How useful is ChatGPT for copywriting and transcreation purposes?
Are you thinking about using ChatGPT for your copywriting or marketing translation/transcreation needs? The following analysis summarizes my experience.
In recent weeks, I heard so much about ChatGPT that I got intrigued and decided to test it on a couple of different use cases that are typical of my work.
Note that I work with German, but used English examples for purposes of this test.
Below, I summarized and rated each case on a scale from * (not helpful) to ***** (very helpful).
1. First, I asked ChatGPT to write a short ad in English for me:
Not bad, though a bit vague, and also not entirely accurate but then, I didn’t provide any specific info. Additional briefing and editing would be needed.
Conclusion: ChatGPT may be helpful to get a basic version to work with. However, editing the text would take about the same effort as writing it from scratch, at least for an experienced professional. So, not really a time or cost saver.
As I was curious to see what the system would do if I fed it with more information, I digged a bit deeper and added some specifics to my prompt. This is what I got:
When including specific information, the result improves dramatically. It is still not entirely correct in all aspects, but provides a good basis to work with if you need a quick solution.
Conclusion: Useful when you are clear on specifics and have already thought about word choices. You will likely still have to fine-tune it some more.
2. I gave ChatGPT another shot for another ad and another product, with more specifics:
ChatGPT basically took the keywords and built sentences around them, with some unintended twists. Could be one of those ads we see from high-volume copywriting mills. Likely works for a mass cheap bling product.
If you’re aiming for premium though, a copywriter would sit down with you as the client and probe and dig to find out what makes this phone case so special and worthy of investing a bit more money.
Conclusion: Workable if you’re going for volume and are satisfied with average results for a low-price mass market. Attention: Will backfire if used for a premium target market.
3. Write a blog post in German on most frequently asked questions to a specific topic
The prompt was: “Beantworte die häufigsten Fragen, die Konsumenten in Österreich zu Wärmepumpen haben”
(in English, for reference: Answer the most frequently asked questions that consumers in Austria have about heat pumps)
ChatGPT opted to provide just two questions, and the answers to both were inaccurate. See below.
| Häufig gestellte Fragen in Österreich:
· Welche Förderungen gibt es für den Kauf einer Wärmepumpe in Österreich?
In Österreich gibt es verschiedene Förderungen für den Kauf einer Wärmepumpe, zum Beispiel durch das Klima- und Energiefonds-Programm “Effizienzhaus Plus” oder die KfW-Bankengruppe. Es lohnt sich, sich über die aktuellen Fördermöglichkeiten zu informieren, um die Anschaffungskosten zu reduzieren.
· Welche Art von Wärmepumpe eignet sich am besten für mein Gebäude in Österreich?
Die Wahl der richtigen Wärmepumpe hängt von verschiedenen Faktoren ab, wie der Größe des Gebäudes, dem vorhandenen Platzbedarf und den Wärmebedürfnissen. Ein Fachmann kann Ihnen sagen, welche Art von Wärmepumpe am besten für Ihr Gebäude geeignet ist. In Österreich eignen sich besonders Luft- und Erdwärmepumpen, da die Temperaturen im Boden und in der Luft hier oft höher sind als in anderen Regionen.
I would have to verify whether these are indeed the most frequently asked questions, but for purposes of this test, let’s assume they are.
The answers were disappointing.
First of all, the first answer referred to programs in Germany, not Austria. So, it would cause confusion instead of being helpful.
The second answer was partly correct and rightly pointed to the need to consult with an expert, but left me scratching my head when it noted that in Austria, “temperatures in the soil and air are often higher than in other regions.” What other regions???
Conclusion: ChatGPT speaks German fluently. Beyond that, I recommend to use it only to generate basic ideas if you’re drawing blanks. Quite frankly, by doing their own Google research and discussing the client’s specific technology and probing for insights, an experienced, professional writer will provide a much more accurate and at the same time helpful blog article. Which is sort of the idea of writing a blog article in the first place, isn’t it? To stand out as the highly competent and cutting-edge go-to-source in your niche.
4. I told ChatGPT that it was mixing up Germany and Austria and that the kfw it mentioned is actually a German bank. The answer was baffling.
ChatGPT apologizes for the mistake, then repeats the mistake, adds more mistakes, and finally emphasizes how important it is to “supply correct information to support consumers”.
(Here is the translation of its answer):
“You are absolutely right, I apologize for this mistake. In Austria, there is the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and the program “Effizienzhaus Plus” as well as the subsidies available through the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). It is important to provide the right information to support consumers in their country. I will make sure to take this into account in the future.“
Conclusion: When told to correct the mistake, it gets even worse. Better do it yourself.
5. In my next example, I asked ChatGPT to transcreate a tagline from English into German.
The result is hilarious, but useless unless you are keen to embarrass yourself.
For one, the correct translation of iced coffee isn’t Eiskaffee. Any human in-market expert would know that. Secondly, the double entendre of “shake it up” (“shake the drink” and “try something new or different”) is lost and results in complete nonsense.
Of course, ChatGPT didn’t have the context and was unable to understand what the aim of the campaign was. But instead of answering “sorry, I can’t do this without a proper briefing” it just confidently spit out a completely non-sensical text.
Conclusion: Obviously, machine algorithms don’t care in the slightest if what they deliver is right or not. Don’t rely on them if you care about your reputation.
6. Finally, I wanted to test if ChatGPT could at least be used to generate translation ideas for tricky words, so I asked ChatGPT to think of as many translations of the word “impact” into German as possible:
The answer was evasive and disappointing. Personally, I have far more ways to render “impact” in German than that. But at least in this case, it had the good sense to point out that context is important. In fact, in translation, context is everything! So do yourself a favor and hire a human expert. They will know what questions to ask to ensure the translation is the best in each context.
I tried to use ChatGPT for more examples, but the system kept telling me it’s at capacity and I should check back later. That could take a while, so these are my results to date (15 January 2022).
I was so excited when I first tried out ChatGPT. I had heard so much about it and was looking forward to integrating it into my workflows.
Yet, the more I looked into it, the greater my disappointment. At least in my line of work and given the high standards my clients expect, ChatGPT is currently nothing more than a basic sentence generator that needs substantial editing for depth and facts.
Below you will find my summary based on the above examples. Note that the examples are not exhaustive and the results may not be representative of your specific needs and experience.
Usefulness of ChatGPT for Copywriting:
- Useful for short-lived social media or other ads on the quick if you’re in the mass market.
- Otherwise, use it only as an idea generator and apply your own skills and insights to take it from there. Or do your own thing right away (may be faster and better).
- You can’t trust it and need to verify every single piece of information.
Usefulness of ChatGPT for Transcreation:
- No benefits found and perceived as a time waster rather than helpful.
Of course, ChatGPT itself warns that it
- May occasionally generate incorrect information
- May occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content
- Has limited knowledge of anything beyond 2021
Yet, occasionally is quite the understatement. Based on my experience with it so far and at this stage of development, it produces lots of incorrect information, and when asked to correct, it may even make matters worse. It doesn’t even provide sources to back up anything it writes.
ChatGPT has good language skills, however, so, it can potentially be helpful if you want to write a fantasy novel. If you write for corporate purposes, however, you will have to verify literally everything. That may slow you down more than you gain.
So if you want to
- Position your brand in the premium market
- Present yourself as a cutting-edge leader in your niche
then I recommend you retain the services of human experts in writing or transcreating your texts. These experts will use all the available technology – and there is a lot more than just ChatGPT – in combination with their expertise in research, fact-checking, sales psychology, creativity and whatever else it takes to help you with successfully generating leads and converting them into loyal customers.
Picture credit: Pexels pixabay (main picture), own screenshots