Interview with Agata Celmerowski, VP Marketing at Klaviyo

Agata Celmerowski
interviwes
Agata Celmerowski
Agata Celmerowski
VP Marketing at Klaviyo
Klaviyo

On Email Marketing Technology

MTS: Tell us a little about your role at Klaviyo and how you got here.

I run marketing for Klaviyo, which is a marketing automation platform that makes it easy for ecommerce companies to grow as fast as possible using targeted email and Facebook marketing.

What we do is a big component of how I got here. Email marketing has been one of the few constants of my career. I’ve managed email products for a media company, overseen email marketing on both the B2B and B2C side, and run marketing for more than one email service provider (ESP). I’ve written about it, presented on it, and taught it. I know how powerful email marketing can be when used in a highly personalized way. I also know how deceptively difficult it can be to implement an ESP, get the right data into it, and then operate it so you can execute highly personalized email marketing campaigns. It’s a problem that’s been near and dear to my heart for many years – and Klaviyo solves it. So I’m here at Klaviyo because I’m incredibly passionate about telling the world about our product.

MTS: How do you see the email marketing segment evolving over the next few years?

The marketing industry is fond of speculating about the death of email. I think that’s garbage – email isn’t going anywhere. But like every single digital marketing vehicle, the standard for what makes for effective email marketing is going to continue to evolve. Segmentation and automation aren’t going to be optional; marketers will have to deploy both to make their emails effective, relevant, and stand any chance of getting their messages into customers’ inboxes.

MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?

Without a doubt, Artificial Intelligence. And the precursor to what I’ll call “useable AI” is data. We’re at an inflection point right now when it comes to both the amount and accessibility of data available to marketers. Those who are able to unlock their data – that is, pull it into one system reliably and use it to power their marketing – are going to be the ones in a position to apply AI to their marketing strategies effectively. And the quality of their marketing – as measured by the relevance to and response from the recipients of that marketing- is going to go way up. That’s going to change consumer expectations. If companies want to be competitive in the world that AI will make possible, they need to be thinking about data today.

MTS: What’s the biggest challenge for startups to integrate an email marketing platform like Klaviyo into their stack?

Honestly, its getting over the perception that implementation is going to take forever and require an army of developers. Klaviyo is designed from the ground up to pull in data from across your tech stack – whether it’s your ecommerce platform, form builders and popup tools, helpdesk software, or others.

MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?

Klaviyo, of course 🙂 We also have some amazing customers that are in hyper-growth mode, like UNTUCKit. They’re a great example of a company that is solving a problem that has been attempted to be solved before — in this case, creating a men’s button down shirt that looks good untucked – but doing it in a way that’s better than anyone else.

MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?

While we’re not an ecommerce company, we do strongly believe in using our own product so Klaviyo is the hub of our marketing stack. We’re also big fans of Heap Analytics. It’s the best tool to date for tracking things like the paths people take before they sign up for Klaviyo, or how new users interact with our software after they’ve created an account.

MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)

The most recent example that comes to mind is a campaign that actually focused on our customers. Earlier this year, we launched the Klaviyos, a data-driven awards program recognizing our customers’ accomplishments across a variety of categories, including most revenue from email and highest overall growth. In addition to building a landing page for the awards themselves, we also created customer profiles and mini case studies so others could learn from the success that our customers had. We promoted the awards through our newsletter, social media accounts, and paid advertising on Facebook. We also topped off the campaign by sending every winner a box full of swag, including Klaviyo-branded socks (a personal favorite of mine) and a trophy in the form of a S’well water bottle. Our quantitative success metric was around visibility of the content, as measured by visitors – we were aiming to exceed a certain threshold within 30 days, and we succeeded. More importantly, we wanted to celebrate our customers’ successes. The best measure for that is more qualitative, and it came in the form of the thank you emails they sent!

MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?

It’s all about data, data, data. Marketers need to make sure they’re collecting, storing, and using it to power their marketing. Data is the bedrock of AI; if you don’t have data, you can’t take advantage of all that AI will unlock. I also believe AI will eliminate all the manual tasks marketers do today to try and understand what’s working, so they can do more of it, and what’s not, so they can stop it. That will free up marketers to focus on deepening their understanding of the people they’re trying to communicate with, and thinking of the best and most creative ways to get through to them. So preparing for an AI-centric world means making sure my team is super strong on marketing fundamentals: knowing our audience, the challenges they face, how we help them, and the best ways to connect with them.

This is How I Work

MTS: One word that best describes how you work.

Thoughtfully.

MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Slack for group communication, Trello for organizing the way we work, and, of course, Klaviyo for our email marketing. Also Spotify; I listen to music every chance I get. And Instacart.

MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

My best productivity hack is being deliberate about the way I design my work week. First, I try to be very selective about meetings, especially recurring meetings. If there’s no need for me to be there, or if there’s nothing that needs to be discussed, I’ll decline or cancel the invite. When meetings do need to happen, I’m a fan of scheduling them back to back. And I’m pretty diligent about blocking off 2-4 hour blocks at least one day a week to go heads down and focus on bigger picture problem-solving.

I also keep a Trello board for “not now” projects. That lets me acknowledge the things we should be doing and opportunities for things to improve on or build in the near future, without getting so distracted that we’re not able to finish the things we’re working on today.

MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

Radical Candor by Kim Scott – it’s a great book on what effective management looks like and how to practice it. I read a ton, across a bunch of different genres, and it’s definitely my preferred means of consuming information. Lately I’m really into podcasts too, though – especially TED Radio Hour.

MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

At one point in my career, I was trying to figure out whether I should move to San Francisco. Someone I hold in very high regard asked me to consider whether I wanted my life to be about the tech industry, 24/7 – or whether I wanted to leave room for the world outside of tech. I love what I do, and I have a lot of respect for west-coast startups. But in the end, I believe a variety of experience and interests helps me be a better marketer and (more importantly) a better human being. And for me, that’s easier to do here in Boston than it would be in SF.

MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

Figuring out what needs to be done when, and then making it happen. There’s very little shortage of great ideas at high growth startups. The key is focusing on the right things to do at the right point in time, and then executing damn well.

MTS: Tag/who is the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read?

The first person that came to mind is Kim Scott, probably because I’m enjoying her book so much right now.

MTS: Thank you, Agata! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Agata runs marketing for Klaviyo, an ecommerce marketing automation platform that makes it dead easy for ecommerce companies to accelerate their growth through smarter, data-driven email and Facebook campaigns. She’s spent the last 15 years doing exactly that herself for B2B and B2C tech startups.

Klaviyo

Klaviyo helps eCommerce businesses sell more by using their data to power super-targeted, highly relevant email and advertising campaigns.

Unlike other email or marketing automation solutions, we’re really good at getting data out of your ecommerce platform – whether it’s Shopify, Magento, a customer implementation, or something else. We let you combine that data with website behavior and information from other marketing tools, then use it to target, personalize, analyze, and optimize your marketing.

And the best part is, we make it easy. Not “six-months-of-development” easy or “only-if-you-want-to-do-the-basics” easy. Just easy. Thousands of ecommerce stores like Kohler, Chubbies, Nomad, and Huckberry grow their revenue using Klaviyo.

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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