Editor’s note: Launched in San Francisco in June 2012, Relevvant helps brands understand their customers more intimately by gathering, analyzing and making Big Data actionable across multiple marketing channels. Craig Davis, founder and CEO, describes how the SaaS marketing platform works and discusses challenges that will arise over the next year with mobile marketing campaigns.
Please describe your company.
Craig Davis: Relevvant is a privately held, SaaS marketing platform that offers brands and agencies the tools they need to engage with their customers more intimately. While relevancy has been an important topic for marketers, there have been no platforms that address it head-on. Marketers use Relevvant to easily access and unify customer data from disparate sources in real time to optimize and personalize engagement across multiple channels.
Please describe your product and your market.
Craig Davis: As the amount and types of data continue to grow, it is more important than ever for enterprises to make sense of, and act upon, all of the data currently available to them from social networks, CRM data, purchasing data, location data, behavioral data and more. Savvy brand marketers understand that every customer engagement is more effective when the right content is delivered to the right person on the right channel.
The Relevvant platform enables enterprises to execute highly personalized campaigns at tremendous scale. Companies in retailing, entertainment media, travel/hospitality, technology and other industries rely on the platform to drive global marketing across multiple channels.
What inspired you to launch the company and what was the original vision/hope?
Craig Davis: Today’s fully connected mobile lifestyle is bringing the opportunity for targeted engagement across the entire marketing ecosystem. In creating Relevvant, our hope was to develop an innovative new platform designed for brand advertisers and digital marketers looking to harness the influence of mobile and social to drive better brand engagement. Since then, the vision has grown to include more data than social and more channels than mobile.
Please describe your product’s differentiation and how it provides business value for your customers.
Craig Davis: An enterprise’s data architecture is very complex, and the customer data locked in it is often more valuable than data collected from third-party sources. Yet, most marketers have not had the ability to easily access and leverage it. Relevvant is the bridge between a company’s data and its marketing channels.
Companies that own several brands use Relevvant to unify their customer data across brands. Companies that want to build coordinated, interactive, multi-channel marketing campaigns use Relevvant to execute complex but highly relevant campaigns.
How did you convince your first customer about your product differentiation?
Craig Davis: Our first customer believed in our vision of targeted marketing in their workhorse SMS channel. While there was some level of targeting ability in other channels, there were no services that help them segment and target in the SMS channel. Since then, we’ve integrated other channels like push, CMS, email and social so that they can comprehensively manage campaigns across all channels.
Is there a story behind your company name?
Craig Davis: Relevvant is derived from the word “relevant.” We feel that all marketing and interactions with consumers should be meaningful and impactful. The primary goal for the Relevvant platform is to facilitate the abolishment of marketing that feels like spam. Every interaction that is not targeted to a consumer’s particular needs, motivations or interests presents the risk of diminishing that consumer’s affinity toward the brand. Relevant engagement is key to enhancing connections with consumers.
Please describe one of your company’s lessons learned and where it occurred in the time line of your product development.
Craig Davis: It is important to test hypotheses in the market. While it’s easy to guess where there might be demand for technology, goods or services, it is important to prove it before risking too much time and resources.
We started off as a business with services for SMBs but learned that we needed an outsized sales force to sell this relatively complicated story to small business owners. After testing the Relevvant offering with enterprises, we discovered that there was a large amount of demand that the platform could serve.
Who are the people behind your company?
Craig Davis: Our investors and advisors bring a wealth of insight and relevant industry experience. We are lucky to have some of the best in the industry backing us including 500 Startups (Dave McClure), Kapor Capital (Mitch Kapor, Freada Klein and Ross Fubini), Transmedia Partners (Chris Redlitz and Peter Boboff), and angel investors Erik Moore (Zappos), Jeff Rusinow (Kohl’s), Marcus Segal (Zynga) and Shawn Simpson (Google).
What do the next 12 months hold for your company?
Craig Davis: The next 12 months will continue to be very exciting for us. While the need for data-driven marketing continues to grow, we continue to be the only company that provides a comprehensive end-to-end solution.
What business problems/challenges will arise over the next year with mobile marketing campaigns?
Craig Davis: The biggest challenge that brands will continue to have is engaging diverse audiences with meaning and relevance while tailoring messaging to individual consumers. As mobile marketing becomes more saturated, consumers will be more active and diligent in filtering out messages from brands that feel like spam.
What are the business challenges/drivers that are driving companies to turn to providers such as Relevvant today, and how do you think those challenges will change over the next two years?
Craig Davis: There are two reasons companies will continue to look to Relevvant over the next two years. First, Relevvant provides the ability to consolidate and unify individual customer data across various data sources. This gives the enterprise a rich, real-time, 360-degree view of each of its customers. Secondly, Relevvant allows the company to automate marketing campaigns that are tailored to specific customer behaviors, motivations and sentiment. Executing the combination of the two creates a clear, positive impact on the bottom line.
Who is your personal software company or software executive role model?
Craig Davis: We continue to draw inspiration from several companies and executives including Steve Jobs for his unwavering drive to create simple user experience for complicated software execution.
What is the most recent success that your company achieved that caused you and your employees to celebrate it together?
Craig Davis: The launch of the latest release has taken the Relevvant platform another step beyond the typical enterprise SaaS offering. With this release, we celebrated the marriage of leading-edge data architecture, efficient UX design and powerful marketing campaign execution.
SandHill.com: What was your toughest moment?
Craig Davis: Early on, during an especially busy client growth period, we learned that enterprise deals required investment to execute. With little free cash, we experienced an accounts receivable crunch that threatened to shut our company down.
When you encounter challenges or setbacks, how do you pull yourself back up and become inspired again?
Craig Davis: There are many challenges and setbacks, and as a CEO, I have to acknowledge them and respect them as such. My inspiration comes from our product road map and what our technology seems destined to achieve in the long run. We feel that we are entering the sweet spot — data-driven relevant marketing — and we will continue to look forward to ways that we can help create more meaningful interactions between companies and their customers.
Craig Davis is founder and CEO of Relevvant. His passion for taking complex data sources and making them into real-time decision-making engines came while he was in the finance industry, where he began his career developing complex algorithms and models. He developed the robust Relevvant platform, to allow brands and agencies to leverage their first-party data sources to better understand and target their customers with real-time actionable decisions.
Di Freeze is editor at SandHill.com.