MarTech Interview with Brian Malkerson, Chief Revenue Officer at Attentive

Brian Malkerson, Chief Revenue Officer at Attentive on the benefits of SMS marketing in today’s marketing mix and how brands can drive more impact with this channel:



Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Brian, tell us about your journey in sales-marketing through the years and more about your role at Attentive?

 My career started in management consulting and venture capital and then I switched, over a decade ago, to the startup space — particularly in mobile. I’ve been with Attentive since 2017 and built out their sales and partnership from the ground up. The early days were all about getting proof points to educate retailers on how SMS can help their ecommerce sales. It’s been incredibly rewarding to see our company grow to be the trusted leader in text message marketing.

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We’d love to hear more about the Attentive platform and how it helps drive SMS marketing outcomes for brands and marketers?

 Attentive is the leading text messaging marketing solution for innovative brands that humanizes the consumer experience and performs as a top three revenue channel. As one of the fastest growing SaaS companies to date, Attentive’s vision is to reinvent business to consumer communication and commerce for the mobile age. Using real-time behavioral data, we automatically send engaging text messages to each subscriber at every step of the customer lifecycle. More than 4,000 leading businesses including Coach, CB2, Steve Madden, and TGI Fridays rely on our platform and see almost 20% of total online revenue driven by SMS.

In 2020, Attentive generated over $4.5 billion in revenue for e-commerce brands. We generally anticipate that customers see at least 25x ROI from their personalized text messaging program which proves how impactful SMS is as a revenue channel for brands, disrupting the traditional marketing channels.

Can you talk about the impact of SMS marketing in today’s marketing mix and why marketers across industries can benefit more with SMS marketing, if done right? A few best practices to share as well?

Consumers don’t like how businesses interact with them– between ads, spammy emails and intrusive messaging, brands are talking at their consumers. Attentive is building a platform to change that to focus on delivering personalized, relevant two-way and compliant communications. Messaging is ubiquitous, it is how people talk to each other and it is how businesses should communicate with consumers.

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When done right, SMS delivers a personalized experience. Consumers shared they want to receive relevant content from brands they have opt-ed into. Our platform enables brands to deliver personalized messages across the customer lifecycle and we help them create personalized, direct campaigns that strengthen customer loyalty and drive traffic — leading to boost in omnichannel and ecommerce sales. This includes helping grow subscriber lists with relevant sign-up solutions, recovering potentially lost sales with personalized cart abandonment reminder texts, and segmenting geographic areas for location-specific campaigns.

In a largely privacy driven marketing environment, how can marketers capitalize on direct channels like mobile/SMS marketing while respecting changing privacy norms?

With heavy industry regulations and compliance requirements around SMS, we guide brands to ensure customers are in control of their interactions. Attentive’s top priority when launching a business is to obtain clear and compliant opt-ins for their text messaging subscriber list. Subscribers are reminded they can opt out of receiving text messages at any time by replying “STOP.” Our solution also enables consumers to manually opt out subscribers, and automatically scans for variations of language associated with opt-outs, such as “CANCEL” or “UNSUBSCRIBE.”

Our intuitive editor allows businesses to easily style and design their sign-up units with copy and imagery unique to their brand while providing guidance on how to remain compliant with industry regulations, such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and CTIA regulations. Our platform also offers quiet hours to prevent subscribers from receiving any automated messages during specified times such as night time.

In what ways have you been seeing SMS marketing add to overall marketing ROI and revenue? 

SMS drives 10x more revenue than email per message, with 99% open rates and 30% click-through rates. Text messaging is the consumers’ channel of choice with mobile making up 75% of e-commerce this year, and Attentive helps to humanize the ecommerce shopping experience by focusing on personalization and the customer experience.

In 2021, brands using Attentive will collectively earn $12.5 billion in revenue through SMS marketing– proving how impactful SMS is as a revenue channel for businesses, disrupting traditional marketing channels like email. Thanks to the accelerated adoption of mobile commerce, many of our brands have shared that SMS messaging has quickly become one of their top revenue channels, surpassing social and mobile, that drives engagement, loyalty and customer satisfaction. 

For marketers who are still adopting SMS marketing plans as part of their process and mix, what top factors should they be keeping in mind?

The most important factor is to make sure brands choose a SMS provider that not only meets their needs today, but will grow and innovate with the company, its tech stack, and industry regulations. Another factor to success is growing an opted-in subscriber base. Convert traffic to site into text messaging subscribers by showing signup units on both mobile and desktop, and never buy subscriber lists or opt-in subscribers without their express intent. Finally, we always advise brands to personalize their campaigns to deliver content that resonates with their audience. This not only drives incremental revenue, but turns shoppers into brand loyalists.

Some last thoughts and marketing takeaways to share before we wrap up? 

There is a well ingrained expectation that you’ll get a reply back in SMS channel vs. email. If a consumer replies back to a SMS sent by a brand, they expect a response of some sort. Attentive’s vision is to redefine the brand to consumer communication. It’s imperative that we help brands to focus on delivering authentic experiences to consumers via SMS, with the intention for those messages to evolve into 1:1 conversations at scale.

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Attentive is the most comprehensive text message marketing solution, driving 18.5% of total online revenue for businesses by creating thoughtful SMS experiences. Using real-time behavioral data, Attentive automatically sends engaging text messages to each subscriber at every step of the customer lifecycle. Over 4,000 leading businesses like CB2, Pura Vida, Urban Outfitters, Rebecca Minkoff, Steve Madden, and more rely on Attentive and see strong performance, like 30%+ click-through rates and 25x+ ROI.

Brian Malkerson is the Chief Revenue Officer at Attentive

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