Middle of the Funnel

AI Copywriters & The Generative Age for Marketing

Published June 11, 2021

“The most efficient animal on the planet is the condor. The most inefficient animal on the planet are humans. But a human with a bicycle... becomes the most efficient animal. Think of the computer as a bicycle for the mind.” 

-- Steve Jobs (or the dramatic portrayal of Steve Jobs by Michael Fassbender - the accurate quote is here)

When I first started sharing samples of sales emails generated by a new prototype AI email copywriter (powered by GPT-3) that our engineering team built, the main reaction I got was disbelief.

My wife asked me - “Did the engineering team hard-code this?" (my response: "You can read code too right? Here's the source code. You can see for yourself.")

My marketing friends told me - “No way that’s written by an AI. It crafts better emails than 70% of sales reps!”

I'll let you take a look and decide for yourself. Here’s the email I showed them -

Screen Shot 2021-06-10 at 1.31.29 AM

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you in the email replies!


Last month, Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today column wrote an article about how CMOs were using AI copywriters to augment their marketing team.

JPMorgan Chase Taps AI to Make Marketing Messages More Powerful

They were using AI to generate and experiment with variants of marketing messaging at scale.

These were not the equivalent of testing button colors, but wholesale value proposition and segmentation experiments.

"The AI made a couple of changes that made sense and I was like, 'Why were we so dumb that we didn’t figure that out?'" said Kristin Lemkau, Chief Marketing Officer at JPMorgan Chase. 'And some of them weren’t intuitive.'"

Personally, I think that the way marketing could evolve over the next five years is as follows:

  1. Human describes what they want
  2. AI builds and generates initial drafts
  3. Human debugs and curates output

This new workflow would truly be a bicycle for the mind. Think about all the time we can spend as marketers, on higher-order, more creative work... by offloading more and more tasks to automation.

All aboard the hype train

There's a lot of hype today though.

From the WSJ article -

“Ninety percent of the people who are pitching to me use the words AI-powered or powered by AI. But scratch below the surface and you find it is largely jargon,” said Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Mastercard, which is also testing AI tools for marketing, including those that aim to find the best message, visuals and layout."

“You don’t have to be a super expert in AI, but you should know enough in terms of depth and breadth to be asking the right questions and be able to challenge someone if the answer seems disingenuous,” Mr. Rajamannar added.

In one of the articles I wrote below, I hope to shed enough light on how state-of-the-art AI works today, so you can build an intuition and avoid being fooled by vendors who claim to use AI.

Here are some stuff I found really interesting (some self-promotion alert, but I promise they are all cool stuff :D) 

Saleswhale June (free tool)  AI Sales Email Copywriter: Looking for early beta users - sign up here if you are interested (slots limited)

Before anything else, special thanks to Katie Peters from InVision, Mamta Gupta from Forter, Gonto from Auth0 for being design partners for this new tool! Your feedback was invaluable in helping us shape this product.


"This is the coolest thing I've ever seen in all my years of marketing. I'm blown away" -- Director of Marketing (early alpha user)

 “This is really cool. It's a great tool to fight writer's block. Your idea of scaling the copy by segments is really interesting and clever.” -- VP of Growth & Revenue Operations (early alpha user)

 Can I be perfectly honest with you?

The purpose of this AI Sales Email Copywriter is to serve as a free growth tool for Saleswhale. We are probably going to keep it free forever, and I have no plans to monetize it.

But we are going to use it to generate top of the funnel leads and awareness for the business. 

Personally, I was inspired by Ryan Bonnici, who went against his manager's advice, and built a free tool (Email Signature Generator) when he was at HubSpot.

With a measly budget of $6,000, the free tool is now generating 50,000 monthly leads and 64 million dollars in net-new sourced revenue for HubSpot. Absolutely bonkers.

You can read more about it here: https://www.impactplus.com/blog/64-million-revenue-6-thousand-dollar-marketing-budget-ryan-bonnici

My secret wish is for this free tool to achieve 1% of the success that Ryan achieved.

I had an interesting conversation about this with a fellow founder CEO:

Gab: "Yeah, and each user will cost us slightly under a dollar to acquire, including server costs, API costs, etc. And if just 1% of these users turn into demo requests, that's still only ~$100 per demo which is a fraction of what we are paying now per fully blended demo."

Friend: "Dude. Aren't you being a little intellectually dishonest.. Ryan Bonnici spent $6K on his free tool. How much engineering time have you sank into this now? How much is it worth? $50,000? $80,000? And not to mention the ongoing maintenance and support of this tool, which is sure to put it above $100,000+ fully loaded."

Gab: "Well - I can't disagree with that!"

How GPT-3 works (for laymen) by Gabriel Lim, CEO of Saleswhale (yours truly)

"Most literature about AI or GPT-3 on the internet falls into two categories. Either they are really fluffy pieces by tech blogs, or they are extremely technical / research papers. I wanted to write an article that tries to explain the GPT-3 technology for laymen, without overhyping. I want to try to make state-of-the-art research into AI accessible, without diluting insight, by explaining concepts as simply as possible."

Most of you already know that I began my career as an engineer, before I fell in love with marketing.

This is a draft blog post I am working on. Would love to get feedback from the brain trust in this newsletter.. if it is helpful, or overly technical - before I publish it publicly.

As mentioned by the CMO of Mastercard above - 

"You don’t have to be a super expert in AI, but you should know enough in terms of depth and breadth to be asking the right questions and be able to challenge someone if the answer seems disingenuous."

The goal of this piece is to help you build intuition as a marketer for the current state of technology today, so you can know enough to ask the right questions and challenge vendors if necessary.

Saleswhale AI Sales Email Copywriter Demo, 5th June 2021

"And watch what happens when you do this..."

A quick 1.30 min video I made for a friend, that showcases June, the AI sales email copywriter in action. 

I especially found the "segmentation layering" capabilities of June really cool.

The Generative Age by Arram Sabeti

"One of the amazing things about AI is how you can work at a high level of abstraction. Imagine adjusting sliders on your favorite movie to make it more gritty or funny. Or asking the AI to show you what Star Wars would look like as directed by Christopher Nolan. The same way you can use GPT-3 to write a Taylor Swift song about Harry Potter, you could make a new Harry Potter movie starring Taylor Swift. Language models already create new kinds of interactivity. When the cost of something drops by a factor of a billion we should expect to see qualitatively different uses."

A thought-provoking piece by Arram Sabeti on how Generative AI changes the texture of creative industries, and how the future could look like in the next 5 - 10 years.

How GPT-3 Is Shaping Our AI Future, a HBR podcast with Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI

"This is the first real general purpose AI that has been released. When general purpose technologies are released into the wild, like the Internet, the personal computer, the combustion engine - they spawn a lot of new derivative technologies and companies, And why I think this matters, is because I think we are now at the beginning of the next technological platform that will enable a lot of new services and products that would be difficult to even imagine today."

I enjoyed this podcast featuring OpenAI CEO Sam Altman traversing the idea space on the implications of general purpose AI, and AGI (artificial general intelligence). 


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