How to Extract Data from Emails with ChatGPT

Discover how ChatGPT revolutionizes email data extraction, offering an efficient alternative to manual methods. Learn why it outperforms traditional techniques.

How to Extract Data from Emails with ChatGPT

Emails are a common way we all communicate, and they're full of useful information. However, extracting this information manually can be both time-consuming and difficult. This is where ChatGPT can offer a solution.

In this article, we're going to explore this specific use of ChatGPT for pulling out important data from emails. We'll also review traditional methods of email data extraction and compare them to what ChatGPT can do. You'll see why using ChatGPT is more efficient and advantageous compared to traditional ways.

1. Use Cases: The Spectrum of Possibilities

Unlike structured databases, human-written emails are intrinsically unstructured and diverse. The tone, format, and context can vary significantly, making data extraction a complex endeavor. For instance, extracting the main concern from customer feedback emails can provide companies with direct insights. Similarly, extracting action items from internal communication emails can automatically update task management systems.

Real-world Scenarios

Order Confirmations. Online retailers and e-commerce platforms send thousands of order confirmation emails daily. Extracting purchase details, such as items bought, prices, and delivery addresses, can help in automating inventory management or launching targeted marketing campaigns.

Airbnb Bookings. For hosts managing multiple properties, Airbnb booking confirmations are pivotal. Extracting dates, guest details, and booking specifics can automate calendar updates and financial forecasts.

Airbnb emails can be parsed by a GPT parser

Flight Details. Frequent flyers or travel agencies receive numerous flight confirmation emails. Parsing flight timings, ticket prices, or co-passenger details can assist in trip planning, expense tracking, and creating a seamless travel itinerary.

2. Traditional Data Parsing Methods and Disadvantages

Before advanced tools like ChatGPT became available, companies primarily used traditional data extraction methods. This was especially true for business emails, where it's important to extract specific details such as invoice numbers, ordered items, order amounts, and contact information.

Traditional methods include:

Parsing Rules

A common method would be to create rules that look for specific keywords or labels and retrieve the data following those labels. For example, if the rule is to find a value after the "Invoice #" label, the parser would be hardcoded to look for this exact phrase and fetch the subsequent value.

Parsing Templates

These are pre-defined structures or forms that emails need to adhere to. They dictate the exact placement and order of each data point, ensuring that a parser looking for data can always find it in the expected place.

This approach is better compared to creating parsing rules, but it still requires that your email layout doesn't change. We use parsing templates for email extraction in another data extraction tool that we've developed, Parsio.

Creating a parsing template with

Regular Expressions

This is a powerful way to search for patterns in text. Regular expressions or regex can be used to find specific sequences of characters, like email addresses, phone numbers, or any other patterned data. For instance, to find an invoice number, a regular expression might look for the pattern that follows the label 'Invoice #', assuming that an invoice number always follows this label.

Here's an example of a regular expression: Invoice #(\d{10}). In this pattern, 'Invoice #' serves as the identifier label we're seeking, while \d{10} specifies that we're looking for exactly 10 digits following that label. This regular expression  scans through your text and identifies the 10-digit invoice ID that comes right after 'Invoice #'.

Disadvantages of traditional methods for email parsing:

  • Inflexibility: One of the most significant disadvantages of traditional methods is their rigidity. If an email doesn't fit the expected structure, the parsing method can fail, leading to missed or incorrect data extraction.
  • Time-Consuming: Setting up rules, templates, and especially regular expressions can be time-consuming. Every change in email format might necessitate a change in these parsing methods.
  • Error-Prone: A slight deviation from the standard layout can result in parsing errors. For instance, if an extra line or a different term is used instead of “Invoice #”, the parser may not retrieve the invoice number.
  • Maintenance Overhead: Any change in the email structure, introduction of new data points, or even slight variations in terminology used can necessitate revisions in the parsing rules or templates.
  • Lack of Scalability: As the variety and volume of emails increase, maintaining a rule-based or template-based approach can become challenging and may not scale effectively.

In essence, traditional methods are contingent upon the rigidity of email formats. They necessitate emails to conform to a predefined structure, making them less agile and adaptable. This not only limits their efficiency but also makes them resource-intensive due to the constant need for updates.

3. Using ChatGPT for Data Parsing

An example of a prompt to extract data from an email using ChatGPT

In contrast to traditional methods, modern language models like ChatGPT offer more flexibility. They do not rely on rigid structures but understand context, allowing for more effective and dynamic parsing. The flexibility of models like ChatGPT allows them to adapt to changes in email structure or terminology without extensive reconfiguration. While traditional methods like regular expressions are powerful and precise for known patterns, the adaptability and context-awareness of models like ChatGPT can provide a more holistic solution, especially when dealing with varied and evolving data sources.

Data extracted from the email with ChatGPT

Understanding the nuances and advantages of ChatGPT over traditional methods requires a comparison based on the limitations of traditional approaches. Let's delve into that:

Handling Different Layouts

Traditional Challenge: Traditional methods, especially those reliant on static layouts and parsing templates, falter when there's a deviation from the expected format. If the "Invoice #" isn’t where it's expected to be, these methods fail to extract the information.

ChatGPT Advantage: ChatGPT isn't restricted by predefined layouts. Thanks to its extensive training data and ability to understand context, it can dynamically adjust to variations in layouts, ensuring that data extraction remains consistent even when faced with unfamiliar structures.

Processing Human-Written Emails

Traditional Challenge: Unstructured and human-written emails can be a nightmare for rule-based systems. Humans don’t always follow templates, and their informal or varied ways of writing can lead to parsing errors or missed data.

ChatGPT Advantage: Being trained on diverse human language, ChatGPT excels at understanding and processing human-written content. It can comprehend nuances, variations, and even informal structures, ensuring accurate data extraction from a wide range of email styles.

Ease of Prompting

Traditional Challenge: Setting up parsing rules, templates, or crafting precise regular expressions often demands technical expertise. It's a time-intensive process that can be daunting for those unfamiliar with data parsing intricacies.

ChatGPT Advantage: With ChatGPT, all it takes is a simple prompt. Instead of writing complex rules or regex patterns, users can describe their extraction needs in plain language. This not only democratizes the data extraction process but also makes it faster and more intuitive.

Easy Debugging

Traditional Challenge: Debugging a missed data point in traditional methods might mean sifting through numerous rules, templates, or tweaking a regex pattern, which is both time-consuming and complex.

ChatGPT Advantage: If ChatGPT doesn’t yield the expected results, refining the prompt or seeking clarifications is straightforward. The iterative and interactive nature of ChatGPT facilitates quick feedback loops, making debugging more efficient and less cumbersome.

4. Elevating the Game with Airparser

ChatGPT is good at pulling specific information from text, but it's not perfect for big projects. First, it can't handle lots of documents at once. You have to copy and paste each document one by one, and tell the tool what you're looking for each time. Second, it can't automatically send the information it finds to apps like Google Sheets, CRM, accounting software, etc. This means you'll have to do extra work to organize your data. Lastly, it can't read scanned documents, so it's not useful for all types of information gathering.

Airparser is not just another tool; it's a specialized extension built on the capabilities of the GPT parser, specifically tailored for data extraction. It offers all the advantages of ChatGPT and addresses all of its limitations.

Parsing emails with Airparser

Forward and Let It Flow. With Airparser, the process becomes even simpler. Users can merely forward their emails, and Airparser, utilizing GPT's power, will autonomously extract the required data.

Integration Made Easy. Once the data is extracted, Airparser allows seamless integration and export to various platforms, be it CRM systems, databases, or even spreadsheets. This ensures that data isn't just extracted but is also ready for immediate use.

A Structured Approach. Airparser goes a step further by enabling users to design a structured parsing schema. This is an upgrade from simple text prompts and ensures that the extracted results are consistent and aligned with the user's needs.

Beyond Just Text. A significant advantage of Airparser is its ability to process attachments, whether they're PDFs, images, or other document types. This means even if crucial data is embedded in a PDF invoice or a scanned document, Airparser has it covered.


Navigating today's digital world requires both flexibility and speed. Traditional ways of extracting data from emails are becoming outdated because they can't adapt and are often limited. With the power of ChatGPT and specialized tools like Airparser, data extraction has never looked better.

Airparser is built on the GPT engine and focuses on automating two key tasks: data extraction and data entry. By automating these processes, both businesses and individuals can reduce the time spent on manual tasks, minimize errors, and more easily access data that is essential for decision-making. Given the increasing importance of data in the digital age, tools like Airparser are becoming increasingly essential for efficient operations.