Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast. Everyone, I am your host, Arlen Robinson. And today we have a very special guest, Amber Armstrong, who leads LivePerson’s global marketing strategy — including brand, product marketing, demand generation, communications, and content — with a focus on accelerating the company’s ongoing expansion of sales and marketing use cases for conversational commerce. Prior to joining LivePerson, Amber led marketing for several AI-infused SaaS businesses of IBM, including operations, commerce, and marketing solutions. 

In all of her roles, she has driven cross-business alignment to ensure optimal go-to-market outcomes and served her teams to inspire innovation, continual learning, and agile marketing execution. 

Amber earned her MBA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and her B.S. from Winthrop University. Welcome to the podcast.

Thank you so much, Arlen. Great to see you today.

Yes, likewise. It’s great to have you on. I’m really excited to talk to you because you guys over a live person are really doing some big things with regards to e-commerce. Today, we’re going to be talking about something that’s really kind of your bread and butter and that’s going to be a high powered messaging. And we’re going to be digging deep into that. Before we do that, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your background and really how did you get into what you’re doing today?

Yeah, absolutely. So I joined IBM and I guess two thousand and six and started my time there working in our partner organization, which has obviously a lot of interest for your audience, obviously with affiliate marketers. And I learned a lot there about how to kind of build this network of teams to be able to drive results. I then moved through out different divisions of of IBM and to continue taking a kind of expanded opportunities and roles. My last role was in applications and chain and leading marketing initiatives.

Prior to that, I had been in I for several other groups as well, and I decided I was ready for change and wanted to go to a smaller company, but not too small. And the opportunity to live first thing came up and I was just really excited. Life Person has just an amazing reputation in the market. I’ve only been here now for about three months and it’s exciting. There’s a lot of really fun things that we’re getting to do as a marketer.

It’s not very often you come in and they say, hey, here’s 30 percent more budget and 30 percent more people. So it’s the challenge and how we grow quickly and alongside all of our partners in our sales team as well.

OK, great. That’s awesome. And yeah, sounds like you have a really solid background and have kind of been in the game for a while and you can bring a lot of value there to live person and what you guys are doing. So as I mentioned today at the top of that, so we’re going to be talking about a high powered messaging. And I know a lot of times when people hear I was really kind of a big buzzword these days and sometimes people think about A.I. they think of some super advanced computer system or even computer, so to speak, that’s making decisions with hardly any human intervention.

But it really is like that. And so before we kind of get into it, why don’t you just really define really what a high powered messaging is? And how does that how does it really relate to marketing and providing proper messaging to your website, visitors and your customers?

Yeah, so we’ve all been to a website and the chat button pops up and you start trying to engage with you. That’s a very clear way. Live person started actually chat messaging back in the beginning like twenty five years ago. So that’s been kind of bread and butter for us and how we have helped brands to interact with consumers. And things have progressed that what consumers want is to be able to talk to brands like they talk to their friends. And so, for example, if you are, you call an airline today, especially right now with.

The way things are happening, kind of his travels picking up post covid for the US anyway, certainly in other countries, they’re not back on the travel train yet. But as we see, what we see happening is that they are actually consumers are calling into travel agencies and airlines as an example and out the wait for an hour and a half. And it’s pretty consistent across the different airlines right now. So what we can do is we actually set up messaging so you can message the airline.

Let’s just use that as an example exactly as you do your friends. Right. And you can have an ongoing conversation. And the one thing that’s really amazing about messaging is it’s asynchronous. So you don’t have to sit on the website, wait for someone to reply, miss the chat message, board the chat box popping back up your message with the airline. You go on living your life, they come back to you and engage with you, answer your questions.

You can pay all those great things you can do straight through the messaging capabilities. So there’s a huge value for consumers because they get answers exactly when they want them and there’s a huge value for the businesses. So let’s just stay on the airline example. And they now have agents who, instead of being on a phone with one person at a time, they can actually manage multiple interactions all at the same time. And so that helps to reduce cost.

And because we have a in our interactions, the system is bringing in all of this data, analyzing it, understanding the intent that that person has and then is able to ask the boss are actually able to act on and solve many, many, many of the customer questions and interactions. That’s really powerful, right? Because, again, it’s a cost reduction. But also people don’t want to talk to other people in these kind of situations. They just want to get the problem solved.

And using AI, we’re able to do that more quickly than if we just had to rely on agents. And then there’s a third benefit that I think is really exciting is agent experience. So it agents, instead of just kind of taking the same calls every day, what they’re actually doing is they still take calls, but the calls that they’re taking are the ones that the bots haven’t been able to answer and they’re also training the bots. So instead of just being a call center agent, you’re actually an A.I. trainer.

And that’s a lot more interesting and exciting for the agents. Helps, obviously, with retention of agents and being able to have agents feel like they’ve got a real career path and continual learning.

That’s awesome. Yeah. You know, when you were talking about that and how people can message these airlines, I mean, that’s that’s really kind of, in my mind, kind of light years before above where they used to be. Because I can recall when I started my business, I told you I’ve been around for about 21 years in business. I can remember the early days myself, my business partner. We were trying to book flights. I remember oh, my God, it was a pain.

And this was really I mean, when the airlines didn’t have a sophisticated online system where I think they had some things that you could do online, but it was really cumbersome. So most of the time we just booked over the phone. It was just a lot easier to go through options and see what different fares were just by talking to someone. And so I recall I’d be trying to get to the airlines. I mean, we would both be on different lines, trying to get through, calling the same support.

No, it was it was like a game where like where are they going to pick up on first? And so we would try to get through like that. But now with the messaging aspect of it, in this whole giving people the ability to text in their question, the request, if they want to make a change and then they have the response just kind of in their own time is really amazing. And that’s that’s some powerful stuff.

It really is. And it’s not just travel, right? We work with banks. We work with retailers. We work with all kinds of industries. Know interesting. Interestingly, energy utilities is a big area for us as well. Right. When your power is out, you want someone to interact with you really quickly. So there’s there’s a lot of things that a big part of why I decided to join a live person is it really does make consumers lives better.

And it also is incredibly helpful to brands.

Yeah, I can definitely see that. Well, you know, I know a lot of our listeners and our viewers are ecommerce businesses or their marketers for e-commerce businesses. And I think what are the hot topics with regards to messaging is really how can this technology be used in conjunction with. Getting customers to help bring in new customers at the same time and make that process a lot more streamlined and inefficient.

Yeah, it’s really interesting. We actually just did a session not too long ago on the living in a cookie world. And if you think about what marketers were all facing, this challenge of how we use third party data, how much that is going to continue to be available and how we use first party data, well, messaging is first party data because as someone comes into your website, they choose to engage with you via messaging. That’s consent. You can talk to them about their topic.

And so in this world where cookies are going away, ultimately they keep kind of delaying that that time frame, being able to talk to your customers and have a conversation, allow this level of personalization that you can never really do with cookies anyway. You can do some level of personalization or cookies. But if someone comes into your website and you or a bot can specifically take them on a journey based on exactly the questions they’re asking you and the help that they need, that’s so much better.

And that really makes all websites personalized for the user’s needs.

That’s really what it’s really what it’s all about. It’s really these tools, I think, kind of help really improved overall customer experience from your existing customers to new customers. And I think they’re more important than ever these days. I think mainly because of how busy everyone is. And people have so little time. Everybody’s doing a million things, just trying to keep things going, especially with everything that’s going on with covid and everything. People got a million family responsibilities, personal responsibilities.

And so when they’re going online looking to purchase something, the time is limited. And so if they’re not able to quickly, easily and effectively get the answers to their questions answered and figure out what this product is about and get that resolved easily, then they’re just going to bounce to the next site. So it’s very critical.

It really is. And we see customers, you know, specifically on the attracting new customers. We see some of our customers using conversational ads. So you go out, you place your display ad just as you would normally. But the follow through, instead of dropping it into a Web page where you’re expecting the person to kind of navigate and figure out, kind of decipher what you’ve been talking to them about in the ad, it actually draws them into a chat.

And so they can actually start messaging directly with someone in the business about what they saw in the ad. And it just cuts out so much of the churn and the time, the wasted time for the consumer.

Yeah, I can definitely see that. And yeah, with those ads, I think Amazon, they do a little bit of that. I’ve experienced that myself when I’ve been and when I’ve had issues with certain products and then when I’m able to kind of go on there with their customers, which they have a great way of kind of, and passing off and doing a great handoff of ordering information to that customer support rep. What is it that you have a concern about?

And all of that is always in the messaging and it’s pretty seamless. And so it’s really, really, really powerful stuff. Now, if there’s a businesses out there that are interested in making this happen, because I think we kind of still at the early phases of this messaging, you know, there’s a lot of companies like Wise Person that’s making some great strides and there’s others out there. I think we’re still in the early phases of it. So, you know, if a brand is interested in pursuing this and making this happen on their websites, what are some tools and resources that they can utilize and implement, you know, to make this happen?

Yeah, absolutely. Well, if you go to a live person dot com, you’ll be able to find we have availability for a free trial so people can start using it as soon as they want and try it out. There are some templated API piece technologies in there so we can start getting on to the AI aspects of it today. I think certainly also thinking about how do you want to really craft the journey through that experience. So it’s not just about getting someone to start the conversation with you, but about how do you want to be able to learn from the conversations that you’re having with these audiences to be able to deploy more automation’s to make those conversations more efficient?

Gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah, that’s that’s awesome. But if we take Keusch people to check out what you guys offer in your free trial. Now, one thing I was thinking, you were just kind of mentioning, you know, the capabilities that are really out there for A.I. and what you can do. One of the things that that I’ve seen that I’ve kind of dealt with on my own, my own experiences with these apps. And I think this is.

A valid question where I think some businesses may be a little leery to utilize it just because of. I think it’s a fine line of using a high powered messaging and still making it personalized and still having that kind of human touch to it, because we’ve all been there, we’ve all gone to these different apps. And obviously it’s about responding sometimes. And sometimes the light can be a little bit frustrating because like I said, sometimes you can’t tell them.

Actually, there’s a lot of good companies out there do a great job where it’s almost like you’re communicating with someone. But there’s others that I’ve seen where, you know, it’s a little frustrating because you’re just getting these canned responses and it has nothing to do with what it is that you’re asking about. How do you got to get that human touch to it and then at the same time get this to be powered via your A.I.?

Yeah, so the eye actually is what makes it personal. So it’s really, really exciting. So in our technology, specifically in a lot of our competitors are similar. But we are, I think, pretty far ahead on the front, the way we analyze all of the conversations. And so we can understand, for example, David’s Bridal is one of our customers. Right. We can understand when people come in with a certain set of concerns or questions.

Right. About where’s my order, how do I return this, that the basic kind of questions that you would see. And then what we see is the bot starts handling as much of these as possible. And at the same time, we’re actually measuring how happy is that person. So they may come in and be really frustrated because they had a shipment that didn’t show up or something was the wrong size. And then at the end, their words change.

Thanks for your help. You’ve been great. That’s what I think, because people don’t always realize it’s a bot. Right. And that that’s the magic of it is when you don’t realize that it’s a bot. And so what we’re able to do is say, OK, in this situation, the bot did these things and it led to a change in tone, to a really positive outcome for that consumer. And then likewise, you can measure it on the other side to say, OK, at this point, the person asked for agent help.

Right, because you can always kind of opt in to say, hey, I need to speak to someone. And when they do that, then that sends that conversation to an agent to say, oh, what went wrong here? How do we learn from this so that next time we’re better able to answer that consumers need in a way that’s more personalized towards what they were actually asking. And so it’s just about the ongoing learning.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And the other really realize that when you are chatting with these systems, this A.I. is actually learning the whole every conversation. It’s kind of it’s feeding the data, the database with how people are responding based on what’s being said. And then for the next time, they would know, all right, somebody will have a happier tone when they are saying these things and then they can kind of switch up some of the wording.

So, yeah, really cool stuff. I never really realized that. But these this is really something that’s going to be growing from and learning from with every single conversation.

And that’s why I think that makes our A.I. really strong, is because we’ve been in this space for so long and we have such a huge volume and they have been a long time now. And the quality of AI is directly correlated to the volume of information that the AI tools are able to consume. And so since we have a very specialized focus, we’re able to get really, really good at the predictions.

Yeah, I can imagine. Yeah, definitely. Well, that’s good to know. Well, when we get ready to wrap things up, if you don’t mind highlighting some other examples of some businesses that you worked with or you’re familiar with that have been using AI messaging, and what are some things that they’ve done to be successful? I know you’ve mentioned, of course, United Airlines, David’s Bridal. What are some other e-commerce businesses and what have they done?

Yeah, so we’ve got the Home Depot is another one that has a really great online capability. We work with Dunkin Donuts and Dunkin Donuts and you you can get their coffee and get their coffee cup and there’s a QR code that can help you start to message with them. We have one of the largest jewelry retailers out there working with us as well, and they move during covid. This is just so fascinating. During covid, they couldn’t bring people into stores anymore.

And so what they did was they introduced virtual agents and so they had their people who previously worked in stores actually working and helping customers virtually. And they had bought and sort of bots and to be able to help us like. Did you reminders on anniversaries and things that are coming up that can help spur future sales? There’s a lot of use across a lot of different businesses now.

Gotcha. Gotcha. I see that the QR code is a big thing. I’ve seen that a lot. I was actually this past weekend, I’m here in Orlando, Florida, and I go to the driving range. I golf and at the driving range I go to they have an interactive technology where I can detect how far your balls go on the range. And so they have a system where you can actually register and create an account. And so you can play interactively with people from all over the world in these kind of virtual golf course, so to speak.

But they use a QR code to initiate that whole thing where you get into their system, you create your account. And so, yeah, that’s that’s really big these days.

Yeah. It’s pretty surprising how much your QR codes during covid have really become just the norm. Think of it. When’s the last time you went to a restaurant? There wasn’t a QR code on the menu.

Yeah, that’s very true. I think every single restaurant I’ve been to the past few months, this is QR code right there to pull it up on your phone. That’s the world we’re in and things are still steadily changing. Well, it’s definitely been awesome having you on. Definitely appreciate you coming on the e-commerce marketing podcast. I’ve learned a lot and I know our listeners have as well. And so before we do let you go, I always like to find out a little bit more about our listeners.

If you don’t mind sharing one closing fun fact that you think our audience would be interested to know about yourself.

Well, about myself. I have been to forty six countries. And, you know, I think it is being able to tour the world has given me such a very different perspective than I would have had otherwise. And I think it’s really helped me as a marketer to be much, much, much better at understanding consumer perspectives and how we as marketers can better serve those audiences.

Wow, that’s awesome. Forty six countries. Well, I think I’ve got a ways to go before he gets kids, but I definitely want to get on the ball. I love traveling myself and I definitely agree with you. When you’re able to go to other countries or other cultures and see how differently people just interact in general. You really can learn a lot, not only from a business perspective, but just on a kind of human personal perspective. You know, you really get to see that things are a little bit different outside of the US and you can pick things up from other countries and and use the way people interact with what you’re doing.

And so, yeah, that’s also the I’m sure what you’ve seen can really help you and your world today at Live Person because you guys are a global company. This is a everything now is kind of switching to a whole global world global economy. And so you have to be mindful about, you know, especially if you offer a products or services, not only in your own home country, but into other countries. You do have to be mindful about the I guess you could say kind of the sensibilities that people have a different countries because there’s certain things that may work in the US that may not work in another country.

And so you have to be mindful of that. So good stuff. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that, Amber. And lastly, before we let you go, if you don’t mind letting us know if any of our listeners want to get in touch with you and pick your brain any more about high powered messaging was the best way for them to reach you.

Yeah, find me on LinkedIn. So I am on LinkedIn multiple times a day. So I’m doing a lot of recruiting for roles right now. So I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. So hopefully just reach out to me and I’m strong on LinkedIn and love to talk to you more.

OK, that’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that. Encourage our listeners to to reach out to you and connect on LinkedIn. And thank you for joining us today today on the e-commerce marketing podcast.

Thank you.

Thank you for listening to eCommerce Marketing podcast. 

Podcast Guest Info

Amber Armstrong
SVP, Chief Marketing Officer at LivePerson