TechBytes with Cody Bender, Chief Product Officer at Campaign Monitor

TechBytes with Cody Bender, Chief Product Officer at Campaign Monitor
TechBytes with Cody Bender, Chief Product Officer at Campaign Monitor

Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at Campaign Monitor.

I am the Chief Product Officer (CPO) of CM Group, a family of MarTech brands, including Campaign Monitor. In this role, I work across CM Group brands to improve the email campaign experience for both senders and recipients by driving the latest innovations in our product offerings. I guide the development of impactful new products, features, and services in our product portfolio. To do this, my aim is to continue to create and support highly collaborative teams with an outcomes-based culture. As CPO of CM Group, I also have responsibility for building partner relationships that can drive measurable results for our customer base.

As an Email Marketing platform, what inspired you to publish a report on Voice Technology?

The field of Digital Marketing is constantly evolving, and emerging technologies can have a powerful impact on the industry. Voice technology seems poised to become the next great disruptor, but there’s still a lot of speculation around how Voice tech will actually affect the various Digital Marketing platforms and to what extent. With this in mind, we decided to investigate the potential impact it can and will have on businesses, and more specifically, on Digital Marketing.

Tell us about the key takeaways from your Voice Technology report, specifically focusing on B2B commerce.

Although Voice technology is now considered mainstream, digital marketers have yet to feel the impact it’s slated to make. However, Voice technology is an opportunity to go above and beyond for your consumers and deliver a first-class experience every time someone interacts with your brand. As such, Campaign Monitor surveyed more than 400 people on the ways they use voice technology and found that 78% of respondents expect to use voice technology more in the future. We also saw, when asked about what one most wanted to change about Voice technology, that respondents had the largest interest in seeing improvements made that will make Voice technology more effective.

For instance, 44.8% of respondents said they’d prefer their device to have more direct knowledge instead of suggesting web searches to make communication more efficient. Similarly, nearly 45% said they’d like their device to have improved understanding of speech patterns. And, another 35% said they’d like their device to have better AI optimization to anticipate speech preferences and the businesses they prefer.

Conversely, many respondents noted that they would like to better understand the logistics of their devices. In fact, 39% said they’d like to better understand and regulate how their smart device records and stores data. Our survey also found that 74% of respondents prefer to use voice technology when performing search queries, while only 26% prefer to type the question themselves through traditional search engines.

All in all, these results show that a majority of households have a smart speaker and that most consumers are at least familiar with the concept, using it to make daily tasks easier. B2B companies should continue to track how consumers use Voice technology, taking into consideration demographics such as age, location, and other user preferences, to see how it could potentially impact their future Marketing strategies.

How does Voice technology impact adoption in a MarTech stack?

Currently, Voice technology will have little to no impact on the MarTech stack. Voice technology will affect advertisements, but not digital marketing as a whole. As Voice technology continues to evolve and disrupt technology, we cannot accurately predict how it will Influence Marketing, as we expect it will exist in a much different form than how it exists today. Until then, we can speculate how digital marketers can use data collected by voice technology to better tailor their approach, but at this point, there are far too many barriers to make this technology a real utility for digital marketers.

What does it take for an organization to build true Voice-enabled Personalization?

While Voice technology is certainly an industry disruptor, Voice-enabled Personalization specifically has a long way to go before it is a known reality for consumers and businesses alike. Eventually, we see digital marketers’ potential to use the wealth of data collected by Voice technology to personalize campaign approach across mediums, but today, voice-enabled personalization will not be a tool from which businesses can benefit.

To make Voice-enabled Personalization a reality, users would first have to choose to opt-in to sharing their personal data with marketers. In today’s age of increased data scrutiny and an ever-constant risk of a breach, this open, forthcoming user is difficult to imagine.

How do you differentiate between various data points- Audience, Customer, Intent, Sentiment, and Big Data?

Voice technology devices today do not have the ability to get as granular in discerning data points as other technologies used to personalize marketing efforts. In order for companies to target specific users – and their wants, needs, intent, and sentiment – Voice technology devices would have to learn how to differentiate between members of a household-based on vocal cues alone. Without this ability, marketers cannot deliver personalized, one-to-one Digital Marketing that is becoming the norm today.

Not differentiating these data types—would that be the biggest barrier in making Voice technology valuable for digital marketers? 

Marketing campaigns are becoming increasingly targeted and experience-based, meaning today’s consumers expect branded content to be aimed at them much more directly than was previously required. In fact, as mentioned before, respondents to Campaign Monitor’s survey on voice technology use noted that they were frustrated with a lack of understanding around their speech patterns, and, in turn, the inability to cater to specific user preferences. Forty-four percent said they’d like their device to have improved understanding of speech patterns, and 35% said they’d like their device to have better artificial intelligence to anticipate speech preferences (like punctuation) and the businesses they frequent.

On the other hand, many remain hesitant to embrace voice technology, concerned about their personal data security. Thirty-nine percent of survey respondents stated they’d like to better understand and regulate how their smart device records and stores data. Because Voice technology users must opt-in and share their data with businesses, to allow marketers to meet the expected level of personalized engagement, digital marketers must overcome quite the conundrum – how to personalize their campaigns without sacrificing consumer trust. Voice technology evolves alongside users’ views on data sharing, these combined barriers diminish any value the technology would bring to digital marketers today.

How marketers can get strategic about what tech they do adopt to get the most bang for their buck?

The root of any strategy is knowing your demographic. Before marketers build their strategies around emerging technology, they must identify their target demographic and leverage data to better understand their habits. Through Campaign Monitor’s Voice technology research, we aimed to do just that.

For example, out of our sample size, nearly 22% of voice technology users are between the ages of 25 and 35, while only 13% are 55-64 years old. That means that if you are marketing to an older demographic you won’t likely waste money on optimizing your marketing efforts to be compatible with voice-enabled devices.

With that, there are three trends we’ve seen that will help marketers get the most out of voice technology today: audio cues, utilizing technology-enabled devices for offers and promotions, and playlist Marketing.

  • Audio cues: Similarly, to a visual-brand logo, you should also consider creating audio cues that are exclusive to your brand. That way, whenever your audience hears your tones, they immediately recognize you and your company’s aesthetic.
  • Utilizing technology-enabled devices for offers and promotions: To increase meaning connections with consumers, consider creating promotions and discounts that have to be activated through voice tech-enabled devices. This will allow your audience to the human side of your marketing efforts.
  • Playlist Marketing: Lastly, since the second most common use of voice tech is to listen to music, it’s worth considering creating a branded playlist that aligns with your core values to share with your audience.

What impact does identity have on the customer journey and experience?

Outside of the standard factors that affect the customer experience, such as poor website management and delayed customer support, marketers must evaluate their campaigns to see if they align with customer’s preferences and identity. Customers today expect marketers to tailor communications to their unique and individual preferences. Marketers can no longer assume that all consumers in their 30s, for example, should receive the same email campaign. Marketers must leverage growing volumes of data to inform their campaigns and better segment audiences within very targeted demographics to successfully market to them.

On the other hand, identity is something that is increasingly being safeguarded as trust and security are a common concern in this day and age. Utilizing data without violating consumers’ trust is a delicate balance marketer will have to learn to navigate.

What are your predictions about Voice and AI-driven Personalization in MarTech for the next 3 years?

Currently, Voice-driven Personalization doesn’t have great commercial value for Digital Marketing, but that doesn’t mean Voice technology should be ignored altogether. To create value in the coming years, businesses should consider creating promotions and discounts that have to be activated through voice tech-enabled devices. Additionally, we expect to see the tactics of playlist marketing and earcons grow in popularity in the coming years.

Personalization will continue to be the holy grail for marketers, as campaign results measurably improve through the understanding of what customers care about and engage with. And while Voice-driven Personalization has some maturing to do before becoming a feasible option in digital marketing, AI-driven personalization can, and we expect, will continue to be integral to Digital Marketing campaigns for the foreseeable future.

Marketers today have more behavioral data than ever at their fingertips, but often don’t have the bandwidth to take this data and implement it for better results. In the coming years, we expect that innovation in AI technology will ultimately improve to analyze this data and act on it with little to no human interference, allowing marketers to continue to focus on overarching creative strategy, as campaigns get more are more granular.

Cody Bender is the Chief Product Officer of CM Group. Prior to joining CM Group in 2017, Cody worked at Return Path for six years, ultimately leading their Product organization and Email Certification program. While there, he worked closely with partners like Microsoft, Yahoo, Comcast, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud, as well as with some of the largest email marketers in the world to improve the experience of email for both senders and recipients.

His career in software development started by designing and building software solutions for municipalities and governments across the US. Cody earned his BA in Mathematics from Coe College.

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Campaign Monitor is a global software-as-a-service company specializing in email marketing with the mission of providing customers the tools to create meaningful connections with their audience. Together with Emma and Delivra, we strive to provide the best product and services for our customers, ranging from email marketing platforms for teams of all sizes, to easy-to-use tools that allow marketers to send targeted newsletters to grow their business.

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