Paid marketing, influencer marketing, even social marketing, are all dependent on other people’s channels. Email marketing is a channel that businesses can own and control. If you own your email list, you control the message, the tone, and the frequency that you reach out to that list.

What are we supposed to do with that? How do we actually get good results from our email marketing? In episode three of The MarTech show, host and head of Strategic Partnerships at Agorapulse, Mike Allton, and host Robin Diamond explore the nuances of newsletters. Listen to the episode below or read on for the show’s highlights.

A Conversation with Casey Hill at ActiveCampaign

Mike: Casey’s been in the MarTech space for over a decade focused on helping companies scale fast. Whether garnering millions of views on Quora and LinkedIn or pioneering new growth levers, like booking his team on hundreds of podcasts, Casey’s always looking for creative and value led ways to grab attention and break from the mold. He currently serves as the Senior Manager of Growth for ActiveCampaign. They support the email marketing automation CRM tools that you need to create incredible customer experiences.

Now for those who aren’t familiar, Casey, can you tell us more about ActiveCampaign and how it helps marketers today?

Casey: ActiveCampaign is a marketing automation and CRM tool.

I’ve been in the MarTech world for ten years. There are hundreds of solutions that fit this bill, and I could go down the rabbit hole of specific features and differentiations, but I think that’d be less valuable than setting a little bit of the stage of who this is typically best for. 

Normally, when people get started into email marketing, they jump on to a basic newsletter tool like a Mailchimp or a ConvertKit. They want to be able to connect with the audience and send out some emails, but oftentimes, over time, they start to realize they need a little bit more, and they’d love to track relationships.

That’s where a visual CRM can be valuable. Maybe they want to have a couple integrations that play a little bit more nicely with that existing tech. Maybe they want to have a little bit more dynamic content. For those reasons, they start to look at a new tools. A lot of times, though, they jump to a place like HubSpot, which can be very pricey, and there is a huge portion of people that exist in the middle of that market where they’ve outgrown a very basic tool. They want something a little bit more robust, but they don’t want to pay enterprise pricing. 

That’s where ActiveCampaign fits in. And in 2020, I was working at a startup named Bonjoro and running growth for them. We used Mailchimp for our email side and HubSpot for free CRM on our CRM side, and the reason we migrated over was to have that one central hub where we could operate our email and our CRM under one roof. We didn’t need lots of different systems. All the tools that we used, our calendar system, our segment integration, and all of those tools were native, pre-built, and already connected within the system.

Robin: It’s powerful what you do. Nowadays, we talk about relationships, and you talk about needing to follow someone throughout their journey. Can you tell us how marketing agencies and clients use you?

Casey: Our services are used in a couple different applications, but essentially the idea is to start out, you want to have some place where you can capture demand.

With a tool like ActiveCampaign, you can spin up forms and landing pages, and you can capture folks that might be interested in your services and your products. After that, you have a whole set of automations that you can run. An automation means instead of just sending a one-off email, you can send an email, then after a week, maybe send another email if you want, or take people off that email flow so they don’t keep getting messages if they’ve already taken an action. I might divide it up and have different people get different types of content based on what they’re interested in.

There’s a lot of different ways you can get creative. To set the stage at a high level, it’s bringing people in, nurturing those relationships so you can drive more business, and then finding ways to maintain those relationships over time and keep those people engaged. They’ll continue to buy more, and you can have that expanding revenue coming from that existing customer base as well.

Mike: I love that you mentioned being able to segment users since it’s one of the advanced things about email marketing that a lot of people don’t know about.

Considerations for Newsletters in Email Marketing

Casey: When you’re thinking about your newsletters, the way that I often think about this is that most people drive revenue from email in one of three primary ways.

Bottom-of-the-funnel content

The first way is what I call the bottom-of-funnel style of content, which is when you’re trying to drive conversions.

Think of promos, specialty offers, or sending people comparison articles. At ActiveCampaign, we drive millions of dollars in revenue from bottom-of-funnel content. We might send them to a good third party resource that talks about deliverability and features as well. One bucket of monetization is you’re trying to drive direct revenue through a group that already has high intent.

Top-of-the-funnel content

The second bucket is you’re trying to use something like email to build pipelines to something that is topical and related directly to the product. We could feature, for example, the best emails we’ve seen this month and break them down and talk through the dynamics of what made that email convert well.

We’re not just saying to go get ActiveCampaign. We’re trying to build that thought leadership and authority to create that more “top-of-funnel” pipeline. 

Driving conversion and revenue

To recap, bucket number one is bottom-of-funnel drive conversion, and bucket number two builds that pipeline over time and uses that as a channel that then eventually can become revenue. The third way that we see people typically driving revenue with that email strategy is what I would call the owned asset play.

The owned asset is basically the idea that if you build a newsletter, you can grow some sort of asset that you own, like a large amount of subscribers, even if it’s slightly tangential from your core product line. Using ActiveCampaign, you think: “What if we started a newsletter where we talked about a hybrid work where we talked about should you use freelancers?” All these different things aren’t directly related to our product, but if we grow that asset very large, we can then advertise in it. We can take sponsors in it. Your asset becomes something in and of itself that we can use to drive revenue. 

The first part of email strategy is having a very clear goal and expectation of what the purpose of the asset is. Email has changed so much, and our inboxes are so flooded that if your newsletter or your email marketing strategy is an amalgamation of a million different things, you won’t drive revenue by throwing out some product updates, company things that you’re doing, and use cases. 

That is not going to be what actually drives revenue. 

At the very beginning, choose what your specific goal is. Is it to build a pipeline? Is it to drive direct sales? Is it to build an owned asset you can advertise in? That’s step one. Once you get below that, then you start to get into the tactical pieces that make email work effectively. You want to have a very clear expectation to match reality.

Successful newsletter tactics

If you look at a lot of the top newsletters, one of the things you’ll find is they say, “Expect to hear from us every Friday at 8 AM PST about whatever they’re talking about.” Their details are very specific. They’re not only setting the stage of what they’re talking about, but they’re explaining exactly when they’re going to reach out to you. 

This step is super important for maximizing engagement and building consistent expectations.

If you send your newsletter one day on Friday and then three weeks later on a Tuesday, your engagement is going to be way lower. You haven’t set any expectations. People aren’t anticipating your newsletter, and that is going to fundamentally be a problem. So I think for those in charge of the newsletter, we learn to set a goal, then a clear expectation. 

This way, when you’re actually reaching out and tied to that clear expectation, don’t try to do too much. Keep that newsletter focused on one or two calls to action. By doing that, you won’t bastardize the impact of your newsletter. If you have seven different places you’re sending people, you’ll find that you will drive less traffic overall because there is the analysis paralysis.

Personalizing email marketing

In terms of personalization, it is also critical to make sure that you’re gathering relevant things that you can personalize. Sometimes, people are scared about intake. They say they don’t know if they should gather information up front. They don’t want to scare people off.

Go look at the Morning Brew. Go look at a lot of the most successful newsletters out there, and you’ll find they do ask questions upfront. Good, popular newsletters have the ability to segment and to personalize. Keeping your list engaged is all about having that goal, bringing people in, nailing down that personalization bit, and then even fostering or even asking openly for specific targeted questions that people will respond back.

These are all some of the ways I would think about how you’re monetizing that email strategy.

Robin: Email marketing is an onion. There are now many layers to it. It is not enough to set it and forget it anymore.

There is a very loud noisy world. I’ve filtered through so many emails every single day. I’ve heard the average person gets three hundred emails a day on average, which is insane. Personalization is about creating a relationship. If we try to build a friendship with your customers, you get to know them personally. Maybe you want an email newsletter every Friday, maybe you don’t, but when you know it’s coming, the newsletter can be something you look forward to. 

For some business owners or agencies, we just keep doing the same thing like a hamster wheel, cranking out emails, trying to scramble, but there’s nothing personal. In our relationships nowadays, people want and are looking for something totally different. That’s what they kept saying at EEE, that people are looking for something different. 

Risks of too much automation 

Casey: You can definitely overdo email.

You can overdo pretty much any of these channels we’ve been talking about. There is a sweet spot depending on what you’re trying to do. I spent a lot of time in this space studying what these ideal frequencies are.

The honest answer about overdoing automation is it does depend. It can be very different depending on the industry. What I found for onboarding flows, for example, is to not have more than four touch points within the first two weeks, or else we see conversions starting to dip quite a bit. We’ve looked at a whole bunch of different brands, and we study how often they connect with people.

For any type of correspondence that went over four emails, even if they were personalized, the impact of conversion dips quite a bit. Similarly, if email marketing campaigns only had one touch point, we found that was often less effective than having two to three touch points, especially if one of those was the general set-up, and one of those was personalized or catered to them. I’m reluctant to kind of give a global “you should message people at this frequency,” because there’s some great brands. I previously mentioned the Morning Brew. They message people every single freaking day with tons of success. Other brands message on a weekly basis or a monthly basis.

Getting high quality (and not checking boxes)

The biggest thing is just to keep the quality bar high. Don’t just check a box. So many people do check box marketing in general. Have a blog? Check. Post this many times a day? Check. Don’t do that. 

Spend time, add specific data, and really get into the weeds of your strategy. There is so much noise in the inbox that the things that end up being successful are things that are very, very tailored. 

Imagine you’re a brand. You’re an ecommerce brand, and you are at a million in GMV. And you get a newsletter that says how another brand went from one to ten million GMV. That’s a perfect parallel to your brand. If that has specific details that break down and get into the weeds, that is going to be incredibly impactful. If it doesn’t, and if you get an email that says how a brand went from one billion to three billion, you might not open it because it’s not connected to where you’re at. 

That is when we talk about personalization: finding out where that person’s at, what they value, tailoring the content to it. 

How much to do?

Sometimes people ask me, “Casey, how do I balance all these things? Like all these social things I’m trying to do, like having a newsletter or a blog?” 

Instead of trying to operate all of those independently, I encourage folks to find out what is your best content? Find the deepest research, the most firsthand experience you can share, and then write that down and repurpose it across these different channels. That could be a newsletter episode or a post on LinkedIn or Reddit. There are all these different ways that you can use that content in multiple different formats to maximize the blueprint. I just shared a story actually on my LinkedIn today about a post about Reddit that got three thousand views on LinkedIn and two hundred and fifty thousand views just reposting and resharing that across multiple socials.

In the same vein with email, you can take your very best content on these other platforms. If your goal is top-of-funnel, you want to be specific with your goal. If your goal is top-of-funnel pipeline generation, that can be a great place to plug that in.

Mike: Such a great point about repurposing. I do that with my own newsletter. I write a long-form newsletter every Sunday. And then the following Saturday, most of that content is republished as a blog post available for people to read whether they were a subscriber back then or not. 

Should you divide up your content or write it all out long-form?

Casey: The most important thing is you want your content to be skimmable. What I do is run a test and see if it’s possible to derive from what this is about within five seconds of looking at it.

As a specific example, there is a newsletter done by a company called Mutiny. They do a good job of having a recap at the top of their newsletter, and then they explain that they’re going to talk about these four topics. They have clear headers in each section breaking down what goes into that newsletter, so you can get a sense of their formatting.

Skimming, no matter what mode you use, is ideal. I’ve actually spent a lot of time studying and looking at data between plain text vs. templated. The honest answer is: it’s frustrating to hit people with “it depends on the industry or the specific goals that you have.” 

But your core content is always more important than anything else:

  1. No matter what email tool you use, whether you use plain text or templates, focus first on having that high quality in-depth content.
  2. Run a split test. That’s the beauty of having these tools with sophistication. If you’re not sure whether something would do better as plain text or with a little bit of stylization, run the test 50/50. Test it with 50% of your audience one way and the other 50% the other way. 
  3. Look at that data from your tests, and learn not what some outside guru is telling you for your brand but actually what the experience is with those customers.

That’s how I would think about it.

And this has been Casey Hill about effective and profitable email marketing and managing responses to emails. 

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Mike: Casey, you touched on personalization a bit before, but I’d love for you to unpack that even more how it’s more than being able to insert somebody’s first name. 

In your mind, what can be personalized and specifically, where does ActiveCampaign help with that?

Casey: I love this question, because personalization is such a funny thing everyone talks about, but I know how many people actually do any meaningful personalization, and it’s really small.

Everyone’s talking personalized, personalized, and then they’re not personalizing their content. Why is that? You need to have things that you can personalize based on. 

The first recommendation I have for folks is:

Don’t be scared to ask one or two questions

You can use progressive profiling, something like type forms. There’s lots of ways you could do this and essentially capture their email first, then they hit next, and then people might answer these subsequent questions. By doing that, you make sure that you get as many people through the door as possible, and you can capture those additional personalization questions. See if you can actually gather some information that will help you curate that journey.

The other question that comes in is, “What do I personalize: industry, role, or company size?” Here, you need to know your audience and what is functionally the most relevant to that person who’s coming through. For example, is a ten thousand person ecommerce company more similar to a ten thousand person B2B company than, say, a ten person ecommerce company? If the answer is yes, then maybe company size is going to be the most relevant, because permissions and these different functionalities will tie into that. There is a lot of functionality and features that are specifically based on industry.

The second side of personalization is what I call dynamic or behavioral segmentation.

This is when you want to treat how people are interfacing with you differently. If someone opens one email a year, they’re not the same as the person who is opening every single one of your correspondences. Ignoring the rabbit hole of email deliverability and all those different components, what I can tell you is it is actively hurting you. As a brand, you’re sending a reputation when you hit people over the head with emails who aren’t opening or engaging. Target people who are most engaged, and keep that high tempo of engaging those people with lots of great high value content. 

For folks who are colder, space it out. Spend more time sending emails out to those folks, because you don’t want those people to be adversely affecting that reputation. Maybe wait on reaching out until you have the cornerstone study or that super valuable piece of information to hook them in.

Set Goals for Your Newsletter

That’s why ActiveCampaign has goals. A lot of tools are limited to what we call a static segmentation. And so essentially, that person hits a step and it asks, “Is this true: yes or no?” Send an email, and wait five days.

With ActiveCampaign, you can say, anytime someone does something like opens three emails in a row, take them to this point, And then you can start them on that very active engaged drip. So to take a step back, because I know I’m throwing a whole bunch of information at people, I would say two things. Gather information up front, and then segment people based on that. Also, look at the behaviors of people: Are they visiting landing pages? Are they opening your content? Are they clicking on specific links?

From there, you can also send them the most relevant content. It’s easy in tools like ActiveCampaign to even do things like lead scoring. You can essentially say, “If someone opens an email at one point, if they click on a link, three points. If they go to certain pages, that’s ten points.”

And so you can start to create profiles of your most engaged users and use that as a way to know how to target the right folks.

Mike: So cool. Isn’t it, Robin?

Robin: It really is. That’s really what personalization is doing. You’re getting to know them. And I think people are afraid to ask their client, but I got to know you before this this show. I know Mike. I know what he likes to eat.

That’s so important to know those things, because that helps you have a better relationship. Same with your clients, same with the people who are opening it. You want to know what their activities are. And you if we replace it with people, because that’s what is behind these emails, that is how your brand is going to stand out.

They’re going to relate to these. They’re going to know, “Okay, Robin’s not opening this email at all. Her reading comprehension is third grade.” Her mother, though, opens every single one, clicks every single link, and then screen captures it, and you’ve got two totally different ones, and it helps you serve that as a better purpose. And I don’t hit the add-on subscribe button. I don’t think it’s annoying and might ruin your reputation. You’re going to hit me once in a while, and I think it’s just really getting to know that, “Okay. Robin might be a little bit more active. This other woman, Rochelle, is retired and she has more time.”

And so getting to know those people and personalizing it, I love how you guys do that.

You really, really helped to get to know the client, and and that shows your results immediately.

Casey: I’m just supporting everything you said. I’m like, “yes. Yes.” That’s what you’re talking about personalization. I think we try to complicate it so much when it’s so simple and just ask people. They’re going to tell you, “Yes, I like these things. No, I don’t.” People want to feel like the Kardashians. They want to feel asked. They want to feel important. So when you ask that as a brand, it helps you really, really segment or automate those 100%. And I would say just to build off that too, like, don’t be afraid to ask questions even. So I was talking about like the form level.

But in first touches and that first email you send out to folks, don’t be afraid to ask them specific targeted questions, too.

A good example of a question would be: “What is the biggest hurdle that you’re having with SEM PBC ads right now?” It’s very specific, and this is a nuance that is important for folks.

That question is infinitely better than saying, “if you have any questions, please let us know.” That is so broad. Someone is like, “I can go a million different places.”

Even if it’s as basic as something when someone asks for a review, we found we’ve learned a lot of research. If you ask, “Can you go give me a review on this specific Google place or this specific directory?” It’ll be way better than if you’re just like, “Can you give us a review?” First off, I don’t know where. It’s just so open ended.

Email Strategy

So when you look at an email strategy and you look at what’s going to help you potentially land in that primary inbox, not get pulled into promotions, (which, by the way, is very challenging an email today), the bar is very high to hit a primary inbox.

But what I can tell you guys is the people that run these inboxes? They’re smart. And one of the biggest things they prioritize in the last algorithm change is reply rate, because they studied and said when you send emails to your friends and your family, those have an 80% reply rate. When you send emails that are marketing based emails, they maybe have like a 2% reply rate.

So it’s a super easy signal where they realize, “Oh, okay. We can find out if you are marketing and move you into promotions with that.” And it was a while back when a lot of these top creators remember having conversation with Pat Flynn of FBI back in the day, who was producing content around this. And they started to really study it, and they found that if they could get 20-30% reply rate in that first email by asking specific targeted questions, they were starting to hit primary folders.

And I’ve now looked at that across a ton of different industries and found that same correlation. So let people know the expectation of when they’re going to hear from you. That’s going to increase that open rate and then from that really focus on replies.

Prioritize email metrics

A way that I like to tell people in terms of how to prioritize email metrics, the least important is opens. Then above that is clicks, then above that is page views, and at the very top is replies. So there’s been a lot of changes in email that have happened. We’re seeing right now Google and Yahoo have new citation changes. We saw the Apple auto open changes that happened. I believe that was last year where all of these people were scrambling because they were like, “Now can I not use open as a trigger?”

So couple things I’ll note on that. Number one, cool feature, shameless plug for ActiveCampaign. We divide out Apple auto opens, and we actually show you of your 48% open rate. 20% of those were Apple auto opens. You actually can get a sense of what percentage of those people.

The second thing though is I encourage folks to focus on clicks. Focus on page views, focus on replies as a much more reliable and better trigger. If you’re trying to run some sort of automation, then opens. Because the last thing you wanna do is have some auto open hit, and then you run an automation that was like, I’m so glad that you were interested in XYZ, then person’s like, “What are you talking about? I never read that content. Like, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

So I think that’s if you’re looking at what metrics to follow, keep that little greater than diagram in your head. I think that’ll help you prioritize the right things for trying to ultimately drive as much revenue as possible.

Mike: That makes complete sense. And I want you to underline this for those of us who maybe haven’t done it before. But you can set up links in your newsletters and you can segment based on which links people click. Correct?

Casey: Absolutely. Yeah. I want to reiterate that I encourage people to be pretty focused. But let’s just say, for example, you have your core message or offering. And after that, you include your blog. And you just want to know who’s actually interested in the blog content. And you see there’s a small cohort of people that consistently are always consuming your blog content. What I would do is I would have an automation that’s basically just set up and says, “Hey, if someone checks out more than two to three of my blog articles, let’s start having that be something where maybe I just send a whole recap of top three blog articles from X period of time. They’re clearly interested in that type of content. Let’s do more of that.”

Similarly, someone who got ten emails from me that always included a blog, they never clicked on a blog a single time. No worries! Let’s actually pull that out entirely if that’s not something that they want to engage in.

Don’t be afraid of unsubscribes

I think it’s really, really important when people are thinking about this. I tell people, “Don’t be afraid of unsubscribes.” I know it sounds weird. People are like, “What? What are you saying?” You want to maximize your email reputation. You want people that want to hear from you? Some people call me and say, “See, like, we had all these unsubscribes over.” I’m like, “Okay. No worries.”

Robin: That’s what I said. Again, let’s say it one more time. We just need you to just down a little bit louder for the people in the back who didn’t hear that. What was it? What did you say?

Don’t be afraid of unsubscribes. It’s also an opportunity for you to learn.

One of the things I run countless newsletters myself personally for brands and everything that I launch alongside companies, and I use that also as a signal. If I send out an email blast and that email blast gets fifty unsubscribes (and on average, my email blast gets three unsubscribes), I spent some time saying, “Oh, what did I do? Like, why do people not like that content? Like, was there something click they need? Did I lose some trust there?”

So not only is it important to kind of learn about what people want to get from it, but also it’s one of those things that you can educate yourself through as well.

Lead Scoring

Mike: Hundred percent. And one of the things you mentioned earlier that I just thought was fascinating was lead scoring. Email marketing solutions like ActiveCampaign have come a long way.

In recent years, what else do marketers do today? Things like lead scoring that are gonna improve their newsletters and they’re gonna improve their audience engagement.

Yeah. There’s so many individual pieces, but I’ll focus in on a couple.

First is I think you want to really lean into system intelligence and AI optimization. And what I mean by that specifically is there is stuff like we talk about lead scoring.

Over time, lead scoring is also going to get better and better, where these systems will start prompting you and telling you how many points you should assign. There’s also things that already exist, like predictive sending, where companies like ActiveCampaign can actually tell you based on your data when the best time to contact people is. Why I love this (and this is a subtle nuance) is because of the way that most email tools work is they tell you on aggregate. Meaning they look at their five thousand customers and then tell you, of all these customers, we find that it’s best to send at this time.

What ActiveCampaign does is it analyzes your individual data, and it says, of your customers who you’ve sent to for the last year or two years, here is the time that is driving the most engagement for you. So it’s highly personalized. So you can lean in to things like predictive sending and lead scoring just to get a better understanding of exactly what is performing the best for your customers so you can do more of that.

The other thing that I think a lot of these tools are leaning more and more into and something I think is really cool is what I call omnichannel marketing. So this can mean a lot of different things, but in the case of active campaign, an example is we have a connection with a tool called Banjoro so you can send one to one personalized videos.

We have another connection with a tool called Sendoso so that you can actually send gifts. We have another integration with a tool called post analytics so you can send physical cards.

We have both a native functionality as well as a connection in with Twilio to send SMS.

So the other thing is the way that we communicate with people is evolving and changing. And I encourage folks to ask their customers: “How do you want to hear from me?” Some people, if you have them on your opt-in form, you ask, “Would you like to get SMS text when they’re specific deals or promos?” Some people will click that. Right?

Some people will say, “Yeah. Absolutely. Send me send me those promos.” Other people won’t. So you don’t send it to them.

I think asking people how they want to be communicated with, and then also thinking really hard about where are those touch points where you can really add that extra delight experience?

And, again, I want to give full disclaimer: I used to work at Bonjoro, which is an integration partner, so I’m a big fan of what they do. But I think I love that idea that as we build all these systems, we still have that personalized touch. So, like, when someone opts in first exposure to your brand, I love to use ActiveCampaign connected to Bonjoro, so that I just get a ping on my phone and it says, “Hey, person X just signed up,” and I can pop on and record them an actual live video in twenty seconds, thirty seconds, super quick. But that person is usually blown away, and they’re like, “Whoa. I didn’t expect that.”

So this ability to communicate across multiple channels and have all of those natively in one spot? Every single one of those tools that I just mentioned are built in and native to ActiveCampaign, meaning that you don’t need to use Zapier, you don’t need to use any middleware. As long as you have post analytics or Sendoso or Bonjoro, you can basically just connect that directly into your AC system. I think you’re going to see more and more of a focus on omnichannel.

And I think you’re going to find that all these channels are going to continue to evolve. People think I’m crazy when I say in ten years, email might just look completely different. The way that people talk and communicate might just look completely different. So you want to find systems that, in my opinion, have that forward-looking mentality and are not just wed to, “Okay, I’m just going try to send emails effectively as possible.” It’s about how do I create the best customer experience? And that’s often multifaceted and involves that omnichannel approach.

The two things that I really think about are how do you use intelligence? How do you use big data to basically help make some of those strategic decisions and serve up those better experiences? And then have you do omnichannel?

Those are two categories.

Predictive Sending

Mike: Love it. I just have a quick follow-up question because you talked about predictive sending. And in the social media space, we’re very familiar with that.

The tools like Agorapulse and others have predictive sending, where basically they’re looking at when you have posted in the past, and of those posts, how they performed. They’re using that past data to predict what would perform well in the future. Is that how ActiveCampaign’s email predictive sending works? In other words, am I going to have to test different days of the week and different times in order to actually generate that data, or does it work differently?

Casey: So it does work the way that you described. So it’ll look at all the emails that you’ve sent out, both automations, as well as one-off emails. And it will say, of all the emails you’ve sent off, “We see these engagement patterns across those, and you’re getting the most engagement with your audience at these times.” So I think even people who, let’s say, you have a series of automation set up, those might be fairly consistent, but almost everyone that I’ve ever worked with is using email also will do a one campaign. They have a new promotion coming up, and they’ll send something out. And those are very rarely always going to be at the same time. So we’ll take that data and combine it with the performance of all your automation data to really isolate for your audience. What is that best performing content?

But the answer to your question also is yes. You’ll need to feed some data in so that it essentially knows just in the same way that AC could do forecasting, like sales forecasting. You’ll need to feed some data into the CRM side so it kinda knows what those patterns are.

AI Is for Enhancing

Casey: Yeah. I think that’s spot on. I think communicating with people the way they want to be communicated with. And one other thing I would also just bring into this conversation is that as we look forward, AI is obviously changing everything, and it’s this buzzword, and we’re all talking about it.

I think one thing that is really important, though, especially when we talk about email strategy (I’m sure this is something that you guys deal with on the content side) is I think people want to be really smart about using AI to enhance, but not replace the core creative side of the process. Right? That specific data and things that you bring to the table are part of what differentiates and makes that content stand out.So if you’re using this as a way to maybe research or gather data points, there’s so many amazing powerful applications around AI that are phenomenal. But don’t have it be something where you just are like, “Hey, write this email for me in AI,” and all your content is now AI written, and it’s like this boiler play generic, uninteresting style of content.


And one other thing I’ll just say to encourage folks that are going through this and using ChatGPT and these other tools as part of the research project process is to always ask for sources. I had a crazy experience recently, which I shared on social media, where I was asking ChatGPT about an ad campaign and about some pretty specific questions on what is an example of a large ad campaign where they turned it off, it had XYZ impacts on pipeline. And the AI goes, “Well, actually, we can tell you a story about HubSpot doing that.” And I said, “Awesome. Tell me all the details.” And it told me when they launched the campaign, what it looked like, when they increased ad spend, when they turned off ad spend, very specific numbers super in-depth. Then I followed up and I said, “Can you provide a source for that?” And it said, “Oh, that was a fictitious example. None of what I just said was true.” And it did not practice.

I went back. I was like, “Wait, did it say this is an example nowhere in that response? Did it indicate that that was a fictitious example?”

So I guarantee as all these teams are now basically getting flooded with using AI to write all of our stuff. If you’re not asking for sources, if you’re hiring people on your team who are writing AI content who aren’t asking for sources, you are going to find that there is actually untrue information and untrue statistics that are being proliferated. You don’t want to have that be something that hurts your brand reputation. Trust is the most important commodity that you have. Whether we’re talking about social, whether we’re talking about email strategy, that trust is fragile.

They have so many options in the world. They have so many things they can follow. If you lie to someone and they see that, boom, you just tank that all that trust that you’ve built over the course of a year. I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole, but I just want to encourage people because it’s such a powerful tool, but you need to be smart with it, and you need to use it the right way.

Robin: You know, I always say AI will not replace you.

Someone who uses AI and uses it correctly will replace you. Think a lot of business owners like you just said. You said that they’re having their teams use it, but unfortunately, they’re like, “Oh no. We’re gonna let go of our team, and we’re going to have one person seven people’s jobs because they have AI now.” And I’m like, “You still have to go and make sure it’s real.”

Not to date myself, but it’s just like when the internet came out and helped you. You have to make sure the sources are real. I used to do my research papers in the library at college, before the Internet came out. And, yeah, you still have to go fact-check things or else you look like an idiot and you lose your reputation. It takes one time for someone to put out something, and it’s a PR nightmare, and you can’t go back and take it back. We’ve watched companies destroy themselves with PR nightmare.

And it is one person who’s literally just like putting this AI information. Yep. It’s a fictitious story. You quoted it like it’s gospel truth. There’s a press release about it, and all of a sudden, you destroyed a company’s years of hard work by that. And so I love that you said that it’s so important for all of us. And Mike and I see this all the time because they’re like, just use AI. Use AI.

It’s freaking buzzword of the year, and I’m like, “Stop it. Stop using this word.”

Mike: It’s a buzzword, but it’s also something that everyone needs to understand better, how to use AI.

In Conclusion

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