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Marketing is becoming more data-driven in a world that does an increasing amount of its business online. According to a 2021 Ascend2 report, nearly one-third of marketers say that they have a strategy planned to unify their disparate marketing data. In 2016 — years before the pandemic spurred companies to digitally transform their operations — more than 64% of marketers reported that they increased their spending on data-driven marketing and marketing data analytics, according to DigitalDonut.
Data has the potential to provide marketers with a wealth of actionable information. But even in organizations intent on leveraging their data, data isn’t always easily available and accessible. One recent study (from Merkle) found that marketing teams face challenges like data that isn’t organized for easy consumption, limited storage availability, and slow data analytics processes. Findings from a Sitecore survey point to broader issues, like a lack of integration between data collection apps and an inability to collect and store customer data.
Marketing tech vendors claim, unsurprisingly, that their software can help to overcome these hurdles. One of the larger players is Insider, which connects data across different marketing channels and attempts to predict customers’ behavior using AI. In a show of the segment’s growth and general interest in specialized marketing software, Insider last week raised $121 million in a series D funding round at a $1.22 billion post-money valuation, bringing its total capital raised to $167 million.
QIA led the round with participation from Sequoia, Riverwood Capital, 212, Wamda Capital, Esas Private Equity, and Endeavor Catalyst. The funding will be put toward product development and hiring, CEO Hande Cilingir said.
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Automating marketing processes
Founded in 2012 by Cilingir, Serhat Soyuerel, Arda Koterin, Sinan Toktay, Okan Yedibela, and Muharrem Derinkök, Insider enables enterprise marketers to connect customer data across channels like the web, apps, email, text, and messaging apps to personalize experiences. The goal is to uncover interests and preferred touchpoints as well as which customer segments are likely to convert, buy, and churn, according to Cilingir.
“Prior to Insider, Serhat [and I] met at the London School of Economics,” Cilingir told VentureBeat via email. “One day, the idea of building an international school at the heart of a British town in Turkey inspired [us] to quit [our] jobs overnight and start [our] entrepreneurship journey.”
Insider can predict metrics like open and click rates across various channels, drawing on multiple data points to create customer profiles. The platform’s “auto-winner” capability can spotlight the best-performing customer journey paths, select the next-best channels, and decide on recommendation algorithms for every customer.
Of course, software — whether marketing-focused or otherwise — can’t solve every data problem. In a 2019 report, Gartner found that while marketers are investing heavily in marketing technologies, they’re largely unsure about how to use them effectively. Twenty-nine percent of companies surveyed by Gartner said that they struggled with upskilling and training marketing staff, while 27% said that either identifying efficient marketing technology resources or integration between alternative solutions was a major impediment.
Cilingir doesn’t deny that Insider’s software isn’t a silver bullet, but she asserts it can solve problems that other solutions on the market can’t. “Insider [prevents] data fragmentation problems. IT teams … do not need to integrate more than 20 point solutions together — they just need Insider, one platform for personalized, cross-channel experiences,” she added.
Competition and growth
Insider competes with a number of startups — not to mention incumbents — in the marketing technology segment. Adobe, Oracle, SAP, and Salesforce offer marketing data analytics tools, as well as Optimove, Sellforte, Bynder, Iterable, and ActiveCampaign. The global marketing tech sector was worth more than $121.5 billion in 2020, according to one estimate.
But Insider says it beat back the competition to achieve three times growth over the past three years. The company now has 1,000 customers and more than 700 team members.
“The beginning of the pandemic saw a rapid surge in demand for ecommerce and media companies worldwide. Insider’s agile digital sales team was well-positioned to turn this increasing traffic into conversions by helping their partners respond to ‘net new digital behaviors’ in real time,” Cilingir said. “In the post-pandemic market, brands will need to digitize more than ever. As online consumption increases and shoppers start reprioritizing their postponed purchases, Insider expects to continue its accelerated levels of growth.”
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