I’m so excited to have spoken with Kenda Macdonald, she’s a forensic psychology major, and the founder of Automation Ninjas. Kenda is an international keynote speaker (I’ve seen her speak – she’s awesome!), a multi-award-winning businesswoman, a doting cat mom, and the author of the best selling book: Hack The Buyer Brain.

Her biggest bugbear is how “modern” marketing doesn’t take consumer behaviour into consideration. Her mission is to fix that.

Over years of insight through growing Automation Ninjas into an award-winning agency, becoming the UK’s leading behavioural automation agency through this behaviour first approach, Kenda has distilled her marketing knowledge and combined it with psychology proficiency.

Please introduce yourself

I’m Kenda Macdonald, Founder of Automation Ninjas, author of Hack the Buyer Brain, Keynote speaker and mother of cats.

Please tell us about your business.

I run an agency that specialises in Behavioural Marketing Automation. Leaning on my background in psychology we help businesses understand how the brain works and the implications that holds for your marketing, email strategy and automation. We consult on the marketing automation customer journey and implement and create the content needed to support it. The brain is an amazing machine, but it’s terrible for your marketing!

What have been the main challenges facing your customers in 2021?

Hands down it’s been cutting through the noise. Both 2020 and 2021 so far have been frustratingly noisy years for our clients. With so many of their competitors jumping on email, trying to get automated and corral their marketing into shape, differentiating and maintaining or increasing customer base (whilst staying ahead) has been an intensive focus. Combine all that with an apathetic and tired pandemic audience and it’s been an excitingly challenging year to date.

So many businesses have known that they *need* to modernise and focus on customer engagement and increasing CLV. The vital part marketing automation, email, and owned audiences have to play in making that happen has been laid bare. Scrambling to get that all set up and stay ahead has been a big challenge for many people.

I’ve really enjoyed being given the reigns and get all those best practices and must have’s that businesses have been putting off in place.

What in marketing or business inspired you this year?

Nike and BLM have been a serious force of inspiration. Watching a brand really rally its audience and the positive response (and inevitable backlash) has given me the chills more than once. They know what they’re aiming for and their marketing has been spot on. BLM has been an inspiration for different reasons. Their use of email and social was extremely clever. At the core of both, you had messaging and strategies that tapped into the zeitgeist and the psychographics of their audiences to create an ingroup with phenomenal affect and reach. Can’t help but be inspired by that!

What should marketers be focused on in 2021 and into 2022?

Focus on building your own in-group. Create an audience that is excited to hear from you and loves what you have to say. Foster engagement and grow your owned traffic. That means watching your stats, tweaking your content plans, working on that newsletter and doing all those best practice things for your email that we like to ignore.

Who are your marketing heroes?

Ann Handley and Seth Godin. Ann for her brilliant book, Everybody Writes, and her excellent newsletter. Seth for keeping us all grounded in marketing.

If you could give a tip to marketers at this time during coronavirus what would that be?

In any time of instability, your owned traffic is everything. These are the people that want to hear from you, that you have direct access to with the least amount of noise. Their loyalty can carry you through the most tumultuous of times. Don’t let yourself be at the mercy of Google or Facebook. Build your list now, and keep them engaged – they’re your lifeblood.

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring marketers?

Train yourself to not be a magpie. Marketing is full of shiny objects. There is always a new exciting trend or tactic to jump on. While these can enhance performance, they must be underpinned by a robust backbone – your strategy. The fundamentals still need to be in place: welcome campaigns, nurture campaigns, long term nurture/ newsletters, segmentation, onboarding and CLV drivers. It’s boring – but that’s where results are.

You are sent to a desert island for 12 months – You can take 3 business books, 3 records and 1 luxury item – what would you take?

The books would have to be: Everybody Writes, Thinking Fast and Slow, Behavioural Economics – A very short introduction

Records are a mix (some will make your ears bleed): Una Mattina – Ludovico Einaudi, Hellbilly Deluxe – Rob Zombie, Far Beyond Driven – Pantera

And the luxury item would be my tea machine – exact temperature hot water for my fancy tea problem! Hopefully, the island is full of tea plants or I’m in trouble…

You can follow Kenda here:


Twitter – @_KendaMacdonald

Want to purchase her book? Grab yourself a copy here.