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Eight Sleep’s Abby Katz on Unlocking Emotional Loyalty



Max speaks with Abby Katz, Lifecycle Marketing Manager at Eight Sleep, a pioneering tech company transforming how we sleep. Abby shares her unique career journey from influencer marketing to leading lifecycle marketing at Eight Sleep. Tune in to hear her insights on building emotional loyalty, the power of personalization, and the future of wearable technology in health and wellness.

Topics discussed

  • Transitioning from influencer marketing to loyalty marketing.
  • How marketers are developing and implementing global loyalty and CRM programs.
  • The importance of crafting personalized lifecycle campaigns for customer engagement based on customer pain points.
  • Data-driven personalization and the impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and expectations.
  • Moving beyond transactional loyalty to create deeper, emotional connections with customers.
  • The role of wearables, AI and machine learning in health diagnostics and preventative wellness

To build a true relationship, brands need to connect on an emotional level, not just a transactional one. This means listening to consumers' needs and providing value based on their pain points, much like we do in our personal relationships.

Guest biography

Abby Katz

Lifecycle Marketing Manager
Eight Sleep

  • Former collegiate athlete who has translated an innate drive and challenge-hungry attitude into the pursuit of all-things excellence in my marketing career. I am a big picture thinker and doer, published brand marketer and creative strategist who has translated a passion for data and analytics into building lovable consumer experiences that have resulted in profitability.

Company overview

Eight is the first sleep fitness company. Eight leverages innovation, technology and personal biometrics to restore individuals to their peak energy levels each morning. Backed by leading Silicon Valley investors including Khosla Ventures and Y Combinator, it was named by Fast Company in 2018 as one of the Most Innovative Companies in Consumer Electronics.
Industry: Consumer Electronics |

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Abby Katz 00:00
What we try and do is get ahead of member needs. So before someone’s even identifying a pain point or saying that they’re struggling with this, we have a whole team dedicated to that. So building this notion of long-term loyalty and ultimately trust is figuring out what they need before they know that they need it and constantly providing value.

Max Koziolek 00:27
Hey, everyone, and thanks for listening to the One to One Consumer Marketing Podcast. Today I’m speaking with Abby Katz. Abby, I will ask you something I have never asked before. It’s a podcast guest, so how did you sleep last night?

Abby Katz 00:40
I slept great. I saw on my sleep score, I was ready for today. I had high REM sleep. Must be really excited about recording this podcast. So it was a good night for me.

Max Koziolek 00:51
That sounds awesome. So probably a few of you already have read it in the description of this episode. Abby is working for a company called Eight Sleep. Eight Sleep is a tech company that is revolutionizing sleep, which is very, very important in our life.

Max Koziolek 01:06
They have testimonials on their website, like Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg, and I think raised over 170 million in funding and a global leader in a very excited to speak to you today about how you got there and what exactly you were doing at Eight Sleep.

Max Koziolek 01:27
So before we dive into Eight Sleep, can you give us a brief overlook on how you ended up in your current role?

Abby Katz 01:35
Yeah, absolutely. And excited to be here. So thanks for having me. So if I, if I take a step back, it really all started after I graduated college and I went to go work for a company called Maverick, which is an influencer marketing startup in Boston.

Abby Katz 01:48
And I was one of the first hires on the marketing team. And I always joke and say that this experience was any better than any MBA, I could have gone right out of college because, and a lot cheaper because I got exposure and hands-on experience to nearly every facet of marketing, really from email and demand generation to performance and paid media.

Abby Katz 02:08
I was doing copywriting design, was really lucky to have a great manager who really took me under her wing and taught me so much about marketing strategy. And it was a great place to start my career.

Abby Katz 02:18
And one of the things that I ended up falling in love with that I got to do was helping the sales team with some cold outreach emails. And I’m probably one of the only people to say they fell in love with doing anything cold outreach.

Abby Katz 02:30
But for me, it really felt like I was just kind of crafting a solution to a puzzle. And starting with researching the prospect and the company and really trying to find what my hook would be to get their attention, whether that person had just gotten a promotion or looking at new product launches or strategic growth plans, really crafting a story about how my company solution could solve for their pain point.

Abby Katz 02:54
And really what I was doing was leveraging personalization in this one-to-one way. And I remember having this light bulb moment and realizing that if I could automate this, then I would be able to do this at scale much faster and reach a lot more people and bring in a lot more revenue for the company.

Abby Katz 03:11
So it was really that that led me to my next search for my next job in CRM. So I ended up landing a job at ASICS Digital as a loyalty marketing manager, where I was helping to develop and build out ASICS global loyalty and CRM programs.

Abby Katz 03:26
And when I joined, the program was relatively new. So a lot of what I was doing was creating the groundwork from both a program development side, but also a lifecycle side of things. So creating a lot of those more so introductory to start lifecycle campaigns, everything from celebrating someone’s first purchase or celebrating birthdays or celebrating when they first logged their first run on our running app or sign up for their first marathon or even finish their first marathon.

Abby Katz 03:55
So really supporting our members, our loyalty members, through the entire lifecycle. And again, I ended up loving the lifecycle piece of it. So I feel like even as I’m saying this, with each job I’ve had, I’ve been able to start really broad and learn as much as I can, and then really more granularly figure out what it is that I’m passionate about.

Abby Katz 04:15
And my experience at ASICS really helped me make sense of the understanding that lifecycle marketing was what I wanted to pursue. And so from there, I went to 8Sleep, which is where I am now. And as you mentioned, we are the first sleep fitness technology company.

Abby Katz 04:30
So we’re leveraging innovation, tech, personal biometrics to bring our members better sleep and more energy every morning. And our core product is the pod, which is really just a cover that can be added to any bed.

Abby Katz 04:42
And it improves our members’ sleep by dynamically heating or cooling each side of the bed based on your own personal biometrics. So completely customizable and personalized to you. And in my role here, I am in charge of our lifecycle marketing program.

Abby Katz 04:56
So everything from acquisition and growth to all the way through post-purchase and retention. And it’s a really exciting time at the company. And I’ve been here since October. And yeah, excited to dive in.

Max Koziolek 05:08
That’s awesome, because I think what you’re describing from ASX, where you basically almost started the entire lifecycle marketing and also celebrating the first run, celebrating the marathon, what a huge journey that is.

Max Koziolek 05:21
But what excites me really about this is this bringing lifecycle and fitness, I would say fitness tech together, because both is very data-driven, but how do you see these two things are coming together?

Abby Katz 05:37
Yeah, I think it’s a great question. I think, you know, what we’re really seeing is this convergence of data for personalized experiences. And that’s really what I’m passionate about. And that’s really kind of what I’ve learned throughout all of these different jobs.

Abby Katz 05:52
And I think, you know, I know we’re so much beyond COVID. But anytime I feel like we’re looking at these types of trends, it’s important to think about what behaviors have changed in this COVID bring this huge surge in an online interactions, right?

Abby Katz 06:10
We were all at home, we couldn’t go, we couldn’t go in person to buy things. And all of a sudden, you know, all consumers were exposed to the best in class practices of these ecommerce leaders, you know, the Amazons, the Nikes.

Abby Katz 06:22
And that really raised the bar for everyone else. And so when I take a step back and really look at, you know, what are these leaders doing that is making them so stand out so much in comparison, it’s really that it comes down to meaningful personalization and really using data about their audience to make them feel special at every single interaction that they’re having with the brand, whether they’re customers, or whether they’re prospects, or rather they’re repeat purchasers, really using that data to drive and fuel this relationship.

Abby Katz 06:53
And, you know, I think we’re at this really, you know, interesting inflection point and turning point in consumer data, we’re seeing that consumers are wanting personalization so badly that they’re actually willing to share their data in exchange for personalized experience, which, you know, hasn’t always been the case.

Abby Katz 07:10
And so as marketers, we’re, we’re seeing this huge increase in the amounts of data that we have available to do this personalization. But of course, it’s coming out, you know, at a cost because, you know, consumers aren’t just giving us their data and not expecting anything in return.

Abby Katz 07:25
It’s really about a value exchange. And this value exchange is driven by building a relationship and trust, building this notion of what I would call emotional loyalty. And, you know, to get back to your question, I think you’re asking about how is this applicable to the fitness industry, too, and fitness tech, and more specifically, I think, you know, if we look at this industry more granularly, we’re also seeing this, this massive boom in wearable adoption.

Abby Katz 07:54
You know, and this is no matter what device you’re wearing, or what you’re using, this is also resulting in the collection of huge amounts of data at the individual level. And this is expanding the confines of data collection beyond, you know, the smartphone and the computer and leading brands, I think, are using this data, of course, to personalize their communications with consumers, but they’re also starting to productize it.

Abby Katz 08:17
And I think that’s really what’s setting the heart. And this is what we’re doing at Eight Sleep, you know, we’re, we’re building it into our product, we’re really using the data at the most individual level to personalize a sleeping experience and optimize each stage of sleep.

Abby Katz 08:33
And I think for some, that can be hard to grasp. So the example I always like to give is two people sleeping in the same bed with our pod cover, will have two completely different experiences. And they should, right, because they’re two different people with two different needs and two different sleeping stages.

Abby Katz 08:48
And really, you know, this comes down to collecting data at the individual level, which, again, is allowing us to heat or cool or change each side of the bed and really optimize that to match what the person needs in that moment.

Abby Katz 09:02
And I think, you know, again, leading brands who are, who are productizing this and are really making their customers, you know, understand the value of their product by collecting their information and using it in a way that’s elevating their experiences are the brands that, you know, are leading and leaders in the space.

Max Koziolek 09:20
Wow, there is so much to unpack there. I’m very excited to go deeper into that. And so I think one interesting aspect for me is that I have a feeling that these huge amounts of data you’re describing.

Max Koziolek 09:33
So when I see people, you know, when they’re wearing an Apple Watch or a group or anything like that, they go on their phone over dashboards and scroll and scroll and have all this kind of metrics and scores and anything like that.

Max Koziolek 09:46
That’s fairly unusual for people that are not, you know, working in the industry or something like that, where there are data analysts or something like that, they have the feeling that normal people are, you know, expanding, going so much into data and they’re expecting so much personalization out of that because they care about this and they look also themselves and all this kind of data.

Max Koziolek 10:03
And now you are in the very, have this huge challenge to make sense of so much data and still provide a personalized experience. I imagine that to be extremely, extremely tricky. How do you think about this?

Max Koziolek 10:16
Because you’re right, there’s so much data and the people care about so much data because they’re looking at their fitness rings every day.

Abby Katz 10:25
Yeah, I think it’s interesting because I think we can think about data, to your point. We can think about a post-purchase and we can think about the data we’re collecting on our customers. And for that, I’ll speak to that first.

Abby Katz 10:36
We’re doing a lot with that data to also, as I mentioned, make our members feel understood and really understand the impact of this data collection. To your point, most people who sleep on our product aren’t doctors.

Abby Katz 10:52
Most people who are wearing Apple watches or Oreo rings, they aren’t doctors. And as marketers, we have an opportunity and really an obligation to continue to educate our members on what this data means.

Abby Katz 11:05
And I think one big piece of that and something that we try and do is showing our members all of the ways that our product can improve their health holistically. So one thing that we actually recently started doing is sending personalized member data reports each month.

Abby Katz 11:23
So we’re benchmarking their data in comparison to other members of similar age and gender. And really, we’re trying to give our members another layer of understanding about this data. Because I think, to your point, it can almost be overwhelming to get so much data and not understand what it means.

Abby Katz 11:41
So providing another context to say, Hey, this is how I’m performing in comparison to other women who are in their 30s. Or, Hey, this is where my benchmarks should be. And this is how I’m trending over time.

Abby Katz 11:53
I think that education piece is so important. And it’s important to think about where and when and also how we’re educating consumers.

Max Koziolek 12:02
That’s fascinating. Personalizing with sending them the personalized data into benchmarks and all this kind of stuff. That’s really fascinating. You said emotional loyalty before. What exactly do you mean by that?

Max Koziolek 12:17
Do you mean community or do you mean something else with that?

Abby Katz 12:21
Yeah, I think community is one way to look at it. But, you know, what I mean by that is moving beyond just transactional loyalty, I think so often, you know, brands are treating consumers as extensions of credit cards, right.

Abby Katz 12:34
And I think, in order to build a true relationship, you have to connect on the emotional level. That’s, you know, what, what we’re doing in a one to one way with our friends, with our family, with our co workers.

Abby Katz 12:44
And it’s important that brands do that too. And so one of the ways that we’ve really tried to increase our, you know, ability to connect emotionally with our audience is we’ve actually started to revamp our welcome journey.

Abby Katz 12:59
And it really starts with how we’re collecting their email. So when someone goes to our website, now they enter their email, we’re now asking what is your biggest struggle with sleep. And if anyone’s ever struggled with sleep, you understand that that’s a super personal and vulnerable thing to share, and it can be debilitating.

Abby Katz 13:16
And so, you know, if someone’s willing to share that with us and willing to say, you know, Hey, I’m suffering from insomnia or suffering from night sweats, you know, we have an obligation to then nurture this relationship.

Abby Katz 13:26
So if we take the example that, you know, someone comes to our website, they give us their email, and they tell us that they’re suffering from night sweats, we’ve then personalized the entire welcome journey to be specific to that and to speak to that pain point and to hopefully provide value, because a lot of the times, you know, unlike at ASICS, when someone doesn’t need to do that much research, or depending on, you know, who you are, maybe you are doing a lot of research for a pair of sneakers, but a lot of times the consideration phase is much shorter at a brand like that.

Abby Katz 13:54
Here, our product obviously has a much higher cost. And a lot of times a lot of research needs to be done before they even are at the consideration phase. So, you know, while providing a transactional discount, a welcome discount may be beneficial to some right away for a lot of our audience, they’re not looking to purchase right away.

Abby Katz 14:12
So how are we continuing to provide value when we know that they’re not purchasing right away? So you know, maybe we’re sending them within our welcome journey, you know, tips to improve their night sweats, or maybe we’re explaining why night sweats occur.

Abby Katz 14:26
And then kind of as they move down the funnel, maybe we’re doing them clinical studies about how the pod improves night sweats, they’re sharing map stories from other members who have suffered from night sweats.

Abby Katz 14:36
So, you know, there’s many levers you can pull to build emotional loyalty. But I think at the end of the day, it starts with listening to your consumers, because they’ll share information. And I think it’s our job as marketers to listen and provide value based on what they’re sharing.

Max Koziolek 14:52
And that makes a ton of sense, adjusting the welcome journey. If you get a lot of channels, when you think about the welcome journey, what do you see as the most valuable and most important channels currently in your toolset?

Abby Katz 15:10
Yeah, I will say maybe I’m a little biased because I do email an SMS, but I will say I do think email is most valuable. And, you know, I implore every brand to test and learn and figure out what channel works best for them, depending on where their audience is.

Abby Katz 15:26
But for me, in my career, it’s been email. And I think, you know, there’s three main reasons for that. And, you know, the first being, it’s a free channel. So automatically, it has a very high ROI. It’s very efficient.

Abby Katz 15:38
Anyone managing a budget can appreciate that. I think secondly, it’s very easy to segment and target specific customer groups with personalization. And at the end of the day, I think basic segmentation can go a long way.

Abby Katz 15:53
I think so often we try and complicate, you know, creating so many different segments and so much and so much content for those segments. But I think at the end of the day, you know, starting at the most basic level is very important.

Abby Katz 16:03
And just because it’s basic doesn’t mean that it can’t provide value. You don’t need a CDP or a super advanced email platform to be able to do basic segmentation, even create very high impact segments.

Abby Katz 16:14
So, you know, that would be my second reason. And then third, and I think something that’s really important for us at Eight Sleep is you’re able to conduct quick and frequent A/B tests or multivariate tests and really quickly test and learn and get fairly instant results.

Abby Katz 16:27
And something that we always try and do is we’re always cross-pollinating learnings across channels. So, you know, maybe I’m doing a test to see kind of which clinical study is resonating most with a specific segment.

Abby Katz 16:39
Immediately, once I get the results, I’m sharing that with with my coworker who manages our paid channels and, you know, seeing if he gets the same results. And then if we get the same results in two channels, and it’s like, Okay, how do we build this into like, our larger strategy for how we’re communicating this product or this feature?

Max Koziolek 16:54
Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. I like the approach, right? To test the messaging on different channels and really double down if it works for both sides. That’s a good approach. Do you have other unique strategies you’re currently applying, you’re willing to share?

Abby Katz 17:15
Unique strategies. I think at the end of the day, it really just a lot of what we’re doing is placing the customer at the forefront of everything that we do. And I think, you know, I’ve mentioned that, you know, we’re sending these personalized member campaigns, but something that we also started doing towards the end of last year to really elevate our customers experience is we created a perks program, you know, our mission and one of our big goals is, like I said, to improve our members’ health, not just sleep, health.

Abby Katz 17:43
And so it’s like, how are we continuing to provide value and really live up to that mission. And so we launched this perks program where our members get exclusive access and discounts to some really cool brands in the space, you know, hyper ice, athletic greens, levels.

Abby Katz 18:00
So, you know, we’re really trying to meet our consumers or our audience, you know, where they are in their health journey and provide as many avenues for them to improve their health as possible. And I think, you know, that that improves retention, but it also makes our subscribers and our members feel valued.

Abby Katz 18:19
And we also, you know, I guess another interesting approach that we take that I don’t see a lot of other brands doing is we have an entire team dedicated to member services and member campaigns. And so, you know, what we try and do is get ahead of member needs.

Abby Katz 18:36
So before someone’s even, you know, identifying a pain point or saying that they’re struggling with this, we try and we have a whole team dedicated to that. So, you know, I think building this notion of like long-term loyalty and ultimately trust is, you know, figuring out what they need before they know that they need it and constantly providing value.

Max Koziolek 18:57
Speaking of, we spoke about email. Email is an oldie but goldie. What kind of emerging technologies and channels are you excited about?

Abby Katz 19:07
Yeah, I would say, you know, one thing that I’m super passionate about, and it’s really one of the reasons that that led me to eat sleep is this preventative wellness through wearables. And, you know, I think what we’re seeing now is this advancement and commercialization, really, of wearables, which has made it so much easier and accessible for individuals to take ownership and control over their health.

Abby Katz 19:30
And, you know, as we mentioned, like, when you’re going, going to a doctor, and they’re doing routine visits, that’s, that’s giving you a snapshot into a moment in time. And now for the first time, you know, you’re able to see and really trend that data over time and understand how certain behaviors are impacting our bodies that, unless you’re going to the doctor every single day, you’re not getting that data.

Abby Katz 19:53
And so, you know, the part that I’m most excited about is we’re seeing, we’re able to catch things now before they become problematic. We’re taking this proactive approach to our health, which is just empowering more people to be healthy.

Abby Katz 20:06
And really, this is one of our long term visions at Eat Sleep. And I’ve spoken on on this a bit. But, you know, we’re already improving your sleep. But our goal and our long term mission is to turn your bed into a preventative health tool.

Abby Katz 20:19
We want your bed to be able to diagnose you. And, you know, I think for some, that can sound far-fetched, but we’re spending seven to nine hours in a bed every single night, maybe more, maybe less. And, you know, we’re not spending that much time stationary doing anything else.

Abby Katz 20:34
So it makes the most sense that we’re tracking your body during this uninterrupted time. And, you know, because the surface area of the bed is so large, we’re able to add so many more sensors compared to other wearable devices.

Abby Katz 20:47
And that just allows us to ingest more data and more information and tell us so much more about your health beyond that of just sleep. And, you know, speaking more about kind of the tech side of that, you know, in order to get there, we’re going to need to continue to leverage AI and in machine learning to synthesize this data.

Abby Katz 21:05
And I think, you know, I mentioned continue because we’re already using our signature AI algorithms where we’re able to understand you at an individual level and build this blueprint for who you are as a sleeper taking into account, you know, all of all of your own personal biometrics.

Abby Katz 21:22
But I think, you know, it’s going to be even more imperative as we’re ingesting more data and more and more people are sleeping on the pod that we’re continuing to leverage tools like AI and machine learning to get there.

Abby Katz 21:34
And that’s what really excites me. You know, I think our product really has the potential to become much more of a diagnostic pool.

Max Koziolek 21:43
Wow, that would be huge to go from a consumer health device into that area. That’s huge, yeah. For you, I mean, that’s a very exciting career you’re having. Should really one of the, I would say really most exciting consumer companies which are out there, what kind of pieces of advice would you have for others in this space to basically be sharing your learnings?

Max Koziolek 22:10
What you would like to know at the beginning of your career, what you right now know, but you’re here, you can share it.

Abby Katz 22:18
Yeah, I would say, you know, the most important thing for me throughout my career, and it has just been to stay curious. And I think no matter what industry you’re in, you know, whether it’s influencer marketing, whether it’s consumer goods, you know, whether it’s with sleep tech and fitness tech, you know, new technologies are coming out every single day, new brands are popping up left and right.

Abby Katz 22:38
And so I think if once you find an industry that you’re really passionate about, which for me is is fitness technology, it’s really important to stay at the forefront of those changes by just consuming information in whatever ways work best for you.

Abby Katz 22:51
So you know, whether it’s reading, listening to podcasts, whether it’s talking to people, really just be a sponge, ask as many questions as possible and say yes to opportunities. Like don’t just be so focused on getting the title or the raise, really take opportunities that can help you learn.

Abby Katz 23:09
That’s kind of been the strand that’s held true across my career, I really just try and take every opportunity and learn as much as possible. Because not only will that make me better at my job, but it also allows me as I mentioned, kind of in my own career journey to figure out what it is that I’m truly passionate about.

Abby Katz 23:25
So that’s kind of one piece of advice. And I would say, really, the next one is more kind of like job-specific, I would say it’s about understanding your audience and really focusing on human-centric design.

Abby Katz 23:37
And what I mean by that is really just placing the end user and the experience you want to provide them within the forefront of anything you’re doing. So I think in tech, whether it’s fitness tech, or, or just broadly tech in general, it’s super easy to get caught up in the features and capabilities of your product, especially, you know, as a marketer, that’s really your world day in and day out.

Abby Katz 23:59
And I find it’s really important, you know, whether I’m developing a new campaign or really whatever I’m doing to take a step back and think start by thinking critically about my audience and their motivations, you know, what is preventing them from reaching their goals?

Abby Katz 24:13
How, how is that making them feel? And where are the pain points or drop offs occurring? And kind of similar to how I was doing the cold outreach, where can my solution solve a problem? And where can I plug in my company to solve for one of their problems?

Abby Katz 24:26
And to kind of circle back on the point of emotional loyalty, I think that’s connecting on an emotional level. And then I really try and build campaigns or experiences around these pain points. So I guess in a way, it’s kind of like working backwards, but I find that that’s an important approach to take in order to really connect on that emotional level.

Max Koziolek 24:46
Very powerful advice. I think the first one I also got myself when I was just in university, and I think the professor was sharing this in a way to say, if you find something you like in your career, that’s a rare moment.

Max Koziolek 25:02
Double and triple down on that, because that’s the only way how you build a fulfilling career. So I 100% agree with that. I think that’s very, very true. If you find something you like, go with that.

Max Koziolek 25:14
And emotional loyalty and taking a step back, I think that’s a very powerful, critical thinking about yourself, because I myself get also all the time caught up. But I’m thinking about, yeah, we do this and that, and that’s the feature we could…

Max Koziolek 25:27
And it’s also awesome the feature because of that, but is that really relevant? Was it the purpose that it was designed for? So really can relate to that. That is awesome. You have a very, very cool journey behind you and with you, I’m sure.

Max Koziolek 25:45
Good luck with Eight Sleep. Keep shipping. It’s already a great product. I’m very excited to see what’s coming next.

Abby Katz 25:53
Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.

Max Koziolek 25:56
Thank you. Bye.

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