ChatGPT for (AI-Hesitant) Email Marketers

on a laptop screen, an AI and an email marketer shake hands

If you’ve had an eye on any tech news, you know that Chat GPT is everywhere. The AI language model sparks questions about plagiarism, creativity, and language. Plus, people in diverse fields are using ChatGPT to streamline their work. This week, I set up an account to investigate the possibilities of ChatGPT for email marketers. Here’s what I experienced and how you can apply it to your emails.

First, Have No Fear

I’ll be honest: I might have a moderate fear of AI technology. As someone with only a few toes in the tech world, the speed of progress can be overwhelming. So, if you have only a nebulous (& maybe morbid) fascination with ChatGPT, this post is for you. 

In my first hands-on experience with ChatGPT, I was surprised by how easy the interface is to use. It reminded me of the novelty chatbots I experimented with in my childhood (does anyone remember iGod?). ChatGPT displays your conversations and settings on the left side of the page, and all the magic happens on the right.

Swallowing my biases, I tested the waters with a basic prompt: “Please generate a 15 word paragraph on ChatGPT.”

The answer: “ChatGPT is an AI-powered language model designed to communicate and respond like a human.”

A bit robotic, sure, but accurate. Soon, I was diving in with more questions. I narrowed my focus to figuring out how ChatGPT can support email marketers like Pure Firefly and came up with some surprising approaches.

Use ChatGPT to Generate Subject Lines

As a copywriting tool, ChatGPT for email marketers is helpful but could be better. A great example is the language model’s approach to subject lines. In my first attempt at generating subject lines with ChatGPT, I used the prompt below:

“Please generate 3 email subject lines based on the following text:

Pure Firefly is an email marketing agency & Mailchimp pro-partner. We provide the right team of specialists at the right price to deliver strategic work designed for any budget.”

The AI returned 3 subject lines which were accurate to the text I’d shared. However, the options it created were too long. The longest was 11 words, 4 words over our recommended maximum of 7 words. So, the AI is smart, but it’s not an email pro.

I asked again in different words: “Please generate 3 email subject lines under 7 words each, based on the following text….”

Then again, with more modification: “Please generate 3 email subject lines under 6 words each, based on the following text…All of the subject lines should include a number.”

With each layer of added specificity, the responses were better tuned to my needs. So, if you use ChatGPT to generate draft subject lines or other copy, know that specificity is key. 

ChatGPT is designed to mimic human speech, but it won’t make the same assumptions you might. If you’re collaborating with ChatGPT for email marketing, explain your expected results in detail.

Let the AI Help You Code for Email

After working with ChatGPT to generate some draft subject lines, I asked the bot for some basic HTML code using the following prompt: Can you generate the HTML code for a button in a Mailchimp email template text box? The button should be 300 pixels wide and have the words “Read More.”

Even with my imperfect phrasing, ChatGPT returned effective code to display a button. When I copied & pasted the code into a Mailchimp template, it created a blue button matching my requirements.

Not bad for a bot! It even displayed properly in Outlook and Gmail, across mobile and desktop browsers.

For more complicated assignments, ChatGPT will likely require more detailed guidance. The code it generates should always be tested for accuracy. However, this is a great tool for email designers looking to generate some quick HTML they can then modify as needed.

ChatGPT’s Limitations for Email Marketers

Despite its presence in the news, the version of ChatGPT available today is only a research preview. With every new conversation, the model’s ability to mimic human language improves. However, ChatGPT still has a handful of limitations.

  • Lacking the Facts: ChatGPT is a language learning model, not a field expert. Several articles have highlighted ChatGPT’s factual inaccuracies. If you use AI to write drafts, always double-check any facts included. 
  • Not So Up-To-Date: If you do ask ChatGPT for factual information, it returns with the preamble, “As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021…” Currently, the model can not provide any updated information beyond that date. 
  • Feeling Awkward?: While ChatGPT’s responses are impressively human, a robotic quality to its speech is apparent in certain contexts. For example, when asked to generate subject lines, the AI recycles phrases from your copy. It lacks the level of creativity a human writer might employ.

Will ChatGPT Put Email Marketers Out of Business?

The short answer? Not right now. As it stands, ChatGPT is a great tool for generating text and code. It doesn’t have the factual knowledge and human creativity that email marketing agencies like Pure Firefly can provide. 

In my own experiments with the language learning model, I’ve found that ChatGPT is more of an assistant than an expert. If you’re looking to write with better speed and concision, ChatGPT could be helpful. But if you need to build a strategy that converts, try email marketing with a Mailchimp Pro Partner instead.

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