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Guest Talk

“Our solution is designed to provide a better experience to customers and their user base worldwide”: Dave Dabbah, CMO, CleverTap

MediaInfoline May 11, 2021
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Brief Profile:

CleverTap, an AI-powered customer engagement and retention platform that helps brands maximize user lifetime value. Consumer brands around the world representing over 8,000 apps- including Vodafone, Star, Sony, Discovery, Carousell, and Gojek- trust CleverTap to help them improve user engagement and retention thereby growing long term revenue.

CleverTap is backed by leading venture capital firms including Sequoia India, Tiger Global Management, Accel, and Recruit Holdings. The company has offices in San Francisco, Seattle, London, Singapore, and Mumbai.

In a recent conversation with Mr. Dave Dabbah, Chief Marketing Officer, CleverTap, the company talked about their idea to bring a platform that would analyze many data points in real-time. On being asked about their growth story, he said, “Our success has been driven by what we do, the core of which is really different – providing a strong dataset”.

Read the full interview here:


Q) Why is CleverTap significant to businesses?

We help businesses worldwide build valuable, long-term relationships with their customers. We do this by providing access to real-time behavioral analytics and a single mobile marketing platform that allows clients to build personalized campaigns that reach customers via multiple channels – push notifications, SMS, email, and more. The entire experience is seamless. Not just for our customers, but their end-users as well.

Imagine, every single customer we work with has millions of data points and thousands of app users. Our technology helps them automate the entire experience for their users, so every time an app user interacts with a notification, they receive a highly personalized experience based on the user’s preferences, past behavioral patterns, and the likelihood that they make a purchase. Over the years, we’ve powered 10,000+ mobile apps globally, have achieved a reach of 1 billion devices, and have succeeded in delivering $2 billion in incremental value. Today, we work across 5 growth sectors: food tech, media &entertainment, fintech, eCommerce, and travel &transportation.

Also read: CleverTap Uses AWS Cloud to Delight Sports Fans

In a nutshell, when we think of what we really do, we help our customers create high-quality, personalized experiences that drive retention and monetization. Because that’s what mobile app brands are ultimately in the business of.

Q) Tell us about your story of growth?

CleverTap launched in 2013 when there were no other companies taking a holistic view of solving for user retention. The idea was to build a tech platform that could analyze millions of data points in real-time, and help marketers develop contextually relevant experiences – experiences powered by effective communication at appropriate moments via optimal and preferred channels. For several years now, we’ve been growing at 50% Y-o-Y.

Our success has been driven by what we do, the core of which is really different – providing a strong dataset. Right from the beginning, we decided to not be in the business of pushing customers to send a million emails or a million push notifications. Our solution is designed to provide a better experience to customers and their expanding user base worldwide. And this approach has been central to our growth. Today, it’s our philosophy.

Through personalized, purposeful, and timely messaging, not only have our clients been able to achieve higher engagement and retention rates, but they also realize that there’s no other way to build and establish strong relationships with their customers.

Dave Dabbah, Chief Marketing Officer, CleverTap

Q) How is the second wave of pandemic treating your business and revenues?

This second wave of COVID-19 is devastating and is affecting lives and businesses across the world. The scenario is grim and we’re relying on the collective power of individuals to get through this.

From a business standpoint, we haven’t witnessed a dip in revenue. Since we’re in the mobile app space, people continue to utilize their apps and devices at a higher rate than ever before. Reports are stating that India is likely to witness more than a 2X increase or a 64% hike in internet users by 2023 and approximately 907 million Indian users will have internet access in the next few years. From a business standpoint, there’s undoubtedly a lot to achieve for our customers and their end-users.

However, what’s deeply worrisome is how our teams have been impacted, globally, on a personal level. We are very cognizant of the evolving environment in each country, and as a people-first organization, our priority in the last few quarters has been our employees’ physical, emotional, and mental well-being. We’ve taken several measures to ensure our employees have all the support they need and have pulled back on a few business-related milestones for the time being. Some of the unique measures are personalized protocols to enable a work-life balance that suits each individual differently, offering a 3-day weekend at least once a month, and extending timelines for mandatory leaves from 2020 to 2021 June.

Q) Mobile marketing and Millennials: Is this working hand in hand? Or is it otherwise requiring some urgent steps to be followed?

Mobile marketing and millennials are working really well, worldwide. In fact, the adoption of mobile marketing among Gen-Z has been the most impactful, and millennial adoption has been extraordinarily high in the last few years.

Also read: 7-Eleven CLiQQs with CleverTap To Drive Effective Customer Engagement

Our data shows that millennials, especially the younger ones, are less worried about being presented with too many ads and even if they do, they remain unaffected. In terms of trends that must be examined more deeply, three stands out:

  • There is growing resistance amongst millennials to turning on their location and notification settings 24×7. Hence, brands need to focus on location-based marketing strategies to bridge the gap between the digital and the physical.
  • Increasingly, millennials are shopping through their mobile devices – whether buying small items or grocery shopping. However, millennials tend to do a lot of research before they decide what to buy, leaving their digital footprints across websites, social media channels, and more. Marketers need to analyze these footprints carefully before creating personalized communication campaigns.

One of the big things that’s different for millennials is their perspective and adoption of financial services. This is the first generation that’s seamlessly using mobile apps for everything financial – from cryptocurrency to credit cards to payment apps and sending each other money. It’s a very ripe audience for the booming fintech sector in India and marketers must continually look for ways to engage with millennials and ensure they turn into loyal, lifelong customers.

Dave Dabbah, Chief Marketing Officer, CleverTap

Q) What makes CleverTap a step ahead of its peers?

We are the only platform in the business that uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning on real-time behavioral data to personalize the customer experience. Our precise predictive models result in timely, relevant engagement opportunities based on each user’s needs. In fact, our RFM model analysis can generate predictions in as quickly as 24 hours, whereas other tools need at least 30 days’ worth of data to analyze. That’s a lot of missed opportunities.

The answer is the data. Most mobile marketing companies need to bring in a second or even a  third vendor to form a complete picture of the customer, whereas CleverTap is a unified platform that can give companies real-time, actionable data immediately. The emphasis here is real-time. What we can do in real-time, other companies can maybe do in 4, 12, or 24 hours. And when we talk about millennials, the largest population in the country, their purchasing decisions are quick, and if companies aren’t acting to engage them when they’re ready to buy, it’s a missed opportunity. One that loses revenue and breaks the brand.

Q) Please share your reach into Tier 2 and 3 cities. What else are you planning to do in these territories?

All our clients have customers across India, including Tier 2 and 3 markets, and they leverage AI and ML to engage and retain their mobile users in these segments as well. The strategy that works effectively in rural India is to marry data science and a human approach to marketing. The resulting personalization has been emotive and highly effective.

Further, at CleverTap, we understand the power of vernacular communication and encourage our clients to create campaigns that are customized for their users’ language, resulting in a higher success rate. To ensure consistency in regional campaigns, CleverTap also offers localization support, geo-specific campaigns, and has enabled notifications in vernacular languages too, making it all-encompassing.

Also read: MPL Partners with CleverTap to Drive User Engagement

Let’s say a customer is running location-based campaigns for a restaurant with a limited delivery area (4-5 miles). By creating a geofence around the delivery radius, they can send highly relevant and timely push notifications to their customers. They can also use geo-targeting in their marketplace vertical to promote outlets to nearby users and increase foot traffic.

Q) What are your future plans and programs?

We will continue on our data-driven, engagement and retention path. We’re looking at how to improve what we’re doing today, for brands worldwide. That simply means more data, more access to storing that data, quicker ability to create segments on the fly and personalize those messages to people everywhere!

As of today, we deliver 1 trillion user behavior actions every month and this has taught us one thing – ethical marketing. We push our clients to focus on providing the right kind of message on the right channel at the right time. And not bombard users wherever they have a presence. For instance, in a certain segment, we notice that people respond only to emails and not SMS – we’re careful about leveraging this insight and ensure that our clients believe in quality and not quantity. We really protect our brands.

From a business standpoint, we’ve added 162 clients globally – these are significantly large companies doing great business. And we’re looking to add 400 employees across our regions.

Lastly, from an expansion standpoint, we’ll focus on expanding our operations in Mumbai, India and from an overall perspective, our target regions are APAC, Singapore, North America, and Latin America.

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