585: How AI is Changing the Way We Send Emails w/ Michelle Huff

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Michelle Huff, CMO at Act-On Software.

... that I think you're really going to love. It's called the marketing book podcast and it was named by Linkedin as one of ten podcasts that will make you a better marketer. It's hosted by my friend Douglas Burdette, who we've had on the podcast in the past, and Douglas does weekly interviews with authors of best selling marketing and sales books. According to an adobe survey of marketers, seventy six percent of them said that marketing has changed more in the last two years than in the previous fifty. So when you subscribe to this podcast, the marketing book podcast, you're going to be able to keep up with the quickly changing landscape of modern marketing and sales. One thing that is unique about this that I think is really interesting, is that Douglas reads every single book before every interview and you can tell that in the engagement that he is able to have with each of the authors that he interviews. You can just tell he knows this content because he's read the entire book, hasn't just read the cliff notes. So he has done over a hundred interviews, but I want you to head over. You're already in the PODCAST APP, head over in search for the marketing book podcast. Gets subscribed, download a few episodes. You can check out the website at marketing book podcastcom. You can follow them on twitter at marketing book, but I really, really really want you to subscribe to this podcast. This is one that I get a ton of value from and I think you will as well. You're listening to the BETB growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping be tob executives achieve explosive growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. I'm James Carberry and I'm Jonathan Green. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the BB growth show. We are here today with...

Michelle Huff. She is the Como at act on software. Michelle, how you doing today? Gad, how are you? I am wonderful. So, Michelle, today we're going to be talking about how AI is changing the way we send emails. This is super interesting topic that I'm pumped to dive into, but before we do that, tell our listeners just a little bit about act on and what you and your team are doing over there? Yes, so actons and it heard of us. We're in the the BDB marketing automation space and people like to think of it is what do you do with Lee and manage that? They turn interrupting. And basically we're headquartered here in Portland and we're really focused on, you know, making sure that our marketers books on marketing and making marketers successful. I love it. And so some Michelle and talking about this idea of I'm seeing a lot of people talk about Ai Right now. I'm excited to talk about it in the context of how we send emails. I would love to hear kind of your your perspective at it, maybe at a higher level, before we dig into how it's impacting emails. Talk to us about kind of your high level thoughts on Ai and the impact that it's going to be having on businesses in general. But I find it to be such an interesting face. So I like you, here's so much of Ai, I think maybe in my age and the original Terminator Day right where You keep think about technology and how it's getting smarterer and then you're starting to see a lot more of it in the consumer context and there are so many applications from a business context as well. And I think the more that you kind of are into technology and you're seeing all the different trends, you're starting to see it be applied in different ways. Right, it's interesting to just when people say artificial intelligence, right, it can't just be intelligence. It needs to apply it to what you know, what are you trying to actually solve? And so, you know what what I've been learning about and continually focused on this company and diving more into is the interesting use...

...cases and problems that's from a marketing standpoint that we can really start applying right. That the machine learning and analysis and some of the interesting use cases something that we try to tackle other day. So I'd love to dive into some of those use cases. Obviously you guys are in the thick of it. That's a lot of what your product is doing. Can you share some use cases about how bb companies are used doing ai in the emails that they're spending? Yeah, so, you know, I think that you know one of the things that what we've been doing is around a death to spending and it's one of those things where, if you take a step back and think about how we choose to send emails today. Right in marketing is you have a message and you're reaching out to different and audience and normally, if you're doing it manually, you just pick a time of the day and you've spend it or you within a you know, automation system, you might pick a time of to hey. You know, make sure that it goes into every single person's unique time down and a very specific exile and how to pick that time. I mean it's studying. You Talk to markets, like what time do you pick? A lot of people like, well, yeah, I think he's visit nine am. Really works. Well, I got to do it. To do it Wednesday right, like when day at ten, perfect or or one. And and you know, the hard thing is in marketing you at the end of the day you kind of you know you're picking a window, but so much as when it actually you just weren't really good. You want whatever, whenever it's going to be working the best for that person, to open it up right. And it's difficult and and we think about how do you make that decisions? A day is you you send it. People who have a little more time on their hands might spend it a few times and then actually do analysis. But you look at the thousands, you know, of sent emails and then you start with can't open rate and you're like,...

...okay, well, you know what we for all who are segments of audience. You know, windsdays that ten am actually tend to get better open rate. So that's usually where we stop. And it's difficult because, number one, I mentioned you and we you don't all have a lot of time. You might put that time up front, but then over time, what happens? Culturally? We say, okay, well, we've got a winds it an am kind of crowd, and it's where that you've changed that mindset. You know how often do kind of go back and do that to diligence. And so for me, what I think what's really interesting is applying things like machine learning and ai not in a really broad context of something really specific and just makes it really relevant, because you're thinking, okay, instead of actually taking you know, someone on my team and ending hours the time like researching, building these reports and and looking at on a weekly basis, you have from the technology in the background doing that analysis. And why I think what the ultimate problem is when you break out and you think of volumes, it gets a harder and harder problems for a person to solve, but be pre easy for machines and technology. So instead of thinking it from an aggregate and you say, Hey, we've got a Wednesday at Tenny, I'm proud, you could really look and say, you know, what times is James Actually, you know, engage and interact with messages within the what's like? Because you might actually be a person that, you know, staves it up to four o'clock in the afternoon. Other people like to do it at, you know, get through the whole inbox first in the morning. You know, for me, I've got kids, so I'm actually more than mine or ten o'clock at night when I'm just, you know, I'm not distracted and I can kind of take some time rating and looking for things. And so instead of having, you know, recommendation that solves for the math and and that most common denominator, it's really breaks it and makes it much more targeted and learn, you know, what works for you and then let's just optimize...

...and save it and the you change your patterns over time, right, because you've got something. It's not like a person who takes time out of their day and does the whole analysis and then, once you know the once a year project, right, it kind of continually learning and involving. I think that's that's when it becomes really interesting. So from a from a timing perspective, I mean that makes perfect sense. So now you have an individual profiles, knowing that when we send this email, for for James, it's going to go out at for in the afternoon, but for Sally it might go out at ten at night because that's that's when we've seen her open emails in the past. So I love that use case, just the timing of it and how ai can solve that piece of the equation. What are some other use cases, Michelle, that you're seeing where ai can be applied specifically to email marketing? Yeah, and so it got a lot of berries, right, and you think about your's not to but when they open the emails, that maybe when they're engaging online. is factoring some of those things in as well and some things that we're doing beyond just the some time. We kind of tick that one first, because I guess I'm a marketer and it can be kind of type as in the thought of letting them to see make a decision. I don't know. You know, but when it comes to when are you going to send an email for me, I'm happy to select the radio button and let it pick. If I get better response rates, like if I just get better conversion right, I'm sold. I think what you'll start to see as some of those, those really specific use cases will be probably the easiest one. From our can you to first start, you know, seeing how they can work with the technology and what becomes, you know, in mind book where you could start building that trust and relying and understanding how the technology is learning and the recommendations. You know, where we see it getting more interesting over time is, from example, scoring. So in marketing automation, that tends to be a pretty big component of the system because...

...what you're really trying to identifying a score is often times intense. You're really trying to see, from a prospect standpoint, buying in tent like if someone showing demonstrating that they're gittering your particular solution or you're interested in, you know, the actual category you want to be identifying out the score, and then what that does say, okay, I've got to hire score. When you've got thousands to juice from. That really helps prioritize and send over the right people immediately to bail so they can prioritize their time and and have kind of an immediate interaction with people who who are showing by an intense the problem is, if you really think about how it's done today, you know, sometimes it's kind of feels like, you know, the new magic and people can you've got red seats and and other times literally people are like, I don't know, I love make it five. You're still kind of really really and you're like, okay, we'll do it again. You know, like for at least going to be good. Like you really have to be on top of it and you want to be continually getting feedback from Bales and feedback as your team and and understanding your market better and applying that over time. And it's the more that you can actually leverage some of the analysis, machine learning and recommendations. I think that can have a whole different way that marketing approaches weep scoring stuff. I love it. So the timing of win your emails go out, the the lead scoring component of it. Do you see anything coming down the pipe, Michelle, around ai actually helping inform the messaging that goes into the email. Totally. Yeah, that's kind of third one and...

...that's the interesting one where I says a way we've been thinking about it is there almost needs to be this kind of balance of, as the marketer, intuition and creativity with a little be machine recommendations and insights. Right, and though it's going to be this kind of back and forth, and because I could never imagine a world where you just kind of check a radio button and then you just let the machine create the content from shoot from anything, right, it might get a little scary, but but I definitely feel that, you know, it's the more that testomers, like expectations in the market, has been changing. People really want things to be much more personalized and individualized, and that makes a lot of sense for the emails that are being sent as well. You know, they really expect the person and they understand you can technology to right. You know who we are and you know when industry I am and what company and and you know I want it to be significant and relevant to me. Yeah, and you know, I think that we do in marketing. You know, we kind of creatively come up with different messages and we can do a be testing, but again they be testing and will Daniel as well find it? It's hard to really run through, I think sometimes of the consumer space. I think I've seen a lot more of this applied sai machine learning to a lot of more consumer and bets part of the world. I think that we can really take advantage of some of those types of cabulity and really apply it some more. Of the would be to be context as well. Michelle, is there anything else? And as we're having this conversation around ai and email marketing, you you being as involved in the space as you are being with with act on. There anything else around Ai that you think would be worth talking about before I let you go today? I think I don't know, it's just Bein talked with other people and a specially as marketer, if I think that there's this intense kind of curiosity. You know, what is it and what will it do and and you...

...know, how should I be thinking about it? But, and that's another question people tend to lead to as well, my out of a job right and and you know, I guess why do you points it also some shape by a lot of people I've been talking to as well as again, there's a lot of things that you can't play with marketing, around the strategy, around the creativity, around the intuition, and I think that it's more of the people who take advantage and partner best with these innovations and technology that will be able to kind of outpace their competition. But I don't see it's not like you know, I think they're mighty challenges with some very transactional scenarios, for like chat. You know, if you're a telemarketer like maybe there's a chat bought type of challenge. But I don't be I think in many ways it'll make people and marketing much more faster and but I think it will add a level of complexity as well, and I think it will for new types of careers and not vacations in their roles too. I've always thought about it from the perspective of, if you're asking yourself that question, really challenging yourself to develop and of that creative muscle, because I think that's something, you know, the the creative brain is something that I think will will never be replaced by AI. If you're in if marketing is the career path that you've chosen to go down, I think, and creative being such the variable in the success of marketing. If that's a question across your mind, you're wondering, am I going to lose my job, really really start thinking about how you can, you can build that creative muscle, because I think that's I think that's a pretty safe path. If you're doing that, I don't think you're going to have to worry about ai taking your job anytime soon. Ativity and knowing the customer right. So, Michelle, I've been asking our guests for the last few weeks this question. It's helping our listeners understand our guests on a different level. So I'd love to ask you. What is the...

...legacy, be it in business or personal, what's the legacy that you would like to leave? It simplicit in my forty s now I think I started to think a little bit more of like a speed but I guess when I when I think of that, for me, and I'm a very people person, relationship driven, and I guess for me it's, you know, I think about how do I want to be remembered, and it's about, you know, who has met in my past and how they think of me and, you know, have I come across with having impact in their lives and being a genuine and US and ticks person. You know, I think that with my family, with my friends, my extended network, I think that for me it's the character who am is is kind of like to stay about Tilly's love. That is something that I resonate deeply with as well, Michell, so I appreciate you. Appreciate you sharing that. If there's somebody listening to this they want to stay connected with you or they want to learn more about act on, what's the best way for them to go about doing that? Yeah, well, for me we can usually find me, and so you kind of score hub that linksin otherwise, but the same one for twitter that comes to act oncom if you want to stick connected with us as an act that encom wonderful, Michelle. Will thank you so much for your time today. This has been incredibly helpful for me and I know that our listeners are going to get a kind of value out of it as well. So thank you so much for your time. Thank you. If you're a BEB marketer, we want to feature you on sites like Huffington Post, social media examiner and chief marketer every week we send out a question related to be to be marketing. We use the responses to those questions to fuel the content we write for really popular websites. To head over to sweet fish MEDIACOM backslash questions and sign up today. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (1805)