CleverTap is the leading AI-powered customer engagement and retention platform that helps brands maximize user lifetime value. CleverTap is the only platform that uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to personalize the customer experience using real-time behavioral data. These precise predictive models result in timely, relevant engagement opportunities based on each user’s exact needs.
In Part -2 of the conversation with MediaNews4U Anand Jain – Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, CleverTap talks about their USP, brand communication for millennials, advantages of AI & ML, and much more…
From the time you started in 2015 till now, there are many other platforms that are offering the same kind of capabilities that you. What is that one USP which differentiates you from others?
It’s a great question. We have a very unique take on the problem of user retention. We believe that you could spend money to acquire users. We have seen ads on television, a lot of brands are going to acquire new users. Maybe some of us are sitting with our phones in the living room, and we might download an app just because it sounds very cool like that. They have a very funny ad. The question is, how do you retain that person? Once the IPL is over and your brand stop showing up in front of the person, how do you ensure that the user continues to consume your app content? For example, there are various stock apps right now. Lets’ say you download an app and decide to invest in stock market. 30 days later, there are other things vying for our attention. You forget about all that, right? Or maybe you bought one stock just to try it out, spend 100 rupees and you bought some safe stock. And then it’s done, and you don’t pursue that any further. Now, that’s not really your investment strategy. It was just an experiment on an app. The question is for the brand, which acquired you, as a user, they had to spend a lot of money, trying to build the commercial, and then run the commercial right several times during the IPL, and they got you as a user. You can spend money on acquiring users. The question is, how do you retain them? I think that our biggest differentiator is that we have built an entire science of user retention. All of the brands use CleverTap to help retain users better improve user retention by a significant percentage. We have seen in cases that we have helped them improve user retention by up to five times of what they would do without CleverTap. I’ll give you an interesting stat. A brand will lose 90% of the newly acquired users within the first 90 days. That’s a study done by a few mobile measurement companies. So, let me just spend money to acquire 100 people, 90 went away within the first three months, and you’re only left with 10, which means your customer acquisition cost goes up by 10x. So, with CleverTap, you would be able to retain a lot of those people back, just because we put a lot of science and data into it as we help you personalize. For example, imagine the Chroma store where you were trying to go look for television and no one came to help you. Or if you started asking about payment options etc. and they hand you a booklet and say help yourself as all the FAQs are listed here. That would be a very impersonal experience. A lot of brands do this like the moment you launch their app, they will ask you for your location permission or permission to send you notifications, will push you to sign up, etc. A lot of users would not like to sign up with an app that is pushing things to them. So how do you build trust and give the user time to explore before you push them into doing something? All that is behind the science of retention and that’s what we help with. That is our core USP, which differentiates us, from everyone else in the world.
India is a mobile-first company, how do you think brands should handle their online communications especially when they are communicating to young millennial?
Not only in India, but a lot of emerging markets are also mobile-first, let’s look at South East Asia or Latin America. All these are emerging markets. We know this because all these are also markets; we serve a lot of customers in these parts of the world. It is important to note that millennials have a deficit in attention span. They jump from one thing to the other very quickly. Unlike how we grew up, an era where we just had one channel (Doordarshan) and if you want to watch it you can turn it on and if not, you can turn it off. However, this new generation is born in a digital-first world with a lot of distractions. How do you make sure that your communication is resonating with your audience? So for that, we have tools at CleverTap, that we have built the basis of data science. For example, what is the best time to send messages, the best set of products to recommend, or the kind of emotions your communication exhibits? We have tools to identify these details and bubble them to the marketer or growth marketer for a brand and then you can customize/ personalize this message to make sense to the target audience you are communicating to. That is one thing, on the discovery bit- how are this age group or a particular set of people using my product (what are they up to) and I think for that also we have several tools and we call them “User Insights” or “User Behavior” tools, used to discover interesting use of behaviors, for example, you can compare one set of people to the other set of people. For example, compare champion users (people who very frequently use my app) to people who have recently used my app and people who have spent money on my app comparing to people who are newly acquired and understand what are their characteristics and how are they different from one another. Using these discovery tools you can make groups of people, for example, people who are most likely to transact or least likely to transact and so and so forth. Basis the takeaway you can send personalized messages to people (going to sign up, will sign up or renew their subscription.
Like you said the pandemic has seen a huge vast growth in digital usage, how do you think brands and marketers tap tier- II and tier- III and also the markets where aspiring India Lives?
That is an interesting question, I think you go back in the past, maybe 7-8 years ago there were not too many start-ups catering to that segment or markets. Everyone was building for urban markets and people and maybe credit cardholders (a narrower segment), I think what we have seen in the last 3 or 4 years in India is that there are a lot of brands now who are building for Bharat and not just India. Again, India is a very complex country, and not only India and Bharat and even in Bharat there is a lot of nuances stuff and it is very heartening to see that brands or apps tend to understand that whether it is vernacular content or local innovations such as apps helping small businesses, adopt technology and become modern, etc. Plus the pandemic forces everyone to come online, if the real world shuts down where does one go? If running a business the businessman would probably online, a retailer starts selling things online because the shop is shut. Not everything can be done online but as much as possible, or a person can during this segment, how do marketers tap this segment, I think it is the understanding of the segment – it begins there and segregating a group of people and where they are coming from. If you look at Netflix or even the local streaming apps you will see there is a very different behavior, maybe in a village the usage id different from the urban or tier-I cities and I think the marketers need to understand and appreciate these differences, build more content or produce more content for that particular segment and then talk to the audiences. Using products like CleverTap can enable to talk to their audience whether you are in the city or in a non-urban kind of a place or whether you have a patchy internet connection or a fiber one, no matter what the circumstances are we make sure your message reaches the customer depending on who they are where they are from and what they have done with an app or website.
Do you really think AI and ML maximize conversations for brands with their target audience?
Yes, I absolutely believe that cause sometimes it is not just conversations or sends emails but with machine learning sometimes you can figure what is the right thing to send or understand if it is the right time to send, for example, if you are already transacting three times a day – buying things from your favorite store or if you are already watching three hours of Netflix every day there is no reason for them to send you a message, once again the world goes away from rule-based- which send everyone a message to tell them about a movie or launch of the product, do more intelligent communication or natural ways of communication. To your earlier questions like millennial or even people like us do not have a choice of form of communication to interact with the brand, it is multi-model and for the brand, they have to reach the brand no matter where the users are and again products like CleverTap even machine learning helps predict brands where the user is going to come next. For example, if you purchase a product and there is a message for a refund in the next 72 hours, then you are expecting a refund call in the next 72 hours and be prepared for that instead of starting the conversation all over again and move directly to the purpose of the communication be in a pick-up, hence the brands add meaning to their communications. Conversations will become multi-model in fact they already have become multi-model whether you are calling a client through chatbot or call them up or send an email and behind the scenes the more data you have the more chances of meaningfully responding to the users now.
Voice has become a huge thing now, what do you think about it?
It is a bug thing because directionally if you think about it everything is moving digital, there were no tools available back in the days to process this amount of data. There are three threads of tech – one being computing has become very powerful, computers have shrunk and data storage is cheaper and a lot of data science models are available (to use data meaningfully) a lot of technologies like CleverTap are available that enable brands to stand on the shoulders of what we have already been. From a trends perspective or a tech perspective, it is going to go in that direction. Lastly, it also becomes a competitive thing like the better your experiences for your users the better you are going to be. Especially the emerging markets, 20 years back they were happy with whatever car they had or however signal was but now people want the best of the class no matter if you are rich or not but want the best and brands who understand how to provide personalized/ meaningful experiences to users by leveraging their personal data are going to thrive and it is not going to be the same for everyone.