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With more than 5.5 billion messages sent during 2019, Everlytic is now the leading digital communication provider in South Africa. The company continues to grow its capacity to empower publishers to engage and convert customers.
When starting out, it was truly humble beginnings working from a converted garage. How did it all begin?
The founders were computer science grads who found themselves in a post-dotcom bubble world where developers were not exactly treated like royalty anymore. They built software for customers in the publisher space first, trying to solve publishers’ problem of communicating at scale with their readers. In solving the problem for customers, they realised that the solution had universal potential and they started building what is evolved into the Everlytic platform. Many stories of heartbreak, anxiety, relief, excitement, fear, and every other emotion you can imagine paved the company’s path from a start-up to becoming one of South Africa’s best kept homegrown tech successes and the local leader in its space. You could say Everlytic was born from publishers and such will be a large focus area for international expansion.
Everlytic’s first office
Today you have grown into a team of more than 60 people sending over 450 million emails a month. After being nominated as a Top 10 finalist in PWC’s 2015 Vision to Reality Awards you have now been included in the list of the 20 Most Promising African Tech Companies in 2020 by trusted tech magazine CIO Review. What has been the largest challenge over this 10-year growth journey?
Most businesses face similar challenges: building a solution that makes a difference, finding or creating an addressable market, hiring the right type of people to move the business forward, generating liquidity to pay said people and fund growth, developing an agile culture, re-evaluating and taking some strategic risks along the way – some which work and others that don’t. Succeeding more often than failing in these pursuits has supported Everlytic in growing into the market leadership position in South Africa it holds today with immediate global expansion plans. We place the customer front and centre and focus on bringing as much value to marketers and content teams at accessible and fair prices.
Publishers face a unique challenge in its choice of communication platform: distributing tailored, contextual messages at scale to millions of readers to engage and inform, but also executing complicated workflows that requires advanced automation functionality to drive subscriptions. How does Everlytic overcome this conundrum?
There are many pure-play vendors offering the advanced automation features aimed at managing the conversion funnel towards subscription, as well as other platforms focusing on delivering bulk newsletter content at scale without the thrills of advanced features. These two platform models are fundamentally priced differently. Bulk newsletter and transactional messaging platforms are, however, priced at a discount, whilst automation platforms are priced at a significant premium based on the research and development (R&D) expense related to building such systems.
This cost challenge is compounded by the need to have full visibility of all communications to a reader to unlock the synergies that data signals based on engagement plus interest, as well as intent and conversion flow provide when considered holistically. The challenge of course being that sending bulk through an automation platform is vastly expensive, whilst affordable engagement messaging platforms do not support advanced automation.
This places publishers in an unenviable position… choosing between spending previous cash on an expensive communication platform to drive conversions that could have been used to fund the newsroom or grow audience, or to opt for an affordable, bulk distribution platform without the features to drive conversion and tactical engagement.
Everlytic believes in the power of a single platform that both allows publishers to send personalised, and responsive messages at scale, but which also caters for the complexity of publishers’ marketing automation requirements. This single engagement data profile feeds personalisation, segmentation, and automations. Combining bulk distribution and conversion-driving automation in a single platform, like Everlytic, simply makes solid business sense for customers and for us. We charge bulk messaging rates whilst making the advanced automation features available to our customers without pricing in the research and development costs we incur. This is the right thing to do for our customers and unlocks the most value.
Sending 5.5 billion messages on behalf of clients is an incredible number, with most of them tailored for each recipient, and many being delivered based on complex marketing automation journeys. How does Everlytic manage this intricate and large-scale task?
Being the largest email sender in South Africa and carrying the responsibility of our customers to deliver content that informs, engages, and drives commercial outcomes, we are expertly equipped from a technology and people perspective to deal with the unique challenges such scale presents. We maintain fit-for-purpose infrastructure that can scale as required. We also have a specialist delivery and sender reputation management team that ensures that we get more messages into inboxes than any other competitor.
And in the process you still manage to keep the cost competitive compared to some of the other providers out there…
We have the benefit of having achieved economies that we pass onto our customers. As touched on earlier, Everlytic does not charge technology license fees or price in our R&D for developing automation features, we work on a consumption model based on bulk rates. It is a belief at Everlytic that providing a holistic and globally competitive feature set, that does simple messaging flawlessly and turns complexity of automation into simplicity of use, is table stakes. This is why Everlytic can solve a very real challenge for publishers in a simple and cost-effective way.
You have recently joined FIPP. Why is it important for tech companies such as Everlytic in Southern Africa to be part of this global trade association?
Whilst there is a lot of potential left in the South African market, we have achieved market leadership position in the territory, and we are now looking to expand abroad. Having been born from publishers and having the leading publishers in South Africa onboard, it makes sense for us to become part of the premier trade association for publishers. We wish to create value in the ecosystem by providing a globally competitive platform with unmatched customer service at accessible prices. We are constantly deploying new features and channels, including a pull messaging service which publishers can use to embed 1:1 messaging into content feeds on websites, as well as conversational workflows that responds to customer engagement with content.
More about JD Engelbrecht
JanDirk (JD) Engelbrecht is a commercial technologist who is passionate about finding creative solutions to problems. His experience in digital product development and commercialisation has allowed him to work with various South African market leaders in media, ecommerce, advertising, data science, and agriculture.
Engelbrecht formerly worked as General Manager of Customer Insights and Database Marketing atSouth Africa’s Media24. Here he built up insight into the requirements of publishers, the way that data science fuels personalised and contextual communication, and how hard direct messaging channels are expected to work.
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