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Episode 96 - How to Kickstart Creating Copy for your Shopify Store

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Hey. Scott Austin here.

I learned about a new tool this week, and its so impactful I immediately made this podcast episode about.  But I'm not the only one excited about it.  Much of the technology world is too.  In fact Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke tweeted “This is insane” upon seeing the technology.  So let's dive into this new technology.

If you have listened to a few of my podcast episodes, you've probably figured out that I'm a big fan of content marketing.  One of the things any successul brand will need to do to build their brand is to create a lot of content that tells your brand's story.  Because if you don't tell your story, then your customers won't be able to repeat that story and tell it to others.

But creating content is a lot of hard work.  First there's many different types of content like written copy, graphics, photography, audio files and video.  And then each of these different content types require different skill sets for you to be successful at them.  Now for me, the written word is very hard.  For some people, creating new copy is easy and they go straight to the keyboard and competent copy flows out of their fingers.  But for most people, writing copy from scratch is not easy.  And as I said, then there's people on the end of the spectrum like me where anything they write comes out as a short list of fragamented bullet points. 

There's an old adage that says 'it's easier to edit than create'.  So imagine a world where you could have someone create the first draft of your product copy, so that you could edit it to fit to your brand and product.  As you probably know, copy writers do exist and they are really good.  But they are also expensive and out of the budget range for many Shopify stores.  Well there's now a way to get draft copy without hiring an expensive copy writer.  And this is where the power of AI comes in.  As you probably know, AI stands for artificial intelligence.  AI is when we use computers to analyze and synthesize data.  We've been using AI with numbers for a while now, think Moneyball.  But when it comes to natural langage its more complicated for computers to process than numbers.  But the software developers have been hard at work on this for decades and what's possible today is outstanding, or is at least outstanding to someone like me who grew up before computers and the internet where commonplace.  One example of how far natural language has come is how we now have verbal conversations with Google, Siri and Alexa.   

And now, there exists a new copy writing AI bot that you can use.  It's a free beta from Open AI, which I'll link to in the show notes.  The free part may change in the future.  And right now Open AI is using the beta for testing to see how people in the real world interact with it.  So expect it to change in the future.

As with any new tool, my overarching advice is to play with it to understand its capabilities and its limitations.  I've played with this tool quite a bit in the past couple of days and I'm amazed by what it can do.  But I've also pushed up against its limits.  And these limits are why I included the word kickstart in the episode title.  Because my advice is to heavily edit the copy you get from the tool.

As an example of how to use it, here are the sequence of steps I went through to create some product copy on a cilent's website for a product where we have not created good product copy yet.  The client makes and ships macarons.

  1. Input - Give me product marketing copy for macarons 
    Results - The copy was specific to macarons but not about the brand or their differention.
  2. Input - Give me product marketing copy for macarons based on content on 
    Results - The copy now included the brand in the copy.  On the product page, there was a list of flavors that are included in the product.  And throughout this whole process, the AI never used that content.  The AI copy did talk about flavors but mentioned ones that the brand does not sell.  And some messages from the tool make me think that its not using content from URLs that you give it beyond establishing the brand.
  3. Input - Give me product marketing copy for macarons based on content on with a friendly and informal tone
    Results - This did change the tone of copy and made it a little more human.  Tone is a fun lever to play with by asking for the tone of a pirate or a Shakesperean play as examples.
  4. Input - Give me 500 words of product marketing copy for macarons based on content on with a friendly and informal tone
    Results - This did give more copy without seeming like too much copy.
  5. Input - Give me 1000 words of product marketing copy for macarons based on content on with a friendly and informal tone
    Results - Even more copy did not seem gratituous.  But when I tried increase the word count beyond this, the copy did seem redundant.
  6. Input - Give me 1000 words of product marketing copy for macarons based on content on with a friendly and informal tone. Don't forget to mention that they are certified gluten free.
    Results - The copy mentioned the value prop.  But it mentioned it multiple times.  I tried to tell the AI to only mention it once, but that didn't limit the mentions.  I had the same thing happen when I asked the AI to use emojis.  I got way too many emojis.  And saying 'use no more than two emojis' did reduce the emojis, but did not bring the emoji count down to two.
  7. Input - Give me 1000 words of product marketing copy for macarons based on content on with a friendly and informal tone. Don't forget to mention that they are certified gluten free, 100% handmade with love and SQF certified for food safety.
    Results - I thought that by having multiple value props, it might reduce their over use in the copy.  But it did not.
  8. Input - Give me three paragraphs of text to add to the product marketing copy on that talks about how the macarons are certified gluten free, 100% handmade with love and SQF certified for food safety.
    Results - Focusing on just the value props gave me more concise copy about the value props.

Final copy.  So in the end, I combined the copy from steps 5 and 8, which gave me seperate copy for the product and value props.  And I editted the copy a little which gave me this first draft of copy: 

Looking for the perfect sweet treat to satisfy your cravings? Look no further than Macarooz! Our macarons are the perfect blend of creamy, dreamy goodness that will have you coming back for more.

Our Best Sellers Collection is a must-try for any macaron lover. This assortment includes a variety of our most popular flavors, including Strawberry Cheesecake, Red Velvet, Cookies n Cream, and Cotton Candy. Each one is handcrafted with the finest ingredients to ensure the highest quality and taste.

But what sets our macarons apart from the rest? For starters, we use only all-natural ingredients in our recipes. No artificial flavors or preservatives here! We also pride ourselves on using the freshest ingredients, so you can taste the difference in every bite.

And the best part? Our macarons are the perfect size for a little indulgence without overdoing it. Pop one (or two) in your mouth and savor the heavenly flavor. Trust us, you won't be able to resist going back for more.

At Macarooz, we take pride in offering high-quality treats that are not only delicious but also safe and guilt-free. That's why we're proud to offer macarons that are certified gluten-free, ensuring that they're suitable for those following a gluten-free diet. We know that finding tasty treats that fit your dietary needs can be challenging, which is why we're committed to making it easier for you to indulge.

Our macarons are also 100% handmade with love, which means that each and every one is crafted by hand with care and attention. We believe that this extra touch of love makes a big difference in the taste and quality of our macarons, and we hope you'll agree.

Food safety is also a top priority at Macarooz, which is why we're SQF-certified. This means that our macarons are made in a safe and hygienic environment, so you can enjoy them with peace of mind. We take every precaution to ensure that our products meet the highest standards of quality and safety, so you can indulge with confidence.

But don't just take our word for it - try them for yourself and see why the Best Seller's Collection has become a fan favorite. Whether you're looking for a tasty treat to share with friends or a sweet gift for a loved one, our Best Sellers Collection has something for everyone.

So why wait? Treat yourself (or someone special) to the creamy, dreamy goodness of Macarooz macarons today! You won't be disappointed.

Now this copy is better than the almost nothing that was on the product page. And I know that it is better than anything that I could have created. But I don't think its good enough to be considered the final copy.  I'll be sitting down with store owner and coming up with some copy rules to add to our brand guidelines.  For example, the AI has used the term 'creamy, dreamy goodness' and refers to the consumption of macarons as an indulgance.  We'll need to define terms like those or their replacements in the brand guidelines.  And then use the guidelines to further edit the copy to make sure it supports the brand.

I was impressed by the product copy result, so I moved onto other types of content that I could want in a Shopify store.  

I asked for 1000 word article on electric bike rules in San Diego, California.  The copy I got back was a great starting point.  It listed out the three classes of electric bikes and the regulations as they vary by bike class and rider's age.

I then asked for a product comparison for the Google Pixel and Apple iPhone.  It gave me a list of parameters that people use to compare phones but lacked any data.  For example, the AI copy talked the importance of size, resolution and technology in the display, but didn't give any specs on these parameters for the phones.

I asked what a person should do to prepare for a knee replacement.  The AI copy gave 5 steps that someone should follow.

I asked for 15 gift ideas for a 12 year dancer.  The AI copy gave me generic responses like dance shoes or dance jewelry.  When asked for specific gifts with URLs, it gave me Amazon links that led to 404 pages.

So, let's look at the pros and cons of using AI to create or at least kickstart copy creation.

Benefits of AI copy

  1. Efficiency: AI algorithms can quickly generate a large amount of copy, which can save you time and resources.

  2. Accuracy: AI algorithms can produce copy that is free of spelling and grammar errors, which can help improve the overall quality of the content.

  3. Personalization: AI algorithms can be trained to generate copy that is tailored to specific audiences, which can help make the content more relevant and engaging.

  4. Idea Creation:  AI algorithms can bring up relevant ideas for the topic that you would not have thought of on your own.

Cons of AI copy

  1. Quality concerns: The quality of the output from AI algorithms is not as high as the best human-written copy, particularly when it comes to capturing subtle nuances and emotional depth.

  2. Lack of control: When using AI to write copy, the user has limited control over the final output, which can be a concern for those who want to have more control over the content they are creating.

  3. Ethical concerns: Some people may have concerns about the ethical implications of using AI to write copy, such as the potential for AI algorithms to perpetuate biases or the potential for AI to replace human jobs.

  4. Dependence on technology: Using AI to write copy gives us one more thing we don't need to flex our brain muscles on which can lead to brain atrophy.

  5. Limited flexibility: AI algorithms may not be able to adapt to changing circumstances or requirements as easily as a human writer.

  6. Brand: AI algorithms today can't take your brand guidelines as an input.

And in case you didn't guess it, I used AI to generate these pro and con lists.   And then I only editted three of them.


So here's my conclusion on the current state of using AI for copy in your Shopify store.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I say AI copy is a 3.  It's going to need to be editted and improved upon to make it high quality.  And you are going to need high quality copy to build and support your brand.

So if you are good at writing and can easily create copy for your store, then AI copy probably isn't for you.

But if you are one of the rest of us that has a hard time filling a blank page, then AI copy is a great way for you to get to your first working draft.  I encourage you to play with the AI copy tool and see what it can do for your store.

That's it for this episode.  Thanks for listening.

JadePuma is a certified Shopify Expert. If you need any help with your Shopify store, we can help.