How can we use ChatGPT in marketing?

Like many people over the last couple of months, you might have sat down to have a surreal conversation with ChatGPT. Since its release in late November 2022, the artificial intelligence (AI) technology has sent people into a flurry of conversation around what it could mean for everything from journalism and writing academic papers to revolutionising healthcare and education.

There’s no doubt about it: ChatGPT is smart. And capable. And even a little bit creative. But is this chatbot going to change the way we operate forever, or is it simply going to become a tool that makes our lives easier? And what are the implications for ChatGPT in marketing, specifically?


What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT, which was created by tech company OpenAI, belongs to the “language learning model” category of AI technology. In its current iteration, it’s basically a chatbot that’s able to converse in a human-like tone. It’s a little like being in a chatroom with a very intelligent, helpful and almost human entity. You ask the bot a question (“What is stoicism?” for instance), and within a few seconds it responds with an eloquent, succinct blob of information. In many ways, the experience is akin to using a more enjoyable and sophisticated search engine: instead of wading through swathes of search results, we just get one concise answer.

The bot has been trained via an enormous amount of data (including Reddit discussion forums) to communicate and behave like a human. The result is that it not only mimics human language and speech patterns, but that it can interpret what we mean and the information we’re looking for when we ask questions — which can feel a little like it’s reading your mind.

ChatGPT doesn’t only answer questions, though: it can also complete tasks. It can’t do your laundry for you, unfortunately, but it can write ‘original’ essays, blogs, ads, academic papers, songs, stories, poetry and more. Obviously, all of these capabilities open up exciting opportunities for the ways we can use ChatGPT in marketing.

OpenAI have released a free version of ChatGPT to the public so the bot can continue gathering information on its merry little journey to learning how to emulate a human, and so that users can provide feedback on ChatGPT’s performance and flaws. By the end of this trial, when the program finally goes live (presumably as a paid app), it’s surely going to be a pretty formidable tool.

As a further endorsement that this thing has (virtual) legs, Bing and Google have released their own (seemingly less robust) versions. Let the AI games begin!

How can we use ChatGPT in marketing?

Marketers and business owners know that a huge amount of content is required in marketing efforts. ChatGPT is surprisingly good at churning out certain types of copywriting — for example, blogs, social media captions and product descriptions. It can write articles for SEO. It can even create semi-decent billboard and radio ads.

ChatGPT is programmed to be unbiased, but it will take an angle if you ask it to. For example, it will obligingly write you a basic article on why public schools are better than private schools, and it will just as happily turn around an article arguing the exact opposite (beware, though: the bot structures its articles a little like high school essays and likes to finish with “In conclusion” or “In summary”). One of the most remarkable aspects of ChatGPT is that it can nail (mimic) style and tone. We asked ChatGPT to write us a paragraph on the benefits of saunas in a “luxurious” tone and a piece about basketball in an “irreverent” tone, for example, and the results were impressive. It’s also quite good at executing rhythm and well-structured sentences.

An obvious benefit of employing ChatGPT in marketing is that it can save us a huge amount of time. It can be useful if you’re writing informative or technical blogs — for example, a how-to guide; an overview of the history of something — or if you need to write bulk product descriptions. It’s also adept at writing for SEO and can help provide ideas for inserting keywords without keyword stuffing.

Copywriters can use the content generated by ChatGPT as a starting point — a base to expand upon. The dream everybody seems to have for ChatGPT — and for AI in general — is that it will liberate us from the drudgery of researching and planning so we have more time for creative tasks.

The limitations of ChatGPT in marketing

While ChatGPT is a great tool, this kind of technology absolutely has its limitations.

  • It’s not always logical. Even the ChatGPT creators mention on the OpenAI website that one of the technology’s flaws is it can sound like it’s making logical points when it’s really not: sometimes the bot serves up word salad. It can write you a poem that looks like a poem, for example, but the poem doesn’t quite make sense (it’s also devoid of depth or meaning, but that’s another discussion).
  • It’s not always accurate or correct. ChatGPT isn’t always right (it used the phrase “you better” instead of “you’d better” while we were chatting, for example), and it can throw some inaccurate info out there, as in the hilarious screenshot below that’s been doing the rounds:

We don’t always know exactly where the bot’s information is coming from, because it doesn’t provide references, and ChatGPT itself isn’t necessarily a source of truth.

  • Responses are not always original. Although ChatGPT is supposed to generate an original, unique piece of text each time it is prompted, this isn’t always the case. We experimented with asking ChatGPT to perform the same task twice, and the responses it gave us were identical. Obviously we don’t want to be publishing content that is the same or very similar to content published by others using this technology.
  • It can’t replace specific, expert knowledge. If you’ve been in the printing business for 20 years, for example, or you’re an exercise physiologist with a huge amount of study under your belt, you’ll undoubtedly be able to produce a more interesting and in-depth blog article or social media post than a bot. The bot is trained on huge amounts of data, but it can’t speak to your niche.
  • The tone might not be spot-on. While ChatGPT performs better than one might expect when it comes to mimicking tone, it still sounds a little more wooden than an actual human — and it won’t necessarily be across the nuances of your brand’s unique personality.
  • The program isn’t up-to-date. ChatGPT was only trained on information up until 2021, so it can’t answer questions or incorporate information that relates to events beyond this time.
  • It doesn’t have the creative brilliance of a human. The program can write billboards and other ads, but its ideas are generic. Essentially, it writes advertising copy that sounds like other advertising copy. The kinds of ads that actually cut through and resonate with audiences need to do far more than that: they require human creativity and originality.

The final word

It’s going to be super interesting to see how chatbot technology develops and how the use of ChatGPT in marketing unfolds. At this stage, the most exciting aspect of the program is that it can help save marketers time — but copywriters and brand custodians are still required to ensure ChatGPT-generated content hits the mark.

Using ChatGPT in marketing might function in a similar way to how chatbots are currently used in customer service: they exist to help share the workload and answer questions for us, yet humans are still required for more specific, nuanced responses and creative solutions.

It’s possible that brands will wholeheartedly and unashamedly take to using ChatGPT for content creation (as BuzzFeed has already started doing) — but it’s also possible that they’ll try and distinguish themselves from AI-generated content by focusing on sounding less robotic and more authentically human, or on diversifying and enlivening their content by including more videos and podcasts.

If you’ve been experimenting with ChatGPT and have some thoughts, or would like to hear more about our interactions with it, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch today.