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June 3

A Marketer’s Quickstart Guide to Large Language Models


Artificial Intelligence has quickly become a hot topic within the last year. But many don’t understand the technology behind their brilliance—large language models!

These AI tools are redefining how we understand and generate text.

If you’ve been exploring how AI technology like ChatGPT can help you improve your enrollment marketing efforts, you’ve probably come across this technical term before.

But what do you need to know about large language models to help you in your marketing? Do you need to know anything at all?

The quick answer is: Not really.

Every time you use AI platforms, you’re leveraging the power of LLMs without even knowing it. That’s the beauty of ChatGPT and other AI platforms like it!

They take all the best of the latest tech advancements and make them usable by non-techy people like you and me.

Large language models are how the sausage is made. It’s the computer and linguistic science that makes these powerful AI technologies work.

So why am I writing this post?

Because I want to give you an overarching view of what’s going on so that you can better understand what AI-driven technology can and—most importantly—cannot do for you in higher ed marketing.

While it appears as though there’s some enchantment going on, AI technology is not magic.

It cannot do anything a human can do, and you’ve got to be aware of its limitations so that you can work with it to produce the best outcome.

Remember, think of ChatGPT and other AI-driven platforms as “co-bots” rather than robots. They are here to collaborate with you on your projects, not to replace you.

From content creation and data analysis to enhancing customer service, LLMs are a game-changer for our industry.

So, let’s take a look at how they work and how we can leverage this in our marketing. 

Understanding Large Language Models

Large language models (LLMs) are a class of artificial intelligence (AI) that can understand, generate, and manipulate human language with high accuracy.

These models are trained on vast amounts of text data, enabling them to grasp the nuances of language, context, and even cultural references.

Basically, large language models learn how human beings talk by analyzing written content and observing which ideas and words are commonly placed together.

Unlike earlier versions of AI that might focus on specific tasks, LLMs that can analyze human language and then respond using human language are designed to handle a wide range of language-related applications, making them incredibly versatile.

Yet, these are only the basics of what LLMs are and how they work!

To get a sense of what LLMs can do, consider some of the most well-known examples in the market today:

  • ChatGPT: Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT is a conversational agent capable of generating coherent and contextually relevant responses in a chat format. It’s widely used for customer service, educational tools, and content creation.
  • Claude: An emerging LLM that offers advanced language understanding and generation capabilities. It’s tailored for specialized tasks and industries, providing more targeted solutions.
  • Perplexity: Known for its ability to handle complex queries and provide detailed, accurate answers. It’s often used in research and academic settings to support detailed data analysis and reporting.

The Power of LLMs for Marketing

Large language models (LLMs) are revolutionizing marketing by providing powerful tools for creating personalized content at scale. 

For the average marketer—like you and me—this means more efficient and effective campaigns and content that resonate with your audience.

In addition, these AI models can analyze vast datasets for insights, which means that you and your team don’t have to spend so much time pouring over spreadsheets and reports to get the information you need to make messaging and design decisions.

Imagine having a virtual assistant that sifts through data to provide insightful summaries in seconds!

By leveraging LLMs in data analysis, marketers can create more engaging and effective strategies, ultimately driving better results and deeper connections with their audience.

Through this analytical approach to human language, large language models are what enable chatbots to engage in helpful conversations with prospective students.  

Today in many institutions, prospective students can interact with a virtual assistant that not only answers their questions accurately but does so in a way that feels personal and engaging. 

AI-driven chatbots can do this because the large language models that power them learn complex relationships within data that enable them to understand context and generate accurate, relevant responses.

In this case, the data being analyzed is what the student is typing into the chat, the content on your website, and any other information you’ve provided the chatbot to analyze when engaging with prospective students.

The Limitations of LLMs

The first big limitation to be aware of with large language models is that they can only analyze and craft responses based on the data they’ve been provided. 

The quality of input determines the quality of output.

That means that the more data from your schools that you can give your AI-driven platforms, the better. 

Be sure to “train” your chatbots or ChatGPT’s with as much content from your website, institutional documents, program descriptions, faculty info, accreditation information, historical data about you and your region, your branding guide, etc. as you can.

Also, be aware of the other datasets that are included in the large language model being used by your AI-driven technologies.

For example, when I type “What are the datasets used to train ChatGPT-4?” into ChatGPT-4, this is the answer it gives me.

  1. Internet Data: This includes a vast array of websites, forums, and online publications that cover numerous topics, ideologies, and writing styles.
  2. Mathematical Problems: Both correct and incorrect solutions to mathematical problems are included, allowing the model to learn from different reasoning approaches.
  3. Reasoning Styles: The dataset features examples of both strong and weak reasoning, self-contradictory and consistent statements to help the model understand various logical structures.
  4. Ideological Diversity: A variety of ideological perspectives are incorporated to provide the model with a balanced understanding of different viewpoints.

This means that if I use a chatbot platform that uses ChatGPT-4, it has a large language model that includes a large swath of the Internet, a large variety of ideologies, and multiple writing styles.

Many of the ideologies included in the LLM behind ChatGPT-4 are not going to align with your education brand’s values. In the same way, many of these writing styles are not going to match the voice and messaging strategy within your brand guidelines.

This is why you need to understand LLMs and how they relate to the AI technology that you may want to use in your enrollment marketing efforts.

When you know the data that is being used in the large language models that have been used to “train” your AI chatbot, you’ll need to give your AI assistant further instructions that will help it to align it’s answers with your values, ideologies, writing style, and historical perspective.

Simply put, you’ll have to learn what data has been used to teach your AI chatbots to talk and then retrain it as if you were onboarding a new employee so that it can speak to prospective students like it were a human on your staff.

Again, AI technology isn’t magic even though it’s amazing!

Understanding how LLMs work can help you customize your AI chatbots so that they work for you and not against you in how they interact with prospective students.

Applications of LLMs in Higher Education Marketing

Here are some key areas I recommend using LLMs to make a strategic impact on your processes.

Content Creation

One of the most immediate and compelling uses of LLMs is in content creation.

Higher education marketing often involves producing a wide range of materials, from blog posts and newsletters to social media updates and detailed reports.

LLMs can assist in generating high-quality, engaging content quickly and efficiently.

Plus, an LLM can analyze existing content, understand the unique features of your institution’s programs, and generate well-written posts that effectively communicate the benefits to prospective students.

For anyone creating content consistently, this is a huge time saver.

One-on-one Communication

For example, I could use an LLM to draft personalized emails for prospective students. I can input information about those students, their needs, and what I have to offer them into the LLM which will then analyze the data.

Then, the LLM can generate a customized email which feels personal and engaging to those students.

How much time would that save you?

These technologies can revolutionize the way we engage with students and stakeholders, and give us more time back in our busy days.

Afterall, I’ve never met a marketer who didn’t need more time!

Data Analysis

Higher education institutions generate vast amounts of data, from enrollment statistics to student feedback.

Analyzing this data to extract meaningful insights can be a daunting task. Luckily, LLMs can simplify this process by sifting through large datasets, identifying trends, and generating comprehensive reports.

For instance, an LLM can analyze survey responses from prospective students to identify common concerns and preferences.

This information can then be used to tailor marketing strategies and improve student outreach!

Chatbots and Customer Service

These intelligent virtual assistants can handle a wide range of inquiries, from answering basic questions about admissions and programs to providing detailed information about campus life and financial aid.

With an LLM-powered chatbot, a prospective student visiting your institution’s website can get their questions answered in real-time.

Nobody has to man the chats, and the students get instant access to answers.

Talk about customer service!

Strategic Planning

Beyond day-to-day operations, LLMs can also play a role in strategic planning and decision-making.

For instance, an LLM can help identify emerging trends in higher education, such as the growing demand for online learning or new areas of academic interest.

Armed with this information, marketing teams can develop proactive strategies to stay ahead of the competition.

As we all look to find the best way to reach our mission-fit students, we continually need to find new ways to stand out.

I’m a big believer that understanding, and using, these new technologies allows you to get ahead of the game. Afterall, Generation Z are digital natives, they are using this technology, so you should be too! 

Ready to Take the Next Step? 

The advantages of LLMs in higher education marketing are compelling, offering scalability, efficiency, personalization, and data-driven insights that can revolutionize marketing strategies.

But you also need to have a strategic plan for using this type of technology.

Ethical considerations, data privacy concerns, and the need for human oversight are critical factors that require careful attention so these tools can be used responsibly and transparently. But when used strategically, these AI tools can 10x the effectiveness of your marketing team.

I believe the role of LLMs and AI in higher education marketing is poised to grow. Which means you and your team might benefit from additional training.

Ready to take the next step into AI?

Caylor Solutions now offers a 6-Session AI Masterclass that will empower your team to maximize AI for creativity, productivity and time-management.

Email us at wilson@caylor-solutions.com to learn more!

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