The Future of Online Marketing: Automated Copywriting

And how you could have a huge advantage by being a first adopter

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Copywriting is HARD. 

Most beginners don’t realize how hard it is. They figure all you need is a good product and people will buy it.

Unfortunately, it’s much more difficult than that. Many entrepreneurs will either bang their heads against a wall writing trash copy, or they’ll hire a copywriter. 

Trying to write sales copy yourself with no experience sucks, and hiring a copywriter also sucks but for different reasons.

First you have to find a good copywriter, which isn’t easy. Also, they can be expensive. On top of that, working with a copywriter is just another area of your business that can cause you headache. Miscommunication and misunderstandings lead to frustration and take control away from the business owner.

So, seeing the influx of startups generating copy with GPT-3 isn’t surprising at this point. I believe that early adopters can turn this into a HUGE marketing advantage through A/B testing and SEO. But first, I’ll explain a bit about GPT-3, copywriting, and a few startups trying to offer this service.

If you already know about GPT-3 and copywriting, fee free to skip to the “Secret Sauce” section where I discuss the marketing advantages of this strategy.

What is GPT-3?

GPT-3 is a cutting edge language model that uses machine learning to produce human-like text. 

It takes in a prompt, and attempts to complete that prompt. For instance, I could ask it “What does it mean to be a human?”, and it would attempt to give an answer.

If you give it a pattern, it will attempt to copy the pattern, like examples of advertising on your website.

It is in private beta currently. So if you don’t have access right now, you’ll have to work through a company like the ones I mention below.

What is copywriting?

Copywriting is the act of writing text for advertising or other marketing purposes.

Basically, you’re trying to make people buy stuff with writing.

If your website is selling something, almost all of the text on the website will be some form of copy. 

It’s a skill that takes a long time to develop. To normal people it just looks like simple words, but for the writer, everything has a purpose. You have to understand people’s wants and desires, find an angle for your product that appeals to those desires, and figure out a way to communicate that angle in language that is clear and simple.

Using GPT-3 for Copywriting

Basically, most copywriting follows a general style. Because of this, there are loads of examples on the internet that GPT-3 has exposure to, since it was trained from text on major websites. Given a well-crafted prompt, you could have GPT-3 mimic the copywriting style, and extrapolate given some details of your particular product or service. 

How it can work, generally (this is only useful if you have direct access to the private GPT-3 API):

1. Craft a prompt.

It doesn’t need to be super complicated, but it does need to include enough information for GPT-3 to be able to know you’re trying to write copy and have context around your product. It only understands what you tell it. 

Include an example piece of copy and a description. Then, try to get GPT-3 to copy it for your product. I included an example prompt in the appendix.

2. Generate several outputs and pick the best.

For longer pieces of copy, I wouldn’t expect to use the raw output of the model.  The best we can hope for is to have one or two outputs that will require minimal editing before they become useful.

Shorter pieces of text, like a headline or call-to-action, will be much easier. You could use the GPT-3 output directly.

That’s about it, pretty straightforward.

Startups offering automated copywriting as a service

Given how much attention GPT-3 has gotten from VC Twitter, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are already several companies trying to offer GPT-3 copywriting as a service. These are companies that are following the same general procedure I outlined in the previous section, but offering it to others at a price. If you want to know why you should use them, read on to the next section.

Broca: This startup intends to take existing ads and create new variants for you based on the original. Presumably, you would use this for A/B testing of some sort. They also plan to include content creation, similar to what my blog did. 

VWO: This one is clever. Right now, this is just a “challenge” to see how GPT-3 copy stacks up to human copy. From the looks of it, it takes your current titles, product descriptions, calls-to-action, etc. and creates variants you can choose from. Then you A/B test the human copy vs the GPT-3 copy on VWO (which integrates into your website somehow) or some other A/B testing platform. 

  • My guess is that they’ll use the results as justification for a new product, which will include GPT-3 autosuggestion integrations. If it works, the companies that participated in the competition would be their first adopters. 

Copysmith: This is another service that offers generated ad copy similar to the others, but with two crucial differences.

  • First, it is able to generate blog posts right now. The reason this matters is because generating blog posts with GPT-3 is currently not allowed (whoops). The other startups planning to offer blog generation are hoping OpenAI will lift that restriction. Copysmith on the other hand uses non-GPT-3 models to generate content, so it is not subject to those restrictions.

  • Second, its output is SEO optimized. This helps your website rank higher on google searches for certain keywords, which drives more traffic to your website. Now, instead of hiring an SEO firm to perform this optimization for you, its automatically baked in. Very convenient.

The secret sauce

The value in these companies is not their ability to generate great copy. As I have shown, it’s not hard to create copy with GPT-3.

Anyone who has worked in ecommerce can tell you that sometimes the most subtle changes can have a huge impact on your conversion rates. Change the text on a button, and suddenly your sales go up 20%.

Dialing in your website copy is a painstaking, iterative process. It involves a lot of back and forth with your copywriter (if you even have one) and usually crude testing methods. 

This is where automated copywriting really shines.

The process of testing out the effectiveness of different forms of copy on the same ad is referred to as A/B testing. For instance, lets say I have 2 different headlines on my webpage. To A/B test it, I could run two different instances of my website. Then, I compare the traffic on both. The one that results in more sales is the one I will end up keeping.

The only difficulty with A/B testing is that it is painstaking to do manually. Integrations are offered to make this process easier.

The nice thing about GPT-3 is that it can scale. Generating 5 different forms of a headline is just a click of a button.

Combining A/B testing integrations with GPT-3 outputs could be a game-changer. What previously took weeks of frustration and back and fourth with your copywriter could be done much more quickly using GPT-3 and extensive A/B testing.

Add in SEO optimization baked into your copy, and suddenly you have a well-tuned ecommerce machine.

Final thoughts

I think that copywriting automation is going to become the norm in the near future. Ecommerce website builders like shopify will offer auto-generated copy for your store in addition to nice templates and payment options.

However, by providing this service, we will also be lowering the barrier to entry for online entrepreneurs even further. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. But, if automated copywriting becomes widespread, it will be much harder to stand out.

The first people to adopt this technology will have a huge advantage over everyone else, plain and simple.

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Appendix

Example Copywriting prompt:

Description: Bronzd is a suntan lotion meant to give people the results they need quickly. 5 minutes in the sun with Bronzd applied is equivalent to 2 hours of regular exposure. 

Audience: It's designed for people who don't have time to be outside every day. Engineering students, corporate workers, and anyone else who cant be bothered with spending time outdoors. 

Copy: Tanning is a waste of time. You need to get stuff done, and dont have time to sit around outside doing nothing. But all that time indoors takes a toll. Lack of sun exposure leads to vitamin deficiency, and just looks plain ugly. How can you maximize your sun exposure with the minimum amount of time spent outside? Meet Bronzd.

Bronzd’s secret formula allows you to get two hours of sun exposure in just 5 minutes, so you can focus on whats important without worrying about your skin. 

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Description: <enter in your product description>

Audience: <enter in your intended audience>

Copy: 

Notice how I left the line after “Copy:” blank. This indicates to GPT-3 that it should try to copy the pattern and generate a new piece of copy. It’s not rocket science, anyone can do this.