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Staffer Q&A with Product Manager Cody De Vos

In our new series, Staffer Q&A, we sit down with Emma staffers, interview-style, to find out the "who" behind Emma, get a sneak peek into new features and integrations they're working on, and, of course, what they do when they're not at work.


Tell us a little about yourself, Cody. What do you do at Emma?

I’m a Product Manager, which means I divide my time between working with customers and with other folks from the Emma team to identify valuable improvements we can make to the application, and working with our user experience designers and engineers to get those improvements designed and delivered to our customers.

What about when you’re not at Emma?

I’m recently married and an even more recent homeowner, so I spend a lot of time working with my wife on spiffing up our new house. I also ride my bike a lot (and yes, I wear the silly shorts when I do).

What projects are you currently working on?

Lately, my team has been spending a lot of time in our Automation toolset. We started by building a brand new way to trigger a workflow based on pretty much anything that happens in a system that’s connected to your Emma account. It’s called Event API, and it opens up a ton of possibilities for smarter automation. If you have a system that you’d like to connect to Emma, you’ll have almost total freedom to choose the actions in that system that should enter a contact from your audience into your workflow.

We’re also working on making workflows even smarter by giving you the ability to add “branches” to your workflows. Branch automation will allow you to set different paths through a workflow based on how your audience is responding. So if they open an email, or click a link in an email, you might follow up with a different email than if they don’t open that email, or don’t click the link you wanted them to click.

What about the Automation toolset is the most exciting to you?

One thing that always stands out to me when I’m talking to folks in the Emma community is just how creative people can get with their email strategy. People are doing some really cool things with automation, and we’ve learned that there’s a real need out there for a toolset that’s smart enough to support sophisticated users, but still intuitive enough to support folks who are just setting up their first automated workflow. We redesigned the workflow builder in order to support some of these more advanced features, but the thing I love about the new design is that it should actually make things easier for most people.

That’s awesome. Can you talk about some examples of how customers can use the Event API and branch automation?

For the Event API, the sky really is the limit if you know how to connect your system to Emma (and if you don’t, we have a great technical services team that can help). We’re seeing people use it for everything from cart abandonment emails to reservation follow up emails and more. We’re also planning to make it possible to send these kinds of events to Emma using a service called Zapier, which means that many users will be able to connect their systems with Emma and set up crazy smart integrated workflows, all without ever writing a single line of code.

For branching, we think this will be a big help to anyone who wants to make sure their audience is seeing the message that’s most relevant to them. That might mean taking a second pass at sharing a valuable white paper if a user didn’t open the first email that was sent to them, or it might mean sending them different emails based on the links that they’re clicking in order to better respond to their interests. Or it could mean both, within the same workflow!

When will the Event API and branch automation be available?

We’re testing the Event API with select users today, and I’d be happy to talk to anybody who’s interested in learning more about it. Branching will come a little later, but I expect we’ll be able to start sharing it with a small beta group of users in mid-June.

What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

I’ve been doing a lot of “work reading” this year, and one of my favorite finds was a book called “Code” by Charles Petzold. It basically lays out the workings of programming code from the most foundational level possible (like morse code and braille) in a way that really helps you understand how all the stuff you’re looking at wound up on your screen. It wasn’t a beach read, but it has helped me feel slightly less clueless when I’m hanging out with our amazing engineers.

Our readers are dying to know: What’s your spirit animal? Why?

Well, my last name is De Vos, which is Dutch for “The Fox.” We even found an old family crest with a fox on it. So we’ve accumulated a lot of fox memorabilia. But if I’m being honest, I always felt a little more like an otter. I just like their style.