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A ChatGPT Content Marketing Experiment With Surprising Results

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A ChatGPT Content Marketing Experiment With Surprising Results

ChatGPT arrived on the scene to a lot of fanfare – positive, negative, and nonplussed reactions.

I’m excited. I see ChatGPT as a real-life learning tool to help humans see something we usually talk about theoretically – the potential of artificial intelligence.

Sure, AI content creation tools have been around for a while, but they aren’t as ubiquitous or as free as ChatGPT. Now that an AI text-creation tool fits my budget, I decided to conduct a few experiments to better understand AI’s potential for creating content.

At first, I wanted to prove real-life writers are better than a bot. (I have a vested interest in the matter.)

Are human writers better than bot writers?

I wondered what ChatGPT thought of that idea. So I asked.

Prompt: Are human writers better than bot writers

Result (paragraph breaks added for easier reading): Human writers and AI-powered writing bots have different strengths and weaknesses. Human writers have the ability to understand and convey emotions, personal experiences, and cultural nuances that may be difficult for AI models to replicate. They also have the ability to think creatively and generate new ideas.

On the other hand, AI-powered writing bots can produce large amounts of content quickly and can be programmed to use specific language and tone for different audiences. They can also be used to analyze data and generate reports. 

In summary, both human writers and bot writers have their own unique advantages and can be used effectively in different contexts. However, for a content that requires emotional touch, creativity and cultural understanding, human writers are considered more suitable.

The image below shows what the prompt and result looked like in the interface.

My conclusion: I like ChatGPT more than I thought I would. The bot appreciates human writers like me. On a more serious note, the text answers the question intelligently, succinctly explaining the strengths of both perspectives. It also draws a well-stated conclusion. Frankly, that result is better than a lot of human-created writing I review and edit.

Is ChatGPT copying from my (and others’) content?

Now that I had a warm feeling about ChatGPT, I wanted to learn more about it and see how we might work together. So I took it for a spin, starting with a standard topic at the Content Marketing Institute:

Prompt: Explain content marketing

Result: Content marketing is a strategic approach to creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and engage a clearly defined audience with the goal of driving profitable customer action. 

It involves creating and distributing various forms of content such as blog posts, videos, infographics, and social media posts that provide value to the target audience, rather than solely promoting a product or service. 

The goal of content marketing is to establish trust and credibility with the target audience, ultimately leading to increased brand awareness and customer loyalty.

My first conclusion: OK, ChatGPT’s shine faded a bit. Yes, the text explains content marketing well. It not only defines it but explains the forms and goals of content marketing. But the first paragraph seemed familiar. A visit to the CMI page defining content marketing made me realize why. That page features this definition:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

ChatGPT reworded CMI’s definition about as well as a high schooler whose clumsy attempt to “write” an essay earned an F for plagiarism. The use of specific phrases, “clearly defined” and “profitable customer action,” tells me it copied from CMI.

That’s where a human editor comes into play. Always run the text (human- or AI-created) through a plagiarism checker (another AI tool) before publishing, and always incorporate proper attribution.

But wait, I thought, maybe the attribution problem was my fault. Maybe my prompt was poorly written. What if I asked for attribution?

Follow-up prompt: Who says?

Result: Content Marketing Institute, a leading website and organization in the field of content marketing, defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” This definition is widely accepted in the industry and is often cited as a standard explanation of the concept.

My second conclusion: Attribution is possible with ChatGPT. You just have to ask for it in either your initial or follow-up prompt. I used an attribution prompt for another scenario, and it listed a handful of experts by name, title, and a brief mention of what they said on the topic.

(Interestingly, I ran this article through the plagiarism checker in Grammarly (another AI-powered tool), but it failed to cite CMI for the content marketing definition. Instead, Grammarly cited pieces and parts of the definition as coming from other sites that seemingly relied on CMI’s definition. So, recognize that even plagiarism checkers aren’t a 100% guarantee that the content is original or cited correctly.)

Can ChatGPT explain topics better than Google?

In researching topics, I often input them into Google search to better understand them. Then, I wade through the results, clicking a link and hoping it takes me to a helpful article or site. I wanted to see if ChatGPT could help cut down my search engine time.

Prompt: What should content marketers do about Web3?

Google result: The top six results my search returned are articles about Web3 and content marketing. Google bolded some words in the brief explanatory descriptions, seemingly to highlight attributes so the searcher doesn’t have to read the article. 

These are the article titles (shown in the image below) followed by the words Google bolded:

  • How Content Marketing Fits Into Web 3.0 (may bring immersive participation and intelligent peer-to-peer transactions to the customer experience approach)
  • Web3 Marketing: What You Need To Know – Zen Media (will emphasize content marketing)
  • Web 3.0: How the Decentralized Web Will Impact Digital … (Bring new challenges and opportunities to marketing)
  • Web3 marketing: What marketers need to know! – DMEXCO (allow users to comprehensively manage their own data and content)
  • How will Web 3 Shake Up the Content Marketing Landscape (consumers embracing cryptocurrencies)
  • Web 3.0 is changing content marketing, here’s a primer (blockchain technology will provide Web 3.0 with data security and data decentralization)

ChatGPT result: Content marketers should familiarize themselves with Web3 technologies such as blockchain and decentralized platforms, and consider how these technologies could potentially impact their industry.

They should also keep an eye on how their target audience is engaging with these new technologies, and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Additionally, they should consider experimenting with creating content that is native to decentralized platforms, such as using non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to monetize digital assets. 

My conclusion: ChatGPT delivered a better surface-level answer for quickly understanding the topic. The phrases Google bolded on its search results page didn’t answer my question as well as the ChatGPT paragraphs. But, if I wanted a more in-depth understanding of the topic, I’d want to click to read the articles in the search result links rather than trying to get ChatGPT to say more. 

And that brings me to my next experiment.

Can ChatGPT write long-form content? 

All the answers to the dozen or so prompts I entered returned less than 100 words. Certainly, ChatGPT can’t work well for long-form content, right? Let’s find out.

Prompt: How does TikTok indirectly or directly affect content marketing? 

Result: TikTok has had a significant impact on content marketing by providing a new platform for brands and businesses to reach and engage with their target audience. The app’s short-form video format and focus on creative content make it well-suited for showcasing products, services, and behind-the-scenes looks at a company. 

Additionally, TikTok’s algorithm promotes content that is engaging and well-received by users, which can lead to organic reach and virality for brands that create popular content. Furthermore, the ability to use hashtags, challenges, and trends within the TikTok platform has given opportunities for marketers to create viral campaigns and increase brand awareness. Overall, TikTok has opened up a new avenue for brands to connect with their audiences and create compelling, shareable content.

Follow-up prompt: Tell me more.

Follow-up result: Sure, TikTok’s algorithm, which uses machine learning to determine which content users will find most engaging, is designed to promote popular and well-received content. This means that brands that create high-quality, creative content that resonates with TikTok users are more likely to have their content seen by a wider audience. Additionally, TikTok’s short-form video format allows brands to quickly and easily convey their message, whether it be promoting a product, showcasing a service, or giving a behind-the-scenes look at their company.

TikTok’s use of challenges, hashtags, and trends, are also ways for brands to create viral campaigns and increase brand awareness. For example, a brand can create a challenge using a specific hashtag and encourage users to participate, which can lead to increased engagement and visibility for the brand.

Furthermore, TikTok’s demographic is mostly Generation Z and Millennials, which makes it an excellent platform to reach out to younger audiences. TikTok’s user engagement also tends to be higher than other platforms, meaning that brands are more likely to see a return on investment when advertising on the app.

In summary, TikTok’s short-form video format, popular algorithm, and use of challenges, hashtags and trends make it an effective platform for brands to reach and engage with their target audience, create viral campaigns and increase brand awareness, and reach out to younger demographics.

My conclusion: ChatGPT isn’t a substitute for long-form content. Even when I directly asked for 1,000 words on the topic, ChatGPT only returned 350. However, I see ChatGPT’s potential for creating TL;DR content, social media posts, and alt-text descriptions for images (to a degree that surprised me).

Should content marketers use ChatGPT?

I entered that exact question as my final prompt. Turns out, the AI response works fairly well as the conclusion for this piece:

Content marketers can certainly use ChatGPT to help with various tasks such as content creation, editing, and generating ideas. For example, ChatGPT can be used to generate blog post titles, summaries, and even entire articles. Additionally, it can be used to help come up with new ideas for content marketing campaigns and to identify trends and topics that would be of interest to their target audience. However, it should be kept in mind that while ChatGPT can be a useful tool, it is not a replacement for human creativity and judgement.

But that ending also reveals why you shouldn’t hit the publish button right away. Grammarly found ChatGPT spelled judgment incorrectly in the last sentence and didn’t include a comma before “such as” in the first sentence.

A human editor would clean up the clunkier language to make the paragraph easier to read and adjust for brand tone and voice. I’d edit the paragraph to read like this:

ChatGPT can help content marketers with content creation, editing, and generating ideas. You can use ChatGPT to generate blog post titles, summaries, and even entire articles. You also can experiment with using it to come up with new ideas for content marketing campaigns and to identify trends and topics of interest to your audience. But keep this in mind: ChatGPT can be a useful tool, but it’s no replacement for human creativity and judgment.

Editors – human and AI – will always be needed, but ChatGPT and other AI text-creation programs have a place in the toolbox, too.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The Ultimate Guide to Product Marketing in 2023

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The Ultimate Guide to Product Marketing in 2023

Product marketing is essential, even if you only sell one or two products at your organization.

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3 email marketing shifts to make in 2023

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3 email marketing shifts to make in 2023

Whew! We made it to 2023! As we closed in on the end of the year in December, the finish line seemed awfully far away. Many marketers told me they were busier than ever. 

I myself was fielding calls for strategy help, working on business deals and managing the chaos all the way to the eve of Christmas Eve, something that rarely happens in my 20-plus-year career. 

Look back and celebrate, then move on

The first business for 2023 will be to step back, clear your head and take stock of all the great things you accomplished in 2022 despite the odds (i.e., coming out of COVID, going into a rebound and COVID round 2, moving into supply-chain shortages and other hiccups, facing down a potential recession) and how they affected the work you did to succeed.

And now it’s 2023. I hope you got your budget request approved and you’re ready to move ahead with a clean slate and new KPIs to hit. You’re probably wondering, “What can I do now to grow my program?

3 directional changes to grow your email program

Naturally, every marketer’s goals will be unique. We have different audiences, challenges, resources and goals. But I’m focusing on three major directional changes with my clients this year. Which of these could help you succeed this year?

1. Stop sending so many emails

Yeah, I know. That sounds strange coming from somebody who believes wholeheartedly in email and its power to build your business. But even I have my limits!

Email during this last holiday shopping season was insane. In my 20+ years in the email industry, I cannot remember a time, even during the lockdown days of COVID-19, when my inbox was so full. 

I’m not the only one who noticed. Your customers also perceived that their inboxes were getting blasted to the North Pole. And they complained about it, as the Washington Post reported (“Retailers fire off more emails than ever trying to get you to shop“).

I didn’t run any numbers to measure volume, isolate cadences or track frequency curves. But every time I turned around, I saw emails pouring into my inbox. 

My advice for everyone on frequency: If you throttled up during the holiday, now it’s time to throttle back.

This should be a regularly scheduled move. But it’s important to make sure your executives understand that higher email frequency, volume and cadence aren’t the new email norm. 

If you commit to this heavier schedule, you’ll drive yourself crazy and push your audience away, to other brands or social media.

If you did increase cadence, what did it do for you? You might have hit your numbers, but consider the long-term costs: 

  • More unsubscribes.
  • More spam complaints.
  • Deliverability problems.
  • Lower revenue per email. 

Take what you learned from your holiday cadence as an opportunity to discover whether it’s a workable strategy or only as a “break glass in case of emergency” move.

My advice? Slow down. Return to your regular volume, frequency and cadence. Think of your customers and their reactions to being inundated with emails over 60 days.

2. Stop spamming

In that Washington Post article I mentioned earlier, I was encouraged that it cited one of my email gripes — visiting websites and then getting emails without granting permission first. 

I could have given the Post a salty quote about my experiences with SafeOpt and predatory email experiences (“Business stress is no excuse to spam“) for visitors to its clients’ websites. 

Successful email marketers believe in the sanctity of permission. That permission-based practice is what you want to be involved in. Buying a list means you don’t hire a company to sell you one, whether it’s a data broker or a tech provider like SafeOpt. 

Spamming people doesn’t work in the long term. Sure, I’ve heard stories from people who say they use purchased lists or companies like SafeOpt and it makes them money. But that’s a singular view of the impact. 

Email is the only marketing channel where you can do it wrong but still make money. But does that make it right? 

The problem with the “it made us money” argument is that there’s nowhere to go after that. Are you measuring how many customers you lost because you spammed them or the hits your sender reputation took? 

You might hit a short-term goal but lose the long-term battle. When you become known as an unreliable sender, you risk losing access to your customers’ inboxes.

Aside from the permission violation, emailing visitors after they leave your site is a wasted effort for three reasons:

  • A visit is not the same as intent. You don’t know why they landed on your site. Maybe they typed your URL as a mistake or discovered immediately that your brand wasn’t what they wanted. Chasing them with emails won’t bring them back.
  • You aren’t measuring interest. Did they visit multiple pages or check out your “About” or FAQ pages? As with intent, just landing on a page doesn’t signal interest.
  • They didn’t give you their email address. If they had interest or intent, they would want to connect with your brand. No email address, no permission.

Good email practice holds that email performs best when it’s permission-based. Most ESPs and ISPs operate on that principle, as do many email laws and regulations.

But even in the U.S., where opt-out email is still legal, that doesn’t mean you should send an email without permission just because somebody landed on your website.

3. Do one new thing

Many email marketers will start the year with a list of 15 things they want to do over the next two months. I try to temper those exuberant visions by focusing on achievable goals with this question: 

“What one thing could you do this year that could make a great difference in your email program’s success?”

When I started a job as head of strategy for Acxiom, I wanted to come up with a long list of goals to impress my new boss. I showed it to my mentor, the great David Baker and he said, “Can you guarantee that you can do all of these things and not just do them but hit them out of the park?”

Hmmmm…

“That’s why you don’t put down that many goals,” he said. “Go in with just one. When that one is done, come up with the next one. Then do another. If you propose five projects, your boss will assume you will do five projects. If you don’t, it just means you didn’t get it done.”

That was some of the best advice I’ve ever received and I pass it on to you. 

Come up with one goal, project or change that will drive your program forward. Take it to your boss and say, “Here’s what I’m going to do this year.”

To find that one project, look at your martech and then review MarTech’s six most popular articles from 2022 for expert advice.

You’ll find plenty of ideas and tips to help you nail down your one big idea to drive growth and bring success. But be realistic. You don’t know what events could affect your operations. 

Drive your email program forward in 2023

The new year has barely begun, but I had a little trouble getting motivated to take on what’s shaping up to be a beast of a year. You, too?

I enjoyed my time off over the holidays. Got in some golf with my dad and his buddies, ate great food and took time to step back and appreciate the phenomenal people I work with and our amazing industry. 

What gets me going at last? Reaching out to my team, friends and you. Much of my motivation comes from fellow marketers — what you need, what you worry about and what I can do to help you succeed. 

If you’re on the struggle bus with me, borrow some motivation from your coworkers and teammates, so we can gather together 12 months from now and toast each other for making it through another year. 

It’s time to strap on your marketer helmet and hit the starter. Here’s to another great year together. Let’s get the job done!


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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About the author

Ryan Phelan

As the co-founder of RPEOrigin.com, Ryan Phelan’s two decades of global marketing leadership has resulted in innovative strategies for high-growth SaaS and Fortune 250 companies. His experience and history in digital marketing have shaped his perspective on creating innovative orchestrations of data, technology and customer activation for Adestra, Acxiom, Responsys, Sears & Kmart, BlueHornet and infoUSA. Working with peers to advance digital marketing and mentoring young marketers and entrepreneurs are two of Ryan’s passions. Ryan is the Chairman Emeritus of the Email Experience Council Advisory Board and a member of numerous business community groups. He is also an in-demand keynote speaker and thought leader on digital marketing.

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Promote | DigitalMarketer

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Promote | DigitalMarketer

Up until now, any “promotion” your customers have done has been passive. But in the promotion stage, your customers actively spread the word about your brands, products, and services. They tell stories, make recommendations, and share your offers because they truly believe in them.

Active promotion may be an affiliate or commission relationship—or just a free offer for sending some new customers your way. The point is, it’s a win-win for both of you.

One thing worth mentioning before we dive in; Happy customers don’t promote, SUCCESSFUL customers do. 

Our biggest question in the Promote stage is: How are you going to turn your BEST customers into your marketing partners? 

If you don’t have a referral program, an affiliate program, or a valued reseller program … who is willing to drive your message to the organization you need to build out these programs? This is word of mouth marketing, and it is very important so start thinking about how you want to build this. 

Look to your most successful customers, they’re going to be the people who actively promote for you. But then, let’s think about our customers who already have our prospects but are offering a different product or service. 

At DigitalMarketer we are a training and certification company, we are not a services based company. What that means is we don’t compete with agencies or consultants. This also means that there is an opportunity for us to work with agencies and consultants. 

When we realized this we decided to launch our Certified Partner Program, which you can learn more about at DigitalMarketer.Com/Partner. This program lets us work with the largest segments of our customer base, who have customers that we want but they’re providing a solution that we’re not providing. 

When we train our customers, they are able to use our company frameworks to work with their clients. If their clients want to learn to do their marketing themselves? We’re the first education company they see.

So who is that for you? Remember, it’s not the happy clients that refer, it’s the successful clients. If you want to create more promoters, make sure that you’re doing everything that you can as a marketer to ensure that you’re marketing great products so you can see great results. 

How can our example companies accomplish this?

For Hazel & Hems, they can add an ambassador program to grow their instagram following and increase credibility with viral posts. 

Ambassadors can earn affiliate commissions, additional boutique reward points, and get the chance to build a greater following by leveraging the Hazel & Hems brand.

For Cyrus & Clark, they can offer discounted rates to their existing clients if those clients are willing to refer them to their strategic partners. 

For construction companies, this could be a home builder recommending Cyrus & Clark services to the landscapers, real estate developers, and interior designers that they work with to serve their customers.



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