Episode 31

How to Increase AI Adoption to Drive ROI with Trusted Data

In this episode of Good Data Better Marketing podcast, Pete Housley, Chief Marketing Officer at Unbounce, discusses how marketers are using AI in their workflows today to increase efficiency and ROI. From improving campaign conversions and reducing time spent on execution to generating predictive audiences, get inspired to boost your AI adoption.


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Guest speaker: Pete Housley

Pete Housley is the Chief Marketing Officer at Unbounce, the leader in AI landing pages and conversion intelligence software for marketers. He is a senior executive with President, CEO, CMO & CRO experience including retail, hospitality, digital pure play, and consumer goods industries. Pete served as Chief Revenue Officer at INDOCHINO from 2015-2021 achieving ~45% CAGR through his strategic and operational leadership. He is best known for his ability to build disruptive brands while blending tactics from various channels such as digital and performance marketing to achieve high-scale growth.


Episode summary

In this episode, Kailey sits down with Pete to discuss how marketers are using AI in their workflows today to increase efficiency and ROI. From improving campaign conversions and reducing time spent on execution to generating predictive audiences, get inspired to boost your AI adoption.


Key takeaways

  • Moving forward with AI adoption all starts with your data. You need to have a strong foundation with high quality data, otherwise you may not get the results you want.

  • AI tools like ChatGPT have dramatically enabled content creation. Now, solopreneurs and founders can do everything a full service agency can do, even though they lack a marketing team. 

  • Chatbots with AI functionality just might be the area where AI adoption is highest, especially in customer support. Those files can be loaded into AI chat tools and used in a self-serve environment for customers and is an efficient tool for call center agents.


Speaker quotes

“If you're going to get on the AI trend, you need a solid data foundation. Structured data that is repeatable, that is a universal source of truth. My opinion is that companies and even well, well run enterprise-level companies often have a long way to go on their data maturity curves. The cost of business transformation, moving off of legacy systems and old databases can sometimes be overwhelming to companies and they get stuck.” – Pete Housley


Episode timestamps

‍*(04:24) - Pete’s career journey

‍*(10:38) - Trends that are impacting marketing and customer engagement in tech 

‍*(18:30) - Where companies are in their AI adoption curve 

‍*(28:54) - How Pete defines “good data” 

‍*(36:20) - Pitfalls of AI that we should avoid 

‍*(43:28) - Changes on the horizon in AI and marketing

*(45:13) - Pete’s recommendations for upleveling customer experience strategies


Connect with Pete on LinkedIn

Connect with Kailey on LinkedIn


Read the transcript


Kailey Raymond: Welcome to Good Data, Better Marketing, the podcast where we speak with influential marketers and digital innovators and learn their tricks of the trade. They help us understand exactly what good data is. And they share their stories about how they've created digital first customer experiences that stick. I'm Kailey Raymond, and I lead enterprise and ABM marketing here at Twilio Segment. I'm your host and with me today for a special live session for CDP week. I have Pete Housley. He's the CMO of Unbounce and the host of Unprompted, a podcast that explores the intersection of AI and marketing. So we're in very good hands. Pete, welcome to the show.

Pete Housley: Kailey, thank you so much for having me on your show. I'm a bit of a data geek. And so when we get into conversations about companies' foundational data structures, where they are on their data maturity curve, and then we transcend same into where are they on their AI maturity curve. Not only is this a great discussion, but what I'm finding is our listeners are Unprompted are really appreciating the insights that we're able to deliver. So I think we're going to have a really fun chat today.

Kailey Raymond: I am stoked. We have a ton to talk about. Before we dive into both of those maturity curves that you just mentioned, which are definitely going to be important part of the conversation, I wanted to start off with your career journey. So you know, prior to Unbounce, you've held roles across multiple different verticals. Most recently, you were the CRO at INDOCHINO. And so I'm really stoked to hear what you have to say about some of those learnings that you've had across these different roles and across these different industries to help drive best in class customer engagement with AI. So tell me, how did you get to where you are today?

Pete Housley: Well, I'd like to think that my career was a lucky combination of fate and circumstance, sometimes being in the right place at the right time and definitely building skills that have just been accretive to one another over the years. And like many marketers, I started my career in the CPG world at Procter & Gamble, where we learned the business of marketing, positioning, strategy, go to market, advertising, research, and so on. And that was just really an incredible foundation. And I still leverage many of those insights today on brand marketing. I had a really exciting stint in advertising for a number of years, and I ran some of North America's most prestigious accounts, whether that be Nissan or Pepsi, Federal Express, and really got my head around multiple categories and how to extract those consumer insights that really would lead to breakthrough ideas in terms of building a brand and a business. I had the really fortunate opportunity to be CMO of two of Canada's largest department stores. From there, I really went into the world of digital. And I was chief executive officer of one of the original top internet dating companies. It was called Lava Life.

Pete Housley: We became number one in Canada, top 10 in the world, number one in New York City, and we grew up with Match.com. And that was really in the early days of pay-per-click advertising and advertising on the internet, which at that point was really the wild, wild web. And then my most recent digital foray was INDOCHINO, which was a digital pure play in terms of men's made-to-measure suits, expanded to Omnichannel, where we built out 60 stores. A huge success story. We built that company from 15 million to about 120 million in four years. But we leveraged every single tool in terms of data, best practice e-comm, Omnichannel, understanding what an agnostic customer journey would be. And with all that in mind, I got pretty excited when I got approached about Unbounce. Because I'm so passionate about all things digital marketing, and Unbounce being who they are in the digital marketing space, it was really exciting for me to jump over the fence from direct-to-consumer to B2B. But to be honest, it really is the same skill sets applied, just slightly different in terms of your target customer, your ICP, your ABM, and so on. But here I am.

Kailey Raymond: That's amazing. Incredibly well-rounded. You've seen it all, it seems, starting off in B2C with some of the world's most notable brands, and now B2B for Unbounce. You're right, I think for the most part, it's exactly the same. We're talking to humans. Now, I'm betting we have a bunch of folks on the line that use Unbounce. But for those that might not be familiar, can you tell us a little bit more about Unbounce?

Pete Housley: Yes. Unbounce is the global leader in landing pages. We actually have 17,000 clients, which is a very, very large penetration. And essentially, on principle, what we did 13 years ago was create a WYSIWYG editor, What You See Is What You Get, for a drag-and-drop landing page. Knowing that marketers didn't always have access to their technology departments, and builds for one-off extra pages on a website could be clunky and cumbersome. This allows a marketer to get a page up and running in a matter of hours. And in recent years, and I'm going to say we're three years into research and development, we've been high on the AI development curve. And our first product was called Smart Traffic, which essentially takes multiple variants and multiple audiences and optimize your traffic to your audience, to your message, to your landing page. And literally, you could run 20 audiences and 20 variants, and it would start directing the traffic to the higher converting pages. So think A-B testing on steroids. Then our current product, which is so exciting, is called Smart Builder, which is basically an AI landing page builder. So with very few prompts, you can be up and running on a fully designed landing page.

Pete Housley: But it's going to be built with copy that converts, because it relies on the data of 2 billion former conversions. So we know headlines that convert, call to actions, colors of buttons, blocking for a layout, all indexed by category in a very complicated semantic labeling exercise, which hopefully, Segment knows a lot about semantic labeling. Because I'm assuming that's how we access many of the things that we do off Segment in the first place. But anyways, really excited to be here at Unbounce. And what I would say to marketers is that all good digital marketers should be using landing pages in their stack of tools.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah, I probably have used Unbounce to create pages in less than I think you said a couple of hours. I think I've done it in minutes before and gotten campaigns out the door within an hour. Incredibly fast tool. You know, you're placing AI at the forefront of your product. And we're going to touch on that a lot more today. But before we do that, I want to talk about this year that we're in. This weird year of 2023. It's been a bit of a tricky one, if we're going to be honest, especially in tech. I'm sure you've heard the word efficiency, it might be a four letter word to you at this point. I'm sure you've heard the phrase doing more with less phrase that gets uttered quite often. Can you tell me about some of the macro trends that are impacting marketing and customer engagement tech right now?

Pete Housley: Oh, absolutely. You really nailed it. The recession, even though we've not officially apparently called it a recession as demonstrated by consecutive quarters of decline and the economists, but it's hit all sectors. We came off a huge boom in COVID, where all things e-com really glorified and we saw expansion on e-com companies and technology companies thinking this is the new norm. Coming off that and coming into a slowdown and a recession has hit hard. It's hit technology companies, it's hit SaaS companies. Our data would indicate that at least a third of companies in North America have slashed their ad budgets. And certainly, the common denominator that we hear and we pull all of our customers all of the time, the most important thing on a marketer's mind today, drive revenue and get return on investment. Whether that be return on their marketing investment or return on their net assets to the marketing investment. But certainly, results, revenue, and return are the themes of the day.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah, for a long time, I feel like it's been growth, growth, growth and ROI hasn't necessarily been nearly as important in tech. And now ROI is, it's coming through loud and clear. Actually, in our recent growth report just launched, it has some interesting stats that I think kind of talk to this theme of ROI that you're kind of like honing in on, which is that 33% of businesses are telling us that they're simplifying their technology tools into a smaller set that fulfill multiple use cases. So that consolidation of tech stacks, I think really does echo that idea of ROI. We both know there's just been this proliferation of tools in the market. And it seems like finally, you know, now we're in this era that people are trimming down those octa tiles, if you will. In addition, I think one of the things that in this report is telling me that we're leaning more into ROI is the fact that 85% of businesses are telling us that customer retention is a major priority in the next 12 months. So in a time when acquiring customers is hard, and those budgets are being slashed, it's more expensive to get people in the door, that idea of digging back into your base and making sure that you can increase that TCB, super important. So we just talked about macro, but beyond macro, do you have any industry trends that you want to take note of?

Pete Housley: First of all, I just want to pick up on your comment about retention. And in any marketer stack, we think about acquisition and retention marketing. And when we do our forecasting models, how many repeat users at what monthly recurring revenue or what average order value? And we look at new customers and what will their new revenue be? And then we look at the combination of those two. And those are the P&L drivers that really make the foundations of your business plan. And retention and churn have been challenged in the last year. And to your point, all companies have been consolidating tools. And so companies are getting their fair share of being the consolidated. And so retention is essential. I have doubled down on our retention efforts in the last year. And we have new programs for activation and for retention and win-back strategies in a much larger way than we did prior. And then regarding acquisition, we are faced with deprecation of cookies. And from a marketer standpoint, that's devastating. Because now I need more first-party data faster. So lead gen and path to conversion and first-party data, super important. And then you have GDPR laws. And for those of you that have had to deal with some of those in either like UK or California, so lots of things that are impacting retention and acquisition.

Pete Housley: But in terms of your question on industry trends, let's bring it a little back to today's conversation and talk about AI. AI is on the mind of every CEO. And every board member is asking CEOs what their AI strategies are doing. McKinsey Consulting has come out and said they are recruiting CEOs that have AI experience. So when you see that trend coming from the top down in organizations, you know it's important. And then really anchoring back to today's conversation, Kailey, is that if you're going to get on the AI trend, you need a solid data foundation. Structured data that is repeatable, that is a universal source of truth. And my opinion is that companies and even well, well-run enterprise-level companies often have a long way to go on their data maturity curves. And the cost of business transformation, moving off of legacy systems and old databases, can sometimes be overwhelming to companies and they get stuck. Having been through a fairly large data transformation at INDOCHINO, it was a two-year endeavor and a lot of heavy lifting until we were out the other side. But it was worth the journey.

Kailey Raymond: Unsurprisingly, we hear that very often. I also really appreciate the fact that you're using this language. You brought it up, data maturity curve, right? And every company is on one, whether you know it or not, you are on this maturity curve. And you and your podcast also talk about this idea, this AI adoption curve, which are both just important concepts for us to kind of think about right now, especially as it relates to actually being able to use AI. You're talking about CEOs and boards, you know, asking about strategies. That probably means that in the future, we're all going to need to start implementing those strategies if we haven't already. And one of the foundations of that is actually being able, to your point, to build a really solid foundation of data. We just released a book about this actually, around this exact concept of our on this customer data maturity curve, which helps you just identify where your organization is on the curve and how you can graduate into the next step in this stage. So related to AI, our growth report also just revealed that more than a third of businesses are telling us that that data quality and the availability of it is crucial to enhancing their AI efforts.

Kailey Raymond: So it's not just us that are saying this, we're hearing tons of businesses echo this exact same idea, which is, we need to make sure we know what we're doing with our data before we can actually start trusting these machines to start automating a lot of our work. Which is interesting because nearly half of people expect to increase AI driven campaigns in the next 12 months. So all these forces are coming together right now. And it's really in an effort to drive AI adoption tomorrow. So let's talk about that. That's kind of where we are today. I want to talk about where we're going to be in the next year, the next five years. I get this sense, I talk to CMOs on this podcast very frequently. Many of them are very excited about AI, but they're also really early in their journey. I think this part of the year, this might be a little more trepidation in the air. Where would you say companies are today in their AI adoption curve? And are there any common channels or programs where you're seeing AI implemented right now?

Pete Housley: I think realistically Kailey companies today are at 10% of their AI maturity curve. Their awareness is much higher, their appetite is much, much higher. But in practicality, in terms of implementation and walking through their various functional areas and understanding how AI can enhance productivity etcetera, 10%. Perhaps in marketing areas on matters of personalization and some of those things, ad serving, even when we read programmatic advertising, there was AI principles built into that. But I would say 10%. In terms of the low hanging fruit and my prediction of where the adoption is going to be the highest, the fastest, the most obvious to me is chatbots with AI functionality to do customer support, customer deflection, because all those files exist. Call centers have years of recorded answers on their telephone calls. They have messaging and support resources and libraries. All of that can be loaded into AI chat tools and at your fingertips, it's available.

Pete Housley: And not only can that work in a self-serve environment for customers that are calling in, it also is a better tool for agents than any of the queue management tools, that are used for call center management. And some of those tools may debate that point, but that to me is an overwhelming opportunity. There's a great business case out of IKEA in the UK and what they did is they fully implemented chat for support. Where's my dining room table and when's it arriving and I need a refund. There's a scratch on it. And what they did is they took the workforce and they retrained them into design consultants. So, they took the repetitive work that AI could do, and they enabled that and then leveraged that money to do a much higher value added service. That to me is the best example of AI creating jobs and carving out new territories and really stepping up to the power of AI.

Pete Housley: I have read a lot and certainly talked to our VP of data and engineering about peer review and code. And I think GitHub's Copilot essentially gives coders peer review in the moment. In real time very often suggests like the next line of code. But if we think about over the years, we've always had code reviews with peer-to-peer or peer-to-bot. And so now you have Copilot which is just going to make everybody better and more efficient. So that's, I think a great territory. We're doing that now at Unbounce. Obviously with the super exciting year we've had on conversational AI and ChatGPT. And then the art direction tools and whether that be MidJourney, Dall-E, etcetera, content creation is dramatically enabled and many of us have full stack marketing teams. We basically run an in-house agency here, but for solopreneurs and founders, they do not have a marketing department.

Pete Housley: So these tools are so good that literally a solo marketer can do almost everything a full service agency could do. They've gotta learn a little bit how to be a prompt advertising person, but super empowering. And then I think the obvious is in the area of marketing automation and marketing optimization. And we've seen this coming on for the better part of a decade, but what I'm seeing now in 2023 is super excited. And there's some tools that I could talk about a little later that I think are really advanced, but once again, that's predicated on having the right data foundation to be able to bolt on these AI tools.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah, that's great. I mean I think that the chat example is what we hear all the time. I do think it's the most common place where companies start to make sense. Probably we're gonna see a ton of ROI really, really quickly, to your point. You should know all of that information about your customer. If they're chatting you about the shoe that didn't get there, you should know exactly what the SKU was, exactly what the color was. You should know their email, you should know their name, you should know everything about that customer, so you don't have to have a human being do that. If you have your data in order, it's pretty simple to do.

Kailey Raymond: It's funny at Segment, we're also doing that with email bots. So we're actually taking portions of our database and we're warming up leads for the sales team. So a lot of different applications where AI is already kind of being tested, installed at different organizations, it's, that's kind of where we are right now. Where are we heading with AI? That's what we're doing today. Where are we heading with AI? I know that your team has been testing and trying a whole lot of tools. I think over a hundred.

Pete Housley: Yeah.

Kailey Raymond: So what's your take?

Pete Housley: Well, I mean on that note, we got super excited because of course we have a podcast about AI and so we're trying all these cool tools. And so among myself and my team, our knowledge is a lot higher as well as our adoption curves, just because we made it part of our job and actually our marketing efforts on thought leadership. So where's it going? If I think about marketing or business, I think the giants are going to do game changing things. So Google and Facebook, Meta will probably lead us on the innovation of things that we can't even imagine. And Google has recently come out and they've talked a lot about Duet. And basically Duet becomes a conversational AI that bolts into every Google product you can think of. Google Analytics, Google Sheets, Google Docs, Google Slides. So "Dear Duet, could you kindly pull my last 12 months sales indexed by region with year-over-year statistics and put together a couple of graphs, write me a few slides on where that's go... Boom. Like this will happen. And...

Kailey Raymond: Beautiful.

Pete Housley: Literally for people that are not high on Excel skills, if they don't know advanced pivots or macros or how to do relational tables or VLOOKUPs, you don't need any of that anymore as long as you can describe the use case or the table that you know. So most of us over the years, we would go to someone in business intelligence say, I have a dream for like a data sheet. And they would say, Well, that's gonna take two to three weeks. We have to design and build that and then we're gonna have to create a Tableau version of it for you. And all of that has changed. So to me that is gonna be a really interesting place to watch, particularly with the billions of dollars of investment that they're putting into it.

Pete Housley: And you have to imagine the best AI engineers in the world are going to end up at Google and Meta and X and Amazon [laughter] and you know, some of these places just by virtue of who they are. I think something Kailey that you and I talked about is predictive everything. So predictive audiences, predictive results, suggestive campaigns. And so much of what we've done in marketing has always looked rear view mirror. Based on what we've seen these were the completed journeys and this is how I got my acquisition and this is how I optimized my retention. But it stopped there. It didn't look forward at how to complete those journeys. So that world has now changed. So I'm excited and optimistic that the predictive nature of AI is going to be so much more sophisticated. And I often say that as marketers, we know 50% of our ad budget is working, we just don't know which 50%. And that's a little bit facetious and a little bit of a joke. But hopefully with the predictive modeling and capabilities we'll get to a much higher precision level on our marketing and our ad spend.

Kailey Raymond: That's really interesting. Yeah, I mean I think we've both probably been in places where it's taken a little bit longer than we wanted it to pull a list because a lot of the time it depends on other teams, it depends on other places where you're storing your data, right? So I think the idea of that like real time, the ability to really automate a lot of this with that good clean data is really interesting.


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Kailey Raymond: I know we've been talking a lot about data as being the prerequisite to a lot of this today. So I'm wondering how would you define good data?

Pete Housley: Well, I would ask everybody if they are confident there's a universal source of truth for data in their organization. What were sales last week, last year, [laughter] whatever it is. Because very often data lives in so many silos in companies. There's pre-purchase data, there's post-purchase data, there's journeys, there's the financial reporting system, which might be different from where the order file is stored. So literally getting that universal source of truth identified. And I would say at Unbounce we are fairly sophisticated on our data maturity curve. So big transformation over the years. We have our foundational data layer sitting in Redshift, layered on that, we have Segment as our CDP and we write to the CDP, all the web activity, the journey mapping. And then when you cross over into product land into the app, it kept all of that so we have a connected journey.

Pete Housley: Then we bolt on a few other tools, things like Mixpanel to get all the detailed product information and the visualization of all the funnels and product usage. And then we use visualization tools like Tableau to automate a lot of the reports that would otherwise not be self-serve to the business. But looking at many, many companies, they're not necessarily there where we are. And it is so redeeming when we are there because we're gonna bolt on a tool that requires a CDP to be in place as well as some other things and we're ready to go.

Kailey Raymond: I like that. I like the idea of a tool that requires a CDP to be in place. But, I like this idea that you're bringing us to, which is this universal source of truth through the entire company, which implies that every department, every channel, every application, everything is kind of funneling through this to make sure that you can all speak the same language. What about you and your marketing team? What are some of the ways that you are using that good data? Any programs, campaigns, things you wanna share?

Pete Housley: The obvious one is where we are going with some of our marketing. And having reviewed a hundred tools, one of our top tools, and we're just in a proof of concept on this right now, is called MadKudu. And what MadKudu is, it's a lead scoring software, but what it does is first of all, you load all of your first party data in. So we give it access to our CDP segment. We also give it access to Salesforce, which happens to be our CRM tool. And what it does is, it separates good, better, best customers based on a number of attributes that you define. And so it could be weeks and years of engagement, it could be what industry you come at. It could be what the title of the person who holds the account is.

Pete Housley: And it scores your customers from zero to 100, then uses third party enrichment tools to get more information about that customer to really round that out. So what happens is it not only gives you a tool to understand who you should be targeting for expansion revenue, who you should be recognizing as a VIP most valuable customer, but when leads come in either on your inbound or on your outbound efforts, it scores them. So it can say these are the leads most likely to convert the fastest at the highest ARPU or lifetime value and so on. So, if that promise is true, and I've done a lot of diligence here, I think it is. That is game changing to any company with a sales motion, with sales-led growth. So that's one thing. Second thing is we're doing a podcast about AI marketing and we've made it a real journey of research and discovery and engagement for the team.

Pete Housley: And a number of the team and I have, have been together on the podcast, but we stumbled onto a product called Wondercraft, which is an AI tool that produces podcasts. Oh, I just talk for a minute. It clones my voice from now on, it's Pete Housley. I don't have to do anything. I can do research in the tool and it's going to write the script, it's going to edit sound effects. So we're doing the last episode fully produced by Wondercraft in collaboration with Wondercraft. And the conclusion of my series is, are robots coming for your job? Yeah, they just took mine. So I'm probably going to interview my clone on the show and try to recap highlights from the show 'cause I have all the transcripts from the shows and we'll put it into AI and we'll see what we get. And we've got a few other ideas for that. But literally that's gonna be...

Kailey Raymond: Whoa.

Pete Housley: Super fun. Then I thought last night, Kailey of another tool and I was thinking what are the tasks that marketers hate doing that they really need to do? And over 30 years of marketing, everybody hates doing competitor reviews. They're absolutely non-negotiable. We need in the moment real time data on what are the competitors doing, what are their feature sets, what are their pricing? And of course when you get like retails with multiple SKUs or thousands of SKUs and price competition is so fierce, you need to know that. So there's a product called Creon and it does all of this and more in terms of competitor profiling. So to me there's areas of your business that can be quite manual and repetitive. And so I would encourage companies and business leaders to just look at like how can my life be easier? Now, back to the beginning of our conversation, we don't want to do tool [0:35:23.5] ____ and add on 30 new software AI tools. So we're gonna have to be choiceful about where we go. So those are just a few fun examples.

Kailey Raymond: The podcast one is just, I'm just sitting here and my mind is, but Pete's gonna be talking to Pete on his last episode of Unprompted. So check that out. It reminds me that Black Mirror episode this season when they were doing that AI TV episode, it was absolutely wild. I think there's a lot of things that are happening right now with AI that are a little bit scary, which is I think something that we should probably talk about. I mean the Silicon Valley elite have put together that letter about the six month moratorium and Sam Altman's going to Congress and he's trying to explain how things work and they're asking him like, "Okay, what's the impact gonna be?" So you're trying, you're testing all of these tools, you're in the weeds a little bit more than a lot of us every single day. What are you afraid of?

Pete Housley: Well...

Kailey Raymond: What are the pitfalls that we should avoid.

Pete Housley: Regarding Sam Altman going to Congress? When's the last time you heard of a business leader going to the government and saying, I'm begging you to regulate the industry that I'm participating in. Like that...

Kailey Raymond: Never, ever. Right?

Pete Housley: That is. That has never happened. And so that's certainly scary. And then I think the natural course of the risks are in ethics, sustainability model accuracy, the deep fakes are so convincing. And...

Kailey Raymond: Yeah, election year, like. Come on.

Pete Housley: Election year and politics and propaganda and fake messaging, using AI targeting that targets the people most vulnerable in the first place with one-to-one individual messages now that could be deep fakes and I think the model accuracy is really interesting. And I don't know if you've read this lately, but in terms of racial recognition, AI is often getting it wrong now. So there's actually like a racial bias built into AI. And so, that's just interesting and problematic.

Pete Housley: So I think the pitfalls that we need to think about as like down to earth on a business leader level is number one, change management, right? Like if you think about organizations saying, oh we're going to like introduce chat AI and the customer support team says, Well does that mean that I'm gonna be out of a job? And you know, the hyperbole of that so appropriate change management I think is going to be a pitfall we need to think about. But the biggest risk is actually ignoring it or not embracing AI in the first place. Like as I look through the functional areas of a company, there's accounting AI products. If you have legal questionnaires you need to answer for your clients, there's AI for that. We've talked about what happens in code, we've talked about what happens in operations and marketing. So literally I think the risk is companies not thinking cross-functionally about what is our AI strategy for 2024. I think that's something that I think needs to be on everyone's mind.

Kailey Raymond: So Pete's an optimist, everyone. He is an AI optimist I would say, which I think is great. We certainly need people in that area. Of course there are some of those things that we can be a little bit more cognizant of. The bias one that you brought up I think is extremely important to remember. One of the things that we found when we were asking folks about the common obstacles that they're seeing with AI use at their companies right now is that about 40% of them are citing a lack of employee training, right? So, I don't think that there's a suite of educational tools right now. Maybe there's plenty of YouTubes and TikTokers out there that are training people, but in-house learning departments I think are probably catching up right now. And about 30% are saying there's a lack of clarity. These models of some of these companies of choose your own adventure, the playbooks need to be built.

Kailey Raymond: You need to be able to show what the capabilities are for people to be able to visualize it in their day-to-day. So I think that there's, if I would categorize where we're right now start of the year optimism, excitement, everyone was absolutely stoked about AI. And now I think that there's probably a little bit more skepticism amongst kind of the general public now that we've kind of matured from that excitement phase. Regarding this concept around kind of education and this kind of curve of adoption that we've talked about a couple of times. How are you getting your team trained up? How are you making sure that folks know when it's clear how and when to use AI?

Pete Housley: Yeah, first of all, I think to answer your question or to comment on your comment, companies need to operationalize a strategy for AI. Whether you're using OKRs or some quarterly planning formal methodology, you would need to set AI business transformation as a goal. You would then need to appoint leaders through an organization to champion certain projects.

Pete Housley: So on that MadKudu example, I am the champion, I am running the project team, I am embracing it, I am [0:41:04.3] ____ and and I am driving that through. I have a vice president in customer success team who is championing what will our solution be to AI chat and so on. So I think that we really do need to operationalize it and set specific and measurable goals. I come back to boards and CEOs are looking for this, like I didn't make that up. So we need to step up and and lean into this for sure.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah. No, I absolutely think that's right. I mean it's the unsexy stuff that typically gets things done. I mean Sam going to Congress I think is an example of this in real time. He is going to the parents and he is saying, please help me write some rules. You know, and so the heads of departments and operationalizing it into the structures that you have in your company if you aren't already, I do think is an important call out. So I wanna talk about the rest of the close of 2023. What are focusing on? Right now, I think it's because of all these tools we're talking about, there's AI for every part of your different business, it's pretty easy to fall into the trap of more is more in a time when you're trying to do more with less. So what are some of the things that you are laser focused on as we're closing out year?

Pete Housley: So we're just going to fundamental business strategy here, my eyes are on a successful 2024, today in the moment now everything we're doing in Q4 is to set us up to literally hit the pavement running in the new year. So all of our plans and our quarterly priorities have that one goal in mind. We just had a full leadership team meeting across the company this morning and that was the topic of the day. Do we see gaps building now for 2024? And if we do, what are we doing to close those before the year starts? And I'm assuming that's on many minds of many businesses. So that's outside of like the AI journey, this is like, no, we're just gonna get laser focused and deliver results.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah, I mean, and end of year, gotta close. The deals are coming in making sure it's happening.

Pete Housley: Yeah.

Kailey Raymond: I'm wondering if there's anything that you're seeing on the horizon for, [0:43:34.5] ____ we talked about close of 2023 into 2024. What's next for AI and marketing?

Pete Housley: It's funny, I thought about that question last night, Kailey, and all I can tell you is that in November of last year we were not thinking about AI the way we are today. And then chatGPT landed sometime around like the end of the year, beginning of the new year. And it has been a colossal like seven or eight months since then and the world has changed. So I can't even begin to answer that question 'cause I think the world is going to continue to change at this pace for at least the year ahead. And I don't know what that means for businesses and consolidators and the giants and who will win Google, Microsoft, Meta. So I think it's gonna be super interesting, but I have no predictions.

Kailey Raymond: It's hard. And yeah, planning is hard when there's so much change and there's so many new things that you need to address and try every single day. So there's got to be a ratio of things that are always on, keep the business alive and thriving. And then innovation, right? VC investment has been completely down over the past year or so, but in AI it is thriving. So I know that there's gonna be a ton of innovations that we haven't even heard of yet. I wanna come to one last question with you today, Pete, you've been a wealth of information so far about AI and marketing. I'm wondering if there's a piece of advice that you were to bestow upon our listeners, if they're trying to uplevel their strategies, what would that be?

Pete Housley: I'm going to plagiarize from a few of my guests that I've had on my show this year. But the best expression of that I've heard is, be curious. Like literally we are in a phase of curiosity. 20 years ago when the digital, marketing revolution came on, I thought, oh, I could easily be outdated overnight if I don't learn digital. And so I made it a point to be a student and be an expert on digital and lead on all things data. And that was a lot of learning to go through at that point in my career. And I think we're at the same on AI. Be curious, study, learn, lean in, and I would say spend several hours a day like learning.

Kailey Raymond: You're hearing it from the AI optimist, Pete, CMO of Unbounce and host of Unprompted, the podcast about marketing and AI. Pete, thank you so much for being here today. A ton of great tips, a ton of great tools. Really appreciate it.

Pete Housley: Kailey, thank you so much. Enjoy.


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