Neil Capel is CEO and co-founder of SailThru, an email delivery platform.
AdExchanger.com: What is the biggest misconception right now regarding email advertising campaigns?
NC: The first thing that pops into my mind is that Ecommerce people realize the more email they send, the more revenues they can make. But at the same time they lose more subscribers because they're sending too much email.
And then you've got the flash sales, and so on - there's so much email coming into your inbox now that spam is no longer spam. Spam is just something you don't care about.
So, the biggest misconception to me is that people are just saying, "Keep sending email."
The fact is you've got to be relevant, and the more relevant you are the better you're going to be at getting engagement from the customer and the better value you're giving that customer. Because if you're just sending them stuff they don't want, then you're just disrespecting your own brand and giving the customer another piece of email that they've got to delete.
It’s all about looking after that end user, really.
What's the idea with the name SailThru?
To be honest with you, it came from the idea: “SailThru to the inbox.” We were trying to redesign the ways that people do mass mail and communicate with everybody. Originally, we were just playing around with names in the email space.
We’ve always been focused on communicating at the one‑to‑one level .
Overall, what problem would you say SailThru is solving?
We're essentially solving the age old problem of email delivery - all of the email service providers believe they have solved the problem by sending mass email very quickly and on a large scale. But what we do is actually get that one‑to‑one messaging component down to the individual where we can actually customize every single email that we send out. If we're sending emails for our publishers, rather than sending 200,000 of the same exact emails out to their entire list, it's 200,000 individually crafted emails that are automatically created.
This email relationship is then continued on the site and in apps, so you're tying it into the platform all the way through. It’s a continuing, engagine relationship.
How is this communication with the user maintained? - through a cookie or a login on the website, for example?
Correct on both counts.
In terms of the competitive set, who would you say is in SailThru’s? Is it a company like Responsys or is it Salesforce?
Our main, competitive space is the Exact Targets, Silverpop, Responsys, Cheetahmail those kind of guys - the enterprise providers of email solutions. We compete with them but we do so much more on top of it.
The differentiation is that we’re changing the way that people communicate with publishers and ecommerce communicates with its end users. Because it's really building up a psychographic CRM, if you will, something that enables one‑to‑one communication and beyond, "Oh, let's look at the page views. Let's look at what our mass audience wants." When it comes down to it, what they're actually being able to do is market to the individual.
Is audience buying something in regards to your email clients?
It's something that we are looking to do in the future as we help monetize our customers' email base as well as their own site. It’s on the product roadmap.
Can you provide a specific use case that typifies SailThru’s products and services?
Sure. Let’s say a company is selling wines in flash sales. SailThru could actually determine, "OK, this user is in danger of opting out right now. They haven't been engaging like they used to.” Or, they haven't been opening and clicking at the level they used to. So, in this example, today's red wine offer which was going to go out today, may be either too expensive to that user or the wrong type - it's a Malbec and this user's never actually engaged with a Malbec in any way. So, we won't send them that offer. What we'll do is we'll wait until there's an offer that's perfectly in-line with their purchase power that happens to be a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, for example.
In that way we'll actually be able to send an offer to the user and re-engage. It all comes down to that value factor. We're trying to extend the value for that end user and for the client to actually maximize that value.
Do you find that agencies are able to help facilitate this sort of solution with the marketer, or is it ideal that you go right to the marketer?
We are kind of on the cutting edge right now. And so the agencies get what we're doing. They're starting to present it through to the clients now. And, the industry as a whole has heard the “selective content” argument before, but it's never actually been done properly. We're trying to change the market.
How does your pricing model work?
It is a per‑email‑sent kind of model. But at the same time it's an enterprise contract, so a lot of the time it's a one‑year contract. For lower tier types of deals, we look at different things.
What do you plan on doing with the $8 million in funds you recently raised?
We've been in the industry, have enterprise clients and proven that the product works. Now, it's really about expanding the sales teams and really going after as much market share as we can, frankly. Obviously that demands support behind it, which is also more about data scientists and development.
And, we are thinking globally. It’s really where we want to go and take as much of the market share as we can right now.
A year from now, what are some milestones that you'd like the company to have accomplished?
On the global side of things, we want to establish a presence in Europe and on the West Coast. Those would be the big milestones- and really getting our sales turned into a very well‑oiled machine which is something we’re working on right now.