Phrasee brings certainty to marketing copy

Certain parts of marketing, while dreaded, are essential. But don’t worry because Parry Malm has those covered.

Mr. Malm is the CEO of Phrasee, a provider of AI-powered copywriting technology. Used by eBay, Groupon and Sephora, Phrasee’s technology has been successfully deployed in 20 languages including English and Japanese.

Phrasee was founded to address a fundamental problem in how brands deploy marketing resources, Mr. Malm said. And it is a problem he knows first-hand, as before founding the company he wrote marketing copy.

Problems abound with the traditional methods of writing everything from email subject lines to marketing pitches, he explained. You may like what you wrote, but the boss hates it. Which one of you is right? OK, how about you provide 10 different options and the boss picks the best one?

“What if the message sucks?” Mr. Malm asked. “There’s no technology in the world that could make the language in those messages any better. So we built it.”

Phrasee was initially founded because Mr. Malm believed there had to be a better way to draft key marketing messages than to leave it to the gut.

“Human instinct, I think we can all agree, does not scale and is wrong most of the time,” Mr. Malm said.

His solution? The first-ever real-time language generation system for the specific purpose of improving marketing copy. By analyzing success rates of previous campaigns, and building on them with increasing amounts of data, Phrasee provides copy that is proven to deliver more successful outcomes. Enter some information into Phrasee’s system, hit the magic button (there actually is one) and you have proven copy.

“Information is fed back into the system where we apply deep learning technologies so it continuously and progressively gets better and better,” Mr. Malm said. “Feedback loops back into the deep learning model which works through linguistic parameters to see what works.”

While some may feel writing effective marketing copy is achieved through following a simple set of rules, they are mistaken, Mr. Malm advised. They will quickly see there are plenty of exceptions that quickly create an intricate playbook of dos and don’ts. Best to leave it to the technology.

The COVID-19 pandemic provides a perfect example of how the rules can change, Mr. Malm said. Do you want to be the person called into the boss’ office to explain why you wrote this product sale will “go viral” in the midst of a pandemic? Me neither.

Many industries are moving to apply AI, Mr. Malm said. Phrasee recently commissioned a study which showed since the pandemic’s onset people are paying more attention to the importance of language. Beyond the simple operational efficiency of being quickly distributed to the millions, your message also needs to adhere to your brand’s voice at all times.

The change is more extreme and rapid than even he thought, Mr. Malm admitted. In finance and banking 83 per cent of respondents said they planned on investing in AI in the next 18 months, while more than half of all respondents saw the value of investing in AI to improve the language within their campaigns.

This shift to the middle is a welcome maturation of what was often a polarized view of AI, Mr. Malm said.

“People are starting to realize AI is not to be feared; it’s to be used in conjunction with humans to achieve what your ultimate goal is,” Mr. Malm observed. “How can we combine forces to make ourselves better?

“Why would you not use technology to do the parts of the job you hate doing so you can do the parts of the job you like?”

Looking ahead Mr. Malm’s vision is to create language which can be used in all forms of customer-facing communication. What began with email subject lines can evolve to push messages, social media ads and more.

“Anywhere consumers interact with brands online, the currency of that interaction is language and Phrasee is going to be there,” Mr. Malm said.

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