December 2023 Bonfire Marketer of the Month: CVS Health’s Austin Hed
Each month, Braze selects one individual as our Marketer of the Month in order to celebrate the exceptional work being done by members of our Braze Bonfire community. Whether it's providing support for their fellow marketers or going above and beyond by sharing their innovative ideas and strategies, these individuals are making essential contributions to their companies, their users, and the customer engagement space as a whole.
This month, we’re recognizing Austin Hed, Digital Product Owner at CVS Health, a healthcare company that operates pharmacy retail stores, provides prescription services, and offers a range of health and wellness products and services. We spoke with Austin about the power of the tech community, unexpected career paths, and what they’re working on at CVS. Let’s dive in.
Tell us about yourself!
I started university with the goal of going to law school, and one day going into corporate law. It seemed like an exciting space, but I realized that it just wasn’t what I expected. Like most people in my situation, I pivoted to something just as flashy—finance—and took an internship with a local wealth management firm. Working with their CTO, I built out processes that streamlined the advisor-client relationship and helped advisors get a better picture of their clients’ needs and financial goals.
Directly afterwards, I found an opportunity with a Boston-area startup focused on restaurant software, working on restaurant data analysis and categorization. The company culture was a breath of fresh air, but my biggest takeaway was how they were able to serve their customers and partners by having a deep integration with customer data. The following summer, I took an internship with a hiring and recruiting startup in Australia, and got my first exposure to agile software development. Getting to sit so close to such a small team and really be involved in creating a solution was exciting and solidified my interest in the software and product space.
This interest led to CVS, which at the time was just starting to hire interns in the Digital and Product space. That summer I had the chance to support (and learn from) the team building out early push and SMS functionality and chose to come back to work on some of those same challenges.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part about my job is easily the people I work with. My team’s scope (messaging) touches so many other pieces of work at the company, and I’m grateful that this has given me the chance to work with partners across our organization. It’s been so exciting getting to partner with other digital teams, as well as partners across the business, to design what good customer experience looks like and determine how we can effectively engage customers with services across the CVS ecosystem.
How do you see Braze as a career accelerant?
Before partnering with Braze, our team had incredibly limited insight into key campaign metrics like conversions and—more importantly—had minimal data on who engaged with our messaging. Much of what we learned required significant time and effort pulling together data from multiple sources, which prevented us from getting a real-time view of campaign performance and impact.
Since switching to Braze, all these metrics are available by default. Engagement numbers are easily accessible, custom conversion metrics are quick to set up, and getting insight into which customer segments are engaging with our messaging has never been easier. By removing barriers to metrics and data, Braze helps us focus on more complex challenges, and in turn, is pushing me to learn more about what makes an effective communication strategy. No-code campaign setup tools like Canvas Flow and Liquid have also helped jumpstart our team’s work with multivariant testing, enabling us to support initiatives that might have previously taken a couple weeks in just a few days.
What has your experience been like working with the Braze team and community?
Braze provides an incredible set of features and functionality that has streamlined our workflows significantly. Everything from automatic A/B testing in campaigns and Canvas to the no-code segment-building experience, the tools we use have never been more accessible to our team and our partners.
Complementing the tech is an incredible team at Braze that clearly wants our team to succeed. This partnership manifests itself in amazing technical support, deep-dive strategy sessions, and constant conversations around the metrics that matter to our business and our customers. I don’t think there’s ever been a time I couldn’t count on our partners at Braze for help.
What initiative or campaign are you most excited to work on this year?
I’m most excited to continue building out an abandoned cart campaign we set up earlier in the year. With constrained development resources and a limited timeline, our team built an early proof of concept in Braze, leveraging a couple custom events and logic in Canvas to automatically remind customers when they might have forgotten something in their cart. We achieved strong campaign performance, and are now looking at ways to improve our messaging, including enhanced personalization based on past products a customer has purchased and their most-engaged messaging channel. We’re also exploring ways we can retrieve deals already available to the customer in real-time by leveraging Liquid, which we can’t wait to start testing at scale.
Interested in collaborating to build the future of customer engagement? Join a collective of experts to forge connections, share ideas, and accelerate your career at the Braze Bonfire Community.
In her role as a Community and Advocacy Associate, Emily supports community and customer advocacy initiatives at Braze. A recent transplant from Seattle, she spends her time exploring Manhattan on foot, looking for spots that feel like home.