Vivek Khandelwal donned the hat of an entrepreneur while at IIT Bombay, when he started Applied Mobile Labs (earlier known as Voicetap) in 2009, a mobile technology company focused on creating mobile advertising products and solutions. The seven year stint in the mobile technology industry made Vivek realise the unavailability of channels to facilitate user engagement and retention in the B2C space.
He further noticed that despite web contributing over 60 percent of the traffic for most businesses, the focus was only on the app ecosystem. The possibly crucial role that web notifications will play in the future to engage customers intrigued Vivek.
In February 2016, Vivek, along with Shrikant Kale (who had joined Applied Mobile Labs as Product Lead in October 2015), started iZooto, the product of Datability Solutions. Delhi-based iZooto is a data enabled platform that allows marketers to send app customised push notifications to subscribers through the mobile, tablet and desktop platforms.
iZooto is redefining the rules of user engagement on the web, and is already managing over 50 million subscribers for businesses, and growing at 120 percent on a monthly basis,” says Vivek.
iZooto enables notifications to appear in small pop-up windows, empowers brand marketers to use personalised follow-ups, and choose the best time to re-engage and bring customers back to their website.
It allows consumers to opt for notifications from their preferred websites rather than downloading mobile apps. Once approved, they receive personalised notifications and alerts that are relevant to their interests without logging on to the concerned website, and are able to view breaking news, stock updates, sports scores and other real-time updates.
The startup claims that its one click solution allows websites to convert up to 15 percent of their web traffic into subscribers and drive 20 percent click through rates on web push notifications.
“Web push notifications on mobile look like any other app notification, but they only reach users who have subscribed to notifications on their mobile browser. Currently, only Chrome and Firefox on Android OS support web push notifications, while iOS doesn’t support web push notifications as yet. On desktop, web push notifications are supported by Chrome, Firefox and Safari across Windows, Mac OS and Ubuntu,” says Shrikant, an alumnus of IIM Calcutta. He worked as a senior consultant with Idea Device Technology, a Sequoia Capital-funded startup.
Each browser, including Chrome, Safari and Firefox, has its own notification delivery service. Chrome uses Google Cloud Messaging (now Firebase Cloud Messaging), while Safari uses Apple Push Notification Service (APNS). A developer has to register the service worker on the browser, and the subscriber ID is generated when a user opts in to receive notifications from a specific website.
iZooto claims to simplify this for marketers with its one simple tag. Marketers can add that one simple tag and can go live in less than a minute. At present, iZooto has 50 brands, including Jabong, Limeroad, American Swan, American Express, OyoRooms, ChaiPoint, Trak.in and Koovs.com, as its clients.
Vivek said that Trak.in (a weblog that covers technology, startups and business trends), through leveraging all push messaging channels for content disbursement, attracted more than 50,000 followers across social media platforms. The notification subscribers base grew by 30X as compared to email subscribers. Gurgaon-based online store Koovs.com, using iZooto’s user engagement platform, has increased its subscriber base by one lakh in less than six weeks.
Vivek and Shrikant bootstrapped iZooto with seed capital of Rs 50 lakh, pooled from their personal savings and support from friends and family. At present, the iZooto platform has more than 2,500 registered users across the US, the Middle East, Europe and India, who build their own use cases in their respective categories. E-commerce players are carrying out sale promotions and product announcements (alerts for wish list, back-in-stock); bloggers send notifications for blog updates; publishers promote specific content to users; media channels send regular updates to specific users for stocks, scores and more; and banking and finance service firms can now educate users about financial terminology, investments and lead generations.
Out of 2,500 registered users, 100 are paid customers. The startup also follow a freemium approach and the current conversion rate from freemium clients to subscription based clients is 20 per cent.
The subscription plans range from $49 to $1,000. For enterprise customers, the startup offers additional customisation. Based out of Noida, iZooto has over 20 employees, and it plans to achieve 1,500 paid customers by the end of 2016.
According to a Markets and Markets report, the customer experience management market will be worth $10.77 billion by 2020. The report further stated that enterprise spending on customer experience management (CEM) solutions has increased significantly in the wake of increasing usage of digital channels (smart phones and tablets) by consumers in sharing experiences. CEM will likely witness traction in verticals like banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), healthcare, the automotive industry, consumer goods and retail, media and entertainment, travel and hospitality, and manufacturing.
The startups that are leveraging omni-channel customer engagements include WebEngage, which offers a multichannel user engagement platform that tracks all users (across website and apps) to let the client send targeted messages across channels. The startup has raised $500,000 in seed funding from Blume Ventures and GTI Capital.
MoEngage enables mobile app companies to deliver personalised interactions through push notifications, in-app recommendations, email campaigns and other re-targeting channels. Recently, it raised $4.25 million in Series A funding from Helion Ventures, Exfinity Ventures and a few angle investors.
Gurgaon-based Horntell is building a unified platform that allows users to use any app/website through one single feed containing small actionable notifications. This year, Horntell raised $150,000 in angel funding. Push notification targets desktop and mobile users on Chrome and Firefox.