As founder and CEO of ActiveCampaign, I’m excited to share that today we announced a $100 million series B investment to help us continue the rapid and necessary growth of Customer Experience Automation (CXA). This is an amazing milestone that will help us in our mission to help all businesses build meaningful connections to their customers. As we accept this funding, I wanted to share how we got here, and why this is just the beginning for ActiveCampaign.
Back to the beginning: How Customer Experience Automation was born
It’s hard to believe that this tremendous milestone, which includes 90,000 customers across 161 countries, more than $90 million in revenue, 550+ employees, a 100,000 square-foot headquarters in Chicago, offices in Indianapolis, Dublin, Sydney, and a major presence in Brazil, can all be traced back to a decision I made 17 years ago to move to Chicago to study fine arts.
In order to fund that decision, I started the small-business consulting practice that eventually became ActiveCampaign.
My early work with small businesses showed me first-hand how hard it was for businesses to maintain authentic customer relationships as they scaled — and how desperately the market needed a solution that was accessible to businesses of all sizes.
Craft, bespoke, and small-batch everything has been so successful because consumers are starving for personal connections with the companies they buy from. Small businesses and creators deliver a personal touch naturally, but sometimes it gets harder to maintain the practices that made them successful as they grow.
CXA was born out of the need to scale personal connections so that businesses can treat every customer like their most important — whether they have 10 customers or 10 million. It took us 10 years to get to 8 people and 8 products. But those 10 years gave us the insights and inspiration necessary to thoughtfully and comprehensively develop a new category of software that helped solve the challenges all growing businesses face.
Today, we call this category Customer Experience Automation (CXA).
What is Customer Experience Automation (CXA)?
Like many small business owners, I am obsessed with delivering value. Early on, I spent hours asking – where do our customers find value? Why did they express interest? How do we scale this so that we can help even more people?
To this day I still, and will continue to, spend considerable time every day reading direct comments from customers – through surveys and other feedback methods.
When we looked at the biggest needs of emerging businesses, we knew that we needed to solve the hardest part of what was missing – personal connection at scale – in a way that was accessible to every business.
There were already many providers that offered marketing automation, customer relationship management, or service solutions. But what didn’t exist was a way to connect the best parts of these solutions in a way that let businesses manage across the entire customer lifecycle.
As we built out the CXA category, we committed to being “stackable” – to help customers get the most from whatever best-in-class toolsets make the most sense for their businesses. No two businesses are truly alike. And many all-in-one solutions force businesses to use tools that don’t make sense for their unique model. Customer Experience Automation doesn’t replace Shopify, or Facebook, or the channels of engagement that already exist. It enhances it, creating a connected customer lifecycle.
Connected customer lifecycle
Consumers expect their business relationships to be one fluid conversation. They don’t want to get an email from Marketing when they’re in the middle of filing a support ticket, and they expect businesses to know what they need next based on the purchases they’ve made and their personal preferences.
CXA must help customers automate, personalize, segment, and orchestrate the full customer experience.
In our quest to provide value for growing businesses, we wanted to solve the biggest problems, which were the ability to automate, segment, personalize, and orchestrate actions across their best-in-class toolsets.
Automation: The biggest barrier keeping businesses from engaging with customers? Time. Automation that runs your processes – and even uses machine learning to automate decisions – is like hiring an extra employee without needing an extra desk.
Segmentation: What does each person want to see? Show them that. ActiveCampaign lets businesses track buyer preferences, behavior, and many custom attributes, which means you can customize communications, automations, and entire customer experiences.
Personalization: How can you re-create the personalization of a one-to-one message – at scale? A CXA platform collects data from the entire customer lifecycle, which gives it the info needed for true personalization. ActiveCampaign can choose the best automation path, predict the best send time, and create entirely customized campaigns based on what’s best for individual customers.
Orchestration: Some tools can move information across systems – but orchestration should be more than just plumbing. Great orchestration adds value to best-in-class tools by using the information they collect – whether it’s adding a layer of sentiment to Zendesk data as we put it into Salesforce, or use data coming from Shopify to change an in-progress email campaign based on a recent purchase.
CXA creates a connected experience across all channels
Today, the customer journey is multi-faceted; customers can order through a website, then ask for help over email, or request more information through a Facebook message.
In order to make customers really feel connected, businesses need to deliver on-topic, right-timed messages through every channel. Email is important, but your customers need to connect with you across email, text, messaging, chat, social, and any other channel that makes sense for them.
2020 and beyond: Finding new ways to deliver value
Building upon these core principles, our CXA platform is helping businesses of all sizes treat every customer like their best customer — while getting more time to focus on the things that make their business great.
As we increase our investments, customers can expect to see developments in four key areas:
Accelerated international expansion
The world is global, and the ability to service customers with businesses that span the globe has always been part of our mission. Today we support customers in 161 countries, far more than most of the legacy providers. We want to ensure that, no matter where our customers do business, they can rely on the same caliber of product, service, and security that our local teams enjoy.
Growth of our own delivery of customer experience
Customer Experience is at the core of everything we do, and as we accelerate our growth, we will ensure no customer is left behind. We built our success on a belief in over-supporting the customer, through our unique ActiveCampaign Customer Success Commitment.
Growth of our expansive ecosystem
In our commitment to be “stackable,” to make sure our customers can use a best-in-class toolset, instead of being forced into a limited all-in-one toolset, we plan to continue to grow our ecosystem currently comprised of over 200 technology partners, plus thousands of agency and affiliate partners.
Increased CXA innovation
We believe there is tremendous potential for CXA to transform businesses of all sizes, and as the leader of this category, we will continue to push functionality that sets us apart in the market. We can see this happening already, as we are leading across legacy categories, including top ratings in marketing automation and all-in-one CRM, according to G2.
Thank you for your support, we are excited to grow with you
I want to extend a deep and personal THANK YOU to everyone who has supported us to this point. Our customers, partners, and employees.
We’ve hired a phenomenal team of dreamers and doers that are — above all — passionate about our customers and our category, and the same passion and growth that got us to this point, will no doubt make us successful as we scale.
To our customers, we want to say that, while we have increased interest from even larger companies, we are committed to ensuring customer experience automation is accessible to even the smallest businesses.
Everyone should have the power to think like a big company without losing the values, the authenticity, the passion, the dedication to product and customers, that makes small companies great. Those are the values I think about for my company, and that’s the mission that I, and all of us at ActiveCampaign, are building towards. Thank you for your business.