Everywhere you look, everything is about AI. But how can AI actually support content generation? In this special episode of the podcast, Napier’s Mike Maynard and Hannah Kelly discuss the capabilities of AI in marketing automation platforms. They also chat about how email signatures can be leveraged by marketers, what to consider when writing subject lines and how companies can grow their subscriber database.

Check out this crossover episode with Napier’s sister podcast, The Marketing Automation Moment, sharing the latest news, views and tips from the world of marketing automation.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Time Stamps

[01:03.0] – Will AI make our lives easier?

[04:44.0] – Can we use AI and generative AI to optimise campaigns?

[10:33.0] – Email signatures – how can marketers maximise their impact.

[12:51.0] – The challenges of growing subscriber databases whilst complying with GDPR.

[17:39.0] – How to write a good subject line.


“Do you just want to be average in your marketing automation? Or do you want to create something that is above average? People who are above average will do better than AI.” Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier.

“AI can be a great start but if you think it’s going to replace you, unfortunately the good news is you’re job safe, the bad news is you’ve still got to do some work.” Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier.

Follow Hannah:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-kelly-b0706a107/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We’d also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast – The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547


Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Kelly

Mike: Welcome to marketinging B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Because it’s summer and I’m away on my holidays. This week we’ve got a special episode from our sister podcast, the Marketinging Automation Moment. So if you as a marketinger use marketinging automation tools of any sort, take a listen to this podcast. Maybe it’s something you want to subscribe to in the future.

Hannah: Welcome to the Marketing Automation Moment Podcast. I’m Hannah Kelly.

Mike: And I’m Mike Maynard. This is Napier’s podcast to tell you about the latest news from the world of marketinging automation.

Hannah: Welcome to the Marketing Automation Moment Podcast.

Mike: Today we talk about AI. And that’s probably enough to get most of you listening. But I promise if you do listen to the podcast, there’ll be lots more as well, including things like how to write a great subject line.

Hannah: So welcome back. Mike, you just got back from another trip in the US. How was it?

Mike: It was great. Actually, I’m feeling a little bit jet lagged. But really keen to have another chat about marketinging automation. Well,

Hannah: I appreciate you making the time. I’ve got a lot to talk UVU about. So I’m really excited to just dive straight in. I mean, the first thing that I’ve seen is actually having a scroll through Actos website earlier this week. And it’s no surprise that a lot of content is about AI. Everywhere you look, everything’s about AI. But I think one thing that’s really interesting, which I’d like to dive into is, how can AI actually support content generation within marketinging automation platforms? So how effective is it for emails, landing pages? Will it make people’s lives easier? Or are they going down a path that perhaps isn’t right to get that high quality content they need?

Mike: I love that question. Hana. I mean, I think it’s really interesting. The truth is, you know, speaking as an engineer, it’s actually really easy to integrate something like chat GPT into a product today. And so because chat GPT is the hottest thing on the planet, apparently, I think most of the marketing automation companies are looking at going this is an easy one, we’ve just got to do it. So they’re all integrating generative AI. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But I think, you know, firstly, we’ve got to look at this, you know, people are saying, well, we want generative AI to create personal emails for everybody in my database. Actually, they’re not even using basic marketinging, automation, personalization tools. So, you know, for people to suddenly think that personalization is the greatest thing, because they’ve been really lazy. And now it feels a bit easier. That’s probably not the right way to go. Personalization is important. But maybe AI is not the right thing to use. So I think it’s gonna be interesting. But I think the thing you’ve got to remember is that AI and I’m sure I’ve said this to you before, a number of times, it tries to predict the most likely next word, I mean, that’s fundamentally how generative AI works. And so what it’s trying to do is be average. So the question is, do you just want to be average in your marketinging automation? Or do you want to generate something’s above average, so if you’re really good, generative AI might be great for ideas and giving you a start, but actually, it’s not going to remove the work of really polishing that email, or really getting that landing page, right? Because people are above average, will actually do better than AI.

Hannah: I love that so much above average. And I think when it comes to B2B as well, having this technical content that we have to write is even more important that yes, you can use this API to draft the first kind of landing page or the first email, but you still need those experts to put that input and put their insight to make it this high quality piece of content.

Mike: You’re so right. I mean, it’s another great point, you know, generative AI is, is what really geeky people like me call a stochastic process is based on probability. And it’s been trained on history. So if you’re writing a landing page about something that’s a completely new, innovative product, why should AI which is trying to predict words based upon what was said, in the past, generate a great landing page, if you’ve got a product that’s very similar to lots of other products, maybe AI is going to generate a pretty decent landing page. But I think, where we’re looking at promoting new technologies and new products, that’s where AI is really going to start to struggle. So again, it does come back to the fact that, you know, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to use it. But I think it’s a bad thing to trust it. 100% I think, really, you know, what people need to be doing is using AI. I mean, the classic thing is, you know, if you’ve got writer’s block, you’re sat there thinking, I have no idea what to write, then AI can be a great start. But if you think it’s going to replace you, unfortunately, you know, the good news is your job safe. The bad news is you still got to do some work.

Hannah: Absolutely. And I guess just extend on that a little bit. Mike Lee, looking at this AI and this generative AI, how can we use it to optimise campaigns, is it something that we should be using more for optimising campaigns or when we’re actually trying to break out 20 marketings a new client is a new product, where would you think it fits best?

Mike: So now I feel a bit geeky, because generative AI is the AI that creates content, whereas other AI technologies and machine learning will actually learn from what you’ve done. And then try and optimise. So you know, what’s generative AI might produce, in theory, a good set of copy, what you need is different sorts of AI that are going to measure how well your campaign has been received. And look at how changes can impact the performance. Now the problem is, is what’s going to happen is the people going to run AI across previous campaigns, and then try and use those previous campaigns to dictate how to optimise the new campaign. If you’re running lots of similar campaigns, happy days, that’s going to work. But if you’re running something very new, or targeting a new audience, there may be what worked before isn’t necessarily optimum for today. So again, I think AI is fascinating. It’s something that that’s definitely going to help in optimization. And let’s be honest, you know, most of us are doing things like running, you know, Google Pay per click campaigns, whether it’s search with display, we’re already using AI to optimise it, we’re quite happily buying into the Google AI world. So we’re gonna use it. But I think sometimes the marketinging automation need to take a step back and say, Actually, I’m doing something new. And maybe I need to take a new approach a different approach, rather than replicate exactly what I’ve done when I was talking to a different audience about a different product.

Hannah: I love that mindset. Mike, I think it’s definitely something to consider. And I think it’s something that industry will learn, because you’ll soon see if the results aren’t the same for a similar campaign as they are for new campaigns.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, you’re right, you know, if you just let AI run, it’ll optimise some campaigns brilliantly, other campaigns, not so much. And I think, again, AI is going to be a tool AI is not the solution. And I think if you look at what happens with technology, technology very rarely replaces complete functions, what technology does, it replaces processes, and little aspects. And my view is, is that where we see this magic marketinging AI that comes in and does all your marketinging for you, you just go run marketinging campaign, I’ll see you on Friday. And it all runs, I don’t think that’s going to be the way I actually you know, has an impact, what I personally think is AI is going to be everywhere, some of the time, you’re not even really going to see it. And it will be all over the place in all of the different martech tools, doing little optimizations or creating content suggestions, or, you know, even maybe generating some of the content. And I think it’s just going to be embedded everywhere. And that’s where it’s gonna get really exciting, because you’re just gonna get that AI to do a little bit here a little bit here a little bit here, suddenly, you’ve saved yourself, maybe 50% 75% of the time to run a campaign. But you’re still in there, you’re still doing that direction, and where it’s appropriate, you’re still providing that kind of subjective judgement.

Hannah: Absolutely, I think it leads back into a nice point of the next thing I want to talk about. And that is around events. And we know as marketingers that perhaps the companies that we work with, and our prospects, and our clients aren’t always the best utilising marketing automation when it comes to events. But as you said, AI is going to be embedded into systems now is going to be there when you don’t even notice it. And I think this is going to be one of the key areas that we actually see time saved, where it can be the most efficient is building these event follow ups these fantastic to beat you. webinar follow up webinar registration emails, I think they’re I see the real value from the marketinging perspective, or where AI to make a real difference very quickly, within the marketinging teams.

Mike: Yeah, and obviously, you know, you know about this, because you do all the follow up for napery webinars. So, you know, you have this problem of creating these follow up emails, and typically, they follow us fairly standard kind of format. And I think, you know, that’s where AI is really going to come into its own, you know, the thank you for attending, here’s a replay, we don’t need to type that email, again, you know, an average email is going to be good enough for that. So I completely agree with you, Hannah. I think AI is going to have an impact in this event follow up. And hopefully, it’s going to mean that people have, you know, more personalised and more thoughtful follow up, because they’re not spending all the time on kind of the mechanical basics that you have to do after an event.

Hannah: I think the key thing there, Mike is thoughtful, because marketingers can sometimes be let down where they’re rushing, they’re just doing these bland kind of mass emails. But we know that personalization makes a difference. And if you can utilise tools to make that difference, and especially I think events have come back. I mean, I was on a meeting on Monday, and we were talking about how we couldn’t believe the attendance at the events, you know, B2B or UK across the globe. And I think as the world kind of still goes down that events route, it’s just going to be amazing to see the kind of follow up that comes from being able to utilise these tools, and then also them channelling investment from these events because they’ve been able to do this real personalised outreach was not a lot of effort.

Mike: Yeah, I think you’re right. And I mean, if we look at what’s happening, there’s real evidence people want human to human contact, they want to see people’s personality. It’s something that’s talked a lot about in B2B. And you get that trade shows, you get to meet people, you get to fill their personalities. And I think that’s, you know, another reason whilst AI can come in, and it can make a massive difference for our job day to day, it’s probably not gonna replace us at least hopefully, it’s not replaced. So fingers crossed. So I mean, I know we can speak about AI for a good another 20 minutes, Mike, but I do want to steer us into a slightly different direction. And that is email signatures. And this is something that we’ve not yet discussed on the podcast. And it’s something that I really believe is overlooked. I mean, at Napier, I spent a lot of time working with our IT engineer to build personalised signatures based on the accounts, people work on our case studies, our awards, and HubSpot actually released a blog recently that said that 77.8% of users check their email inbox more than five times a day. And so actually, email signatures can be such a fantastic way to improve brand awareness. What’s your opinion on them?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I love the way HubSpot went in and said people check email, therefore, signatures are important. I mean, that kind of was a bit of a jump there. But having said that, you’re absolutely right, when you do use email signatures, then absolutely, you can get some really good value. And I’ve seen clients use automated email signatures for all sorts of things. That Classic is, when you’re nominated for award to get people to vote, and the clients that do that get great response. So it’s really clear these people checking emails five times a day, actually read to the bottom of the email, and they actually do look at signatures. And the great thing about a signature is if you’re interacting with someone on a frequent basis, maybe they don’t notice the signature the first time they get an email from you. But when they’re getting emails, you know, maybe once a day, twice a day, whatever. Suddenly that signature starts having impacts, it keeps getting repeated. So I’m a massive believer. And as you know, we’ve got technology and API’s that will put in dynamic signatures based upon who’s sending the email and, as you say, you know, for example, the accounts they’re working on. So it makes a huge difference. And I think it’s sometimes a bit unsexy, in a bit underrated in terms of a marketinging tactic. And a lot more B2B companies could actually think about what they put in the signatures, and they could think about changing the signatures, for example, depending upon who they’re sending to, or who’s sending the email that then lets those signatures feel, you know, really customised and personal.

Hannah: I love this mic. I think it’s the first time we’ve wholeheartedly agreed on something.

Mike: Well, it’s nice for there to be a first time I’m sure we’ve got another story so we can return to normal.

Hannah: So thanks for that insight, like I mean, slightly moving on back into more than marketing automation platforms. And I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts around ways that companies can not only maintain, but also grow a subscriber list of in their databases. And I think there are challenges here with GDPR compliance if you require opt in. So what kinds of things can companies do to overcome this?

Mike: Etc. Interesting, I think the first thing to say is that GDPR is important to understand what the rules say. And in B2B, obviously, with some exceptions, you actually don’t need explicit opt in. But a lot of companies choose to go that way. And that is not a bad thing. So they’re actually choosing to focus on quality rather than quantity. And clearly, for growing a list, as you said, opting in or requiring someone to opt in, is actually going to make it harder to grow the list. But on the other side, that quality is going to be better. So you know, it’s something you need to decide. And we have clients who take both they take the legitimate interest approach, and they take the opt in approach. And I think once you’ve decided that, that then defines a lot about what you do in terms of growing that list. And you.

Hannah: Absolutely, and I think there are ways that if you do this opt in way that you can still do incentives to encourage people to opt in. So we could do things like popups, you could do things such as all make sure you do tick this box and have a chance to get a discount on one of the products. I think there’s more creative out of the box ways that you don’t have to be limited to get those people to opt in.

Mike: I totally agree. I mean, one of our best tactics for a client is when people choose not to opt in, we just pop up in Marketingo on the landing page, a little box that just says Are you really sure you don’t opt in? And I think, you know, one of the dangers is is that now it’s almost a default to say, I don’t want to opt in. But actually when people think about it, they go, Oh, actually, I quite like the supplier. They could give me some useful information. Maybe I do want to opt in. So I think that there’s lots of things you can do to think about getting people to fill that form in getting them to opt in if you’ve got an opt in process. And then also, we’re thinking about retaining those people on the database and making sure you send them good quality content, so they don’t opt out.

Hannah: That’s such a good point, the growing is as important as it is maintaining, and you have to engage your contacts in your database. And you have to provide that high quality content, prove that they’ve made the right decision.

Mike: Exactly. And I think, you know, again, this is this is something that’s really interesting, because, you know, some clients will gather more data than others. And the more data you can gather about the people that you’re mailing, the more personalised that content can be. And so you know, even me in my my day to day marketinging life, I get emails, you know, telling me about events all around the world, it’s like, I’m not based in America, you know, a trip to San Francisco is quite a big deal for someone from Europe. And I really don’t care about this event, because I know you’re running an equivalent one in London. And that’s much closer to me. But clearly, the person who’s captured my name hasn’t captured the country I’m based in so they’re sending me information on everything. So that gathering and that enhancing of the information. That’s a really important thing that relates to retention, because the more you can understand your database, the better you can personalise, and therefore the more likely people are to feel that the emails I get are relevant, useful, and not emails they want to opt out from.

Hannah: Absolutely, and it’s quite easy to do, because performance within all moto automation platforms have the capability to do progressive profiling. So it’s really easy to gather that information, it doesn’t have to be a difficult task.

Mike: You’re so right when I mean progressive profiling is marked information superpower. But, you know, I think most people use to some extent, but often is underrated. And clearly, what you want to do is you want to try and keep gathering more and more information, not because you know, you’re some kind of, you know, freaky obsessive collector of data, or wanting to go in and spam people, but because you want to actually send more relevant content. And the other thing to remember is, you don’t actually just need to use forms to do that, you can actually use behaviour. So look at what people are clicking on, if you’ve got a recipient that only clicks on content that relates to events in the UK, at some point, you’re going to hope that sensible marketingers are going to say, I’m gonna make a guess this person lives in the UK, and I’m just gonna send them content around events in the UK. And then you’ll reap benefits because you’ll get much more engagement, your emails will be much more effective. And also people are much less likely to opt out.

Hannah: Absolutely. And I love that it’s the marketing automation superpower. That’s the only way I’m going to describe it moving forward. So I’m just conscious of time, Mike. So I do want to move on to our insightful Tip of the Week. And this week, I really wanted to talk about subject lines. Now subject lines are so important within emails, and within ebooks, within ADS, everything like that. But if we focus in on emails, how do you think different subject lines make a difference in engagement rate? And what are some of the best subject lines that have made you open an email?

Mike: I love this question. Because there’s, there’s so much focus on the minor things. And so little focus on the things that really matter. So you’ll read endless studies that have analysed you know, the optimum number of characters in the subject line, or, you know, people talking about you should use title case rather than sentence case. So you have a few more capitals to make people open. And the truth is these, these make a difference. But the difference is really tiny. What really matters is something people care about. And I think the interesting thing is, subject lines are important, but from addresses are very, very important too. And I mean, I’ve had emails where I know I open it, because it’s the from address, it’s got nothing to do with the subject line. I mean, do you see the same thing?

Hannah: Yes. What a brilliant point. Yeah, the from email is so important. Because if it’s just from a standard marketinging app named your B2B dot com, you know, it’s not personalised, you know, no one’s made any effort for you. But if you have that real person behind the email, it makes such a difference.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, you know, I give a shout. I just remember one email recently, that really, I think gets a lot of white people open emails. And it was for an organisation called Zen pilots in pilot are a company that helps agencies optimise their processes. So for me, it’s really relevant. And in fact, it’s so relevant, that I actually downloaded one of their tools. And the tool was amazing. It was really good. So, you know, immediately I was engaged. Everything was sent by a guy called Jeff Cypher. I believe that’s his real name, but it’s a very memorable name. So he’s a lucky guy there. And then the next time the email comes in, I’m already thinking about the tool I’ve used on process definition. And I’m thinking this guy’s got great fun Hmm, last time I opened an email, it was brilliant. I want to open the next email. And then I can’t remember he sent me through a worksheet or something that again, was, was really thoughtful. It’s a really good tool. And then he sent me through a couple of personalised kind of offers to try and move me down that funnel. And I think lots of things were at play there, the subject lines, they weren’t that great. I mean, they kind of refer to what what he said before, but you know, they weren’t particularly innovative or creative or, and as I remember, they weren’t even titled case of a sentence case. So you know, they weren’t going to optimise like mad on the subject line. But because of that history, and that interaction I had, I open the email. And so I think, yes, we can look at subject lines, and we can optimise them, and you can read the MailChimp or whoever’s report on, you know, this is a way to structure structure subject lines. But actually, what you’ve got to do is build trust. If you build trust and engagement, people will open your email. And you can pretty much get away with any subject line. If you’ve got that trust and engagement.

Hannah: That’s some brilliant insight. Like I absolutely love that. It’s about trust. It’s about the content. Yes, you can do all these optimizations. But if your core content piece isn’t delivering the value, then it’s not going to make a difference. Anyway.

Mike: That’s beautifully summarised. You’ve summarised about half an hour of my waffling in two sentences.

Hannah: Well, thank you so much for your time today, Mike. It’s been another fantastic conversation.

Mike: Thanks so much, Hannah. And hopefully we’ll have everybody else listening to the next episode of The Marketinging Automation Moment.

Thanks for listening to the Marketinging Automation Moment podcast.

Mike: Don’t forget to subscribe in your favourite podcast application, and we’ll see you next time.