This post is part of Blue Seedling’s Hackathon Series, where we’ll share the good, the bad, and the great from our 2023 Generative AI Hackathon. The goal? Solve everyday problems at Blue Seedling using the power of AI. Earlier this year, Blue Seedling split into teams of two to develop working prototypes (MVPs) for their projects. Watch this space for more stories from each team.
In this post, we’ll share that newsletter prototype project — and some key considerations for when you want to replicate it yourself.
The goal: Let ChatGPT write our favorite type of marketing newsletter
At Blue Seedling, our favorite type of marketing newsletter is The Reader. To quote ourselves, the Reader is “a simple, mostly plain-text email, filled with links to valuable content and commentary that will stick with your audience — and even make them enthusiastically reply. The Reader isn’t just something for your audience to skim and then archive; The Reader is an email that will actually be worth, well, reading.”
We’ve seen the Reader work across verticals and audiences, and we recommend it to almost every client. (Want to learn more? Get the full guide here.)
The only problem with the Reader is that it is time-consuming to put together. First, you have to stay up-to-date on your industry enough to know what exact news stories and articles will be relevant to your audience during any given week. (Though hopefully, you’re doing that anyway.) Then, you have to write pithy, yet meaningful commentary to accompany those articles…and include *just enough* details about your company and product that your brand credibility is boosted.
Surely, ChatGPT could do all this for us…right?
What worked: we got a great newsletter!
Overall, this project succeeded in doing what it set out to do. We ended up with a great Reader newsletter, written by ChatGPT.
Here’s an example of a real (though slightly anonymized) newsletter that we’ve sent:
Hope all is well on your end. Just wanted to share our latest round-up of B2C marketing news and upcoming events:
- Conference season is in full swing – where will you be headed? We’re excited to be at QLP London in a few short weeks. Shoot me a line if you’ll be there, and don’t miss our panel on trends, challenges, and opportunities for marketing professionals in 2023 with Disney, Target, and American Express. (LINK)
- VR and AR aren’t typically synonymous with consumer data, but they may be soon. According to DigiDay, an increasing number of top brands and agencies are experimenting with new ways to measure consumer engagement in mixed-reality environments. (LINK)
- How does your organization keep customers at the center of the business? We recently published a case study with Hasbro that shows how their robust consumer data ecosystem is crucial to their customer-centricity. (LINK)
- In the latest episode of The Marketeam Podcast, we are thrilled to be joined by Jo Fowler, SVP Marketing at CVS. If you’re looking to learn about the do’s and don’ts of incorporating AI into your marketing toolbox, you won’t want to miss this episode. (LINK)
- If you’re a fan of our podcast and heading to Austin for ECM North America, you’re in luck — we’ll be doing our first live show at the conference! Check out the details here. We can’t wait to meet you in person. (LINK)
I hope you found these links valuable.
All the best,
And here’s what we got after working with ChatGPT (check out the full prompt at the end of this post):
Another week, another set of fresh B2C marketing perspectives to fuel your professional curiosity. Welcome back to the B2C Biweekly. Let’s dive right into what’s new and noteworthy:
- Webinar Replay – Gen AI: If you haven’t had the chance to catch our webinar “What Gen AI will mean for marketers in 2024,” there’s still time. Get up-to-speed on the transformative potential of Generative AI. Ready when you are! Watch it now. (LINK)
- Podcast Alert – Fresh Episode with Mattel: On The Marketeam Podcast this week, we’re delving deep into the evolution of market analysis and what it means for businesses today — with special guest, Ben Otter, CMO of Mattel. Tune in here. (LINK)
- Consumer Behavior Report – McKinsey’s Latest: A dynamic shift is underway in the consumer world. McKinsey’s newest article sheds light on the changing landscapes and how “ands” are defining the tone. Enlightening and comprehensive, this one’s a gem.. (LINK)
- Case Study Spotlight – Sweetgreen: Ever wondered how leading brands like Sweetgreen maintain their competitive edge? Their secret? A robust consumer data ecosystem that fuels their marketing. Get a behind-the-scenes look at their strategy and takeaways for your own team. Read the case study.
Best wishes for the week ahead,
The final output is not exactly the same as the “real” version — and that’s OK. We actually liked how ChatGPT added bold headings (and we continued to do that with our newsletter going forward.) The tone was slightly more colloquial, and that was OK with us, too. It still fits in with the overall casual, informative tone we wanted to strike.
What didn’t work: the process can’t be fully automated
Though we loved the final result, the process it took to get there wasn’t as smooth as we hoped. We ran into the following roadblocks:
- When we told ChatGPT about our ICP and asked it to find relevant news stories and articles, we got 💩. The links were either not relevant, not credible, or straight-up fake.
- As usual, ChatGPT’s “natural” tone of voice was annoying — too enthusiastic, and too cutesy — and it took a lot of finagling and feedback to get it to a good place. It’s worth noting that, over time, it’s becoming easier to perfect ChatGPT’s tone of voice — especially since the introduction of the Custom Instructions feature. But it’s an imperfect process so far.
So, will we keep using ChatGPT to write Reader-style newsletters, and will we recommend it to clients? Absolutely, but with major stipulations.
Three tips before you let ChatGPT write your marketing newsletter
- Don’t outsource your audience and industry research. It’s not yet worth trying to get ChatGPT to find links that will resonate with your audience. GPT-4 can now browse the internet in real time, but we’ve found these capabilities to be lacking thus far. The links ChatGPT provided just weren’t relevant enough for our specific ICP…which brings us back to a point we made earlier: you should be doing audience and industry research yourself already. It turns out there are no shortcuts for getting to know your ICP. You have to read what they read & party where they party. This work will not only improve the relevance of your marketing newsletters; it’ll make you a better company. (Check out our tips for getting to know your audience better here.)
- Don’t skimp on editing and fact-checking. Every writer needs an editor, and that includes ChatGPT. Always double-check ChatGPT’s outputs for mistakes & hallucinations. It should go without saying, but: if you send out a newsletter with fake information, you’ll lose credibility with your audience, and it will be hard to recover.
- Don’t let ChatGPT write your first, second, or third newsletter. But let it write your fourth. In other words, find your voice first, and then let ChatGPT help you scale. We’ve found that it’s typically more efficient to have ChatGPT replicate the tone of an existing text, than letting it use its “natural” tone of voice (which is typically too excitable and emoji-filled) and then giving edits. You end up having to give it feedback either way, but the starting output is much closer to the final output if you give it examples of what you want.
Bonus Fourth Consideration: As of right now (Q4 2023), ChatGPT is still our preferred Gen AI tool in terms of writing tone. We tried this same process with Bard and Claude, and we found ChatGPT to be a better, more collaborative colleague. That is to say, it took direction and feedback more easily, and it produced a writing tone that was more similar to what we were looking for.
The ChatGPT Reader: A how-to guide
Ready to let ChatGPT write your Reader-style newsletter for you? Try the following prompt format — subbing in your company details, example content, and relevant links. (Remember: don’t try this as a first attempt at a Reader.)
STEP ONE: Initial Prompt
|You are a marketing manager at [COMPANY NAME] [COMPANY URL]|
You were asked to create a monthly reader-style newsletter. Here is some information on this style of email: https://www.blueseedling.com/blog/introducing-the-reader-the-most-effective-b2b-marketing-email-you-can-send/
And here are examples of previous similar newsletters:
[NEWSLETTER EXAMPLE 1]
[NEWSLETTER EXAMPLE 2]
[NEWSLETTER EXAMPLE 3]
Here are the links for this month’s newsletter, please draft the email in the same writing style, wording, and length as the examples above:
STEP TWO: Edits!
If the above prompt does not yield perfect results (and it probably won’t!), use the following follow-up prompt:
|Thank you, but this still misses the mark. Here is what I ultimately wrote instead. |
Can you assess my version, and tell me your thoughts on what you could have improved?
Once the tool produces a new version, you can follow up with this prompt:
|Thank you! Using what you’ve learned about my preferred newsletter style, can you please create a new newsletter in my desired style featuring these links: |
[NEW LINK 1]
[NEW LINK 2]
[NEW LINK 3]
[NEW LINK 4]
STEP THREE: Future-Proof the Process
After you’ve settled on a final draft of the newsletter, let ChatGPT help you make Custom Instructions that you can use to speed up the process & improve the tone of voice going forward. You can use this prompt:
|Read the following examples of newsletters, and create custom instructions about my tone of voice to provide to ChatGPT.|
[NEWSLETTER EXAMPLE 1]
[NEWSLETTER EXAMPLE 2]
[NEWSLETTER EXAMPLE 3]
[NEWSLETTER EXAMPLE 4 (The One Created Above)]
The bottom line
ChatGPT can help you write a marketing newsletter — once you already have a good one. Audience research, thorough editing, and spending time developing your tone of voice are all necessary prerequisites.
More from our Hackathon Series
- Buyer’s Guide in 5 min: Hacking long-form content creation using GenAI
- Short-form content marketing wins using GenAI
- Automating a content calendar (and filling it with meaningful blog post topics) using ChatGPT