Meet the platform that helps brands like PharmEasy, BookMyShow and Domino’s retain its customers
Dave Dabbah, Chief Marketing Officer and Sunil Thomas, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CleverTapBI India Partner
In the past few years, brands have gradually recognized the importance of user retention and have been investing on it
ad-tech

Meet the platform that helps brands like PharmEasy, BookMyShow and Domino’s retain its customers

In the past few years, brands have gradually recognized the importance of user retention and have been investing on it
  • User retention and giving consumers a good experience is extremely important for any brand that wants to become a success in the digital world.
  • CleverTap, an AI-powered customer engagement and retention platform helps brands maximize user lifetime value.
  • We speak to Sunil Thomas, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer and Dave Dabbah, Chief Marketing Officer, CleverTap, who tell us all about the platform’s journey so far, how it has been helping brands to fine-tune and personalize the way they communicate with their consumers and the way forward.
How many of you download apps on your phone to use for an attractive discount that you came across and then forget about them after that one transaction? At the very moment I am writing this, I have around 18 apps on my phone that I haven’t used in the past 12 months (Yes I counted!).

The reasons for this could be a handful. I used it that once and then no other offering interested me. Or perhaps, there were a few good deals but the brand did not reach out to me. Or maybe it did reach out to me, but not at the right time.

For any brand trying to grow itself in the immensely competitive, cluttered digital ecosystem, customer retention is probably as important as customer acquisition. There has been an ongoing discussion about the importance of customer retention and customer acquisition for years and various studies have shown that it costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one, making customer retention a very important part of a brand’s overall digital strategy. Platforms like Swiggy, Zomato, Netflix and Dunzo are examples of brands that have got it right. Be it though timely notification, mailers etc, time and again they have reminded us about various deals, or at times just made us laugh with a funny message, or has come up with content recommendations we have really liked. And this small things have made us stick to these platforms.

Which brings us to CleverTap, an AI-powered customer engagement and retention platform that helps brands maximize user lifetime value. Over the years, CleverTap has worked on many well-known digital brands in segments ranging from OTT, Health and Wellness and Fintech to E-Commerce, Foodtech, gaming, travel and edutech, helping them on customer retention and experience.

In a recent conversation with Sunil Thomas, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer and Dave Dabbah, Chief Marketing Officer, CleverTap, we spoke about the platform’s journey so far, how it has been helping brands to fine-tune and personalize the way they communicate with their consumers and the way forward.

The pandemic impact on business

While 2020 was a difficult year for many businesses, brands that had a strong presence digitally benefitted from the massive adoption of digital across the country. Haven’t we seen our parents finally get comfortable with ordering online, gradually over the last one year?

Therefore it became imperative for brands trying to create their consumer base in the digital world to not just get their consumer engagement right, they also needed to build a loyalty for themselves within the base.

“It’s been a tough year. We are a small company and at a growth stage where interaction with customers and employees is extremely important. However, from a pure business standpoint, we've done well. We grew more than 50% in 2020. And with the world going digital, user retention, which is the problem we solve, has become more and more front and center of the mind for many brands, which has been good for us,” said Thomas.

Till a few years back, brands were still waking up to the importance of spending on customer engagement and user retention. However, in the last one year when there has been a digital boom and we have seen so many brands take off in the digital ecosystem, brands have now become aware of its importance, and this is an important change that Thomas says he has noticed in the past few years.

“There has been a shift in consumers physically going out to buy products or services to now them buying everything online. So companies that had started to build towards user engagement and retention and utilizing mobile apps to provide a lot of those services accelerated those programs pretty quickly, in the 16 or so months. For consumers, it created a bit of an instant need to get comfortable with that type of behavior. I can no longer go into a Safeway in North America, which makes me really happy because I never liked going to the grocery store anyway, but Safeway, the brand, knowing my purchasing trends, knowing what I'm interested in and figuring out my cadence with the data that they have on me is really the holy grail of it all. And companies not only realize they needed to do it, they put the resources to it to make it happen,” explained Dabbah.

The pandemic has given many people that push to come online and purchase, something so many of them were not comfortable with even till a year back. A lot of CleverTap’s offering is based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning that helps brands track consumer behavior and send out messages based on this behavior. “There has been an increase in a lot of new users coming into the ecosystem in the last one year and it brings up a lot of opportunities for brands. As new users come in, it is all about creating the right experience, an easy on-boarding, helping users forget their previous biases and experimenting with new user flows, user journeys, personalization to make it simple. At times it can be something as simple as putting a ‘Pay you bill’ button on your homepage or just showing the right recommendation of content.

Of data and consumer privacy

There has been an ongoing debate on data privacy. Since a lot of what CleverTap does directly relies on consumer data, how are they making sure that the privacy of the consumers using the apps of their clients are safe?

Explaining how they ensure safety, Dabbah said, “Brands are actually using the data that they collect to improve the user experience in the actual specific mobile app that you're using, as opposed to following you all over the internet. That’s how brands look at our technology. It is about being able to use real-time information to provide actionable data into the system to improve the experience for the consumer. Take for instance platforms like Netflix. I feel Netflix understands me maybe even better than my children. So, they do a really good job of using the information of what I just did on their platform, as well as the time and date information, to change the experience for me to what they believe is going to be best catered to that point. It isn't somebody sitting in an office and running a single campaign. There's an automated system, most likely driven by an AI or ML technology underneath it which is actually improving that experience.”

“We give a lot of importance to privacy at CleverTap. We only deal with first-party data. Clevertap is General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) compliant. We recently got our SOC 2 Type II compliance which deals with employee access to data. We are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant as well. We take this very seriously and as a small company, the amount of work we do towards compliance and security certifications is part of our core. We also enable geographic boundaries, there are regulations in different countries, India included, where financial data cannot leave the country borders. And it's the same in multiple countries and we follow all those regulations too,” added Thomas.

What the future holds

CleverTap was founded in 2014 and since then a lot of other players have entered the segment too. However what gives them an edge, both Thomas and Dabbah feel, is their holistic view at user retention.

So where will the next phase of growth for CleverTap come from? “There is a geography piece to this. Today we operate out of countries like India, the US, Singapore, London, UAE, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and Vietnam but we also do businesses in 20-25 more countries using these countries as the hub. So the geographical growth will come naturally to us. There is also a vertical aspect to growth. There are certain new verticals that have exploded today like edtech, health and wellness, and even e-commerce. So new segments coming up will help us grow too,” explained Thomas.

As the company witnessed 50% growth in 2020, an otherwise challenging year, Thomas is confident that 2021 will be much better in terms of performance. “I'm extremely optimistic that we will do much better in 2021. We saw digital explode in 2020 which so much digital adoption. Digital transformation projects have got accelerated considerably. Everybody has to have this story figured out. The importance of user attention has been recognized and we don't have to fight to teach it so we are optimistic about a good year ahead,” said Thomas on a concluding note.