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How to test your copy without an audience

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This week I delivered an email sequence optimization project. Before launching the new copy out into the wild, I wanted to validate it. But I didn’t have months to wait for the results. So here’s what I did…

Let’s say you are an early stage startup with no customers…

Or are about to launch a new product and can’t afford to wait months and thousands of dollars to validate it…

Or are a copywriter/freelancer and it’s hard to get on calls with potential clients to understand what they want…

Enter ChatGPT.

Yeah you can get good copy ideas with it. But what I find it most helpful for is research and analysis. It’s literally like having a junior copywriter or research assistant with infinite stamina and motivation.

For this project I got creative.

I told myself:

“ChatGPT knows a lot about different personas from the massive amounts of data it has access to. So, what if I tell it to wear the shoes of my potential customers? And, to push it a little further, what if I have it user-test my entire email sequence – AB tests included??”

And that I did.

I was able to first have ChatGPT go through the same exact surveys our real prospects and customers filled out.

Then, I instructed it to go through the onboarding sequence, email by email. And for each email had it read two different variants (the old copy and the new, improved one).

The results were impressive.

ChatGPT evaluated my sequence and helped with suggestions to make it smoother, more persuasive and engaging. It also gave me scores (I asked for them) on the AB tests. And incredibly the new email copy I wrote was judged as better than the original one.

I even tried to trick it by giving it the old copy first and new copy after for some emails, and reversing it for other emails.

It always figured out which variant was objectively better.

The secret to doing this right? Have a conversation with it.

Treat it like it’s a person and give it all the context a real human would need to give you good answers.

What you’ll find is that not only you get insanely helpful results, but you’ll also become a better thinker and writer in the process.

A couple more ideas of what you could to with it:

ChatGPT audience simulator

  • Source your audience from podcasts: find your audience on podcast interviews and feed ChatGPT with the podcast transcripts to learn the nuances in how they think and what they need. The great thing about podcasts is that you can find pretty much any niche.
  • Interview ChatGPT: feed it all the research data you have about your persona and then interview it. Have a real conversation with your personas, make them come to life.
  • User test your site: Again, instruct ChatGPT to be your target audience and use it to take a look at your website. Ask it what they think about your value proposition, branding, features, pricing and much more. And if you don’t know how to ask those questions to avoid leading it or biasing it, ask it to give you the user test questions too!

Imagination is the only limit really…

Get creative and get playful.

Take what you get with a grain of salt of course, but damn if you don’t get some gold.


✅ In case you missed it

I just posted my first ever vlog

Feels so 2009 I know.

It’s a day in my life. If you’re curious about my schedule, how I keep productive and organized, how I balance personal and work tasks and how I rcharge, this is for you**. Let me know what you think and if you’d like more of these!

Let’s read together

As I’m crushing through dozens of books on copywriting and marketing for the podcast I’m thinking: what if I read these and implemented what I learn together with like-minded copy nerds? So…

Would you be interested in a monthly book-club? It would be a $5 per month commitment, where we get on one group call per week, discuss a chapter and create actionable steps to either improve existing copy, or become better at it.

If you’re interested, just hit reply and let me know.


📚 3 things to get better at copywriting

1. Let me tell you a story…

I started reading the new Walter Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography. My first ever Isaacson’s book and have to say I was missing out. The writing is so clear, and the storytelling so engaging. One thing I learned form an interview is that he always uses stories to explain how the person thinks, rather than plainly saying it.

Whenever you see him starting out with “Let me tell you a story…”, it’s a sign you’re in for a great lesson or turning point in the person’s life.

Bill Bernbach did the same in his speeches. Look for it in this one for example.

Think: “How can I say the same using a story”?

2. Draw your copy

I stumbled on a tweet by master copywriter David Deutsch the other day and it caught my eye. Literally. Because it’s all about turning copy into visuals. I’m definitely going to try this out.

3. How to make sense of chaos

Going back to research and data…

Do you ever struggle to approach massive amounts of customer feedback?

If so, here’s my quick step by step method for taking the research in and spitting out insights we can use for copy…

Step 1: Data Aggregation

Consolidate all the survey responses in one place. You can use a tool like Google Sheets or a specialized survey analysis software to make this easier.

Step 2: Initial Observations

Quickly scan through the data to get a sense of general trends. Are there any obvious patterns or outliers?

Step 3: Categorize Responses

Segment the data based on the types of users who answered the survey. E.g., website visitors, free account users, 7-day trial users, etc.

Step 4: Quantitative Analysis

For multiple-choice questions, calculate the percentages of respondents who chose each option.

Step 5: Qualitative Analysis

For open-ended questions (if any), look for recurring themes or common phrases. Tag these responses for easy categorization.

Step 6: Persona Matching

If you have customer personas, match the survey data to these personas to see if certain types of users have specific pain points or needs.

Step 7: Level of Awareness & Sophistication

Assess if the responses match with your assumptions about your customer’s level of awareness and sophistication. Adjust your email sequences and sales copy accordingly.

Step 8: Hypothesis Generation

Come up with hypotheses for A/B tests based on the data. For instance, if a lot of users mention pricing as a concern, maybe test a new pricing tier or a discount offer in your emails.

Step 9: Prioritize

Use a framework like ICE (Impact, Confidence, Ease) to prioritize which changes to make first.

Step 10: Implement & Test

Make the changes to your email sequences, landing pages, or other relevant areas and A/B test to see the impact.

Step 11: Monitor & Tweak

Keep an eye on key metrics to assess the effectiveness of your changes. Make further adjustments as necessary.


🤔 Thought of the week

“The key is not the will to win… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”

– Bob Knight, The power of negative thinking

Winning is not in your control. But preparation is. When you’re doubting your ability to win, look at your preparation. Are you doing everything you can to get the best chances of winning.

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