Attentive’s Nakul Narayan on Personalized Text Messages Getting Ahead in Marketing

Attentive’s Nakul Narayan on Personalized Text Messages Getting Ahead in Marketing

Interview by Anja PaspaljAnja Paspalj
Published: June 07, 2023

Who Is Nakul Narayan

Nakul Narayan is the Chief Product Officer of Attentive. His teams work closely with customers and users to define the future of Attentive’s products. Previously, Nakul was the SVP of Product at Instabase, and the VP & GM of Salesforce Inbox.

With a never-ending influx of notifications from social media, an old-fashioned text message can often be the only thing to catch our eye.

SMS marketing platform Attentive seeks to make the most of this. Its text message marketing solution drives 19% of total online revenue for leading brands, including some world-renowned names such as Anastasia Beverly Hills and Steve Madden.

Attentive’s chief product officer Nakul Narayan lets Spotlight on why personalized SMS marketing is now taking the spotlight, what the best tips and tricks are, and where artificial intelligence plays into this aspect of the marketing ecosystem.

Spotlight: Text marketing has gained significant attention as a major sales channel during the pandemic. Why has it become a popular choice for brands, especially in this challenging time?

Nakul Narayan: As marketers are facing top-of-funnel challenges due to stricter data privacy changes, SMS marketing has become a differentiator for brands of all sizes to drive revenue and build loyalty with their customers. In a recent SMS Marketers Benchmarks survey, 73% of marketers surveyed say SMS drives incremental revenue for their business. Given the direct and measurable nature of SMS marketing, it’s no surprise that 52% of marketers are planning to increase their SMS marketing budget. This percentage is greater than any other paid channels’ budgets.

Why should businesses consider investing in text messaging as part of their marketing strategy?

We carry our mobile devices with us everywhere for immediate and reliable communication with our friends, families, and now brands. 88% of consumers do want to reach out to brands via SMS for product questions. For marketers, SMS marketing stands out as a channel that’s uniquely data-informed and measurable. When it’s done well, SMS can power much more than the acquisition stage of your marketing efforts. It can become a central part of your CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

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Personalization is a key aspect of effective marketing. How can businesses leverage personalization in their text marketing campaigns to create a more engaging experience for their customers?

To stand out and deliver the best, personalized experience for your customers, you need to be able to collect accurate data and easily use that data to build segmentations, targeted audience lists, and send personalized messages. Some ways you can segment your audience is by engaged/unengaged, past purchasers/non-purchasers, high-intent subset, and geo-location or time zones. Engagement is much higher on SMS vs. any other channels, which allows brands to collect zero-party data to further personalize, such as asking about subscribers’ preferences or unique interests.

Attentive has worked with industry innovators such as Steve Madden and Anastasia Beverly Hills. What do already successful companies aim to achieve with text message marketing solutions and how does Attentive contribute to that?

Many of our customers use SMS as a direct revenue-driving channel - in 2022, Attentive generated over $15 billion in revenue for brands. Over 8,000 brands rely on Attentive to deliver powerful commerce experiences. We ensure that brands using our platform are driving the highest results and customer retention with best practices, unique products such as two-way conversational product, and results-proven guidance. That is why brands on Attentive see on average $55 in return for every $1 spent.

Can you share some best practices or tips for using text marketing effectively to engage with customers and drive results?

Our platform enables brands to deliver personalized messages across the customer lifecycle and we provide best practices for brands to create tailored, direct campaigns that strengthen customer loyalty and drive traffic - leading to boosts in omnichannel and eCommerce sales. This includes helping grow subscriber lists with relevant sign-up solutions, recovering potentially lost sales with personalized cart abandonment reminder texts, and segmenting geographic areas for location-specific campaigns.

Our guidance also includes helping brands to ensure customers are in control of their interactions. Attentive’s top priority when launching a brand’s SMS program is to obtain clear and compliant opt-ins for their text messaging subscriber list. Subscribers are reminded they can opt out of receiving text messages at any time by replying “STOP.” Our solution also enables consumers to manually opt out subscribers and automatically scans for variations of language associated with opt-outs, such as “CANCEL” or “UNSUBSCRIBE.”

You recently announced the upcoming launch of Attentive AI, which integrates Magic Message and Automated Campaigns tools into SMS marketing. Why was leveraging artificial intelligence the next step in your expansion strategy?

Companies across all industries are still doing much of the heavy lifting to create personalized, creative marketing touchpoints across the customer lifecycle. While there are many generic AI tools that can help, they require another new skillset - feeding the right prompts to generate a rough output that then needs to be carefully reviewed for inaccuracies, nuance, and tone. That’s why we launched Attentive AI™, trained on the industry’s largest SMS marketing dataset, over 1.4 trillion data points from 40+ billion messages. Attentive AI is built with the data, parameters, interfaces, and outputs marketers need to grow their business, saving them time they can instead invest in higher-value activities and maximizing ROI.

We've also recently incorporated AI into Concierge, the company’s two-way conversational platform. Now it can deliver hyper-relevant and contextual responses to customer prompts in a matter of seconds, unlike chatbots that are limited to scripted responses and prebuilt workflows.

How do you see AI shaping the future of SMS marketing and benefiting brands?

In a world where marketers are trying to do more with less and looking for more opportunities to drive ROI, artificial intelligence can help on both fronts. We see AI making marketers more efficient by automating some of the more manual and tedious aspects of copywriting, audience selection, and campaign creation. In terms of driving ROI, it will power personalized 1:1 two-way conversations with consumers, at scale. We want to help our customers better strategize on what success looks like for their program, as AI executes on a variety of tactics freeing up time for marketers.

Finally, what do you foresee as the most exciting opportunities and trends in the text marketing industry in the coming years? How can brands prepare for the future of SMS marketing and stay ahead of the competition?

There is so much opportunity when we look at SMS as a two-way channel. That’s why our team’s mission is to help create magical conversations for our customers. Not only is conversational text messaging great for two-way interaction, but it also paves the way for a better and more seamless transactional experience. SMS marketing will continue to evolve, and I’m excited for Attentive to empower brands to create a 360° personalized customer experience at scale.

Keep up with Attentive on LinkedIn and read up on more groundbreaking companies here!

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