After about eight years building up a solid business as a third-party notifications provider, now sending more than 2 billion notifications a day, Urban Airship is moving beyond mobile. Its new Digital Growth Platform allows marketers to reach customers with notifications on any interface, from mobile wallets and SMS to email and IoT devices.
From a single interface, the Digital Growth Platform allows marketers exploit their entire digital marketing stack to coordinate personalized and interactive notifications. The platform will help businesses engage with their customers during "in-the-moment experiences," said Bill Schneider, Urban Airship's senior director of product marketing.
For instance, using Urban Airship's real-time automation engine, a marketer could trigger a notification whenever a customer visits a website for the first time or makes a repeat purchase. A business could use point-of-sale data from physical stores to send receipts to a customer's preferred channel. Or, it could tie the platform to its proprietary back-end systems to offer customers precise order status updates on any channel, platform or device.
As its foundation, the platform is making two open, bidirectional APIs available: Urban Airship's profile API allows customers to leverage any data they have from external systems or digital properties like a website or email. Using the API, the platform can organize that data at the user level and use it for segmentation and automation.
Meanwhile, the channels API allows businesses to send notifications to any device or digital experience.
"It makes it easy for customers to send us data from their proprietary systems, where they've got data squirreled away from CRM and point-of-sale systems," said Mike Herrick, Urban Airship's SVP of product & engineering. "Our customers have complete snowflakes of backend systems, so these APIs are vital for them."
By exploiting open APIs, Urban Airship's leaders say they're "future-proofing" their customers' marketing stacks against the rapid evolution of marketing technology -- and setting their own company up to better compete with major marketing suites from companies like Salesforce and Oracle.
"What we've seen in the industry is... the marketing clouds came into being, and their value proposition is to have one solution that tries to own the whole experience," Schneider said. However, "things have gotten more complex, not simpler."
Just six years ago, there were only around 150 marketing technology vendors in the market. As of last year, there were around 3,500.
"Our belief is the only way to stay current with that level with growth is to make our platform open and accessible," Schneider said. "There isn't a single company that can power all of the screens and customer experiences to come."
The channels API also allows third-party partners to receive requests via Urban Airship to deliver notifications. Email partner SendGrid and SMS partner OpenMarket will integrate directly with the channels API so customers can send transactional email and SMS messaging from the Digital Growth Platform. Email partner Cordial will use the channels and profile APIs to provide a campaign-based email and notification service with bi-directional data and messaging.