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Twilio launches new platform focused on personalized marketing

During today’s Signal conference, Twilio unveiled a new platform — Twilio Engage — that it says will enable personalization at scale for business-to-consumer companies. A pillar of Twilio’s customer engagement platform, Engage, is designed to help marketers build and launch tailored end-to-end marketing campaigns.

An increasing number of companies are embracing personalization for marketing. While the share of marketing budgets devoted to personalization can vary, a recent survey showed that 33% of marketers in the U.S. and U.K. spent more than half of their online marketing funds on personalization efforts. The investment often pays off. According to Salesforce, consumers are 2.1 times more likely to view personalized offers as important versus unimportant.

Engage combines Twilio Segment customer data infrastructure with the company’s communication APIs, delivering customer experiences in real time across different channels. Twilio Segment, the division of Twilio formed after the company’s acquisition of the customer data platform, Segment, last November. This offers a developer toolkit and a set of services designed to address the needs of marketing teams.

As Twilio explains in a press release, Engage — which is in pilot with general availability expected in Q1 2022 — allows marketers to:

  • Know their customers with real-time customer insights, behavior-based automation, and experimentation tools.
  • Personalize interactions by using first-party customer data to build audience groups as well as over 400 integrations with tools, analytics platforms, and messaging services.
  • Monitor campaigns in one place with custom dashboards.

“When Segment joined Twilio, [my cofounder] and I were digging into what problems needed to be solved for our customers. After every conversation with our customers, it became more and more clear that business-to-consumer marketers needed help,” Twilio Segment CEO Peter Reinhardt told VentureBeat via email. “Engage is [a] new platform for marketers. It combines Twilio Segment’s customer data platform with Twilio’s communications APIs to deliver personalized customer experiences in real-time, across every channel for true end-to-end campaign building.”

Personalized marketing

From Twilio’s perspective, customer relationship management (CRM) systems bottleneck billions of business-to-customer touchpoints. Companies can deliver personalized experiences today, but this usually requires that they build infrastructure from scratch using first-party data — an undertaking that can prove costly.

A separate Statista survey found that manual data entry was among the biggest challenges in using CRM systems. Others included a lack of integration with other tools, invalid or incorrect data, and an absence of features to track existing sales funnels.

“We’ve seen again and again, across customers and the digital giants like Google and Amazon, that the key to being digital-first is being data-first, and that the underlying customer data infrastructure we provide — real-time, dynamically updated first-party data — is the new starting point for thinking about your customers,” Reinhardt continued. “Before, marketers were handed rigid, one-size-fits-all suites, which just doesn’t work in our digital-first world. Engage lets marketers use any combination of tools, data integrations, analytics, and messaging to build and deliver true, personalized customer experiences at scale.”

The global CRM market size was estimated to be worth $43.7 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $47.6 billion in 2021. If Twilio can successfully disrupt it, beating back competitors in the process, the windfall could be substantial.

Twilio’s effort to corner marketing operations dovetail with the company’s rollout of tools aimed at customer data platforms (CDP). Segment released its dev kit in August, promising to give organizations a way to save money, gain greater control, and reduce the risk of adopting a solution that doesn’t meet their needs. In April, Segment founder and CEO Peter Reinhardt told VentureBeat that the near-term goal was a customer engagement tool that could blend the Segment and Twilio experience into a seamless customer data management system.

“No one could have predicted how much our habits and preferences as consumers would have changed over the last two years. Combine this generational shift of consumer preferences with the overnight rush to digital, it became so clear that marketers need a new set of tools to actually deliver the personalization that consumers have come to expect,” Reinhardt added. “Companies like Amazon and Netflix are the gold standard for digital customer engagement, but almost no one has the resources to build the same level of data infrastructure themselves. We are democratizing personalization so any business-to-consumer company and marketer can deliver the exceptional interactions customers today expect across every touchpoint.”

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