“As liquidity dries up quickly, and global recessionary trends hit consumers hard, discretionary spending will reduce dramatically. Consumers will over analyse their expenses and prioritise essentials. In such a scenario, user retention becomes paramount for the growth of businesses in the other segments,” – Priyam Jha, brand marketing manager, WebEngage.
Covid-19 has today led consumer brands to realise the importance of engagement-led marketing — to identify, segment and retain their most valuable users. To reach this aim, brands need to focus on an intelligent communication strategy that builds on their value proposition and enhances the user’s life, and this is what WebEngage claims to be providing its clients, Avlesh Singh, cofounder and CEO of the startup told Inc42.
Singh met Ankit Utreja in ‘Burrp!’ back in 2006. With the dream “to build an amazing consumer product and a kickass engineering team”, Singh and Utreja helped build the product and platform at Burrp! Local and Burrp! TV. Post the acquisition of Burrp! by Infomedia18 they decided to move on and worked on their next venture Webklipper, which, in turn, finally led to the inception of WebEngage.
Even with the advent of Covid-19 and the stress on the businesses, WebEngage is helping its clients retain users, instead of acquiring new ones. “Creating an enterprise-level product that solves growth and customer retention problems was the main motivation behind building WebEngage. With the times that exist today, we are proactively helping consumer businesses do one-on-one engagement with millions of users via cross-channel campaigns, all intelligently automated,” added Singh.
With effective engagement, leveraging data, text and personalised communication across multiple channels, WebEngage today boasts of having more than 300 enterprise customers across the globe, over 150 Mn users engaged per day and more.
From On-Site Engagement To Full Stack Marketing Automation
WebEngage’s offerings initially included customised surveys, push notifications, and feedback forms, meant to ease engagement with that anonymous user on its client’s website.
As the traction of WebEngage grew, the founders got the confidence that building the product was, in fact, the right choice. Back in 2016, Singh recalled, the company realised that marketing is a huge pain point for everyone and that marketing teams struggle to do that. “When you think of onsite marketing as a problem, you don’t even go to Google and search for it. So we basically focussed on first creating a market and then establishing ourselves as a leader.”
But creating a product and creating a market are two very different things — trying to create a market for a product means the company has to first make the customer realise that they need such a product, help them understand it, and then convince them in making that purchase —, which is what WebEngage’s discovery has been around.
Spending the first six-seven months in building the first version of the product, the startup was able to monetise from February 2012 as a subscription-based SaaS product.
Cut to today, when people spend almost 90% of their time on their mobile devices, WebEngage claims to be perfectly aligned with this demand by offering engagement channels such as push notifications, in-app messages, SMS, Facebook and WhatsApp.
“The world started moving towards mobile, and it opened up a massive engagement avenue up for grabs. Marketers would have loved to capitalise on mobile engagement as well as the web, which is why the need to pivot into a full-stack automation platform became a logical necessity,” said Singh.
Considering the fact that no one tool fits the marketing requirements of various companies across industries, the startup today has nine channels of communication catering to all major industries and their ever-changing use cases. Added to this, with its user engagement content, businesses have better and more effective campaigns to please their customers.
“Marketers are currently trying to crack the code for engaging effectively with the hyper-connected modern-day consumer. These consumers engage in multi-screen behaviour, and expect brands to be well-versed about their personal preferences, and serve them contextual messages that add real value to their lives,” said Singh.
“With features such as the Journey Designer & Relays, WebEngage has differentiated itself from competitors. Currently, our focus lies on helping businesses retain users via effective, personalised and intelligent user engagement,” said cofounder Utreja.
WebEngage claims that its system enables seamless integration of the product with multiple platforms and data flowability, helping brands get a clear picture of their users’ activity, highlighting patterns, behaviours and more to create impactful campaigns. “Our main USP is our Customer Success Managers, who cater to individual brands helping them solve problems with integration and crafting of intelligent campaigns. With a focus on ensuring the best outcome for brands, the support executive works in record-time to solve customer problems,” added Utreja.
Of course, building any end-to-end platform involves challenges such as offering value across the entire chain. “Simply put, being an enterprise solution, the product will be evaluated by someone, implemented and integrated by someone and used by someone. This is something we really care about and for this, we have built a dedicated team to support all the layers from evaluation to execution,” explained Utreja.
With these offerings that cover all facets of marketing for a business, the startup aims to empower marketers of consumer businesses to not only engage better but also retain users.
“The entire team here at WebEngage firmly adheres to a forward-thinking approach. When it comes to building new products and features, this approach 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 wrt digital touchpoints,” explained Singh.
Even with the pandemic slowing down operations and businesses, WebEngage has been able to grow and scale up its business. Eyeing the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) market, the startup believes this will be the next big growth avenue.
At the same time, it’s looking for organic growth through user retention and relevant technology. “Any kind of acquisition is a luxury right now. Everything is now more centred about retaining the users that they already have, rather than acquiring new ones. Hence, WebEngage is very bullish about the importance of intelligent and smart engagement for businesses to grow their retention,” explained Singh.
In the existing pandemic situations, it is imperative that brands continue to engage with their user base and not go silent. They need to leverage social listening, behavioural data, and online search trends to identify key themes that feature highly in their target audiences. WebEngage believes that this can be done by creating highly contextual and relevant communication campaigns. Armed with these inputs the startup is helping its clients retain the users and convince them to make a purchase far higher than a newly acquired consumer from a paid-marketing effort.
The startup believes that with an engagement-led marketing strategy, brands can assuage users about their value, and continue to build demand for the future once the situation normalises.