similar to a giant search engine, can find.

I love Lauren Goode’s definition in Wired: “Ask Jeeves about modern times.”

ChatGPT may Provide original arrangements of words that may have no content or, worse, be wrong. I found this out when I asked ChatGPT to explain the concept of holistic email marketing.

The following turned up:

Holistic email marketing is an email marketing approach that takes a comprehensive, integrated, and strategic view of email communications. This involves the conception and implementation of e-mail campaigns that take the entire customer journey into account, from the first contact to after-sales support.

In holistic email marketing, email campaigns are designed with a focus on delivering value to customers, building relationships, and fostering long-term engagement. This includes using data to segment email lists, creating personalized and relevant content, and using automation and optimization techniques to ensure emails are delivered at the right time and with the right frequency.

Holistic email marketing also considers the role email plays in the broader marketing mix, integrating email campaigns with other marketing channels to create a cohesive, multi-channel experience for customers. This can include integrating social media, mobile and other digital channels to create a seamless experience that supports the overall marketing strategy.

Ultimately, holistic email marketing aims to create a customer-centric approach that goes beyond just sending emails to customers and instead focuses on building meaningful relationships that lead to increased engagement, loyalty, and ultimately more sales to lead.

And yes, I had a little fun with my next prompt: “Define holistic Taylor Swift-style email marketing.” ChatGPT waved its digital finger at me, but bravely tried to respond:

As an AI language model, I don’t know exactly how Taylor Swift defines holistic email marketing, but I can give you an explanation of the term.

Holistic email marketing is an email marketing approach that considers the entire customer journey and uses a comprehensive strategy to engage subscribers at every touchpoint. This includes everything from the initial sign-up process to post-purchase follow-up. …

Similar to Taylor Swift’s approach to music, which considers all aspects of the songwriting and production process, holistic email marketing aims to create a cohesive and meaningful experience for the subscriber. By focusing on the customer as a whole and considering all of their needs and preferences, a holistic email marketing strategy can help build lasting relationships with subscribers and improve overall engagement and conversion rates.

I can tell you that both are authoritative definitions of holistic email marketing since I invented the term 20 years ago. Both also leverage large parts of my work from my website, speeches and presentations, and thought leadership posts like this one. They are all easy to find on the internet. (Good to know my SEO efforts paid off.)

But these reconstructed versions are missing something. You are accurate. You are concise. But they’re also a bit dry, even Taylor Swift’s. No clever little references to tracks like Call It What You Want or even Shake It Off.

A little humor goes a long way. This email from personal care brand Who Gives A Crap shows how to mix generated copy with original content.

Use it to test

This is one area where ChatGPT and similar models can save you hours of prep work for A/B split or multivariate testing. ChatGPT could generate variations reflecting different emotions (e.g. urgency versus scarcity) or a straight sales approach versus emotional appeal.

When you run out of subject line inspiration, write a detailed prompt instructing ChatGPT to give you 10 suggestions and see if you get inspired by them.

Stay customer-centric and strategic

This rule still applies – perhaps even more so, because unrestrained use of chat models can lead to misleading your email body as well as your brand promise and expectations.

ChatGPT’s interface is the most user-friendly I’ve ever encountered. Take a test drive yourself to discover the possibilities.

However, always remember that ChatGPT and similar tools are just that – tools you use and draw on your own knowledge and experience to guide and direct them. You as a marketer are still the director of your experience and journey. Keep focusing on your customers. What would motivate them to click? What would strengthen or repel your brand? How can you save time and effort?

ChatGPT will not depict the invasion of our robot overlords if you use it wisely. Instead, it could become another R2-D2, a chatty little AI helper that handles tedious tasks and gives you the freedom to save Alderaan – that is, to make your email marketing efforts even more productive.

Kath Pay is an international bestselling author, award winner, keynote speaker and CEO of Holistic Email Marketing. You can find her on Twitter @kathpay.

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