CEO Capel Navigating Sailthru Email Platform Beyond ‘Just’ Delivery

sailthruIt has been a year since Sailthru CEO Neil Capel last spoke to AdExchanger, and in that space of time, the company has updated its messaging from an email delivery platform provider that is “evolving email” to one that is “the platform of customer insights and personalized communications.” It follows that as marketers look for solutions with their data, steadily, ad technology companies are saying they want to make sense of it beyond the needs of any particular channel such as email in Sailthru’s case.

AdExchanger recently spoke to CEO Neil Capel who provided the latest on his company.

AdExchanger: How has your client list evolved in the past year?

NEIL CAPEL: Our clients are predominantly publishers and eCommerce companies but we are seeing our client list expand to include traditional retailers as well. Our expanding client list is in large part a result of our increased work force. Sailthru is growing as a company – in the past six months we have grown from 30 employees to 70.

What are some of the internal road blocks that eCommerce publishers have today using Sailthru?

I think the biggest challenge is making sure that the customer sees us not just as a platform to send email (an ESP) but as a holistic behavioral communications solution – across channels (email, web, mobile). The idea for Sailthru began as a response to transactional based email – which is a large component for eCommerce companies. We wanted to focus on scaling the personalization of these messages which led to mass personalization of email campaigns – and the company has evolved from there.

We think our product solutions fit more strategically into the marketing mix. If eCommerce companies use our platform to its fullest, they can personalize email for offers based on consumer habits, and understand consumers’ preferred devices or channels where they are consuming information. Sharing these insights with our clients allows them to be more proactive and leverage opportunities with their users.

Cross-platform personalization in email, automation and customer insights – a customer might find each one of these of interest.    Can they buy a la carte?

These products work best in tandem — when brands combine consumer insights across channels and provide the best possible recommendations to their users wherever they are. That said, we do offer our services a la carte, allowing our clients to choose for themselves which services best meet their needs.

Has social data or social advertising made its way into your platform? How do you see this evolving in that it seems to be a key signal on what the consumer may be interested in?

With our recent acquisition of Seamless Receipts we will be introducing to eCommerce clients the capability to add social advertising within transactional emails. For example, if a company choses to incorporate this feature, when a customer makes a purchase online or in the store, the transaction receipt sent could be customized to include additional offers or opportunities to engage with the brand on Facebook, Twitter. This is just another way for users to engage with the brand even after a purchase is made.

Where do you see email going overall in five or 10 years? Can marketers get to a point where every email is relevant?

The average consumer gets over 100 emails a day, and 80 percent of those emails get deleted.  We’re a proponent of sending fewer emails.  ESPs charge companies based on the number of emails sent, so basically they’re being paid to spam you.  We feel that, in the long run, this is a model that doomed for failure.

Recently we changed our pricing model based on the number of users, NOT emails sent— so in many cases you’re sending less emails, not more. Our product value proposition is about respecting the user. Sailthru technology allows a company to send a million emails within one campaign and have each of them be different for each user. Traditional tactics of sending emails to users based on segmentation – gender, age group, demographic – is not personalized enough to engage a customer, in fact in most cases users unsubscribe when they receive content that isn’t unique to them.

As companies – if they haven’t already – start to realize that true personalization is not just a trend in marketing, that it is a necessity, behavioral analytics will be the industry standard. And the trend setters will be companies that can further refine their products to meet demand for specialized content.

Given the data pouring through your platform, is there a chance to resell your datasets?

We do not sell or purchase data. We are absolutely against the practice and take a strong stance on consumer privacy. All data collected by Sailthru lives in the ecosystem of the brand or client maintaining their database of users. That means the relationship is between the user and the brand and we do not share data between clients.

Can you provide a sense of momentum for the company – revenue and profitability for the company? Headcount? Any plans internationally?

Our revenues have been growing by about 15 percent every month, and we’ve recently made two eCommerce acquisitions, Frame and Seamless Receipts. Our headcount has also grown. We currently, as I said, have 70 people in our New York office and a few satellite offices on in Texas and California, and we’re adding positions regularly. We recently relocated our headquarters from a smaller co-office space to occupy our own floor at a building located in the Soho neighborhood of lower Manhattan.  And we are in the process of hiring full-time for positions in our London office.

12 to 18 months from now, what do you see as some critical milestones that you’d like SailThru to achieve?

In regards to our product offerings, you can expect us to have higher visibility in the mobile and social space – this is where users are consuming the majority of their content and looking to engage.

We’d like to see more digital marketers adopting our practices in the next year – sending less email not more, making each communication count using personalization tools – our clients are publishers and eCommerce companies yet the service we provide ultimately benefits the end user. We’re making email relevant again and we are continuing that logic to encompass the web, mobile and social arenas.

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