Fitting marketing into the engineering cycle

AVLESH SINGH, FOUNDER AND CEO, WEBENGAGE

In October 2011, Webklipper released WebEngage, to address the problems faced by global online marketing teams in executing contextual and targeted marketing campaigns on their own website. “This is primarily due to the fact that it is the development and product teams’ prerogative to add on elements to their website, which is governed by an entire engineering cycle (development, design, testing, deployment etc.),” explains founder-CEO Avlesh Singh, who founded the company along with Ankit Utreja, in 2010. Thanks to this engineering cycle, marketers have to typically wait for months on end to launch their on-site campaigns, even while conducting small experiments. WebEngage, however, enables a highly targeted PUSH engine (the ability to pop offers/messages/promotions/questionnaires) targeted at user segments on websites from a remote dashboard. “Our USP is ‘zero code changes needed on your website’,” explains Singh.

The company was started with the personal savings of the two founders. In May 2011, Rajan Anandan (Google India MD), led a small angel round in bringing in the first external capital infusion in the company.

Going viral

When The Smart CEO last wrote about Webklipper (November 2011), the company had a team of three and has since grown to 23 people. It plans to grow to a team strength of 40 by December 2014. The company mainly comprises engineers though there is a small sales team and a good part of the hiring happens via references and LinkedIn.

Currently, Webklipper has crossed US $1million in annualised revenue run-rate and has customers in over 30 countries. “The WebEngage widget is driving conversions and improving customer engagement on over 20,000 websites – every day, every minute,” says Singh.

Most of the growth has been thanks to social and word of mouth. All WebEngage products carry a ‘powered by WebEngage’ branding when they show up on a customer’s website. Only enterprise customers get to remove it. “This logo has been the single biggest source of discovery for WebEngage,” explains SIngh. Apart from this, the company also relies on content marketing and creating good quality content is one of its biggest focus areas. “Our blog posts provide us a steady stream of inbound leads. A recent addition to our efforts is this new use-case library we are building on Twitter using hashtag #WebEngageLive – this is fast becoming the go-to gallery for our customers who get some amazing insights on why/how other 20k websites are using us,” he adds.

Building greater depth

Webklipper’s current focus is on building depth and it has decided that breadth, by means of expanding offerings to include engagement tools similar to livechat, can wait. With this in mind, the company is working on two new rollouts – goals and conversion tracking and in-app customer engagement toolkit. Goals and conversion tracking is the new ability inside WebEngage to set goals for marketing/product teams to use WE to achieve them. “Not only will we help customers achieve those goals but also help track conversions on them. So, for example, if your goal was to reduce cart abandonment, we will get users back on your site and also tell you how many of those converted into sales,” Singh explains the feature. This way, he believes WebEngage is taking the focus of marketers and product managers back to where it should be, on their website! The first version is expected to be released this month.

The second tool, an in-app customer engagement toolkit, will be released by mid-October, this year. This will be similar to the application the company has for desktop/mobile web, and is intended for use inside mobile apps. “We are building one of the most powerful push notification engines for app developers/marketers,” shares Singh.

Apart from these two products, the company is also continuously increasing its depth in notification and survey products, giving its customers more options and control, be it UI related configurations or building intelligence over data. “Expect us to announce an addition of new capabilities, every quarter,” says a very upbeat Singh. At present, Webklipper offers WebEngage Survey, which helps websites create relevant surveys and generate real-time statistics for each survey. Another tool, WebEngage Feedback, enables collecting customised feedback form and response via e-mail or a dashboard.

There are a lot of adjacent players but we do not compete directly with anyone. We are instead creating a market for on-website PUSH marketing.

The company follows a subscription model for its software. Depending upon the features and limits on usage, the plans could range from US $29/month to US $249/month. For enterprises, the plan is customised according to customer need. The pricing ranges from US $2,500/month and goes up several notches, depending on usage.

Taking challenges in its stride 

In this journey of scale, he expects there will always be problems of marketing, branding and growth that will need to be solved and does not really consider them a challenge. According to him, expansion is an outcome of how soon can you solve these problems. “We are at it,” he says, in a matter of fact manner.

While agreeing that hiring great talent is a problem, he points out that it is true for every Indian startup. “Funding and market reach are less of a problem in today’s ecosystem. Companies that are worthy and need access to capital/market are able to find it far more easily now,” he says.

Choosing what’s optimum

Ever since online marketing and e-commerce have boomed, so have products and solution providers who aim to make the life of online marketers easy. “There are a lot of adjacent players but we do not compete directly with anyone. We are instead creating a market for on-site PUSH marketing,” says Singh. His aim is to democratise the space (with a powerful product) and become the de-facto conversion optimisation toolkit for marketing companies. “Our USP is a no-nonsense, DIY product which works without any development efforts. More importantly, you can measure the uplift you get by using WebEngage in dollar terms,” he adds.

He gives the example of Yatra.com; one of India’s leading online travel companies. The portal wanted to convert customers seeking information for ‘Find Flights’ to opt instead for a ‘Find Flights + Hotels’ option. Webklipper customised its notification tool and Yatra needed less than two hours to go live with this notification on its website.

WebEngage notification drives SEO traffic towards conversion goal, monetises SEM traffic by offering discounts, guides new visitors and pushes system alerts in real-time, on the website. It also provides secure, in-depth report of clicks, statistics on city, country, browser and platform. Following the implementation of this tool, Yatra could convert five per cent of the users to upgrade to a “flight + hotel” combination deal on looking for flight details.

Charting a growth path

The company raised half a million dollars in seed capital from New Delhi-based GTI in July 2012. Blume Ventures is a shareholder after buying out some of the investors from the angel round.

The company has been very capital efficient and a sizeable chunk of the money it has raised is still in the bank. “For the last seven to eight months, despite growing expenses, we have managed to run this business in a cash flow positive manner,” says Singh. The company wants to achieve a certain scale before reaching out to investors for Series A funding. “There is some inbound interest from VCs in the company. We are responding to the interest displayed by a few firms,” he adds.

For Singh and Webklipper, the vision is to become a company with multiple office locations, a team of over 100 people and to drive on-site marketing on over 2,00,000 websites across the globe in the next three years.

THEN (NOV 2011) NOW (AUG 2014)
3 employees 23 employees
500 customers 20,000 customers
Seed funding Funding from GTI Capital