#Growth 11: Is this the future of personalization?

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This is a podcast episode titled, #Growth 11: Is this the future of personalization?. The summary for this episode is: On this episode of #Growth, host Matt Bilotti sits down with Greg Skloot, President & COO of Crystal, to discuss a whole new level of personalization. We all know we're targeted online based on past browsing history and offers are often personalized with our name and sometimes location. But are we on the cusp of a whole new level of personalization? One that takes into account personality type and how we might want to be interacted with? Greg and Matt discuss the future of personalization on this episode. Be sure to tune in.

Matt Bilotti: Hello, and welcome to another episode of# growth. I'm your host, Matt Bilotti. And today, I am super excited to dive deep into the topic of personalization. And today, to talk through that, I have a guest that's an expert in this space, and also a good friend of mine, Greg Skloot, who is the president of a company called Crystal. Greg, thanks for joining us today.

Greg Skloot: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. And, as I promised, I will try to avoid any embarrassing stories about you from college.

Matt Bilotti: That sounds perfect. Outside of us, hanging out in college, you want to give a quick rundown of your background for the folks listening?

Greg Skloot: I would be happy to. So, as Matt mentioned, I'm the president of a tech company called Crystal, and we're an app that can tell you anyone's personality, based on analyzing text online. So, we think a lot about personality. And prior to that, I've done a bunch of cool entrepreneurial growth type of ventures. Most recently, I was the VP of growth at a tech company called Netpulse, out of San Francisco, that was just acquired last year. So, excited to be here, and talk about growth in personalization.

Matt Bilotti: Absolutely. And, let's go ahead and dive right in. So, one of the things that we were talking about before we jumped on here, was that most of the personalization that happens today is very much based on role. And I'm sure when a lot of listeners hear topic of personalization, they're thinking," Of course I personalize, right?" I have to personalize my emails, they have people's names, they have their job titles. It has the types of info that they want, but it really seems we're on the cusp of this new level of personalization. Do you want to tell us about what you see that being, and what we're already beginning to move towards?

Greg Skloot: Absolutely. So, a good way I like to think about it, is historically we focused on the WHAT. So, when I think about the WHAT in personalization, it's: I have a database of contacts, and I'm going to be running a growth experiment on, maybe I'm sending them some emails. It's at this point industry standard, I'd call it table stakes, that I'm of course, I'm customizing based on variables I have in their contact record. But in addition, I'm probably writing a couple of different versions of that email based on persona, or job title. I'm going to test that separate types of content to those different people, and they're going to be getting a WHAT. So, what I'm talking about, is going to be highly personalized and relevant to their role within the organization. That's just expected at this point. So that's the WHAT, and I think, overall marketers are doing a pretty good job with that. Where things are starting to get interesting is that there's now some new technology that has made it possible to more deeply personalized the HOW, and when I say the HOW, I'm talking about HOW we actually talk to a contact, HOW we deliver that customized content. So this is where, when I think of HOW I'm thinking of, HOW can I talk to them in a way that resonates with their personality? I'm saying stuff that's relevant to them, but can I say it in a way that will appeal to them as a unique person? And, that's the personality component of personalization. And I think we're just on the cusp on, and which is so exciting.

Matt Bilotti: Interesting. So, it's not just about, this person likes sports, this person likes sailing, and so let me mention those types of things, but, it's about their personality. Can you give us a little bit more of a definition of exactly what you mean by personality, in a way that people can walk away with?

Greg Skloot: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, let's take you and I. So, Matt and I have been friends since college, and when we met in college, it just felt our personalities clicked, and to give a couple examples, right? Matt and I are both very direct. We can be very blunt. We were very straightforward. We're very fast paced. If I do something that Matt doesn't like, you better believe I'm going to hear about it. He's going to say something. And, for some people, that would probably would make it So Matt doesn't get along with them. But for me, because of this similarity in our personalities, we actually get along really well. And of course, we never really thought about labeling that. It's just, oh, I like Matt, Matt likes me. We get along. But the reason that we get along so well, is because of these shared personality traits. So when I see personality, I'm thinking about behaviors, motivations, and communication style, that a person typically exhibits and prefers. So, being blunt, being direct, being detail oriented, being big picture, stuff like that. A good way to think about it is, with a framework called DISC. And, it is a quick tangent, but so important in the world of personalities. So, DISC is a framework that has been around for about a hundred years since the early 1900s. And, it basically says similar to Myers- Briggs or Enneagram, if you've explored those. DISC says that there's four different core personality types, D for dominant, I for imaginative, C for conscientious, and S for stabilizing. D, I, S, and, C... not surprising, our friend, Matt and myself, are the D personality type... the dominant, direct, blunt, straightforward type. And, each of these different personality types have specific traits associated with them, and specific preferences. And the idea is, once I understand Matt's personality type, I can use it to predict how Matt will behave, and what I can do to communicate with Matt in a way that he'll appreciate. So, that's the core premises, understanding someone's behaviors and motivations. And, we can use a framework like DISC, or any way of categorizing personality types to know, okay, Matt's a D- type. So, I'm going to communicate in a certain way, and it's going to be different than the I- personality type, because Matt and that person are different. So, that's what I'm thinking generally, when I say personality,

Matt Bilotti: Got it. And being in my direct fashion, I'm just going to go ahead, and ask my next question here. Email is something that most people connect personalization to, what can be different about sending emails or writing emails tomorrow, than what people are doing today to personalize when they're taking personality into account?

Greg Skloot: Email, it's good to bring it up, because email is such a good example of where there's tremendous opportunity. Right now, for better or worse, it's a blessing and a curse. Usage of email, particularly in growth and marketing, has just exploded. And, the result is, if I'm a buyer, call me a B2B buyer, I am just getting bombarded with email after email, LinkedIn message after LinkedIn message, and of course, they're all sent with some sort of system that makes it look they're completely written manually, they have my name in it, it looks like someone wrote it. And, I'm just getting tons of these every day. And as a result, because there's just so many, I'm not surprisingly just being accustomed to, I have to become more skeptical. I'm being accustomed to tuning those out. So, the bad news is, if we just send emails with the status quo of, I'll customize the WHAT, and then I'll blast this out to the thousand people on my list, the response rates just going to get lower and lower. Where deeper personalization comes in, we can really start to change the game on emails. So for example, let's take Matt's personality, he's direct blunt, straightforward, fast paced. Not surprisingly, if I send Matt a really long email that had all this great detail about my product, and links to five case studies, and two attachments that go into a lot more depth on how it works, I'm giving them all the information he needs to make a decision. Matt, I mean, what are you going to do with that email?

Matt Bilotti: It's too much. I have so many other things to do, I can't read that email. I'm just going to move on.

Greg Skloot: He's moving on, I'm going to lose. Even though I put all the work into making that email good, I'm going to lose with Matt. Now, what's frustrating is, let's say I sent that to another personality type, the C in DISC. This is the conscientious, analytical, detail oriented, loves to dive deep into solving complex problems, and figure out how things work. That person really appreciates detail. When that person reads that long email, where I accounted for all of these details, and giving them all this stuff to research, she's thinking to herself, oh wow, this guy has his stuff together. Thank you for actually including the detail... a completely different response than Matt had. So, if I understood Matt's personality, and this other prospect's personality, I could not only send them different WHAT's, based on their role and job title, but I could frame my email very differently, personalize it in a way that's going to appeal to them. So, tactically, how that comes into play... the length. The length should vary significantly for personality types like Matt... much shorter. I should use bulleted lists, I should use bold, and italicize, and underlining. Show hin the bottom line of what I'm talking about. For a personality type that's more detail oriented, I should include more attachments, more links, more references. For the personality type of the I in DICS, that's more social oriented, relationship building, creative, flexible. That's one where I might want to include a bunch of references to other people that are in their space that they might know, that have used the product. Matt's going to care a lot less about those references. So, I can mix and match these different components, and quickly build an email that's deeply targeted and customized to how Matt likes to communicate. And, I can take that further down to the greeting in the email, the subject line, the call to action at the end, even how I sign my name, at this point, we now have some really good data on the way I sign off an email, can greatly vary in how different personality types respond to it. So, making those tweaks now, I think of it as a personality revolution. We're right at the cusp where so few people are doing this. It's such a tremendous opportunity to make the email stand out, and ultimately be read.

Matt Bilotti: It's funny, because I think there's a lot of people that think email is a dead channel, because there's just no way to stand out. You can try all these different things. And I think about myself as a potential buyer, or consumer lead, whatever you want to call me, it would actually be quite a breath of fresh air, for me to get a couple emails that speak to me the way that I want to be spoken to, and not just all this noise, right? That is the way to stand out. And every now and then, there's an email that connects with me. And why I think about it more, it's because they hit perfectly on the way that I want to read the email, not even as much about the content, but it's just written in a way that's different than all the others, because this one sounds like something that I just have time for it and, I have a moment to read. So I think that's pretty awesome. So let's go to other channels, right? So, email is an easier starting point, but there're so many other channels that can use this type of personalization. I mean, things that come to mind are things like websites, and meetings, and phone calls, and ABM... account- based marketing outreach. Can we talk about one of those?

Greg Skloot: Yeah. Account- based marketing is such a great example. So, let's say I'm running an account- based marketing growth campaign. I have a set of contacts within an account that I'm trying to do outreach to, and I have some targeted content for each of them. Let's say, I've seen this bunch being on the buyer side, certain people in the account, typically, C- level people, are getting something in the mail. It's some sort of free giveaway. I just got mailed a jar, and I'm not making this up, a jar of barbecue sauce, from a software company in Austin, Texas, looking to get our business and, it was clever. But, here's the interesting thing. Needless to say, it's a lot of work to be mailing jars of barbecue sauce all over the country. I'm actually quite surprised that the jar didn't crack, but nonetheless, the barbecue sauce came through well. As we think about personalization, take this as an example, Matt and I, now despite the fact that we both share a love for barbecue, we probably are going to be less enticed to buy, just because we got that barbecue sauce. At the end of the day, Matt and I's personality type is much more comes down to: give me the bottom line, give me the price that makes sense, make sure that the use case works for my team. I'm not going to buy just because you made a good impression on me. I'm really going to buy because of these nitty- gritty details. But, there's other personality types where the impression you make is a lot different. And of course, it counts in both, for all personalities, but it's weighed a lot more. So my business partner, for example, Drew, he is the I- personality in DISC, the imaginative, creative, big idea, big picture, relationship person. He really appreciated that barbecue sauce. He actually wanted me to go in, and look up this person's company because he sent the barbecue sauce. It's just interesting how the barbecue sauce had a completely different impact on he and I. So, as we think about that, why not only send the barbecue sauce to the personality types that are like Drew? And don't waste the marketing dollars on the person like me. Instead, send me something, or focus on me, with content or specifics around the things I really care about, based on my personality. And, I think you said something important earlier, where there's this phrase going around that email is dead, which of course, we know is not true. But, I think, maybe to expand on that, and coming into ABM too, it's that" spray and pray" marketing and growth tactics. That's what's dying. Right? When we think about" spray and pray" email, where I get a list, I have their role, or their persona, I'm going to load them into my email marketing system. I'm going to send a blast to 5, 000 people, that's roughly the same. That's what's just yielding worse and worse results. Personalized emails, as you said, an email that actually feels like it speaks to you, an ABM campaign that sends something in the mail that speaks to me, that's not dead. For better or worse, the mass amount of marketing and growth that we've all been doing, has just raised the bar. Now, we have to personalize at a deeper level. Our tried- and- true tactics of email, or gift mailing, are far from gone, but we have to take the personalization aspect in them to another level. And, I think that's what we're really thinking about, when we think about this personalization based on personality.

Matt Bilotti: Yeah, and I think the cool thing about it all, is when you tie it together, it's not just about increasing your connection rates. It's about saving yourself a lot of time, from reaching out to people in ways that they're not going to answer, but it's also like a true ROI thing, right? You're talking about ABM campaigns, those can add up fast, right? A thousand barbecue sauce jars being shipped to all different parts of the country like that, that stuff gets expensive. And, so it really is a true ROI decision to be personalizing at this level.

Greg Skloot: Yeah, very true.

Matt Bilotti: This is great. And I think, when I think about all this personalization stuff, this to me feels like one of these moments where, now is the time to act on it, right? Because there's not many other people personalizing at this level. There will be a world, 5- 10 years from now, where everyone's personalizing this way, and you need to start thinking about other tactics, or other ways to connect with people. But right now, this is something that no one else is really doing, and so it can truly give you a competitive advantage. And so, for all the listeners out there, I would totally implore you to start thinking about personality- based personalization, because now is definitely the time to do it. Greg, would you agree?

Greg Skloot: It's very true. I think, we're on the cusp of what we're calling a personality revolution, where historically personality has been a thing that we think about more in social settings. And, it's often sitting just beneath the surface. Coming back to Matt and I's relationship in college, we became friends, and it just felt we clicked. We didn't really think about why, we just decided, oh yeah, I like Matt, we get along well. In the B2C... In the C2C context, we're friends, that's all we need, but we can start to take that clicking, and apply it in the B2B context. It's something that historically has just really not been done. And, particularly with advances around AI, we call it personality- AI. We can now use publicly available online data, to predict someone's personality. Without me having to get to know Matt as a friend, I can use a system to be able to actually predict the volume, match most likely to be this deep personality. So when I make my first cold outreach to him, let me personalize my communication style to appeal to him. And that is just a new frontier. I think we're on the cusp of something really exciting with it.

Matt Bilotti: This is great. And if there are listeners out there that want to reach out to you with more questions, or whatever it might be, what is the best place to do something?

Greg Skloot: Absolutely. Well, feel free to visit my company's website, crystalknows. com, K N O W S. And feel free to email me directly. It's greg @ crystalknows. com. I'd be happy to chat with anybody.

Matt Bilotti: And you got a personal blog, right?

Greg Skloot: I do, so it's my last name, Skloot, S K L O O T. org, lots of marketing and growth articles on there, and also other ways to contact me. So, always happy to talk. I can talk about growth all day long. So, if that's your jam, feel free to shoot me an email.

Matt Bilotti: And if you're going to do that, take the tips from this podcast, and do not send Greg a long, not to say, not a thoughtful email. It can be thoughtful, but don't waste his time.

Greg Skloot: Very well said, and good free advice.

Matt Bilotti: Cool. Well, Greg, thank you again so much for joining today. For everyone listening out there, I appreciate you tuning in. Feel free to send any feedback, questions, suggested speakers, suggested topics, whatever it might be. By the way, my email's matt @ drift. com, and in true seeking wisdom fashion, five or six stars only for reviews. And thank you again, really appreciate it. And Greg, thanks for joining.

Greg Skloot: Absolutely, thanks for having me.

Matt Bilotti: All right. Take care.


On this episode of #Growth, host Matt Bilotti sits down with Greg Skloot, President & COO of Crystal, to discuss a whole new level of personalization. We all know we're targeted online based on past browsing history and offers are often personalized with our name and sometimes location. But are we on the cusp of a whole new level of personalization? One that takes into account personality type and how we might want to be interacted with? Greg and Matt discuss the future of personalization on this episode. Be sure to tune in.