Zembula’s CEO Robert Haydock knows the ins and outs of campaign optimization and customer acquisition. In his conversation with Annex Cloud’s SVP of Revenue Erin Raese, Robert talks about how effective marketing is no longer about pre-planned segments, it’s about responding to the individual. He describes plug and play technology available today that makes it easy for organizations to individualize emails real-time, and why he’s excited to see even more impactful ways to blend messaging in the future.
Hello everybody. I'm Erin Raese. Welcome to another edition of Annex Cloud's Market Movers. Today, I'm here with Robert Haydock, the CEO of Zembula. Welcome Robert, how are you?
Hi, Erin. Thanks for having me. Doing very well and excited for the conversation.
Me too. Let's start with you telling us a little bit about yourself and Zembula, how it came about and what it is you and Zembula do.
Sure. So, I've been in marketing tech and advertising for about 15 years. And about eight and a half years ago, I was talking to my co-founder and we had this idea for scratch off and reveal an email and making email more engaging and whimsical and started there. And that was our business for about six years. And then a couple of years ago, we had a lot of interest from our customer base around real-time images that update at the moment of email open. And that kind of took us in a new path of solving these data problems and really looking at what the opportunity was to help our customers and what the problem was associated with it.
So, when you say images updated real time? What kind of images? Help me understand a little bit more.
When you get an email from a brand, if you turn off the images, you won't see much content in the email. And so what we realized was most of the brands we work with are trying to personalize in the layout of the email and not in the actual design of the images. And so the opportunity was, let's take those images in the email and allow people to personalize them with loyalty points or with a special promotions for individuals and use context about location and time of day. And really enrich the content within the email images, not just the layout.
I love that. I love that. We just recently had a webinar with Forrester and the big topic was individualization and how to deliver individualized experiences, which are the next step beyond personalization. We all talk about personalization and I think we began to think about it as, okay, well, I put your name on it. So, now it's personalized. But being able to, it sounds like do what you're doing, being able to bring this data forth real time. It's really been specific to me or to you. Based on my behavior, that how it works?
Exactly. And if you look at kind of the history of email, we've used segmentation, which was splitting up a list for loyalty members, non loyalty members and sending. And then we had personalization from the send, where it would be a text update of number of points in your loyalty program. And then I think what we're evolving into now is I don't need to know you as an individual until you open the email. And at the moment you open the email, that's when I need to recognize it's you Erin and present you the right points if you're a loyalty member, or if you're not a loyalty member, you should see the right content. And I think that's where individualization is really exciting, is it's not the pre-planned, it's the responding to the individual.
I love it. So, I no longer have to do segments?
Yeah. So, fewer segments, because you can make those decisions at the open. So, you think of the production effort it takes when you segment, you're basically creating a whole new email or a whole new message for each segment. And now you can remove that work and put the effort into what does the individual need to see and have a pool of content that might be shown. And that is personalized at the moment of open.
Wow. Based on any preferences or potentially my profile information then as well.
Exactly. So, your full profile can come to bear where we like to think of a smart banner as a great way to think about it. Like a notification at the top of the email. And you think of what could go into that notification. It might be you have an abandoned cart and that might be the most important thing for you to see. And that should be what's shown. Or you might have an incentive to join the loyalty program, or you might already be a member and a couple of points away from the next tier, or there might be a social action that you can take of sharing the brand.
That's awesome. And so then where do you sit as like a technology within the ecosystem? Because I'm thinking about this, okay, there's the data and then there's the delivery and help me understand that.
Yeah. So, if you think about it, you have the email editor, you have the database and that's the ESP. And then you're probably designing your images in Photoshop or something similar and then importing them into the email and hosting them somewhere. And so what we're replacing is Photoshop, and what you're doing is building the images within Zembula and we're hosting those images and replacing the image building and the hosting of it. And then that's what allows us when you open an email to pick the right image to display and then personalize the content within that, the moment you open it. Oh, sorry, it's a shift in the stack a little bit. And what you're alluding to is we connect to all the data sources directly.
And so there's a lot of value in that where we can also, if you think about loyalty points in calculating the next status tier and things like that, calculations can actually occur in our layer too, which is something you can't do in an email service provider. So, it's freedom for the marketer to really do whatever they can imagine.
That's great. So, how do you, I think this is amazing, because I know marketers, I know a lot of our clients too, they're segmenting a lot. They have tons of different communications that they're sending out and it gets old and people don't get to it right away. And somebody might not open that email or they might open it multiple times. So, I'm assuming if I opened it today, it has my information as of today. But then if I go back and open it again in a week, I might have updated offers too.
Exactly. So, it doesn't matter when you open or reopen an email, the content is always going to be updated for that moment in time. And so it allows you as a brand to make sure those opens are hard to get, and you want to make sure you have the most relevant content when you do get an open. And this is a way to do that.
That's amazing. How do you end up working with your ... When you come across a new prospect, let's say, or how are you getting the word out to letting brands know that this is even available? And it sounds super easy to use. So, maybe expound on that too. Is it as easy as it sounds and what is that engagement like with a potential client and how are you explaining to them what this value is, and then maybe taking it from there further is what value are they beginning to see through using your solution?
Yeah. So, the reason that clients come to us is usually they're having a design challenge and actually a lot of the time it's with loyalty, where they want to control the design, look and feel of the points and the various content around loyalty. And they're struggling to do it within the email service provider and the email editor. And so they'll reach out to us and then we're able to give them the freedom of design, have them show progress bars and that type of thing. And the other side of it is they'll come to us with a technical challenge where they're having a hard time integrating data into their email service provider. And they're looking for a quick way for the marketing team to add information into an email.
And so those are kind of the two entry points. And then from there, what we're able to do is kind of educate them around what's possible. And that smart banner I mentioned is a great way to do it, because that can really highlight what individualization can look like. And it's not something scary where I'm going to have to change my whole email program to test this. It's just an addition of a banner. And a lot of the times, frankly, it's a replacement of a banner that already is being used.
So, then it seems as though if I'm out planning my campaign, do I set it up in this module? So, if I wanted to hit on maybe three main topics, do I create three main images and that's what I would bring forward? And then that essentially tells the story. And is that how it would work essentially?
Yeah, to think about it, you would create the banner at the top of your email, and then you would think of the ideas of content you might want to display there. Like you might want to display a cart abandonment. So, you would build an image for that. You might want to display current loyalty status. And so you'd build an image for that. You might want to display a non-member for loyalty joining the membership program, and you'd have a banner for that. And each of those banners could be personalized with first name and the data connected to it and presented.
And then you set simple rules of, if this person has abandoned cart, I want that to be displayed. If they don't have an active cart and they're a member, I want to show them loyalty. And if they don't have an active cart and they're not a member, then I want to show them a promotion to join the program. And so you can start building these really rich images or modules within your email program that are responsive to the open and make the decision to have that open. Another way is adding blocks or modules within the rest of the email. So, you might always have a loyalty module within the body of the email. And that module will show you loyalty if you're a member and will show me a promotion to join the program, if I'm not a member.
Great. And so it's, my mind just keeps reeling about all the opportunity that's there, but I bet too, when you're getting started as a marketer, that's probably why you're saying you start with the banner first, is a bit more about crawl, walk, run approach. Is that typically how people go at this? And then does that have something to do with how they're maybe AB testing it against other things as well?
Exactly. So, it is, where's the easiest place to start with the lowest risk where you're not trying to overhaul your program. And that is that banner is a great spot. One of the other things we find that's kind of unique is if you have a very relevant banner at the top of your email, the rest of your email performs better because of the relevance of the information at the top. And so that's something we're still proving out, but it's something we're seeing that's fairly consistent. But it is, start very simple with whatever your highest need is or will have the biggest ROI impact. So, you can kind of build on the momentum and share with the rest of the team the successes early on, because we do find if you try to bite off too much, sometimes it can be hard to show the ROI on it. And then it's hard to build the program, because there's not the buy-in from everybody.
Yeah. It makes sense. You've mentioned ROI. So, my brain was kind of going there. What kind of lifts are people seeing once they get this down path, compared to where they were before?
So, with an example with a banner, a banner that's done well, that's personalizing to you is going to drive about a 15% performance in click through rates across the entire email. And then starting with those highest ROI banners is really important where cart abandonment's a high value email that you trigger and send, and you send three to five of them. When you move that across your entire program and if they open any campaign email and have a cart, they see that. That has a big impact on the performance. So, we see just on that banner, it can be 2000% ROI, and then you kind of pick off those different areas. And what we've seen is if you know your loyalty program performance and you start incorporating loyalty in every single email you send, you're going to see a good lift in ROI and something that is similar to the lift you're going to see in those single emails that you send about loyalty.
Yeah. A great point, because you know loyalty obviously, and you're obviously working with a lot of clients that have it. We see so many times loyalty and the rest of their email communications tend to be separate. And we're huge proponents of bringing it all together, because there shouldn't be that disconnect because they really do go hand in hand. Loyalty can be a great tool to get that person to convert on that cart abandonment. There could be an extra incentive that you give in order to just kind of put them over that edge. So, I'm a huge proponent of that. I'd like to hear it.
It's the visibility and the participation of those programs. And that's why loyalty is one of our best use cases. It's exactly what you're describing. That challenge between your sending your loyalty from a different solution than you're sending your regular email. And we're a lightweight way to combine that and also to give you the design control that you're looking for to really do fun.
Love it. Great point. Do you have any examples of clients that are doing this? Could you share maybe a story of maybe where they started out, what their challenge was and where they're today and how much fun they're having with this?
Yeah, great example on the loyalty front is KORA Organics. They're a beauty products company. They started with the problem of design. They wanted to bring loyalty points and more design of their loyalty program into the email and also on their website. And they came to us as the lightweight solution that could connect with the vendor and provide that in the way that they could design it. And so they ended up adding loyalty points in every email that they send. And also when you log in to the loyalty program within the KORA Organics website, you're going to see a loyalty points banner that's powered by us. And so we really empower the marketer without the dev team to make a lot of progress in making sure the visibility of programs is there.
Great, great. Thanks for that example. And how long have they been doing this?
They've been doing it about a year with us and we're excited. They're expanding into other use cases. So, they're expanding into that banner that I mentioned, which is really exciting for us, because we found that to be a really fundamental way to measure ROI and drive ROI. It's an easy one. The put a banner in for loyalty can be a little harder to see exactly what the ROI of that is. So, that's where we've learned from the last year is what are the places where we can help our clients drop in things where it's easy to go to the team and share success?
And that's great, because you now with all the clients you have and you're testing and learning and seeing what works and what doesn't, and really be able to guide people, which is a really great service that you can provide too.
Yeah, an example that is kind of completely in another direction is Lands' End in their package tracking in their emails, where they were struggling with getting packages to individuals and allowing them to know where in the process they were. And their customer success team was getting, or their support team, sorry, was getting overwhelmed with calls. And they came to us and we're looking for a way to give better updates, but didn't want to do a huge investment in a program like Narvar or some other big solution. And so we came in, they were able to drop images in their shipment sent emails and those update every time the customer opens it. And it was big enough of a success for them that the support team came back to them and asked, what did you change, because the reductions in calls are significant. Those are kind of the exciting things when you see real-time data and images driving real results for companies.
That's a great example. So much of what we're hearing today is around, how do you make that customer experience more frictionless, or seamless and make the customer's life easier, those kinds of approaches and what the customers are demanding today. And that's a really great use case. And I'm sure there's a lot of other ways that you could use your technology to provide those kinds of updates. So, where's my package, or when is a new item coming in or to your point, your loyalty is obviously something that's potentially always with every activity it's changing. So, that's a nice update as well. Yeah. I love that. Very cool.
I think the exciting thing for the future is blending these different data sources in ways maybe they haven't been before, where you can blend with the abandoned cart and find new ways to kind of leverage both together where they compliment and drive the conversions for you.
That's perfect. Yeah. You were on the site, we knew you were there. You have something in your cart. Do you know how many points you would have extra, if you would make this purchase today, something like that.
It comes to the calculation part where you want to calculate something and show them they could use their points for X amount of discount and it would cost this, or yeah.
Yeah, or maybe they have a reward voucher that they haven't used yet. Like, hey, we'll add it in automatically for you, just click here.
Exactly. So, I think there's so much fun and excitement and what's possible over the next few years as we go into individualization with loyalty and with other types of technology, like the commerce and the cart abandonment, and combining those into these really rich individual messages that speak to you.
Yeah. I love it. I love it. Can't wait. Let's get that word out and have people start doing more of this, for sure. Well, terrific. Do you have anything else you'd like to add or any advice for people who are getting started with this?
I think the biggest piece of advice I'd offer is just start as simple as you can. Don't try to do everything at once. Things like cart abandonment are simple ways to start. Loyalty is a good one. And isolating it into just a banner on the top of the email, where you can add it to your program. It's not going to risk the rest of what you're doing, but you can start to see the results and build against that and share that with your team and show the successes and move.
That's great. Every conversation I have lately, I think it's all around don't boil the ocean and work to keep it simple, because you're just doing some of those simple little tweaks or changes can make an incredible impact. And then you can grow into it. You don't have to take on everything all at once. Great points. Great advice.
Thanks. Yeah, I think definitely simple, especially with everything everybody has going on already and marketing teams are understaffed and IT is hard to get to. So, it really is a game of how can we do the smallest things to get the biggest impact.
That's terrific. That's a great way to end. Small things to get the biggest impact. Perfect. Well, thank you so much for your time today.
Thank you so much for having me, Erin and I look forward to future conversations.
Terrific. Thanks so much. Bye.
SVP of Revenue
Since 2010, Annex Cloud has provided industry leading loyalty solutions to more than 250 leading brands and retailers, including Jenni Kayne, Hewlett-Packard, Bed Bath & Beyond, e.l.f. Cosmetics, Olympus, Sugarfina, Mizuno, MacKenzie-Childs, VF Corp., with the ability to engage tens of millions of their customers one-to-one at scale.
The Annex Cloud platform provides fully integrated Customer Loyalty, Referral Marketing, and User Generated Content (UGC) solutions that seamlessly work together to optimize the customer journey and deliver a unified customer experience that is designed to accelerate revenue growth, retain valuable customers, increase average order values (AOV) and drive repeat order frequency.
Zembula is a software company that helps brands engage their audiences on a deeper level with email content that updates at the moment of open. They allow brands to unlock the potential of their collected data with real-time email content that is easy to create and deploy. Zembula provides marketers with an entire suite of email tools to engage and convert their audience. Customers include both B2B and B2C marketers from companies such as Staples, Verizon Fios, Fossil, Sandals, Marriott, Time/People Magazine and Bistro MD.
To learn more about zembula , visit zembula.com