Rarely has there been so much noise about a piece of technology as there is about ChatGPT. It’s everywhere, it’s all consuming and potentially quite concerning.
Be under no illusion, we are in the middle of a tectonic technology shift and it is happening fast. Really fast. But is it good? Is it bad? What does ChatGPT for marketing really mean for us as SaaS marketers, and what do we need to do to prepare for a world that runs on AI?
Let’s start at the beginning. What’s happened?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for nearly a decade and is almost pervasive now in many of the services and apps that we use everyday, from chatbots on websites to Canva. It’s mainstream and close to the peak of its own hype cycle.
In 2021, OpenAI made some waves with the release of GPT-3 – the third generation of the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) language model – which can be fine-tuned for a wide-range of natural language processing tasks, including language translation, text summarization, and question answering. This technology was predominantly used by AI geeks.
What changed was that OpenAI released ChatGPT – a variant of the GPT-3 model specifically designed for chatbot applications and trained on a large dataset of conversational text – in late 2022. ChatGPT is so simple to use that the wider public adopted this tech at an unseen rate – and enthusiasm.
ChatGPT was quickly followed by the beta of GPT-4 – which is expected to be able to perform even more complex tasks than GPT-3, including writing essays and articles and creating art and music.
OpenAi is putting the power of Generative AI into the hands of everyone in a very accessible and very general way.
What is ChatGPT?
For want of a better description, ChatGPT is a content generation engine and a search engine combined (kind of). It allows you to ask a natural language question of almost any description and get a near instant response.
You can ask ChatGPT to write you a poem in Te Reo Maori, generate a video script, develop a persona, design a website or write a LinkedIn post and you’ll get something back that will likely surprise you. Have a read of the Auckland AI meetup ChatGPT open playbook to get an overview of its capabilities.
ChatGPT works by consuming content from the Internet (pre 2021) and essentially making sense of it. It then takes your question or request and gives you a response based on all of its learning. It’s mind boggling. However, unlike a search engine that gives you a range of possible answers, ChatGPT gives you AN answer and in a way, that’s what’s so disruptive about it.
The output from ChatGPT is astonishingly good. It’s well written and, at first glance, it’s pretty accurate. It’s not always perfectly accurate and lacks proof points or references – despite the definitive way that it responds, but it’s close enough to make you sit up and take notice.
By using a series of prompts you can refine this first output and get to content that you’re happy with, in a suitable tone of voice. It often takes you 80% there. It’s only going to get better and it’s definitely not going to go away, which means we as marketers need to figure out what it means.
What does ChatGPT for marketing mean for marketers?
At one level, it means our lives just got a whole lot easier, because there’s now a myriad of (largely free) AI tools that can help us do our jobs quicker, cheaper, faster. Anything and everything from video production to website design will be accelerated and automated with the help of AI-driven tools like ChatGPT.
If you’re a Hubspot user, you can join the waitlist to beta test ChatSpot and get unique insights from your instance by simply asking questions.
Many marketers are already curious about the potential of ChatGPT for marketing and automating some of their day to day tasks.
- Build company lists: “create a comma separated list of all software-as-a-service companies in the United States with over 1bn USD revenue”
- Develop pillar page outlines: “build me an outline for a website page that will rank first in search engines for ‘fractional CMO’ topic”
Here are a few more examples borrowed from :
- ChatGPT + Canva to bulk-create a branded LinkedIN carrousel super fast
- ChatGPT + YouTube to create more viral content faster
As a marketer that’s both exciting and confronting at the same time as it means the world as we know it will change soon.
But that’s not the real story here.
The end of Google as we know it?
The important story relates to discoverability. We are about to enter a world where almost anyone can create highly optimised web copy, perfect emails, awesome LinkedIn posts and near perfectly optimised video at the touch of a button, which is likely to change everything we know about digital marketing.
Getting your website and your content (and thus your company) to rank page 1 or 2 in Google for important keywords is critical to millions of both offline and online organisations, and there’s a fair chance ChatGPT (and its competitors) will turn all of that on its head.
One thread is the rise of a different type of search – one where a ChatGPT style ‘search’ service serves up THE answer and if that answer isn’t the answer you want it to be, then you’re instantly invisible.
Now it’s definitely not in Google’s interest for that to happen as their business model relies on people paying to find stuff, but anything could happen and Google’s hegemony in the world of discoverability is definitely going to be challenged (in the same way that YouTube, Meta and Tiktok are search engines in their own right).
Google will undoubtedly respond and adapt to an AI-centric world (it just released Bard, its own generative AI chatbot), but the pieces have moved and it’s possible that this is Google’s Microsoft moment (the one where they missed the Internet).
Here’s an interesting, existential question for every digital marketer out there. What happens to your ability to be found when the volume of content you’re competing with increases 10 fold. What if it increases 100 fold or 1000 fold, even?
If it’s incredibly simple for anyone to create near perfect SEO optimised content then everyone’s going to start doing it, and we’re all about to drown in content which is a real existential risk to a lot of us.
Google will respond for sure and it will learn how to filter and work out what’s original and what’s valuable content, but the lines are going to get really blurry really fast. If ChatGPT can write content that converts better than humans can, then Google is going to start prioritising AI-created content and then…
Time for a new digital marketing playbook?
So what do we do? Well that’s a really good question, and there’s no easy answer.
There’s an argument for savvy marketers to start using the tools to create content right now and ride the short term wave before competitors catch up using ChatGPT for marketing. If you can generate quality content at 10X the rate of everyone else you will get a short term jump, with the emphasis probably on short term.
In the long run, it’s likely to mean a new playbook for digital marketing which no one really understands yet. Perhaps AI will solve the problem for us in some meta kind of way, but more likely we’ll go back to some more traditional methods of marketing where personal connections and trusted recommendations play a more significant role.
The need for organisations to be discoverable certainly isn’t going to go away and the industry will adapt and change, but it will be different and there will likely be casualties along the way. It’s quite possible that the industry that marketing will be the most disrupted industry of all through this transformation as ChatGPT will make everyone an expert!!
Don’t panic. Much.
What’s alarming about this is the pace of change. It really is happening at breakneck speeds and the potential for organisation to suffer as a result of falling search rankings, marketing strategies unfit for an AI-powered world are real.
Time to start rethinking…