TechBytes with Avlesh Singh, Co-Founder and CEO at WebEngage

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TechBytes with Avlesh Singh, Co-Founder and CEO at WebEngage

Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at WebEngage. 

Apart from leading WebEngage on all fronts, I am looking after Product, Marketing, and Sales functions to drive our mission of empowering consumer businesses to understand their users better and develop contextual customer engagement.

How much has the Marketing Automation technology evolved in the last two years? 

It has evolved by leaps and bounds. Firstly, Personalized communication has become an absolute necessity these days. If you take a look at some of the top brands out there, message-based Personalization is almost like the norm. Consumer brands have adopted Personalization as a standard practice to communicate with their customers. Addressing the user with the first name and recommending them relevant suggestions based on behavioral data have become mainstream now.

Secondly, brands earlier used to spend massive sums of money on customer acquisition, which eventually yielded a higher churn rate. However, now, they have started demonstrating a visible shift towards a long-term strategy of customer retention fueled by brand loyalty. Brands rely heavily on data and automation to drive customer engagement and brand loyalty. I understand that these factors have strongly influenced the growth of Marketing Automation.

What are the key drivers of any Marketing Automation platform?

I think for any Marketing Automation platform, the key drivers revolve around customer-centricity. The ability to keep the end-user front and center of your Marketing campaigns is what every brand wants. After shifting from customer acquisition to retention, brands focus intensely on increasing the ‘stickiness factor’ which essentially means increasing customer engagement and time spent on mobile and web platforms.

Brands want their users to spend more time on the platform by repeatedly bringing them through various engagement mediums and digital touchpoints. To successfully execute this at scale, they choose a Marketing Automation platform. The engagement and re-engagement cycles that consumer businesses implement help transform the brand experience, for better or for worse.

Marketing Automation platforms that simplify user engagement and help marketers leverage user data to create intelligent campaigns are the real winners. Factors like ease of use, versatility, omnichannel engagement capabilities also play a significant role for consumer brands looking to onboard a solution.

How do you compete with the likes of Freshdesk, Zoho, Pardot and Marketo?

We are a mid-market enterprise solution offering a robust platform to businesses operating under this category. We compete with enterprise-grade Marketing Automation solutions from Adobe and IBM, and niche players like Braze and Localytics as well.

The massive enterprise-grade solutions of the world are heavy-duty, high-touch operations when it comes to installation and on-boarding. Managing them requires a specialized team who are adept in using the tool and understand unique processes. Smaller, niche players in Marketing Automation might be lighter to onboard and use, but they generally specialize in one or two channels of communication.

With WebEngage, you correctly get the best of both worlds. We have all the capabilities and potency of enterprise software solutions while retaining the lightness, ease of use, and versatility of niche operators in the Marketing Automation segment. All of this, including omnichannel engagement capabilities and advanced analytics, which puts us bang in the middle of the lot.

We offer customized offerings and implementation for industry-specific businesses. Since we are a cloud-based solution, we are very easy to implement and regulate in almost any business setup.

Tell us about your recent partnership with Kensico.

We have expanded our ESP portfolio by entering into a strategic partnership with Kenscio. Email is an essential channel in WebEngage’s cross-channel engagement portfolio.

With Kenscio’s expertise in the domain, we further intend to strengthen email deliverability and efficiency. With this partnership, we aim to solve the complex problems that marketers face every day as far as intelligent, triggered email campaigns are concerned.

How would your customers jointly benefit from the Kenscio partnership?

With the WebEngage + Kenscio partnership, our clients can access a robust email solution with an additional specialization in deliverability accuracy and efficiency. Email Marketing has always been a double-edged sword. It offers many benefits concerning reach and communication effectiveness at a fairly decent cost.

However, not running proper email campaigns can also sever brand reputation, negatively affect campaign statistics, message reach, and domain reputation. We are now well equipped to offer brands who are heavy on Email Marketing, an expert email solution that can handle massive scale efficiently.

How do you see CDPs disrupting the complex world of Digital Marketing, CRM, and Social Messaging ecosystem?

The lines between data and marketing have blurred. New age Marketing platforms that exist today are fully equipped to qualify as an intelligent CDP solution. Data as an individual element has permeated into every single layer of the business ecosystem today. With the rise of omnichannel digital touchpoints, brands are now collecting ridiculous amounts of consumer data every single day.

Data, therefore, has risen to the top as the most critical game-changer for brands, because it brings actionable intelligence to the forefront of Marketing operations. CDP’s have risen proportionately to fill the need for a platform that allows brands to collect and store all of this data and unify them for further use.

Now, Marketing Automation platforms are effectively a CDP system with advanced intelligence that allows the user to make sense of the collected data. Based on this analysis, a marketer can create campaigns that are personalized right down to each user. With WebEngage, a marketer can leverage the unified customer view that we help create into Hyper-Personalized omnichannel campaigns (Email, SMS, Web and Mobile Push, and many more). To sum it all up, a good CDP strategy is an excellent Marketing Automation strategy, as it straddles the omnichannel world of the user today.

How do you prepare for these disruptions in the Automation/CRM industry?

It all comes down to data intelligence and being in a constant state of readiness. In all honesty, the proliferation of CDP’s has been happening for quite some time. There is an added layer of intelligence that allows marketers to use customer data in actionable campaigns, which suggests a considerable level of evolution that has happened.

The entire team here at WebEngage firmly adheres to a forward-thinking approach. The approach strongly reflects in our customer-facing arm, where we try to remain pro-active to stay on top of things and deliver maximum value to our users. When it comes to building new products and features, the forward-thinking approach mentioned earlier plays a critical role. We always keep an eye out to stay abreast of what is happening in the industry, how the market is evolving, and how the end consumers are engaging with brands with respect to digital touchpoints.

Our data gleaned from servicing over 45,000+ small and large businesses tell us a profoundly insightful story of how consumers are evolving and engaging with brands. Additionally, we always ensure that the customer feedback loop is unbroken. Listening to our customers gives us incredible information about building the next version of products, and prioritizing certain things so that we stay ahead of the competition and embrace the changes that are happening in the ecosystem.

Tell us more about your AI and Machine Learning initiatives at WebEngage.

When it comes to AI and ML, it has permeated to 3 critical elements of the WebEngage platform. We use AI + ML technologies to make WebEngage an all-round intelligent Marketing Automation solution.

There are primarily three aspects of WebEngage that utilize AI and ML solutions:

The Who aspect? – ‘Who’ here means identifying the right set of people to send a campaign. The WebEngage platform lets users create dynamic rolling segments of users based on multiple criteria. Also, the platform is able to craft segments based on custom business requirements, user actions, demographic data, and other such data points.

The What aspect? – ‘What’ refers to the actual content sent to users as part of a campaign. Users can run A/B tests to check the suitability of content across different user groups, and the platform can learn to pick the winner based on campaign performance.

The When aspect? – ‘When’ suggests the actual time of sending a campaign to users. Different users have varying preferences, and WebEngage helps marketers understand what time of the day might work for a particular user segment based on historical campaign performance among other factors.

What are your biggest challenges in measuring the ROI of Email Marketing and automation for B2B and B2C MarTech initiatives?

The biggest challenge for us has been education and doing Email Marketing the right way. Email Marketing for most marketers still borrows heavily from the B2B initiative of bulk email campaigns. Such Spray-and-Pray campaigns are a thing of the past now and are hardly sufficient when it comes to conversions. In B2C Marketing, Email Marketing hasn’t evolved, and marketers stick to the age-old bulk email strategy that originated from B2B Marketing.

Data suggests that triggered communications are the way ahead. The consumers have evolved, and have increasingly become multi-channel in the way they engage with brands online. There is a massive skill gap that exists in marketers today because of these reasons. The idea is to teach modern-day marketers techniques that are well suited for today’s multi-channel consumer who expects tailored communication from his favorite brands.

With our flagship Marketing conference EngageMint, we are aiming to change the landscape of user engagement and retention by educating marketers about the power of data-backed Marketing, and the importance of triggered messaging for consumer businesses. Measurement, therefore, needs to evolve as well. With bulk email campaigns, the onus was on reaching as many inboxes as possible. There was no onus on reaching the right people at the right time.

With triggered, smart campaigns that are automated, measurement needs to take into account factors like deliverability, channel-wise performance, number of impressions and clicks, and conversions that can be directly attributed to such campaigns.

With over 12 years of tech experience, Avlesh envisions WebEngage to be a game-changer in the Digital Marketing space. A wearer of many hats, on a typical day you’ll find him dabbling in Sales, Marketing and Product – charting our growth trajectory, one sprint at a time. An ardent believer of company culture is the invisible superpower, he’s the one who keeps our vibrant startup culture alive.

webengage logo

WebEngage is a powerful Marketing Cloud for Consumer Businesses which automates communication and improves retention across users’ life-cycle. It enables cross-channel user engagement via these channels – Web Message (notification, survey and feedback), In-App Message, Push Notification, Email, Text Message and Web Push. In addition, WebEngage Journey Designer is a drag-and-drop user workflow builder for implementing multi-channel campaigns.

WebEngage builds enriched user profiles for every single user (registered, as well as anonymous) using your website and/or mobile app. Moreover, you can ‘segment’ these users based on their behaviour, and let you get access to real-time multi-channel campaign analytics.

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