Q&A: Anup Khera, VP & GM, International, Attentive
Attentive is the leader in conversational commerce. They help brands reinvent the way they manage their business-to-consumer communication through the use of text messaging.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I’ve been working in the industry for more than 20 years. My background is mainly in customer and employee engagement at tech companies including Cheetah Digital, Salesforce and latterly Haiilo, where I was the Chief Revenue Officer for three years.
I’ve had a wide ranging career so far managing multiple business functions including new and existing business, sales development, solution consulting, strategic services, partnerships and alliances.
I joined Attentive in February this year to help bring the incredible opportunity that SMS marketing offers to brands in Europe. It’s still hugely underutilized and Attentive’s US market success and industry leading approach makes them perfect to push the expansion in both the EMEA and APAC regions.
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
Attentive is the leader in conversational commerce. We help brands reinvent the way they manage their business-to-consumer communication through the use of text messaging. Brands are having to deal with the dual challenge of email and ads no longer cutting through with consumers, while meeting customers’ heightened expectations for personal and interactive brand experiences. Attentive addresses this tension and opportunity head on and helps brands communicate directly with their customers – in the channel and format that those customers want – to cut through the noise.
What’s special about the platform and your approach?
Brands are consistently using their data much more effectively than they were five or ten years ago, from browsing behaviors or purchasing behavior, to help them really understand their customers and drive a brilliant customer experience. However, all that communication and marketing goes in one direction and customers have no real way of replying or engaging conveniently and in real time with the brand.
SMS marketing allows brands to collect first-party data and zero-party data from their audience with their consent, which helps infer their needs and preferences. It is a secure way for brands to strengthen the relationships with their consumers with privacy built-in. It is a safe, frictionless experience that aligns exactly to what consumers want today – speed and communication on their preferred devices and channels.
What advantage does it add?
Attentive enables brands to use first and zero party data – information they’ve collected directly from their customers or audience with their permission. Collecting first-party data through direct marketing channels—including SMS, email, and loyalty programs—helps brands reach the right shopper at the right time, with the right message in a secure way that’s highly personalised to that individual.
By using our platform, UK brands are driving up to 30% more online revenue and providing relevant, personalized, and localized communications to better engage their customers. In 2021, Attentive customers sent or received over 18 billion texts and Attentive drove $10 billion in revenue for its customers. Brands see open rates of 99%, significantly higher than for traditional email marketing. This positive reaction also helps manage relationships with customers, and we found it has reduced customer service costs by between 10% and 50% for our clients.
How does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?
Like email, SMS has evolved into a direct marketing channel that lets brands connect with consumers in a personalized and measurable way. When working with a brand, we work with them to educate on the Attentive platform and support them in understanding the most effective ways of rolling out an SMS campaign. Attentive’s platform is incredibly easy to use even for someone with relatively limited experience, and so brands can be launching campaigns within days of starting to work with us
You need to measure success with SMS just like any other marketing channel. We often find that marketers choose to measure success depending on the strategy, but that could be through any one of revenue driven, revenue per recipient or total return on investment. Marketers clearly always want to maximise total revenue, but taking a longer term approach can also be helpful when looking to grow customer lifetime value.
Are there other companies you partner with?
Absolutely – while Attentive is incredibly proud to be leading the way in delivering impact for brands through the use of SMS, we haven’t done it alone. We work with a wide range of partners – ranging from agencies such as Vervaunt, Underwater Pistol, and We Make Websites, and tech partners like Shopify, Salesforce and Emarsys, to make sure our customers, and our partner’s clients, stay ahead of the curve.
We use a tiered partner structure, split into Pioneer, Prodigy and Promoter. Attentive Pioneers are our most established partners, trusted by brands to create exceptional customer experiences. These get exclusive benefits, including extra strategy support and prioritised leads. Prodigy partners help clients with deep expertise in e-commerce and marketing tech – they receive best-in-class resources to accelerate their SMS performance. Lastly, our Promoter partners who don’t manage SMS services for their clients but provide strategic solution recommendations and referrals for Attentive.
We also have a dedicated partner portal to help all our partners get the most of what SMS can offer their clients.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2023 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2022?
It is no secret that nowadays, consumers shop differently for almost everything. More online, more multi-channel, with more demands from the brands they interact with. This shift is only going to become more pointed as prices rise, and consumers find themselves needing to prioritize spending.
One trend we have seen in recent months is the clear slowdown in the search ads business, reported by the technology giants like Google, which has implications for the worlds of digital advertising and ecommerce more broadly.
As traditional advertising methods slow, brands are turning to conversational commerce as an alternative and effective way of reaching their customers. In addition to the track record of delivering return on investment for marketers, it also offers the consistent and personalised experience that consumers have come to expect in a privacy-compliant way through first party data. To that end, I think there is a real opportunity for retailers in the UK to make an early move towards building better and more rewarding relationships with their customers.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
We only launched in the UK in April this year and since then we have signed up hundreds of new UK customers including brands like Moda in Pelle, Astrid & Miyu, Killstar, and FLOWERBX. What’s really exciting though is the potential for the growth of conversational commerce in the UK market.
The UK is a smartphone-first market, with more than 20 per cent of UK retail sales originating via mobile, and soon, every B2C brand will be expected to communicate with their customers via text message. In the current environment, we’re really excited about the growth opportunity in the UK and our capacity to support retail and e-commerce brands with that transition.
Outside of the U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia, we are now live in Italy, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, France, Netherlands, and Ireland and are looking at taking on new brands in all of these territories.
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