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Half of consumers cannot spot AI-generated emails

Half of consumers cannot spot AI-generated emails according to a recent study by email marketing experts Instiller.

Key findings

  • 1 in 2 people can’t see the difference between AI and human-generated marketing copy.
  • Gen Z is more likely to spot an AI generated email (54% notice the difference)
  • Less than one-third show concern for AI use in brand comms

The majority of people (73%) were unfazed about the idea of AI-generated marketing and communication campaigns. But, interestingly, the younger Gen Z respondents (18-24) had the biggest problem with receiving AI-generated brand communications, with nearly 40% voting “yes”, reflecting the notion that Gen Z wants authenticity from brands and businesses.

AI email test

ChatGPT effect

The fact that less than half of consumers were able to spot an AI-generated email highlights the remarkable advancements in AI language tools like ChatGPT. It demonstrates that AI has reached a level where it can seamlessly mimic human communication, blurring the line between AI and human-generated content.

This finding presents a significant opportunity for the PR industry specifically. Incorporating AI generated content into campaigns themselves can no doubt enhance team efficiency and productivity, and can help us automate the creation of really personalised and targeted messages. PRs could reach an even wider audience with relevant and engaging content, in far less time than ever before!

Strike a balance

But whilst AI generated content is providing a great tool for the arsenal, it’s crucial to strike a balance and not end up relying on it solely.

The study's results, particularly the perceptions of Gen Z respondents, indicate a strong desire for authenticity in brand communications. This resonates with my own belief that human touch and emotional connection are vital components in successful email marketing campaigns. Whilst tools like ChatGPT can clearly generate content, they simply cannot replicate the genuine empathy, creativity, and personalisation that marketers bring to the table.

Prioritise authenticity

We found that younger audiences, especially Gen Z, are discerning and can identify AI-generated content more accurately than their older counterparts. To effectively engage this demographic, it’s integral that PR professionals prioritise authenticity and incorporate a human touch in their communication strategies.

To summarise, the findings of this study underscore the significant role that AI can play in the PR industry. Leveraging AI-generated content in email marketing campaigns can enhance efficiency and effectiveness. But it’s imperative to remember that AI should be used as a tool to augment human creativity and empathy, not replace it.


A survey of 510 participants from across the UK, varying in age and gender, were shown six marketing emails for a fake sustainable beauty brand. Three of the emails were generated by ChatGPT and the other three were written by a copywriter. Both had the same brief.

On a digital survey, participants were asked to select whether each email was written by an AI or a human, and whether they minded if brand communications were generated by AI instead of humans. Full findings are here.

Written by Adrian Toal, co-Founder of Instiller

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