Iterable, a cross-channel platform for customer experiences, today announced the close of a $200 million series E that values the company at $2 billion post-money. Iterable says the funds will be spent on hiring, marketing, and R&D initiatives, with an eye toward geographic expansion.
Only 30% of marketers are highly confident in their ability to deliver a multichannel strategy, according to a survey by Invesp. This being the case, 95% of salespeople say they consider multichannel marketing important for customer targeting, and an estimated 51% of companies use at least eight channels to interact with customers.
That’s why in 2013 Andrew Boni, who worked at Google on AdSense, teamed up with former Twitter engineer Justin Zhu to found Iterable, a startup developing a platform that enables brands to create, execute, and optimize cross-channel campaigns. Iterable’s tools leverage big data analytics to analyze users’ behavior and optimize the time, channel, and frequency to engage with them. The tools automatically suss out the best time for conversion — gleaned through event data — and designate the channels users are most likely to convert in.
“Iterable was built to give every marketer, regardless of technical skill or business size, the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with their customers. The platform is designed to enable anyone with the will to reach customers a way to actually reach them,” a spokesperson told VentureBeat via email. “The brands that are winning in this post-pandemic world are the ones that made the jump to digital — and are able to continue meeting rapidly expanding and evolving customer expectations. Iterable, having already adopted the digital- forward and customer-first ethos, helped our customers evolve — and continue to connect with customers — during the uncertainty of the pandemic.”
From Iterable’s dashboard, marketing managers can orchestrate welcome campaigns and trials, targeted sales, promotions, and product updates across mail, mobile push, SMS, in-app, web push, and direct mail channels. They’re able to deploy cart abandonment flows and define rules-based triggers that kick off post-purchase, as well as renewal sequences. Using Iterable, salespeople can also build cross-channel segments with drag-and-drop filters and schedulers.
An analysis module called Iterable Insights lets clients drill down into real-time user, behavioral, and event data from up to millions of people. Marketers can measure and fine-tune campaigns with an experimentation and A/B testing tool, dynamically segmenting customers, thanks to support for profiles spanning hundreds of demographic and custom event data fields.
AI and machine learning
Iterable says it’s investing in several sales-focused AI technologies, reflecting the desire of its enterprise customers. In a survey Iterable conducted of business-to-consumer marketers in the U.S. and U.K., 83% of respondents shared that they had plans to integrate AI into their marketing plans in 2021.
Other data bears this out. When McKinsey surveyed 1,500 executives across industries and regions in 2018, 66% said addressing skills gaps related to automation and digitization was a “top 10” priority. And in its recent Trends in Workflow Automation report, Salesforce found that 95% of IT leaders are prioritizing workflow automation technologies like chatbots, with 70% seeing the equivalent of more than four hours of savings per employee each week.
One of Iterable’s newer AI-powered products is Brand Affinity, which automatically calculates a score based on a customer’s recent interactions with a brand through email and mobile engagement signals. The signals are converted into affinity labels like “loyal,” “neutral,” or “negative,” enabling marketers to classify how their audience feels about a brand and create campaigns in response.
Iterable also offers a feature called sent time optimization (STO), an AI-powered sending tool that automatically determines the time to send an email for engagement based on a user’s historical behavior. Analyzing patterns in historical open and click behavior, STO personalizes the send time of an email for each recipient, aiming to reach their inbox when they’re most likely to engage.
Over 300 customers have used STO to send more than 2 billion messages from more than 100,000 campaigns, according to Iterable.
“Our AI tools complement the work of today’s modern marketers. Iterable’s AI processes manual tasks, surfaces customer insights, and automates the routine decision-making processes that consume bandwidth,” the spokesperson said. “Our product team is focused on delivering our customers the future of marketing, so they can [meet] high customer expectations with smart technology now. For Iterable, the future is now and AI is here.”
The global omnichannel retail commerce platform market is expected to grow from $2.99 billion in 2017 to $11.01 billion by 2023, and Iterable isn’t the only startup vying for a slice of it. There’s Punchh and 6sense, which in April 2019 raised $27 million for its cloud-hosted marketing and sales predictive analytics tools. Another rival, RedPoint, offers similar products that analyze customer data with AI.
But despite the fierceness of the competition, Iterable has made a name for itself, attracting over 800 customers, including DoorDash, Fender, Calm, Box, and Cars.com. The company says it plans to expand its workforce from 450 employees to 600 by the end of the year.
“At Iterable, our goal is to strengthen the relationship between brands and their customers by empowering marketers to create personalized and inclusive digital experiences. An important component of this relationship-building — and a top priority for customers — is trust and transparency,” Boni told VentureBeat via email. “To make memorable and personalized experiences possible while building trust, first- and zero-party data are more important than ever. This type of data has always been a priority for our product, and at the core of Iterable’s mission and values, and in light of recent regulations and restrictions around third-party data, brands need to learn the utility of this data so they can [use] it strategically, for the benefit of their business and audience. There’s a gap in the market for a company that can harness and deploy the power of customer data and complement, not replace, the work of today’s marketers.”
Silver Lake, Adams Street, Glynn Capital, and Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners participated in San Francisco-based Iterable’s latest funding round, which follows a $60 million series D that closed in late 2019. Previous backers Viking, CRV, Blue Cloud, and Capital One Ventures also contributed.