Episode 223 Featuring Alex Bond

Email Flows and Retention Strategies with Jess Chan

Email Flows and Retention Strategies with Jess Chan

Jess Chan is the founder & CEO of Longplay & Backbone. Longplay is a full-service retention & lifecycle marketing agency for DTC e-commerce brands that specializes in email marketing. Backbone is the first email strategy automation tool for DTC ecommerce brands to automate their email calendar planning, promotion & product launch planning, flow recommendations & email layout creation.

In. this episode, Jess and I discuss ideas vs execution, generating productive email flows, retention strategies, and much more.


What is Longplay

Jess Chan: So Long Play is a full service retention and lifecycle marketing agency for a DTC e-comm brands. And all that means is we specialize in doing email sms direct mail, but also overall retention strategies, custom lifecycle strategies for DTC.

So we worked with brands anywhere from zero to 500 million in annual revenue and every kind industry and product under the sun that you could possibly imagine. And we actually got our start email, but now we brought it out to all the retention channels cause that direct mail, things like that, there's kinda opportunities for e-com these days. 

Alex Bond: Cool. Well, we'll definitely dive into the email side of things a little later in the show. Can you give me a general overview of some of the services that long play provides or can provide to its clients?

Jess Chan: Yeah, for sure. So most of our clients, We have DTC eCom brands come in. Typically they have some baseline level of email marketing done, or else they typically start off with backbone, which is our email strategy automation tool. 

But they come in we handle all of their email marketing for them, so strategy development, copywriting, design execution, analytic testing, literally taking the entire channel off of their plate. But makes it a little bit different than most email agencies is that we actually have a broader focus on increasing customer lifetime value and helping you build a scalable, sustainable, profitable email channel for your business overall. 

So we're really looking at how email, sms, direct mail can help a DTC brands hit their business goals, whether it's repurchase rates, cross selling, more products, introducing customers to new products, things like that. We also do full service sms management, direct mail management. We have a lot of clients who come in without SMS or direct mail, and they're kinda testing that program for the first time. 

We do the setup, do the beta test for them, see if that's even a channel that makes sense for them from an ROI standpoint. And then we also do a lot of consulting around overall retention strategies, such as building a referral program, loyalty program, how to increase your customer lifetime value. 

We also do some kind of more one-off projects, such as like an email program audit and strategy development and things like that for teams that have that in-house team that connect, execute on it. They just need a little bit more strategic direction. 

Alex Bond: Instead of kind of taking the reins on the full large scale retention of an entire company, y'all also have the capability to just do one-offs, is what I'm hearing you say. 

Jess Chan: Yeah, exactly. One team, you know, teams have that in-house team that connect, execute. They just need a direction. Then those one-off projects are perfect in the right direction. 

Initial onboarding process and strategies

Alex Bond: Sure. I think that's smart. So according to your website, longplaybrands.com, the way in which you provide, you know, this multitude of services. And again, these are like microservices for a longer play in retention, and they're segmented into kind of three categories strategy, creative, and operations.

So to break it down step by step, we can start with strategy. What are some of the factors and variables that. You look at with a client during that initial onboard meeting? 

Jess Chan: Oh, that's a great question. So our onboarding process is actually probably one of the most thorough ones you'll probably get from an email agency. Cause email is meant to be a catalyst to the channel to help them grow their broader business. 

So we typically look at things like obviously the type of industry they're in, the type of products they sell, but also what their current customer lifecycle map is and what, where the customers are typically dropping off. And this is an area or a way of looking at other customers and their business that most, most of our clients are kind, being introduced to for the first time when they're working with us. 

So we'll map out your numbers, such as when a new customer comes in, you know, what's your list size, but also how many of them end up converting into a purchaser? How many of them don't? How many of them stop engaging after six months with your emails? How many of them continue engaging, but also your customers can make a purchase? 

What percentage of them actually go on, make a purchase on purchase upgrade subscription like that allow us to, most brands are losing their base commonly with eCom brands. We find that brands are really focused on increasing their repeat purchase rate. But they're focusing on getting customers to make 3, 4, 5 purchases, when in reality, most of their customers, they can't even get to making a second purchase. 

So that helps give us an idea of the hotspot and strategy of where to focus our, our attention and resources. So that's an example of kinda the types of information we'll look at. We'll also look at information in terms of the probability of certain products being crossed together. 

So if someone buys product, and we wanna get them to make a second purchase. Is there a hybrid prior probability of them making a second purchase? If we recommend product B C D E, what does that look like? So those are, again, few, few examples of like the type of like more granular, business specific data that we'll look at when we're building a strategy. 

But obviously broadly we're also looking at number of products they have, the types of products the customer that they're speaking to, all the usual kinda marketing boxes.

Alex Bond: No, that sounds intensive. How do you ensure that your suggestions are taken into consideration and that you and your client are on the same page. I can imagine sometimes in that initial meeting, it really is trying to build chemistry, fill each other out. I mean, does that require a lot of trust in the process or are clients already generally receptive to try new things because that's why they walk through the door to begin with?

Jess Chan: Yeah, that's a great question. So our audit strategy development, which through, before we even sign contract or any working agreement that that process is usually an hour. These days, it's almost like a two hour long call where we literally lay out our entire process. Here's how, here's the numbers we look at. Here are the numbers and opportunities that we're seeing for your, your account specifically. 

So I think that helps build a lot of trust in how we work. We really believe in transparency. We really believe in communication with our partners. So there's nothing that we do that we kind of hide behind the mask of, well, these are just best practices. Like we just know better. We always try to explain every single thought process. 

And then during the onboarding process, we have two calls as just us asking questions, just peppering them questions for like 90, 90 minutes. Our team is running through all their social media accounts and their Amazon reviews, all of their behind the scenes data, and then we're developing strategy roadmap for them all. This is still during the onboarding process. 

And during that strategy roadmap, that's usually a 90 to two, 90 minute to two hour call. And that's where we get to have that collaborative base. But typically, by the time we get to the strategy roadmap, we've had three, four hours of calls at this point. Our team has been through all the data, we're explaining everything that we're doing and our reasoning behind it and why we're doing it that we by that point typically have a lot of trust with our clients.

That being said, we're always the first ones to say like they're still the experts in their own business and very much needs to be collaborative. We want their expert opinion, but it's our job to bring to them an idea first. For them to kinda at least adjust or have suggestions. 

Alex Bond: Then you have to have the tougher skin to be able to be okay if they're like, we're not into that. I appreciate the idea. I totally get that. So what are some of those initial suggestions that are made, maybe more generally across the board, regardless of client or maybe any strategy that could be overlooked by a typical client? 

Jess Chan: Yeah, that's a good question. It's funny especially our strategists if you're marketing marketers, should be itching to find out where they're wrong. Cause really all of marketing is just get the info and like, reiterate, reiterate. 

Like there's just, there's really no the best marketers. It's not like billboard marketing these days when you come up with this giant campaign. There's still elements of marketing like that, but especially like digital marketing where that feedback loop is so quick. The priority with any marketer should be getting to that feedback loop as quickly as possible and just listening to the data rather than having this brilliant idea on like sticking to it. 

So that's a really important part of just kinda our philosophy with all this. But I'd say usually the feedback is more so around, I'd say brand and messaging is usually a lot of the feedback or suggestions just in terms of like their vision of where they wanna take things.

So typically in our strategy, we'll present suggestions in terms of how specific set of emails, email campaigns, flow can be presented, and usually that's have different ideas in terms of like, Hey, here's actually where we want our brand to be in like two, three years. What if we do this instead? That's usually a big chunk of feedback.

Or sometimes when they start seeing some of the creative and strategy, they'll remember like, oh no, our, our customers really respond really well to this type of stuff. Or what if we tried this type of idea instead? Or like, you know, our customers usually post this, these types of questions. 

So, we should adjust the type of messaging, that kind thing where it's nitty-gritty day to day, like really understanding the intimacies of how your customers interact with your brand and your products. Those type inform information typically comes out in this strategy development process, but it's very rarely do with the actual like email strategy itself. 

Alex Bond: It's kind of more of that initial building the relationship more than it is kind of concocting a plan a little bit. 

Jess Chan: Exactly, exactly. And like we're all humans, so typically with ideas it's like when you, when you see someone's ideas and you have more ideas versus when you tell someone to sit down for 90 minutes and tell us about your customers. You're obviously gonna miss certain things and totally get certain parts. So it's just part of that, again, iterative process. 

Creative side of their agency

Alex Bond: Awesome. So moving on to the the creative side of things, is your team more adept or capable at complimenting an already established brand identity or messaging campaign or? Are they better at sculpting a new one? 

Jess Chan: Ooh, that's a great question. Honestly, we have really gotten both, typically our clients come in with, I'd say, typically as of like, you know, 75% of the time. Clients come in with a pretty pre-established brand because they're, at this point, they're usually a decently sized business, but a lot of them don't even have, don't have brand books or anything like that yet.

They just have their usual website and social media and things like that they've already been working off of. And those types of clients, our brand does, or our team does an amazing job at kinda evolving their brand will, keeping keeping the essence of the core of it. And I'm not talking about like fonts and colors and things like that, but really just around how do we present the brand and position the brand as uniquely in the market that they're in. 

And like, how do we speak to the customers in an intimate way that like resonates with them? Are we gonna go really play? Is it gonna be intimate cause it's very playful, a little bit sassy? Or is it very intimate because it feels like it's a personal letter written from like a ceo, for example. So those are the ways our, our team really evolves the tone and voice, but also kinda the visual element of it as well. 

And then we get that 25% where they come in, they're like, we kinda hate everything and we're kinda just up for whatever. And they'll just send us some info and it's like, just revamp everything. You know? We actually had a brand come in recently that was like, it's been around for a few years, and they're like, we were looking through all this stuff for inspo, so we're kinda ing summarizing, like, okay, these seem to be your brand colors. 

This is your font. Like whatever. And they're like, we actually hate our entire website, we hate our social media, we hate all of our existing emails. So that was kinda a step back of like, okay, cool. What do you like? Like which brand are you inspired by? And then that's kinda almost minor rebranding exercise. And those are always really fun for our creative team, obviously, cause they get to those as well. 

Alex Bond: And then you gotta at least put that work into the research to know what not to do. So stay away from this in-house style at the very least. It sounds kinda like y'all are in the process of polishing and furnishing. That's kinda like my way of rationalizing it is like polishing and already in-house style. 

But I think the being able to kind of split it up like that, maybe 75, 25 is that 25% of the time your team is able to kinda like run wild a little bit and, and sow their oats so then they can get back to kind of just like, catering to exactly the client's in-house style, I imagine it, it prevents them from just kinda like, I don't know, getting boxed in a little bit in terms of playing by someone else's rules.

Jess Chan: Yeah, and then they, like with all e-com brands, they gonna evolve over time. Even the biggest ones, you know, we work with brands that, you know, million, they became five, 600 million brand and in that course of a few years, their brand also evolved pretty significantly. So it's just part of the process.

Very rarely do we see a brand coming and they just have like, everything solidified and everyone's on the same page of, of what this looks like. I mean, I always struggled to use the word agency for us because for me, like I was previously the CMO of a DTC company and Rachel my COO partner at Long Play, she used to be the COO at a DTC ecom company.

So everything that we've built has been about, like, if we had an in-house, like our dream in-house email team, how would they behave? How would they work? And then you some of these funky things where it was like, Hey, why is an email agency kinda doing like these minor rebranding things? It's like, well, cause if you're evolving your brand and you had an in-house email team, this would be part of the process.

So that's kinda why there's certain areas that might seem a little bit out of scope from a typical email agency, but that's also kinda how we really partner with our clients to have those like long term relationships where we can work with them for years. We're kinda evolving alongside them and the partnership as well. 

Alex Bond: I think it's a great idea because it also then shows that y'all understand that process from beginning to end. And that's kind of the layout of this conversation is that if y'all are under understanding, instead of just making something that fits your personal email campaign. Then it might not be as executed.

And I think people are gonna take it a lot more seriously when it's personalized and it's already fitting and, and shaping and molding their brand messaging and identity. I think that's really creative. 

So how much does general aesthetic trends in graphic design, email layouts stuff like that play a factor in developing the specific content for these brands or is every single creative decision pretty much started from a blank slate?

Jess Chan: That's a good question. All of our creatives done completely from scratch for each client. So we don't work off of like templates or anything like that. Cause every brand is very different. That being said, there's still best practices in terms of like basic email layouts, right? 

Like you want have a call to action in the header and you want the email to be a certain length and if you're gonna do a product section, like there should be a certain level descriptions probably. So we use what we call kinda email layouts or wire frames. 

And that was kind of actually the foundation of, of backbone, the software tool as well is having these email layouts to give kinda like a website wireframe, which like gives you that like optimized structure of the email that makes sure it's gonna actually perform from a clicks and conversion standpoint, but then from a creative standpoint it should be from scratch.

Cause every brand is a little bit different. So that's kinda our approach to doing all the creative, but we don't really. There aren't really like email design trends or anything like that these days. It's more the technical trends to kinda keep up with and technical changes, but, but besides that, from scratch. 

Goals and metrics to determine a brand's success

Alex Bond: Moving on to the final operations side of things. Part of your business model seems to be extremely data driven in terms of e execution. I think is how y'all call it. What are some of the goals and metrics that you're looking specifically at to determine success with the client?

I know this is kind of bringing in the strategy part where you're sitting down with them saying, you know, this is what you want, this is what you need, or that sort of thing. So what are those specific metrics you look at? 

Jess Chan: Yes. I mean, from an email reporting standpoint, obviously we have the usual like open click conversion rates, average order value, develop recipient, things like that. I'd say what we do a little bit differently is not necessarily just the KPIs that we look at but also how we look at them. 

So our focus when we look at data is always around this principle of actionable reporting. And all that means is like, you don't want an agency or a team that just sits down with a client. It's like, Hey, we had a 30.25% open rate today, and this email generated. You know, three 2k. It's like if I give you that information, is that good? Is that bad? I have no idea. 

Cause it really depends on the context of the business, how last week went, how right. All that information. So for us, every time we do reporting, it's always contextual, which is typically comparative data. So for example, we will track the six month rolling average of every single KPI that a business has in, in email. 

So we might say, on average a campaign generate $12,756 was this most recent campaign below or above that six month average? That's a lot more interesting and useful data than just the actual dollar amount.

So we look at a lot of like, was this 10% higher? Is this 10% lower? Are we turning up? Are we turning down? And then from there, if we're turning up or down, how, how does this information affect the next month? Launch tests on the ones that weren't performing as well. How do identify which email flows we need to optimize based off of like what's trending up, what's trending down.

So those two principles of actionable reporting, but also kinda comparative and trend analysis. Those are probably the two basic pillars of how we do reporting that actually allows us to take data. Turn it into information, but also turn that information into strategy as well.  And that's usually that link that's missing a lot in like over reporting, like there's so much data.

We always need more data. We need more accurate data. I would say like, you don't need more data. You need to learn how to take that data and turn it information, and then you need to learn how to use that information and turn it strategy. So that's what all of our kinda reporting dashboard are built off of. 

Managing client expectations

Alex Bond: And I like that adding context thing. Cause I know for someone like myself, I tend to overthink things very easily. So if it is put in better context, this could be a great conversion rate or optimization rate or what have you.

But it's all relative to the size of the company and, and the growth of it. So for someone like myself, I need to know it's getting better or it's getting worse. That's it, you know, or else I can really complicate things very quickly. 

So I think that's a smart way to approach it, is having to put it in comparison Totally over time. Or else you, you also have small companies that are looking at mid-size companies thinking, oh, well we should be here, and, and you're saying, you're on the way there. You know, you don't just really get there overnight. It's gotta be a steady build. 

So my question baked in there is how important is managing a client's expectations during this whole process?

Jess Chan: So important. I think managing expectations. And we always say managing expectations is not necessarily lowering expectations is more, let's just be realistic in terms of exactly here's where we're at, are we, and are we getting better? 

Like at the end of the day, probably average benchmark. It can get very funky very quickly where you can say like, hey, we are here, but like we want, like, you know, our average order value is like 35, but like we look at all our competitors. Their average order value is like $50. Like we need to get an average order value up to 50. 

Like, yes. Well, to do that you need to do all the 500 other things business, like launching three different product lines that got that business there in the first place. And that's where they're missing context of like, you don't get to, we can't just say we $50.

That's when you get into all that, those types of like reactive tactics that eventually burn down the business, it's more about, okay, great, we totally, we can agree on the goal. We still wanna get in that direction of a 50 average order value or whatever that high level business goal is. Are we trending in that direction? At what point is marketing not enough to get there? 

Cause we're always the first one to say like, we do an amazing job managing email, and email is gonna be this beautiful channel for your ecom business. And also it's still only one channel for your eCom business, if you only have one single product and email's doing the best job, we still cannot increase repeat purchase rate if you do not have have other products to to buy.

Right? So at some point there is a cap, and same goes for Facebook ads, same goes for any type of marketing strategy. At some point it comes back down to is this actually feasible for your business overall? And again, that's where we kind of come in as like a little bit more of a strategic. Stop partner on the operation side of like what is realistic to achieve based off like where your business is at and like to get to the next level.

Usually with ecom businesses like you need start new product. Tapping into retail, you know, you start tapping into wholesale, you need to expand your brand like and who you're speaking to, like your market size isn't big enough. And I find a lot, it's easy for e-comm owners to sometimes get stuck on the marketing side because marketers are always saying like, Hey, we can fix this, we can fix this. It can be better. You need to spend more Facebook ads. 

Alex Bond: You can't just market more all the time. 

Jess Chan: Sometimes you just run out of people to market to, or you don't have enough products to market. And all marketing is like, I'm trying to get this product in someone else, someone's hands. But if there's no product and there's no someone, then the marketing isn't gonna work again.

That's where you kinda need to take a step back and look at it more from like a CMO position, which is, yes, these channels are working, but like there's still a cap to how much, how well even, even this channel performing optimally may not be enough for the business to grow the way that the ecom owner needs to grow. And then we'd have other decisions made around that. 

Alex Bond: And you're really scratching the surface of something that I find really interesting. And that's, how do you know when a strategy that you've come up with a game plan is fundamentally flawed or not working versus if it's just not being executed properly? How do you kind of know when to cut your ties with a strategy change how it's working, you know? 

Jess Chan: So I think the first basis of it is we kind of approach our strategy development, but also our AB testing specifically, kinda like website CRO testing. And it's a very important principle overall on how to build a business.

We use it in terms of how we build long play. We use it in how, how we build other companies. Like it's just more of how we think. And it's not like question hypothesis and execution mindset. So saying like, Hey, we want to, I'm just using this AOB example. Hey, we wanna increase our average order value up to $50.

The question becomes like, why is it not already at 50? Oh cause customers don't really like our product because we don't have enough things for people to buy. Or maybe our customers are actually like relatively like lower income in terms of what we want them to spend, gonna spend that amount money.

There's lots of different hypotheses on like why someone. Why your average order value isn't $50. And then for each of those questions and hypotheses, you can then develop different strategies. So if we're saying, Hey, we think our customers just won't spend that 50, it's like, ok, well what are the brands?

Are those customers buying? Are those brands getting a 50 average order value? Like, how are these customers really spending money? Or maybe it's, well, customers just don't wanna buy a second product. Well, it's like maybe they're enjoying product.

That's where we start developing multiple questions, multiple hypotheses, and then developing a strategy to execute on that, that is so thoroughly thought out that it's like if you flesh out all of that and we test each of those strategies, we get to a pretty clear conclusion where. We've executed on multiple strategies.

There are multiple product lines that we've tested, things like that. And it's still not working. I think there's something, there's an issue in the business model itself, rather than just the marketing strategy. Cause I'd say typically when it's this methodical, the cracks begin to show pretty quickly in the process.

Because you start seeing like, Hey, we can't really find an issue in how this was executed, all the. There's really nothing crazy that we're doing here in terms of like the offer or anything like that. We always kinda start off with the lowest risk way to like test up the strategy. For example, we're like, Hey, we want someone, we wanna increase more conversions.

What if we do a discounting strategy? Let's not often the simplest discount possible. Let's see if people will even buy if, if discounting is the issue. If it's then we can increase the complexity of that strategy. But I find most marketers kind of get caught up in the tactics and that's why they are, something won't work.

And it's like, does the tactic not work or does the strategy not work? But the strategy, but the strategy should be deeper than tactics. The strategy is the principle of like, here's our hypothesis on like. Why we're not where we want it to be. That hypothesis has proven wrong. Then, you know, some, you still gain information of like, oh, our business just doesn't operate this way.

Like, our customers don't wanna interact with this, this way that is more meaningful than just Facebook ads didn't work the way we wanted to. It's creative didn't work and I feel like there's a lot of value. I hope that's a clear answer cause it's a very deep question. 

What is Backbone

Jess Chan: So Backbone is the first email strategy automation tool for ecom, and it was outta all methodologies. We developed while working with DTC ecom clients at long play.

But with Long Play, we just relatively boutique agency. We don't have like thousands of clients cause we really wanna create that partnership experience. And also there's always gonna be brands that we can't work with. So Backbone allows ecom brands kinda access the types of methodologies, systems that we're already using for themselves and kinda like self-serve tool.

So with backbone, essentially a DTC ecom company comes in, they can plug in their, you know, their business, business size, the revenue that they're generating, the type of products they sell, the industry they're in the number of products they sell, what their email goals are. Upload, you know, the product and collection catalog and the backbone will fully develop a strategic email marking calendar for them.

And what that means is it's going to recommend ideas, ideas for campaign topics based off the industry. So we might say, Five kettlebell workout for a company who's in the fitness industry. So guess very specific in terms of the campaign topic recommendations. It'll fully plan out motions in product launches, so maybe the 4th of July sale.

And it's running from July 1st to July 8th. It'll recommend the number of emails you should have for that promotion, when to send those emails, and the types of like campaign ideas for those promotional emails as well. Same thing for product launches, so fully plan on email marketing calendar for them.

We always say you can do it in minutes, but really you can do it in seconds if you're like really moving quickly. So it really streamlines your email marketing workflow. And then it also generates a custom email layout for each of those emails. That's what I was kinda referring to in terms of email best practices, is it spits out kinda like an email wire frame for each of those emails.

It's already optimized for clicks and conversions, and it's also optimized for that specific email topic. So a content email is gonna need a different layout than a emotional email. We'll custom build that and then users can export that into Figma and do all the graphic design and copyright in there.

We're in beta right now. So that actually just recently launched and we're just super excited to, that's very exciting. So just get DTC ecom owners more invested in email cause there's so much opportunity there, but it's also sometimes very inaccessible, especially early on. When you're in that awkward stage where you can't really hire an in-house email marketing manager and agencies are a little bit more expensive as well, backbone is just perfect for that.

Alex Bond: So it's perfect to get you in into that kinda stepping stone area. I'm extremely interested in how backbone specifically recommends these strategies and email flows and, and layouts that are essentially supposed to be successful. How does that work out? Is it algorithm based, AI based? What's the deal there? 

Jess Chan: Yeah, it's algorithm based right now. And we obviously have a really cool product roadmap in terms of layering some pretty intense machine learning and AI capabilities as well. So right now some pretty complex algorithms around aligning the industry they're in, the types of products they sell, the type of campaign.

So again, whether it's a content email, promotional email, product launch, email, And then also kind of like an adjustable email brief is what we call it, where they can say, you know, how long do I want this email to be? How much copy do I want? How much, how many images do I want? And are there specific, like things I wanna push a little bit more, like I want a banner, like push my sms options, things like that.

So it's a combination of best practices on email layout where we have that all. We have a whole library of like literally thousands of modules and sections of an email, and it's kind of like building Lego. And the algorithm puts the Lego pieces together. 

But there's so many options that I think, I don't even know the numbers, but I think it's, there's like 15,000 different possible email layouts that can be generated. And that algorithm's job is obviously, make sure we're generating one that is optimizing, make sense of that particular industry type of product campaign type. 

Alex Bond: No, that's fascinating. And I love Legos, so I'm convinced. Is this project Backbone seamlessly interwoven with your strategies at long play or is it something that is more designed to empower the entrepreneur independently, separate from Long Play? 

Jess Chan: Yeah. I'd say it kinda, it empowers the entrepreneur and like kinda the small team at first. And again, like we're in our beta stage and like there's only so much more to come. I'm just so excited about this product roadmap cause I think as backbone gets, gets more and more complex, we definitely can see million dollar brands using.

Using the product to empower their in-house teams as well, and at the same time is gonna get more sophisticated. Right? Like our, these algorithms have have been tested and, and developed, but our team has been tested and developed over years. So our team and, and they're humans, so our long play team is a level of sophistication, higher than the tool, and we'll continue, we'll continue kind of that cadence.

The tool will get what's more sophisticated, but our team will also get more sophisticated as well. And I think there'll always be a room for kinda retention, lifecycle consulting and, and support that software is just not, the technology is not there to really automate yet. So like we kinda see backbone and long play kinda as like that one two punch.

You might outgrow backbone and come over to long play and need that human support, but also you might work with us at long play for a few years and like things are good to go and you now have scaled out and have an inhouse team and then you need backbone to kinda empower. So it's really just kind fluid one, two punch.

Alex Bond: No, that's great. And that kind of leads me to my next question. It sounds like it's not now. And I don't wanna fear monger or cause panic or anything like that, but is software like backbone going to maybe eventually become the new normal in the future of, you know, retention, growth, acceleration strategies as opposed to your standard growth agencies? I mean, what's the Long play for a company like Backbone? 

Jess Chan: So, with Backbone, I mean I see us as like we are the tool is already for amazing and people love it, but it's only like five, 10% of its capabilities. So there's so much more, more opportunity and what's gonna happen with backbone is, and like how it's going to disrupt the email agency and retention agency in the same, same space as the how Facebook algorithms kinda struck Facebook ad industry. Right? 

So with Facebook algorithms, like we kind of, we don't really think too much about it, where we're like, yeah, it's essentially Facebook algorithms are like, are so advanced now with, they're doing all of the bidding, they're doing all the targeting for us. Like agencies are a ad buyers are not sitting there collecting their audiences and like trying to hone in on, on that part anymore. And they're, it's more about the creative. 

And same thing with email agencies where. Algorithms are streamlining the strategic thinking part of it. And like, yes, there's gonna be some people where that's all of the skillsets that they have and they might, and they might need to find a different area of marketing focus on, but also the best ones are the ones who are going to continue evolving and then they'll just have the space to not repeat, be repeatedly doing the same things over and over again.

You're not needing armies of people and like. A VP of marketing sitting there drowning in data to try to figure out how to adjust the strategy. They're actually thinking at a higher level. It's more about clearing up bandwidth for the best people to operate at a higher level. Just like there's still incredible ad buyers out there.

No matter how much Facebook algorithms and all of that continue to innovate, they just get better. The best side buyers now just focus on creative and like how to uniquely catch the attention of, of their audience and figure out what's gonna resonate. They're not sitting there like bidding. Oh, now on every single ad and things like that.

So I think it's gonna be the same thing with email, whether it's like marketing teams or email agencies as well. 

Alex Bond: No, I think that makes a lot of sense. And I heard something, I think it was last week I can't remember what I was watching, but they essentially said it's not like algorithms or AI will, will replace people, but it's more like the people who are willing to work with the algorithms and the AI will replace people who aren't willing to work with that sort of stuff. 

Jess Chan: I love that. That's a great way of phrasing it. And I think it also brings up when I think IBM had deep blue and like the chess like machine learning like robot, this was like back in like the 1990s and they had like obviously the robot play against the human and the robot one, but the human and robot combination beat everything.

And that's what we're aiming for, where it's like backbone is meant to be the, literally the backbone of your business or your agency. It's an enhancement tool, not a replacement tool. But it's really up to the human, whether it's a replacement tool or not, you know? 

Alex Bond
Alex Bond

Meet Alex Bond—a seasoned multimedia producer with experience in television, music, podcasts, music videos, and advertising. Alex is a creative problem solver with a track record of overseeing high-quality media productions. He's a co-founder of the music production company Too Indecent, and he also hosted the podcast "Get in the Herd," which was voted "Best Local Podcast of 2020" by the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia, USA.

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