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Activate Live Takeaways for a Better Customer Experience

On April 7, we hosted our second all-digital Activate Live conference, where the Dreamers, Builders, and Makers of the world’s best customer experiences came together for a gathering of ideas and insights.

After avoiding crowds and missing out on vacations for over a year, attendees took a trip with us to Activate Island, an interactive experience making networking as easy as if we were all in person.

Activate Island

Iterable’s Activate Island

The day kicked off with our keynote speakers, Bozoma Saint John, CMO at Netflix, and Sara Varni, CMO at Twilio, emphasizing the importance of empathy and adaptability in the midst of the digital transformation brought on by COVID.

The stories of impactful marketing continued with Iterable’s co-founder and CEO Justin Zhu and VP of Product Bela Stepanova highlighting the human side of marketing and how new capabilities can help brands stay up-to-date with shifting expectations and regulations.

The keynotes were only the tip of the iceberg too! Sessions featuring speakers from DoorDash,, Blue Bottle, and more, were split into two tracks: Making a Memorable Experience and The Customer Experience in Practice. Both tracks were designed to bring Dreamers, Builders, and Makers of all varieties (which one are you?) together to learn, collaborate and brainstorm new ways to bring great experiences to their customers.

Here, we’ve compiled the top Activate Live takeaways from these sessions to give you a peek. If you weren’t able to join us on the island, feel free to watch the recordings.

Activate Live Top Takeaways

Keynotes: A Bird’s-Eye View of the Customer Experience

  • Now, with increasing amounts of customer data, brands need to deliver the right message through the right channel to meet customer expectations. Sara Varni noted that digital roadmaps were accelerated over six years due to COVID. Brands have had to adapt and use customer data in ways they previously thought were years away.
  • Make sure your marketing tactics are compliant with regulations. Changes to IDFA, Apple’s privacy regulations, and Google’s third-party cookies have and will impact the way marketers can interact with their customers. Bela Stepanova highlighted how Iterable’s Brand Affinity, Campaign Analytics, and SMS Opt-Out disclaimer messaging give marketers deeper insights into what their customers want, while also maintaining compliance.
  • True to Iterable’s customers and culture, Justin Zhu defined values, impact and empathy as the core pillars of empathetic marketing. Fundamentally, what matters is the brand’s impact on human lives, our society and nature.

Track 1: Making A Memorable Experience

  • Aim to meet high customer expectations. Iterable’s Sr. Value Consultant, Mike Hotz, pointed out that customer expectations are higher than ever due to COVID. In fact, 50% of customers will switch to a competitor after just one bad customer experience. To avoid that outcome, focus your CX strategy on your customer from the outside in, rather than the inside out.
  • Create common goals across teams. Common goals will ensure customers have a good experience with your brand and product. Building a mutual understanding of each other’s cultures and processes will also reinforce these goals and establish aligned intent. Adam Knight, Zoopla’s Director of Engagement, and Chris Frost, Zoopla’s Senior Product Manager, identified clear metrics for success so both teams could share in wins.
  • FOMO is a powerful tool to reactivate users. To re-engage customers, Stitcher’s Listener Lifecycle Manager, Imelda Skinder, advised the Activate Live audience to keep recommendations relevant to the user while contextualizing them to what’s happening in current events. Fear of missing out on what everyone’s talking about could reactivate users. 
  • Start conversations with customers. Be transparent about possible pain points and get their insights through surveys and polls. Be sure to use language that is uplifting, not “market-y.” Boris Savoie Doyer, Head of CRM at Aspiration, said instead of “Pay $X to fight climate change,” he’d say, “Take down fossil fuels one swipe at a time.”
  • Test, test, and test again (and do it fast). Hipcamp’s Business Ops Manager, Christina Tran, explained how fast experimentation helps break large goals into “smaller bits of progress.” The goal for hosts—users who post listings for campers to visit—was to help them get their listings up on the site quickly. Using Iterable and Amplitude, Hipcamp was able to help hosts get their listings up faster via a nurture campaign.

Track 2: The Customer Experience In Practice

  • Use the data you’ve compiled. When creating a segmentation model, be sure the data that is collected is actually being used. Gina Igwe, Sr. Director of CRM at DoorDash, suggested implementing an RFM model. Also, the content itself needs to be personalized for the end-user. Show customers real metrics or their favorites, based on historical data.
  • Focus less on the individual channels, and more on the individual users. Oriana Wen, Director of Data and Innovation at Blue Bottle, highlighted how the brand switched from a channel-centric approach to a guest-centric approach. For example, to improve the customer experience, users were sent a promotional email after opening the Blue Bottle app. As a result, using Iterable and Segment, their team saw a 55% increase in open rate and 5x the typical click-through rate.
  • Give consumers what they want, where and when they want it. Be sure you’re staying relevant to the customer by understanding their entire customer journey. The first step is breaking down data silos. Alexandra Farrar, Senior Manager, Email and Retention Marketing at, provided this tip: use cross-channel data to connect shopper touchpoints.
  • Send targeted emails, not blasts. Indi Pollard, Email Marketing Lead at Blockchain, said that with targeted emails, their team saw an 86% increase in open rate, a 233% increase in click-through rate but actually had a 77% decrease in email volume.
  • Balance focus between short-term and long-term goals. Brian Balfour, CEO of Reforge, likened short-term goals to the fast lane and long-term goals to the slow lane. If you put all of your cars in the fast lane, there’s going to be a pileup. Same for the slow.

Be Authentic, Be Personal and Be Data-Driven

Throughout the sessions, there were common threads of brand authenticity, customer personalization and data management for a holistic view of the customer experience. A brand’s authenticity needs to be evident in each touchpoint with the customer. Through authentic interactions, brands can create individualized experiences for their users. Then, by breaking down data silos, brands can blend those experiences across channels to create a cohesive customer journey.

This is only the beginning of the conversation, though.

Whether you’re a Dreamer, Builder, Maker or some combination of the three, we hope you join the #Activate21 conversation by following Iterable on social media or contacting us directly at Let us know how Activate influenced your marketing and CX strategies!

Bummed you missed Activate Live? You can still watch the sessions on demand.

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