April 11, 2019

Email on Tap Episode Five, with Kandice Carlson, Retail Solutions Product Marketing, Google Cloud


Anthony Chiulli, 250ok’s director of product marketing, conducted one more interview while at Shoptalk in Las Vegas! He spoke to Kandice Carlson, retail solutions product marketing, Google Cloud on the exhibit hall floor.

Anthony and Kandice discussed the ever-buzzy AI and machine learning technology as it can apply to marketing, how brands successfully connect with customers, and whether or not working for Google is really as awesome as it sounds (it is).

 

Total Run Time: 9 minutes
00:25 – Kandice’s role at Google Cloud, what she is focused on
00:55 – How Kandice sees machine learning and AI elevating the customer experience in retail
1:48 – How Kandice’s perspective in digital marketing changed or evolved over the years with experience on both brand and vendor sides
3:04 – How brands rise to the occasion to meet the demand of hyper-personalization and create an emotional connection with customers
4:25 – Why personalization is hard, and an elusive goal for marketers
4:55 – Why email continues to be a vital channel amongst brands’ digital strategies
6:06 – The balance between too much data and the right data for retailers
7:20 – Lightning Round

 


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Transcript

Anthony Chiulli
Hi, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of Email on Tap. I’m your host, Anthony Chiulli. And today, I’m thrilled to have as a guest, Kandice Carlson, she’s the retail solutions product marketing at Google Cloud, Kandice welcome to the program.

Kandice Carlson
Thank you so much, great to be here.

AC
How are you?

KC
I’m doing good, how are you?

AC
I’m good, I’m a little tired, but I’m good.

KC
Yeah, working through it?

AC
Tell me a little bit about what you’re doing, and what you’re working on at Google Cloud.

KC
Sure, absolutely, so at Google Cloud I am on our industry marketing team where I’m specifically focused on retail. So my whole job is to figure out how we should position Google Cloud to the retail audience, what are those key messaging opportunities that we should be talking about. I work a lot on event experiences, on creating solutions. So just parts of Google Cloud products that should be put together specifically for retailers, to help them solve some of their common problems.

AC
So machine learning and AI are all the buzz.

KC
Huge.

AC
Everybody’s talking about it. How do you see machine learning and AI elevating that online customer experience?

KC
I think a key way that I see AI and ML coming together is really around data. So we know with retailers they’re capturing just massive amounts of data. And that’s great, I think we’ve got the collection part down. But really being able to understand, analyze that data, put it into action, often requires machine learning capabilities. And so, I think that’s a key way, being able to apply machine learning models that help you with things, both like personalization, and you know things in your marketing channels but also in your business operations, so demand forecasting, logistics fulfillment and delivery. We see retailers really starting to embrace AI to solve those kind of problems as well.

AC
You’ve had a unique experience where you’ve worked on both the brand side of digital marketing as well as the vendor side. How has your perspective on digital marketing changed or evolved over the years?

KC
Yeah, I think you know, on the brand side, I was always focused on consumer-facing marketing. What kind of emails are we sending, what’s on our website, what’s our app experience? And I think that is crucial and important, and as I come over to, you know, the side of where I’m working more with vendors or like assisting retailers, I’ve started to understand that, you know, the back-end business operations are just as important because you can say something beautiful in an email, but if you can’t actually fulfill it with your business operations, then that’s a big challenge.

AC
Right.

KC
You’re not going to meet the expectations of your customers, so it’s been really interesting to work for companies like Salesforce and for Google Cloud where it’s about the whole picture of a retailer, like the whole retail value chain. So, yes there’s customer acquisition and retention, but how are you informing your associates in the store and how are you fulfilling your supply chain? I think it’s been an awesome experience to understand the other side of a retail business and not just what’s put forth in marketing.

AC
So customers nowadays are demanding and expecting hyper-personalization in content.

KC
Yes.

AC
And an emotional connection even with brands.

KC
Yes.

AC
How are you seeing brands rise to the occasion and meet those new requirements?

KC
What’s been interesting is, I think what we’re finding is the experience that a brand provides can almost be just as important as the product that they’re selling. That, you know, we see loyalty of a customer being like– you know, customers will go shop wherever it’s easiest and wherever it’s frictionless, and wherever there’s the best experience. And sometimes they’re loyal to a specific product or brand but really what they want is what they want, when they want it.

AC
Right.

KC
And so I think that personalization and focusing on that experience becomes crucial, because if you can’t, if it’s not easy, they’re just gonna go somewhere else. There’s so much competition. And it’s so easy now to just find a product or a brand or an item somewhere else, that you really have to provide a focus on the experience of personalization. That’s not easy to do. I think we all talk about it, and then we send our promo email for St Patrick’s Day, right?

AC
Right.

KC
You know, like because you’re like trying to keep up with the machine and what you did last year and you know, meet the numbers that you did last year. But at some point, you have to take a moment just to say, “What is the experience of our customers, and how can we make that better?”

AC
Yeah, it’s funny in a way; the irony is personalization is always one of the top two or three goals for businesses and surveys every year because it is hard. And not many brands are doing it really, really well. So it continues to be almost this elusive goal for brands every year. How do we inch closer to that true one-to-one type of marketing strategy?

KC
Exactly, and we know it’s important. I think every marketer knows it’s important. It really just comes down to, how do I actually get that done? What are real ways that I can do that?

AC
Right, right. Let’s talk about email — turned 40 years old last year. Email marketing, crazy, right? Why do you think email continues to be such a vital part of brands’ strategies, with the emergence of all these other messaging channels?

KC
First of all, I have a soft spot in my heart for email. So my first digital marketing job was an email specialist at Fossil when I lived in Dallas. So, I started in email, and I’ve always been a firm believer of it as a channel. I think, first of all, the ROI has held up. It continues to be a pretty inexpensive way that you can talk to your customers. I think that the technology around email has evolved so you can infuse it with personalization and you can make it custom and unique. And then, I think, we like, it stood the test of different devices. So, except if people couldn’t check their email on their phone, then email would be dead.

AC
Right.

KC
But email, as you know, sustained because now Gmail has its own app. I can easily check an email on my phone and designers can design for that device. So I think as long as email stays in whatever the consumer device of choice is, it will stay around for a while, I would say.

AC
It’s good for job security.

KC
Exactly.

AC
Every keynote that I’ve attended at this event is talking about data and how data fuels digital transformation. In your opinion, do you consider there to be a balance between too much data and the right data?

KC
Yeah, I think that we have to be purposeful in the data that we’re collecting. If you’re asking a customer for information or if you’re monitoring things, what are you doing with that? What’s the purpose? Are you being helpful? Are you solving problems of your customers? I think sometimes we get on the bandwagon of, we need everything. But for the most part, that data goes unused and it just sits in storage that maybe is costing you money. So I think being absolutely purposeful and the kind of data like I personally believe like behavioral data is really important. So what are our shoppers doing and where are they doing it at? That’s, that’s the core data that can help you kind of understand and predict their next action, which is really, I think what we want to get out of this whole personalized experience. But just collecting information for the sake of collecting it, I think sometimes people over cycle on that. Be purposeful and make choices of the kind of data based on how you’re going to use it, not just based on storing it.

AC
Very well said. All right we’re gonna mix it up a little bit, and we’re gonna do a lightning round.

KC
Okay. I’m excited.

AC
I’m going to ask you four questions, off-the-cuff responses. Best leadership quality in a manager?

KC
Transparency. Walking that line of being as honest as possible without losing their own job.

AC
Okay, I love it, that’s good. Second question; most influential career advice that you’ve held onto?

KC
Okay, this sounds cliche. But early on, actually, in my Salesforce career, I had a boss. Her name’s Annie. This is it. Who just told me to like, go with my gut. Like, I definitely was having that moment of second guessing myself. And she was like, “No, you got it.” And so I think that’s the phrase that’s in the back of my head constantly, “No, you got it.”

AC
Instill confidence.

KC
Yeah, exactly.

AC
Fill in the blank: In five years, AI machine learning for marketers will be?

KC
Table stakes.

AC
I like it. And last, the most memorable Googler…?

KC
Googler, yes.

AC
What do you call yourselves?

KC
Googlers.

AC
Your most memorable Googler experience so far?

KC
I have to admit, getting my spinny hat in orientation. I didn’t really know that was a real thing. I had seen it like on a movie. But at the end of the orientation, you get a hat that has a spinny thing on it,and that was when it really came home for me that I work at Google.

AC
It’s real, yeah.

KC
This is pretty cool.

AC
Kandice, thank you so much, this has been such an honor and a pleasure interviewing you.

KC
Yeah, thank you for inviting me, it’s been awesome.

AC
And thanks everyone for tuning in, that’ll do it for this episode of Email on Tap. We hope to see you on our next episode. Thank you.

Author: Nicky Copland

Nicky is the senior marketing manager at 250ok. Before joining the team, she spent the majority of her time crafting and implementing communications strategies for the association industry. She was never a brain surgeon, but she played one on the internet.

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