AI in Marketing: Conversational AI is the Future; Email Marketing has an ROI of 3800% [Kalpit Jain, Netcore Group CEO]

Artificial Intelligence is changing the marketing industry quite rapidly.

Martech companies need to evolve with the changing times and importantly, the changing format of marketing – here is an interview we did with Kalpit Jain, Group CEO of Netcore.

NextBigWhat: AI in marketing: What are the use-cases and solutions which Netcore is heavily investing in?

Kalpit Jain: AI, when combined with marketing automation, helps in translating data into decisions, creates meaningful conversations and positively affects the ROI. It enriches and empowers the marketing abilities. Netcore is investing big on Conversational AI – we recently acquired Quinto.ai, an AI chatbot start-up to automate conversations with customers.

‘Raman’ is the name of our AI/ML engine; designed to bring the power of AI & ML to the capabilities of Netcore’s flagship offering Smartech – the cross-channel marketing automation and actionable analytics suite, Pepipost – API-based email delivery platform, and advanced Analytics solutions. We named it ‘Raman’ as a tribute to two great Indian scholars: Nobel Laureate & physicist C.V. Raman, and the mathematical genius, S. Ramanujan.

Following are the ways in which Raman benefits Marketers:

  • Using Netcore’s Smartech
    • Identifies the best time for user engagement: The Send Time Optimisation (STO) feature analyses the timings of the user’s responses to the brand’s communication across channels from email to app push notifications, to identify the time when a particular user is most likely to respond. It helps marketers run targeted campaigns.
    • Optimises email subject lines for greater impact: The Subject Line Optimisation feature ensures that the email subject line is interesting enough for the user to click on it, thus driving up email open rates. Marketers can now generate hyper-personalised subject lines based on the user’s profile & behaviour.
    • Identifies the user’s most preferred channel: Preferred channel helps marketers focus their efforts on the channel that the user prefers the most for engaging with the brand.
    • Implements AI-driven ‘smarter’ segmentation of users: The Smart Segments feature identifies the hidden patterns in the customer data, and uses it to mine large unintelligible data sets in order to create relevant customer segments. It can reveal new and niche customer segments.
    • Alerts to the possibility of churn: The Churn Prediction feature identifies users most likely to hit ‘unsubscribe’ or ‘uninstall’. It does this by processing historical customer data through regression and classification Machine Learning algorithms. A timely alert can help the marketers reach out to the user with suitable offers, incentives, and customer support.
  • Using Netcore’s Pepipost: Raman helps improve the email delivery throughput with better ‘primary’ inboxing rates. This gives a big boost to the overall campaign performance.
  • Using Netcore’s Analytics: Analytics is a crucial tool for marketers looking to understand and orchestrate hyper-personalised customer journeys. Raman augments analytical capabilities with its predictive algorithms by helping marketers find new sets of customers similar in profile to their high-value ones, win back churned out customers through effective re-targeting, and helps to increase profitability by nurturing existing customers through Customer Lifetime Value Prediction.

NextBigWhat: According to you, how can businesses maximize their RoI from marketing automation platforms?

Kalpit Jain: Marketing Automation helps in streamlining and automating various marketing tasks thereby increasing operational efficiency (saving time, money and man-hours). It also helps in growing the revenue faster, measures and improves Marketing ROI and generates higher quality leads. Also, as per the Salesforce data, 67% of marketing leaders rely on marketing automation, 21% plan to implement a new marketing automation platform this year and 82% of marketers recognized a positive return on investment (ROI) from marketing automation and said that it makes them more efficient.

Now, in order to stay ahead of your competitors it is important to engage with the right customers at the right time, with the right content and on the channel. Netcore’s Smartech’s Multi-Channel Marketing Automation:

  • Crafts and delivers marketing campaigns across Email, SMS, Voice, Push Notification, In-App, and Web Messages, and Custom Audience. It further optimises campaigns to engage customers throughout their lifecycle.
  • Builds strong customer connects by understanding their terms of engagement. It orchestrates marketing campaigns as per customers’ channel and device preferences to engage and retain them throughout their lifecycle.
  • Automates and personalises communication across channels and devices, based on analysed behavioural data and trends.
  • Creates finer and more accurate customer segments with the help of in-depth behavioural analysis and automation.

We are a full-stack company right from delivery to campaign management services to journey orchestration to analytics to consulting services. Our engineering practices and data-driven insights help brands in delivering a differentiated customer experience at scale.


NextBigWhat: Martech is becoming too crowded – how is Netcore looking at its role in the immediate to long term basis? Is it going to be more service oriented delivery or build more platform products? Plus, What do you think is the future of marketing?

Kalpit Jain: The MarTech space is constantly evolving with time. As per Scott Brinker, there are approximately 7040 (3500 companies in 2016) companies as of 2019 working in the Martech space and have as many offerings; the space is growing.

At Netcore our aim is to create a robust service delivery infrastructure and build new products for the MarTech domain as well. For marketers and product managers the entire task of adopting and embedding new processes and on-boarding end users is neither fast nor easy.

Hence, we have built a customer success team (CSM) that gets involved with customers from day one to understand their use cases. CSM closely works with the implementation team to complete the complex integration and helps in implementing the right use case for the brand. The team also offers assistance for the adoption process by working with brands on defining KPIs and helps in successfully achieving them.

With respect to Marketing Technology, we have a continued focus on Marketing Automation, Email Marketing, Mobile Marketing and Marketing Analytics. Additionally, we are foraying into other adjacent domains like Advanced Customer Data Platform (CDP), Experimentation, Personalization and Conversational Analytics.

Our transactional email delivery service, Pepipost, will take the CPaaS route, more channels will be added to it like SMS, Voice, and WhatsApp, apart from email.


NextBigWhat: Could you share some of the fascinating insights / data points you have on email marketing? What sort of format works (and what doesn’t work)? How is the industry and audience behaviour evolving?

Email Marketing has witnessed a lot of change in the last 40 years (since its inception). Even with the advent of other channels and platforms, Email is still a popular and effective medium for marketing activities since it is the highest ROI delivering channel for marketers.

As per DMA Email Marketing has an ROI of 3800%!

As per statista.com, by the end of 2018, there will be more than 3.8 billion email users worldwide and that number will grow over the next few years. Additionally, on an average in 2018, more than 281 billion emails were sent each day.

Email continues to be a medium to reach out to potentially huge number of audience. It is the most robust, cost effective and reliable marketing channel to keep customers engaged through contextual, promotional and transactional content sent at the right time to the right audience! Netcore’s Smartech does this in the following way:

  • Triggered Emails versus Batch and Blast: Enables hyper-personalisation by creating precise segments based on a customer’s historical behaviour. It further targets the customers by identifying micro-segments based on parameters as per a marketer’s choice. A marketer can then effortlessly automate the delivery of a highly personalised email content relevant to these identified customer segments using variety of default templates. This helps a marketer orchestrate emails triggered by customer actions in real-time.
  • AI-Powered Subject Line Optimisation: This feature helps marketers to identify specific keywords as a part of the Email subject line. These high conversion keywords are discovered based on customers’ historical responses to previous campaigns. The more optimised the subject lines, tailor-made to individual customers, higher the open rates, CTRs, and final conversions by almost 20% in some cases
  • Primary Inboxing: Netcore’s Smartech ensures that the Email lands in a user’s primary inbox thereby increasing the inbox deliverability rate of an Email campaign. The Primary tab is mostly used for transactional and personal emails, thus it is considered important by a user. These emails have a higher open rate and improved click rate than other tabs of Gmail since they do not receive the same degree of user attention. It also enhances a brand’s exposure resulting in an increased visibility across subscriber spectrum, including both active and inactive users. The different spam filtering and combating techniques severely affects the email delivery and hence Primary Inbox Deliverability is an important part of Gmail Marketing.
  • AI-Powered Send Time Optimisation: This feature will help marketers send out their multi-channel campaigns to specific customer segments at the time when they are most likely to react or respond. Optimising send times further enhances the chances of eventual conversion, boosting customer engagement by 20-25% in some cases

Moreover, Google recently introduced AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) enabled dynamic actionable emails for desktop users. This also supports mark-up features including carousels, forms, and lists. Therefore, Gmail is a powerful tool for Brand Marketers and it is crucial to utilize it in the right manner. Not to forget, Gmail takes up a major chunk of the total number of active email users across the world, achieving the 1 billion monthly active users mark in early 2016.

Netcore’s Smartech recently achieved some impressive figures on Email campaigns for leading brands. To name a few, a leading food order and delivery brand attained a CTR of 7% on a user base of millions, with 95% primary inboxing. In addition to this Myntra witnessed a 60% increase in its Email Campaign performance – which is 2X as compared to the industry standards. Kotak Securities a 25% growth in its email open rates and lead conversions with the help of our AI-Engine – Raman.


NextBigWhat: Are chatbots here to stay? Or they are just a fad? How do you think will the tech evolve?

Kalpit Jain: With the growth of Chat Platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, Voice Assistants like Siri and Alexa, as well as Smart Speakers, it’s no surprise that Gartner predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human.

Conversational AI will be a strategic asset for Marketers in their Martech stack and it will reshape the dynamics of communication between a brand and a customer.

Our recent acquisition of Quinto.ai, an AI chatbot start-up will enable businesses to automate conversations with customers and improve customer experience. Businesses across verticals can use Quinto.ai’s always-on 24×7 chatbot for automated product discovery, recommendations, Inside sales and Live chat. Quinto can be integrated with Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack and other popular chat platforms.


NextBigWhat: With voice becoming an important consumption pattern, what do you think lies ahead for martech companies. How is Netcore looking at this new wave of media format?

Kalpit Jain: Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google Assistant are taking up a major part of media consumption within the urban population. Apple recently acquired PullString, an AI-based voice start-up. This proves that in addition to text chats, there is a high potential of growth in voice-based conversations. Conversational Analytics is thus the need of the hour to help ensure that the conversations are contextual, relevant and increasingly intelligent.

The other impactful areas are AR, VR, IOT & wearables. Additionally, the smart speaker market has grown 210% from 2017 – from 2.9 million units to 9 million (according to Garner, the voice-based speaker market will grow to $2 billion by 2020).

Along with voice, video is going big too. Mobile penetration is increasing, as handset are becoming cheaper and internet availability getting a boost because of JIO. Entire video consumption has increased to a drastic level. According to a SonyLIV report by 2020 India will be the 2nd largest video-viewing audience globally.


NextBigWhat: Building a Martech company from India is a huge challenge given that most of the paying customers are still outside India. How has Netcore looked at this? What’s your current split in terms of domestic vs global clients?

Kalpit Jain: Netcore’s R&D, product development and product delivery is managed from India whereas the sales and business development is handled via direct sales and Inside sales across the globe, thus reducing the operational costs.

There is a rich talent pool of Product engineers, technology experts and inside sales sources available within India; this makes it viable for companies like Netcore to operate the business out of India.

With easy talent availability and lower cost of operations, India is set become a B2B SaaS hub. Interestingly the recent Google Accel Report also says that the SaaS business in India will likely grow to be a $10 billion revenue industry by 2025 (8% of Global SMB SaaS). Additionally, it also states that India has the necessary developer horsepower to build SaaS products at an advantageous cost as compared to the other markets.


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