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We Used GPT-3 to Write 3 Promotional Text Messages and the Results Were Impressive

We asked GPT-3, OpenAI’s powerful new language generator, to write 3 text messages for us. The results? Scarily good!

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You may not have heard of GPT-3, but there’s a good chance you’ve read its work, used a website that runs its code, or even conversed with it through a chatbot.

It’s been over two years since OpenAI introduced GPT-3 to the world, and in that time marketers have become comfortable with AI writing advertising material, website copy, product descriptions, and social media content.

With AI-generated copy so commonplace, we wanted to put it to the test and see if it’s up to the challenge of writing promotional text messages.

What Is GPT-3?

For the uninitiated, GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) is an autoregressive language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. 

If that sounds like gibberish to you, we asked GPT-3 to provide us with an “Explain Like I’m Five” definition of what it does. This is what it offered up:

“GPT-3 is like a special robot that can help us learn new things. It can read lots of information and then use that information to answer questions.”

The best way to illustrate how marketers are using GPT-3 is with an example. 

Let’s say you wanted to write a social post about the importance of physical exercise. You could provide GPT-3 with some keywords and phrases related to the topic and it would generate a post for you like this one.

Can GPT-3 Write Text Messages?

GPT-3 is very good at writing things that are short and creative (and not so good at long and factual writing). For example, here’s a holiday-themed text marketing poem we asked it to write:

Pretty good, right? 

In theory, this makes it an ideal tool for writing SMS marketing messages. Confined to 160 characters, your messages need to grab attention and cut straight to the point.

At the same time, it’s understandable if you’re a little skeptical since:

  1. Text messages are often more informal and casual than the types of text used to train GPT-3, so it could struggle to generate conversational and appropriate language. 
  2. Additionally, text messages often require context and understanding of the brand and its voice that GPT-3 may not be able to provide.

Putting GPT-3 to Work

We’ve written a lot about the characteristics of an effective SMS marketing strategy and the types of messages people want to read. For the purpose of this test, we wanted to see GPT-3:

1. Keep it short and sweet
2. Offer value
3. Include a call-to-action
4. Use an engaging tone 

With that in mind, we graded the output of each prompt based on the above criteria.

1. Pizza Restaurant Promotional Offer

Prompt: Write an effective SMS promotion for a pizza restaurant

Output: Treat yourself to a deliciously cheesy pizza from XYZ Pizza! Buy 1 get 1 free on all large pizzas. Order online at XYZPizza.com or call 555-123-4567. Hurry, offer ends soon!

AreaGrade
Short and sweetUnfortunately this message was 173 characters, 13 over the limit for SMS. (At SimpleTexting we allow you to send an extended SMS with a 306-character limit, so this isn’t a problem.)
Offer valueThe buy 1 get 1 free offer ticks this box.
Include a call-to-actionThere’s a prompt to order online or call a number.
Use an engaging toneIt creates urgency by pointing out it’s a limited-time offer.

2. New Year Referral Program For a Gym

Prompt: Write a text message promoting a gym’s new year referral program

Output: Hey friends! Start the new year off right and join us at [GYM NAME]! We have a great referral program – for every person you refer who joins, you get a free month of membership! Get fit and save money in 2023!

AreaGrade
Short and sweetOnce again, GPT-3 failed to adhere to the 160-character limit of an SMS.
Offer valueHighlights the free month for every referral.
Include a call-to-actionDoesn’t provide a clear way to take advantage of the referral program.
Use an engaging toneClearly states the benefits ,i.e., “Get fit and save money in 2021.”

3. Dentist Offering a Free Electric Toothbrush With a Cleaning

Prompt: Write a text message promotion for a dentist offering a free electric toothbrush with a cleaning in January.

Output: Hey there! 🤗 January is the perfect time to start taking care of your oral hygiene. We’re offering a free electric toothbrush with every cleaning in January. So take advantage of this special offer and book your appointment now! 🦷 We look forward to seeing you soon! 

AreaGrade
Short and sweetA little longer message than ideal but understandable since the offer is wordy.
Offer valueHighlights the offer clearly and states its benefits (i.e., “start taking care of your oral hygiene.”)
Include a call-to-actionPrompts recipients to book an appointment.
Use an engaging toneEmploys emojis and friendly language.

Takeaways From Our GPT-3 Text Message Experiment

Overall, we were very impressed with the output. Any issues could be avoided by improving or tweaking the inputs. For example, instead of asking GPT-3 for an SMS promotion, you could ask it to generate one that is 160-characters long or simply edit the message down.

Beyond that, you could use GPT-3 to generate multiple variations of a text message offer and then A/B test what works best. Here’s ten variations of the last example.

From our experiment, it’s clear that GPT-3 can help overcome writer’s block and help you write better text messages. But the jury’s still out on whether or not it can do all the work for you. That’s probably a good thing. 😉

Drew Wilkinson
Drew Wilkinson

Drew Wilkinson is the Head of Marketing at SimpleTexting. Drew has more than a decade of experience managing successful integrated marketing programs to build brands, raise awareness, and generate demand.

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