Companies have talked about personalized marketing for years, most recently as a central facet to their digital transformation efforts. Yet little progress has been made toward real personalization, said Karl Wirth, founder and CEO of startup Evergage, which sells software that enables marketers to deliver personalized experiences across websites and in mobile applications.
"Most websites will ask you to sign up for a webinar, then when you come back to the home page after signing up, it asks you to sign up for the webinar again," he said. "In five to 10 years, you'll get fired for doing that."
Just about any website offers a basic level of personalization, he said, gearing the content that site visitors see to the email, Google campaign or other referral source that brought them to the site. "What gets hard is when you try to leverage deep data for personalization in real time," he said.
Companies typically cannot merge historical data with real-time data, much less analyze it and use it to serve up personalized offers, Wirth said. Many vendors create personalization software by tweaking one of three types of more traditional marketing applications: email marketing applications that typically capture little data and not in real time; Web analytics apps that process lots of data but are not tied to taking action; or a/b testing apps that involve making dynamic changes to websites but not using deep data.
In contrast, Wirth said, he and co-founder Greg Hinkle, now Evergage's chief technology officer, set out to build a personalization platform that was "easy, deep, real time and one-to-one."
The two men met at Red Hat, where Wirth was Hinkle's boss. They worked together on cloud solutions, and Hinkle's specialty was leveraging real-time Big Data for IT operations. The pair believed there was a big market for marketing solutions built using similar technology, an opinion that was confirmed by "talking to lots of potential customers," Wirth said.
Founded in 2010, the company was originally called Apptegic, a name the men realized just wasn't right, Wirth said. They changed it to Evergage in 2013, believing it better described the software's ability to help companies offer continual engagement to their customers.
Digital Marketing's Opportunity
The market opportunity is huge, Wirth said, and so is his company's future.
"I think we're going to go public and be the next Salesforce," he said. "There is that big of an opportunity for a standalone platform that does what we do. Every company needs a centralized real-time personalization platform that is integrated with their other systems but making the decisions about how they will be interacting with their customers and their prospects."
Evergage enjoyed a successful 2015, signing more than 50 new customers, including Carrier, LendingTree, Tivo, WeddingWire, Xome and Zumiez, and doubling its year-over-year revenue. According to the company, the number of Evergage campaigns created and deployed by its customers more than doubled in 2015, and usage saw a 334 percent growth in the number of personalized content impressions delivered and a 375 percent increase in the volume of events - such as clicks, form entries and page loads - tracked.
Wirth attributed the growth to the software's ease of use. "We make it easy for marketers to decide what data to capture, to capture it, analyze it, and run personalizations based on it, without IT intervention. Marketers can iterate it, which means they will do it, so you do not end up with shelfware," he said.
Evergage also introduced a mobile app solution that, like its Web product, includes behavioral tracking, real-time segmentation and targeting, A/B and multivariate testing, individualized product and content recommendations, statistical analysis and attribution reporting.
The company last month raised $10 million in a Series B round led by Arrowroot Capital, together with existing investors G20 Ventures and Point Judith Capital, bringing its total funds raised to more than $21 million.
Evergage will invest in engineering talent and sales and marketing staff, Wirth said, with plans to increase the company's workforce from the current 50 to more than 85 by the end of this year. Its chief marketing officer, hired in 2014, formerly worked for one of Evergage's customers.
Another area of focus for Evergage in 2016 will be adding more integrations. It already integrates with Google Analytics, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and 11 popular email marketing solutions, including Act-On, Hubspot, IBM Silverpop and Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. Wirth said integrations are "essential" to growing business.
Fast Facts about Evergage
Founders: Karl Wirth and Greg Hinkle
HQ: Somerville, Mass.
Product: Real-time digital marketing platform that enables marketers to deliver one-to-one experiences across websites and in mobile applications
Employees: 50, with plans to grow headcount to 85 employees by the end of 2016
Customers: Rue La La, Travelzoo, Publishers Clearing House and LendingTree, among others
Funding: $21 million, with investors including Advanced Technology Ventures, Arrowroot Capital, G20 Ventures and Point Judith Capital
Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.