Growth

How Email Marketers Can Instantly Improve Email Open Rates

Get better performance from your email campaigns using a single button that rests on your sharing interface

Dr. Matthew Dunn from Campaign Genius and the host of ‘The Future Of Email Marketing ‘ in conversation with our CEO, Jay Gibb, explore how a contact picker can be leveraged to use email personalization for better email open rates.

Via anecdotal evidence from CloudSponge customers such as Morning Brew, GoFundMe, and many more – discover just how a single button can be game-changing for any e-mail marketing campaign.

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Podcast Transcript

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Good afternoon. This is Dr. Matthew Dunn, host of The Future of Email Marketing. My guest today’s Jay Gibb, founder of CloudSponge.

Jay, and I just connected and had all of five minutes of conversation, There’s gonna be some get to know you in this, but Jay – Welcome. Thanks for making the time.

Jay Gibb:
Hey man, Thanks for having me, Dr. Dunn.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
CloudSponge – elevator pitch version –

Jay Gibb:
CloudSponge elevator pitch: So we help e-commerce businesses, double or triple their word-of-mouth, the performance of their word-of-mouth. And the way we do that is with – it’s actually just, it all starts with one button. There’s a single button that most e-commerce sites don’t have on them. That is just an ‘An Add from Address Book’.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Okay.

Jay Gibb:
It allows a fan, a customer, a person who’s bought something, or, you know, a repeat customer, uh, it allows them to select people from their own address book to send referral emails or sharing emails, uh, in a way that, where they don’t have to type anything, which is especially important, you know, when you’re using a, a mobile browser. right.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Right. Yeah. Okay.

Jay Gibb:
Uh, know, everybody’s gone through the frustration of, you know, trying to type in a comma-separated list of email addresses.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah. Yeah.

Jay Gibb:
You know, you’ve seen that a million times and like, it just, doesn’t, it’s not a thing that people do. It’s not a thing. The thing they wanna do, unless they’re super, super motivated to do it.

You got typos, you got, you know, losing people so they can go look it up and copying and pasting. And it was, it is just a, it’s just a tough problem. Right. And so a lot of sites that we see when they first discover us, you know, they’re sort of abusing the ‘mailto’ link, which, you know, the ‘mailto’ link is supposed to be for like a ‘Contact Us’, but a lot of people will use it and they’ll leave the two field blank.

And then they’ll like, and they’ll hope that when the ‘mailto’ link, like launches a browser, the person knows what to do with it. Right.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah.

Jay Gibb:
And they’re, and they’re coming to us to level that up and to get rid of that, cuz it doesn’t work and it’s not trackable. Right.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
So let me, let me see if I’ve got the scenario correct to say, I, I get to, you know, learn on behalf of listeners for this. Um, if I’m browsing a site with great microphones and I want to tell my son – “Hey, check this out” – It might help with the recording you’re doing instead of me thumbing in his address and just his email address. If that site has a button on the product page, I can tap that and send it to him. So it’s from me through them to him. Is that right?

Jay Gibb:
Yeah, that’s right. We do the address book part. Right. So CloudSponge does not do the email sending part. That’s usually a feature that already exists. (Sure) Right. You, you got a referral program platform somehow either a WordPress plugin or a, you know, a form plugin or maybe one of the companies there that do, you know, referral emails with rewards and stuff like that. Right. It’s big, it’s a big industry. (Mhm)

And what we do is we take that, those forms, like what you’re describing on the ‘microphone site’, uh, that are probably currently not performing very well. (Right) Because you’re making people type email addresses. (Yeah). And they’re just not gonna do it. (Yeah). And we, we provide a way for you to put a button beside that form field. That just says, ‘Add From Address Book’. (Okay)

Jay Gibb:
Look at you authenticate with your address book, whether it’s in, you know, Gmail or Yahoo or Outlook.com or AOL or any of the other couple dozen, uh, address books, sources that we support. (Okay). You know, the user basically finds the logo. They recognize they click it, they log into their account, they get all their contacts right there on the site. Like, in your example, on the microphone site, they select all the people that they wanna send it to, submit it.

And then there’s a, basically, a comma-separated use of email addresses gets inserted into the field for them and they didn’t have to type anything. They didn’t have to, you know, go open a different window or go somewhere else. Right. So it’s a way to, to take that functionality that’s already there and, and make it, you know, 20 times better.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah. I can, I, I can see why the numbers, the numbers you said are near the beginning make sense. Because the odds of someone completing it, doing it right. go up, uh, multiple people, much, much more likely. Um, is there, do some of the address books, support providing like friendly name, you know, hunter done with his email address? Not just his email address.

Jay Gibb:
They all do. (oh, cool) for sure with that one. Right. Um, we’ve got a whole matrix of what fields are supported by which one. Yeah. Cause, you know, we can, we cannot like create data out of thin air. So it all depends on, you know, the individual and how they input the data into their own address book of course. Right. Um, but yeah, they have, there’s a bunch of fields that are right. Like ‘First Name’, ‘Last Name’, ‘Email Address’, ‘Phone Number’ are the obvious ones, right?

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah, sure.

Jay Gibb:
Um, most of them have like a suffix or a, or a, like a salutation. A lot of them have a job title. A lot of them have a pro. Some of them have profile pictures. Some of them have, uh, social media handles, stuff like that. Right. And so it’s, it’s our job to sort of ingest what we can, normalize it into a format that’s consistent, and then, you know, deliver that in an interface.

And then, you know, more sophisticated, uh, clients, they want to build their own interface and they don’t want to use our Contact Picker. Uh, they’re able to, you know, just interact with the data in a headless way and build their own UI for it as well. So sometimes we have, we have, uh, a few customers that have done that as well.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Gotcha. Gotcha. Seems like, uh, very applicable to B2B, not just, not just product – much of that.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s definitely a huge – the use cases where it’s super powerful are in any kind of referral situation, right? Yeah. Um, the next, next one is crowdfunding.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Oh, duh. Yeah.

Jay Gibb:
To, to referrals, but it’s basically like project creators, as soon as they’re done creating the project and they’re like launching something. Yeah. They always want to put in their address book and send it out to people and they want to have more than just an email address. Right. They wanna have personalization with first names and last names and all kinds of stuff. (Yeah) Uh, and then the same goes for backers. Right.

You know, crowdfunding scenario, the people that are backing a project are almost always given some, uh, after they’re done with their checkout and they’re, they’ve given some money to the project. They’re always given some sharing functionality to us one should join the band here, so to speak. Yeah. So we all, totally dominate that industry. Right. Like I think last time I looked like seven of the top 10 crowdfunding sites is using, you know, the CloudSponge Contact Picker. (Wow) – Like ‘Donors Choose’ and ‘GoFundMe’ and all those big guys they’ll use it.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
One of the things that people who don’t work in software, which you do and have for a long time, don’t tend to keep in mind is that things take maintenance. And I would guess there are changes in evolutions in, in, in the address books and, and, and then the recipient side or the, uh, you know, the, of where you’re dropping it in from the address book. What’s that been like over the years?

Jay Gibb:
I mean, that’s the constant, that’s the thing that we always have going. And from a sales perspective, then you’ve touched on the primary argument or a friction point, or, you know, if you, if you look in what I’ve written, uh, know on Quora and other blog posts and stuff, I state pretty plainly that our primary competitor, because there’s no other real, like, unique contact picker on the market that you can go by. Our primary competitor is internal developers that think that this is easy. Right? (Yeah).

They say ‘oh yeah – I can build a Google Contacts integration. (Right) I could do that in a week or whatever, but they don’t, they don’t multiply that by the different sources that are important. And they don’t factor in the permanent ongoing maintenance cost. (Yeah) And, you know, the changes in data formats and policies and stuff like that. (Yeah).

And so, you know, anybody who goes to the CloudSponge site, if you look at the news section of our site and the changelog section of our site, you’ll see the constant stream of announcements and updates. Like, I, Hey, we fixed this for all of our customers and this yeah, yeah. This thing, this thing that was gonna be like an imminent breakage on your side, like, you don’t have to think about it. Right. Cause you’re, we’re taking care of the hard stuff.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah. We took care. We had a not, not, not, not directly related to emails. We had a project outta this company a while back that involved, uh, involved Facebook’s APIs at a couple of levels. And, and I, I personally ended up, so PO’d at the constant chopping and changing and permissions game there, and just the sheer bureaucracy. I said That’s it – like someone says, ‘blah, blah, blah, Facebook’. The answer is no freaking way because it just is, oh my God, it’s a drag. And it feels you doing the same thing over and over.

Jay Gibb:
And, and you know, a lot of those guys, you know, they’ll give you notice, they’ll say, Hey, by the way, this thing that’s critical to your business, that you’re depending on (Yeah). It’s gonna go away in 18 months. (Yeah). Or 12 months or whatever. (Yeah). So a lot of times they’ll give you time to adapt, right. (Yeah. To be fair – ) yeah, it’s, it’s always, there’s very, most of the time there isn’t like a direct replacement for it. What we’ve noticed is most of the time they’re taking away something, they’re not adding something that you’re excited about. Right. So, yeah.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah. Yeah. And, and it does put you in a, gotta get to it, uh, a position as well, because as you said, that’s precisely the real value proposition, the real, you know, the real point of friction that you eliminate is that you will get to, will handle that. You must have run into scenarios where something just flat disappeared and there was no way around it.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. LinkedIn, uh, and, and, and way back, cuz we’ve been doing this since 2010. So what, 12, 12 years now – And there’s a lot of stories.

Uh, but LinkedIn was kind of the big one that caused a bunch of disgruntled CloudSponge customers that we just couldn’t help. Right. We were like, sorry, like yeah, we were victims of this decision as well. (Yeah. Yeah). But basically what LinkedIn did – and they have struggled with this a lot, by the way, over the years, there’s a lot of LinkedIn stories on this timeline, but the most recent one was it used to be that you could, as the LinkedIn user, you could export your connections and get like a zip file. That’s got a bunch of CSV files inside of it and import that into your CRM or do that with something. And they, and they were kind of, you know, on this side of the debate where you own your own data, this is your data, these are your connections and you have a right to have it. (Right).

Um, and they, you know, they kind of degraded that deliberately over the years to a place where you could do it, but you had to wait 24 hours and 48 hours, or you had to jump through some moves because they had, I think they probably had a lot of scammers fishing, like contact and a lot of abuse there. Right. And then eventually they flipped it and they made it so that, that export is basically blank unless individuals, every individual, uh, the connection of yours who would normally be in there (Yeah) has chosen to go and opt-in to being in there. (Yeah).

Obviously, nobody’s motivated to do it. (Right. Right) Uh, so that was one example, you know, we had tons of customers that were getting a ton of value out of it and, and their end-users. Right. Like in a, in a really above-board kinda way. Uh, and then it went away and, you know, we ended up having to take it off our list of supported, uh, providers

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Right, right. Yeah. Wow. Well that, that, that question of who controls, which data is certainly one of the central ones of the time. Right. I mean, you’re, you’re in California, correct? Yeah. Right. So California just passed, uh, CPA a while back. I know it’s affecting the email marketing space and you know, Europe was ahead of us by a good stretch with GDPR, um, have, have privacy laws and regulations become front and center in your business way?

Jay Gibb:
In sort of persuading customers on the sales side of things. Yeah, absolutely. Right. (Okay). Uh, but as far as our product is concerned, it didn’t affect us much other than just making sure we had the right stuff in our terms and conditions and privacy policy.

Right. And, and the reason for that is because since day one, for the life of our business, we don’t store this data at all. (Yeah) We’re just a data processor. (Yeah). So we’re performing a function for the end-user who wants to just use their own address book. Right? (Yep). And for a moment that has to pass through our servers, but it never gets written to disk.

It’s not something that our customers can go and like search or look up and use. (Right). It literally just lives in the client in, in the, in the browser of the person who basically gave permission to read their own address book. Right. (Yeah). They’re using their address book and then it’s gone. The only thing that’s left in our system is a log file entry. So that like for billing purposes and for like, you know, for, for debugging and stuff.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. There’s a log file that says this happened, it came from here and this was the IP. This is how long it took, you know, this is how many, you know, records were in the address book, that kind of stuff. But there’s, we don’t store any of the sensitive data. Um, but that doesn’t mean that our customers are now concerned about it. Right. When GDPR, uh, was the first sort of, um, you know, in the news before it became like a thing that you had to do, and everybody knew that it was a thing on the horizon. Right. The big question was, how does this affect my referral program? Right? Like, forget the address book. If I can’t allow Dr. Dunn to type Jay Gibb’s email address into my website, because he wants to send his friend a referral, then how am I gonna grow?

(Right) Right. Uh, and there are a lot of legal departments out there that still are mentally blocked on that. Who just like don’t understand that like it all has well from my perspective anyway, and I’m not a lawyer, but from my perspective, when I read through stuff, it’s like GDPR, the golden rule applies to almost everything. It’s pretty much like treating other people’s email addresses the way that you would want yours to be treated. Right.

If Dr. Dunn gave you Jay Gibbs’s email address to do a specific thing, he has a specific intent. He wants to send Jay a referral, then do that for him, and then obliterate the email address and don’t do anything else with it. Don’t save it. Don’t make a ghost profile. Don’t send reminders. Don’t do all that sketchy stuff. (Yeah. Yeah) But, you can obviously perform a function for your customer and send an email to the person they want to send when they’re asking you to send it.

It’s, it’s all the other stuff that the background processes and the database saving and all that other stuff, it’s a little bit sketchy that you, you know, you just have to not do in my opinion.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah. I know. I think, uh, and that, that, that, that seems like, seems like darn good guidance to me, there’s a, there’s a bit of a, maybe a conversational pivot, but there’s a, there’s a newsletter paid-newsletter that I subscribe to. I was talking with, with, uh, Chad White about this the other day, actually, I sent him, I said, “Do you read this newsletter?” And he said, “No, I haven’t.”

And, at the tail end of this newsletter, which I pay for every month and read every morning, it says “occasional forwards are okay”. And so in a very cherry-picked base is – I’ll take something that is super relevant or someone I just wanna introduce – like, here you go – You’re gonna love reading this. It says occasional forwards are okay. All I’m trying to do is help this newsletter grow. Cause I think so highly of the caliber of their content, but it’s, it’s a fair amount of manual labor for me to forward. Right.

It’s like, I’ve gotta have it, uh, type in the address, et cetera. And off you go, you take that piece of the friction out of the equation. Hypothetically they could have an occasional forward this to one of your friends right on their site.

Jay Gibb:
Right. Yeah. Yeah. And, and several, uh, several of our customers are like in the newsletter, right, (Right). And, and they do that. A lot of them will maybe be a little bit more, uh, aggressive than that. Like they’re actually providing rewards for referrals.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah, That makes sense.

Jay Gibb:
Um, and so, you know yeah. But, but yeah, that, that’s exactly where we live, right. Is in those places where, you know, you see some content that you like, and, and there’s some, you know, way for you to share that content, whether it’s a forward or yeah. You know, a landing page that, you know, shows your milestone rewards or something like that. (Yeah). Um, and then, you know, right where you would normally have to type in your friend’s email address instead of doing that, you can just like, you know, select multiple friends from your dress book. (Right).

And that’s, that’s how we end up earning the catchphrase, right? – The ‘double the performance of your word-of-mouth’ that I mentioned when, you know, at the beginning of this conversation, uh, because what ends up happening is once it’s so convenient and, and there are no typos, especially on a mobile device, then people do more of it.

Especially if they’ve got some kind of incentive there’s if there’s a reward for them. Yeah. Um, then they’ll do more of it. They’ll, they’ll, they’ll think of more people who might be interested in that newsletter, and they’ll check those checkboxes. Right. They’ll deliberately share with more people.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Oh, nice. Nice. We are in a, I mean, no, we’re totally conversationally segueing. We are in a funny Renaissance for email as its own viable content channel. Uh, SubStack comes to mind, Stechery comes to mind. There’s a, there’s, there’s a company that’s one of your customers that just, just got a high valuation coming to mind. Um, then The Hive and some of the others, I like all of a sudden, we’re like, ‘oh, look I could send you text that you paid for so that you could read instead of having a login and website controls that you just hand out like, oh, you mean like an email newsletter? What a great idea. Yeah. It’s kind of funny.

Jay Gibb:
It’s been amazing. Yeah. You know, the one, I think one you’re referring to is probably Morning Brew. (Yep). You know, and those guys, you know, their success and their, you know, their announcement of the evaluation they achieved – it created a huge wave of inquiries for us where we’re just like – holy smokes. Like, I didn’t realize that this was possible with the newsletter business, and granted like they are genius writers, their writing is incredibly good. And, you know, they attract some of the best, you know, advertisers and like, they’re doing everything right.

In my opinion, they’re a really solid company. Um, but it definitely, as you say, like, you kind of brought people, brought it back into the foreground right. Where either it is like, oh yeah. Like I used to think that email newsletters were, you know, either dead or sort of, you know, more of a, um, like a technique for building a brand or, you know, a personal brand or kinda a spa thing.

And, you know, these guys have built a real company around it. These guys have built a, you know, a really high, you know, high revenue-generating organization, all starting with newsletters. And, and then, and now they’ve got several like they used to just have the Morning Brew, but one newsletter is basically like your news every, every morning. Right. Which I still subscribe to, but now they’ve got like ‘Marketing Brew’ and a whole bunch of other, you know, different niches.

Uh, and, and they’re just, they’re just blowing up, you know? So they are, in my opinion, they’re, they’re kind of the gold standard for the newsletter referral business.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
It’s kinda, it’s kind of cool and it, and it takes a whole bunch of the things that would be a maintenance pain, if you could ever maintain it, uh, to, to protect content in some another gotta go there repository, like a web, you know, like a website or a social media forum or something like that.

It’s like, yeah. The old girl still got some legs. Right. Email. She really does.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. It’s not going anywhere.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah. It’s not, yeah. It’s not going anywhere sometime soon. Um, does text SMS play a role in, in what, or have you had that request?

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. Sometimes. So our customers can get anything that’s in the address book, we give it to them and our product has a way that you could modify what’s displayed – if you wanna show a column of phone numbers, instead of a column of the email addresses, you can do that.

Um, but yeah, we’ll have, like, for example, another one of the use cases, one of the sort of segments that we’re pretty popular with is ‘event invitations’ and, um, yeah. You know, like E-vite type of companies. Right. And they wanna, sometimes they want to give people a way to, you know, send those invitations via text message using and, you know, Twilio or some other tool.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Right. Sure. Sure.

Jay Gibb:
Um, and so in those cases, uh, where, you know, a user of their service is motivated to, you know, fill out a spreadsheet. Lots of, most of them before they discover us, most of the time what they’re doing is they’re giving their customer either a form. That’s kinda like first name, last name, phone number, or email. And it’s like, got four fields on, around, like over and over and over again, down the page. Right.

You might have seen something like that before, and then there’s this, like, there’s like this, this sanity relief, there’d be a button somewhere that is like ‘Download a Spreadsheet Template’ and fill it out and upload it. Right. And you’ll download this Google Doc or an Excel spreadsheet, you fill it all in or whatever, and then upload it. Right. And it’s really clunky. And we, you know, we have customers that are in the e-cards like, like holiday cards kind of space, right? (Yeah). Very similar UI, right.

In those areas where, yeah. You know, you wanna, or, or wedding registries, it’s another one that kind of looks the same. Right. Where it’s like, you got a, you know, a big list sometimes, you know, you wanna send out a hundred or 150-holiday cards, or you want to invite a bunch of people to a wedding or a register or something.

And it’s not just a couple of friends for a referral program. Right. And those are like, sort of special enough that you don’t wanna just put your, you know, your, your uncle’s email address. You wanna also, like, personalize the email with his name. Right? (Yeah. Yeah). And so those, that’s why those forms have to be, um, there has to be more data inputted into those forms. (Yeah). Do you know what I mean? Uh, and so those use cases are, are really powerful for the, for the address book as well.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Huh! And, and all of us, all of us now are guilty of, of the, oh God, that’s too much work. Right. It’s like, if someone says, put the email address in here. Yeah. Might do it. If someone says, put five of them, plus ‘First Name’, ‘Last Name’. Yeah. You just lost me. Like I’m not gonna do that manually. Especially on a mobile device. They, they, I don’t think so – (not gonna happen) Not gonna happen.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. Well, and then, you know, if they, if they wanna do like the SMS, if they wanna do that part, they wanna send SMS or email, that’s another data field. So you’re taking what was ‘First Name’, ‘Last Name’, ‘Email’, and now you’re making it, you know, even more with the phone number in our case, they can just kind of stick it in there and, and then use that phone number and pump it into their, you know, their, their SMS, uh, delivery system.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And SMS, no, uh, no typo, no typo tolerance is there. I’ve, I’ve had a few, um, I’ve had a few guests on, on this podcast, um, who are in the SMS/MMS, you know, the other messaging space. And it always makes a fascinating conversation, like how channels kind of jockey around, find their fit. But the old ones don’t tend to go away. They, they, they either tend to reinvent or refine what role they play, but they don’t, they don’t tend to evaporate. I mean, to be fair, I don’t send faxes anymore. So that one pretty much seems to have died.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. Well there, I mean, I think the, for me, anyway, I think the difference is that they’re open networks, email and phone numbers are, they’re not like proprietary platforms provided by like Facebook or, you know Talker or whatever. Right. It’s like whatever – these are open. Everybody’s got one. (Yeah). Uh, and, and I think for me anyway, for that reason, like, they’re, they’re not gonna go away. They’re, they’re just never gonna go away. They’ll always be important.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah. Yeah. I think so as well, someone made the quip “If you don’t have an email address, you’re digitally homeless”. I’m like, well, there’s some merit to that one, honestly.

Cause I, I don’t know. I don’t know where you are, but when I fill in, you know, sign up for ‘X’, cause I sign up for way too many things, right. Like most of us when they offer the turnkey, click this button to sign in with Google, Apple, da, da, da, da, Facebook.

Like, no, I’ll give you an email address and I’ll set a password. Why? Cause I know, I know I have long-term control of that. Right. It’s like just that simple.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. I, I, sometimes I do. I do steer clear if I’ve got the option mostly because I use a password manager and it’s no extra effort for me. Yeah. Same. It’s no, I like it that way and it’s fine. But for me, the problem with those UIs is when they give me more than one choice. Yeah. And I have to channel my future Jay and say if I come back to this thing two years from now, am I gonna remember which I used, did I choose to log in with Twitter or Google? Right. And I don’t know which label. Yeah. I even still have that problem with Medium, you know.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yes, yes, yes.

Jay Gibb:
That one. I like, I will have to actually remember that. Yeah. Oh, I created my Medium account a certain way and I’ve gone through that sign-in the wrong way rev. Yeah. And then I end up with a new account and I’m just like, ah, like I know, know that I have more followers in this, but now it’s saying that I got zero and it’s all because of those multiple options there that I, you know if they’re more than one of them is applicable for me, then my reflex is to not choose either of them. And just use an email address if I can. Yeah. Uh, and then, and then that way I don’t confuse my future.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Right. Plus, you know, passwords manager, hopefully coming along for the ride cuz god knows it better. Um, I hit a service the other day. I wanna say it was ‘Mind.me’ could be rolling. Uh, but the two authentication identity options were Google and Apple. And I had not seen just those two. It’s like, eh, it’s kinda interesting. They thought, ah, they’re probably kind of mobile-centric. And you know, I happen to be on a web browser on a, on a desktop. So like they’re saying, you’re gonna end up on, on a mobile device’s gonna be one of these two. Okay. That’s a fair bet. Right.

Uh, but no email option. And I did pause for a minute and go, maybe I’ll just close it and say no, cuz because I hate being forced. I hate being forced down the pathway that ultimately says, and you will not leave. I opted for Apple, by the way, cuz I said, yeah, no, no darn way. I’m gonna end up with no Apple devices any time soon.

Jay Gibb:
But without having seen it, I guess I would guess that they did that because those are the two identity mechanisms that are connected to your payment methods. (True too. Yeah. True). Google Pay, Apple Pay. (Yeah. True). Like at some point in your journey with that company. (Yeah) – they’re probably gonna try to sell you something and they’re probably going to use that to suggest how you probably would like to pay for whatever.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Are you – Apple Windows, Linux? Like what, what’s your, uh, preferred personal technology cloud?.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. We’re I’m when it comes to devices, we’re an Apple household. Um, but when it comes to cloud stuff – calendar, email photos – that kind of stuff. We’re Google.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah. Same yeah. Apple devices are everywhere. Google, Google cloud all over the place laid on top of it. I find Apple’s cloud services irksome at best and subpar, to say the least, but um, not, not gonna exit either.

I was gonna ask you though. I mean, as an Apple user, I hit something the other day where I ended up purchasing from the phone and not an existing account, like an Amazon app or something like that – it was like, this popped up, I land on the site. I’m like, yeah, that does look like something I want. And, and it was so flipping seamless to pay. It was like face ID.

Jay Gibb:
Inside, inside a safari browser. Not an app.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Oh yeah. Yeah, because it popped up the link in Safari, but it’s like, wow, okay. Now I start to see the long-term bet on, on, on digital payment because it’s, it’s taking longer than we all thought, but uh, lowered the friction of opening my wallet by a long margin.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. Yeah. I had this similar experience, uh, and I can actually remember the company I was using. It was, uh, I was, it was kind of a joke for a friend I bought, uh, ‘Cameo’, you know, ‘Cameo’. Yes, yes. Yeah. Get somewhat semi-famous to record a video for them. That’s right. Yeah. In this case, it was, uh, it was ‘Brett to Hitman Heart’. The wrestler, I was, I was hiring Brett to Hitman Heart to like make a, like a, you know, a hype man video for a friend of mine.

It’s like an April Fools’ day joke kind of thing? Yeah. They had that experience. They probably still do. And yeah, they also have an app, but I didn’t need it. I was just on my phone. You know, I was waiting for one of my small children to fall asleep, sitting in a, you know, in the dark, in a chair. And I was like, oh cool, Brett. And I was like, just going through this checkout process, killing time.

And then all of a sudden I was done and I was like, wow, like this Apple Pay in Safari experience is like, perfect. Like it was really quite something.

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Dr. Matthew Dunn:
So that’s where, I mean where you guys had come in, it’s like getting the Brett part of it right. Would be so, so easy. Right. Your button and Apple’s button. And you’re done.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. I mean, we that’s one of the things that, that we love too is, is because, you know, when you’re in the Safari browser yeah. Um, you don’t have access to the contacts that are on your phone, even if you’re using your phone, you need to be using an app to have that super convenient access to the address book that is on your phone. Right? (Yeah). And so our customers are, you know, they use our product to create the best experience possible.

It’s not quite as seamless. Right. But they do that. Uh, they use CloudSponge to, to create the best experience they can, uh, inside a mobile browser environment. Right. Um, and there is a little bit of innovation happening in Android, uh, specifically the Chrome browser on an Android device. (Okay. Makes sense). Does have a, a, uh, Google contact picker.

It’s like a beta project right now. Then, you know, we’ll be the first ones to integrate with it. Right. Cause it’s, it’s gonna just make us all the, all the, that much better, right? (Yeah). Like we, to, to roll it out to all of our customers, uh, as soon as we feel like it’s ready, as soon as it’s not. Right. (Yeah). But you will start to see in Chrome, on Android devices, you will start to see the ability to use your locally stored contact on the device rather than having to use the sort of the Google in the cloud, you know, a journey that we’re all used to.

Uh, it’s a little bit more native right. To, and, and I have every reason to believe that Apple and Safari will follow up eventually, and they’ll make it. So if you’re, you’re on an Apple device using a Safari browser that, you know, they’ll, they’ll create some pathway, uh, to be able to, uh, to expose your contact in that scenario as well.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
So yeah, we’re not, we’re, we’re not done. Right. We’re not done fitting all these pieces together. It, if you actually watch in the course of a day, the number of things you’ll end up doing that are, that are sort of the human bridge between system A, system, B system C system X, like really how many times have I type my name copied and pasted something like over and over and over we’re used to it, but right. Like I actually, I resent, um, banking and finance apps that don’t have, uh, that don’t have the native ID on the device work came.

Like, what do you mean I have to sign in? Oh my God, that’s so much work. Right? (Yeah). You just wanna give, give information to use your face) or your thumb when you have, you know, in the older one. But yeah. Some something like, ah, again, and yes, I should have it all in the key chain, but then there’s the duelling password managers and that’s a whole, that’s a whole unsettled battle, I’ve been a one password user for at least 15 years, if not 17.

Um, which was early, early days for the new Mac-only back then, but they just got like a billion-dollar valuation the other day on a fundraising round.

Yeah. I didn’t know that they’d been around for so long.

They have, and you know what, agile-bits, it was two guys in Canada when I started and they were terrific. They were terrific. Even then I’m like, these guys are gonna stick around. I had, I jumped outta the windows environment back to the Mac ditched robo-form hunted around, said, oh, I like this one a lot. And, and, and watched them grow over the years. And it’s like, kind of cool. And now you realize that password management is, is, that’s a fairly important little piece of the ecosystem that we all live in.

Yeah. I mean, everybody, even people that don’t use a computer every day, as I do, they have some hundreds of logins. Yeah. Hundreds of logins, ordinary people have hundreds of logins right now. (Yeah. Yeah). You know, I probably have a couple thousand. (Yeah). Like, like looked at my password manager list. It would, it would probably be pretty staggered. (Yeah). I get a lot of comfort from the fact that no, no two passwords are the same ever.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
There you go.

Jay Gibb:
You know, and now the, you know, the password managers are starting to do. I don’t know if all of ’em do it now. Uh, but I know some of them started to do the two-factor authentication as well. So you don’t have to.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah. TJ actually does that natively, although it’s god-awful to use, they need to make that better. I’m a little surprised Apple, Apple has, hasn’t more explicitly jumped into that job. It still feels like, kind of a reach around to use the Keychain for that.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. Yeah. I’m not a big fan of Apple’s identity stuff in general. I think it, for me, it’s partly because in my house I have several identities, right. Yeah. And devices that are shared between those identities. Yeah. And I’ve got in my professional life, you know, I’ve got several projects where I’ve used different email addresses and I’ve got different preferences and things like that. (Yeah).

And I think Apple’s just not good at that. They’re just not, they’re not, (They wanted all in the walled garden) they just want to treat one human being as one human being. And they haven’t realized that you know, sometimes my, you know, my personality as a volunteer for the Cub Scouts should be separate from my personality as an entrepreneur at CloudSponge. There are like two things that really don’t have a lot of overlap.

(Yeah, yeah, exactly). Almost me, right. And so those types of, for example, like those types of things, like I just, I find that that’s where most if I am frustrated with Apple, it’s usually in that area somewhere, right?

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah. Yeah. It makes sense. It makes sense. And, and even if you have a ton of, you know, devices from that, you know, devices cooperating, you probably laying multiple IDs on top of that as well.

My, my, one of my sons was, was more or less using my Apple ID initially, you know, as we sort of stepped them into smartphone land – years ago. And it, it, it became obvious. It was a really dumb idea at a certain point. Like you reset my Apple password. Oh God, no. Like, oh no, no, no, no, no, no. Yeah. It was a mess. So, uh, yeah. And I don’t think, I don’t think that’s an easy problem to solve, to be fair. It’s a very tough, messy, weird, uh, problem and inherently insecure if you do solve it. So yeah. And go, Google met, you know, Microsoft made a play for that years ago, early, early internet days. They wanted to be the source of, uh, of identity and authentication and it just fizzled.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. The Microsoft Passport?

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Passport, that’s it? Yeah. That’s it right.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. I’m dating myself now again.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Yeah. Me too. That, yeah. You, you do this stuff logging, you sort of like, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’ll come and that’ll go and there’ll be another one, but PS, we’ll still be using email. Just gotta tell you that.

Jay Gibb:
No doubt about it.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
No doubt about it. Well, uh, where do you see taking CloudSponge? Uh, in the next few years, Jay?

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. With CloudSponge. Yeah, we are. Um, so if you think about it, the shape of like a bullseye, right. And, and the center of the bullseye for us is that like the core logic that connects with the address products and like it pulls out that data and normalizes it in the form of a Rest API. Right. The next circle in the bullseye is the Contact Picker, which is this tool that as I’ve explained to you has several different use cases. You can plug it in, it starts with that one button.

You can put it into a referral form. You can put it into, uh, e-cards or crowdfunding or whatever. It’s kind of a the trade-off. The problem with that for us is that the only people that can make use of that are developers or companies that have engineers that are able to plug something like that in (Yeah). Figure out how to use the API or write some JavaScript, go and like weave it in from a technology perspective to make it work with whatever their use case is.

So up until now, all of our customers, one of the things they have in common is they’ve all got some kind of engineering talent or engineering bandwidth that they’re using to sort of plug into the CloudSponge product somehow. Right. And so the next sort of circle is where we’re going next, which is taking what they’re doing and learning from all of them and starting to build something that’s a little bit more, no code, a little bit more plug and play gotcha.

Taking some of those use cases and making it like, for example, we’re right now we’re launching, uh, WordPress plugin called Better Sharing. And yeah, it’s like something that anybody who knows how to make a, put a, put a plugin into a WordPress site and they want to have basically like the world-class, like the best in breed sharing interface, that includes the address book, like the Contact Picker, and to sort of takes all that stuff that we’ve seen our successful do. And we’re able to sort of fold all that into something that doesn’t require engineering talent to get the value. Right. (Nice).

It’s basically one more layer of abstraction. (Yeah). Right. Uh, really trying to get to those agencies, especially agencies that are serving, um, e-commerce clients like more WooCommerce and Shopify clients and agencies that are setting up those, those e-commerce stores, um, you know, providing that a layer of abstraction so that, you know, it’s a little bit more approachable, right.

They can play, they can install a plugin, do some visual configurations, do some, some, you know, personalization of those email, those emails that go out with, you know, with the address book content, right. With names and stuff, so that the emails increase those open rates and those click-through rates, uh, and then, you know, building integrations with other products.

And, and basically just trying to get into a place where it’s a little bit more point and click and no code and a little bit less, you know, JavaScript and .json and APIs and cross-origin resource sharing, all this stuff. And our guys need to understand. (Yeah. Yeah). Our current customers do understand. (Yeah). Uh, you know, for us, you know, that’s a really fun and lucrative market, uh, but it’s a much bigger market if we can sort of solve some of those problems and make the whole, the whole, uh, thing a little bit more approachable.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
So yeah. It’s sort of, sort of the no-code version. You said it.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. I mean, you know, in a way that’s, that’s the category that WordPress plugins kind of are falling into, whether they say that or not. Right. But it’s, it’s kind of the, no, you can always open the hood and get into there and you know, it is open source and you can go change some stuff if you want to. But most people don’t. Right. Most people, they just, they just do what the plugin does and ask for some support. (Right). So, yeah. Yeah. So we’re, yeah, this year we’re launching ‘Better Sharing for WordPress’ and, um, yeah. Anybody, anybody listening here that wants to check it out, I’d love to get it.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
There are at least a couple of dozen companies out there using WordPress.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. We chose, we chose WordPress first because, uh, it’s obvious it’s massive, and you know, in the, if you think about a spectrum of engineering, uh, uh, skill set, and if you, if you put where we currently are on one end of the spectrum and Shopify on the other end of the spectrum, WordPress is in between the two. Right. (Makes sense).

You need to be a little bit, a little bit technical to be able to make a really beautiful WooCommerce store. You need to understand how to yeah. Be a web developer or at least have one. (Yeah). Um, and then eventually, you know, you’ll graduate or we’ll, we’ll graduate to also serving Shopify where, you know, it’s a, it’s a closed a system that you have very little control over. Right. So for them, we’ll be, you know, building apps and integrations with, uh, you know, with our partners, who already have apps in the Shopify ecosystem.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Well, it’s gonna be a fun evolution to watch. So if someone’s listening and they are interested, they head to CloudSponge.com.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. Yeah. CloudSponge.com. We, um, try to make ourselves very approachable. So there are lots of ways to contact us on the site. We’ve got a slack community and email and chat and, uh, you name it.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
They can always upload their address book and tell their friends.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. Yeah. We’ve got some sharing.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
You’ll be your own best demo.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. There’s a lead magnet there that, well, you know, it’s just, it’s, it’s, it’s protected by an email address, but it’s called the Better Sharing Workbook. Oh, uh, it’s just a PDF. Yeah. I think it’s, I don’t know. I wanna say it’s like 10 pages, mostly like, you know, pictures.

Uh, but it’s basically a way for e-commerce stores or the agencies to support them, to, uh, sort of take an inventory of their sharing and look at everything they’re doing and sort of as far as virality and the ways that they’re their, their current super fans, then the tools you’re giving your current customers to support the word about them.

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(Yeah). It’s kind of like a checklist. Like here’s all the stuff you could have, like check off the ones you do and don’t, and then, uh, sort of audit those ones for certain functionality. Like, do, does it do this or this or this, or have you done that personalization or this personalization and those types of things.

And so our customers get, um, it’s a, it’s a good way to just take stock of where you’re at. And, and, and sometimes it inspires, uh, new ideas and new priorities for the people that download it.

Uh, when we get this, uh, we get this episode, this conversation turns it into an episode, I’m gonna, I’m gonna go back and cherry-pick all of the agency owners that I’ve had on this show and make sure like, ‘Hey, you really need to watch this one, Have you thought about doing this?’ So maybe that, uh, maybe that some sends some new customers your way as well.

Jay Gibb:
Cool. Very good.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
Well, cool. Thank you so much for the time, Jay.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. Thanks for having me on.

Dr. Matthew Dunn:
My guest has been Jay Gibb. CEO and Founder of CloudSponge – we’re out. Thanks.

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