Sailthru Adds $19M to Help Ecommerce Companies, Publishers Personalize Messaging

New York City-based Sailthru has expanded on its product offering over the last couple years, in the past focusing on helping online publishers increase their readership through on-page recommended stories and customized email marketing. Today the company, which now aims to help businesses across any industry understand their customers through data, announced it has raised $19 million in Series B funding for its Smart Data platform, led by Benchmark. BusinessInsider hinted at the new round in June 2012, but the company waited until now to confirm.

Sailthru started out in 2008 with a behavioral email platform called Horizon, which helped companies create personalized email newsletters, and also developed a content recommendation plugin for online publishers. Similar to other big data companies focused on increasing sales for ecommerce companies, namely solutions like Custora and Retention Science, the company now refers to itself as a “technology company specializing in digital brand experiences and communications.”

Through its SmartData product, Sailthru’s platform helps companies create unique profiles for each website visitor by pulling together their online activity and email address, and then uses those profiles to personalize onsite content, email marketing, SMS messages, and in-app recommendations. For example if a website visitor typically reads content on their iPhone in the afternoon, that’s when they’ll get an email about a company’s new iPhone app, whereas a reader who doesn’t have an iPhone wouldn’t receive the email at all. The company works with over 280 publishers and ecommerce companies, including Fab.com and AOL, and claims to increase a visitor’s time on site, and the lifetime value of a customer.

Sailthru CEO Neil Capel said while the company’s goal has always remained the same, the focus has shifted to helping companies “action the data in real-time.” “We were always trying to improve the user’s experience, our customer’s customer, and the first channel we did that through is email,” he said. “The end goal has always been to extend that customer lifetime value…we personalized email first, then we personalized onsite, then in-app. We want to personalize every digital experience really.”

After a big 2012 (the company increased its revenue by 270 percent in the past year and opened an office in San Francisco), Capel said this round of funding will be used to hire, and to expand to Europe, since the company has clients on five continents. “It’s more engineering talent, it’s more marketing talent, it’s more customer success team, it’s really about growing out our product and developing more of our product feature set,” Capel said.

Part of 2012’s revenue increase could be due to the fact that the company changed its pricing structure last year, moving from charging based on the number of emails sent to a fee based on the number of users a company wants to analyze, though Capel said it’s more due to bringing on new clients.

The company previously raised $1 million in 2010 and another $8 million in September 2011, and has also made several acquisitions, snapping up Frame, a TechStars grad which helped Shopify store owners sell on the iPad, in May 2012, and a month later acquiring e-receipt startup Seamless Receipts, which is also based in NYC. Capel said both teams have been a key factor in product development, and they’ll be focusing on them more in Q1 and Q2 as they roll out newer versions and implementations.

The company now sees 40 percent of its business coming from the ecommerce space, with 60 percent from online publishers, and at the time said it wanted to help companies optimize their communications, from messaging to email to receipts. If the company can continue to position itself as a platform that helps businesses understand and optimize online customers, it should be able to keep adding to its client base, and whether those clients will continue to be almost evenly split among publishers and ecommerce companies will be interesting to note.

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin has covered startups and technology for over three years in publications including Sprouter Weekly, The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, Mashable, and VentureBeat. She also writes a regular startup column for the Financial Post, and is a technology expert on CTV News Channel. Before BetaKit Erin worked as Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter from its launch in 2009 until its acquisition by Postmedia Network Inc. She was recently named one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30 in 2012.

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