We are closer to the starting line than finish line of what we can achieve towards user engagement, says Sunil Thomas of CleverTap

Thomas discusses the future of mobile marketing in India and the future roadmap for CleverTap

Nisha Qureshi
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We are closer to the starting line than finish line of what we can achieve towards user engagement, says Sunil Thomas of CleverTap

Sunil Thomas

Consumer engagement and retention platform CleverTap has had a successful run in India for the past five years with a boost from businesses looking to invest in mobile marketing and user retention platforms.

In an interaction with, Sunil Thomas, Co-Founder, and Chief Executive Officer, CleverTap said their focus is now on investing on AI and ML technologies. In the last few years, many businesses have realised the importance of user retention, he said.

“The importance of user retention is now very clear to most consumer brands. We've been telling the retention story now for like four-five years but it used to be a lot of evangelism. Everybody was earlier only focused on getting new consumers to download their app or visit their websites or whatever. But now the Covid-related acceleration has also helped in understanding the importance of user retention. Nowadays, when we say we are a user-retention platform, people want to listen and it's a little easier to open those doors.”

He said they have received a good response in India from media and entertainment, fintech, travel and transportation, urban mobility, food tech, and e-commerce players where the timeliness of messaging, reaching out and personalisation is vital.

According to Thomas, India has been leading the way when it comes to mobile marketing and the world should look up to it when it comes to innovations. “I think India has a few advantages, like we skip the desktop generation and go directly to the mobile. For a lot of people, their first internet device is their mobile phone. We somehow also skip the mass email generation in terms of marketing. So, I think these are advantages for India and we are really innovating—leading from a mobile marketing point of view.”

He, however, said the diversity of android devices from low-end to high-end devices and less reliable network speed are some technological issues that will be solved over time.

Thomas said the retention and mobile marketing industry is still very nascent and depends on the creativity of marketers as AI and ML are still in their early stages.

“CleverTap has a clear roadmap of investing in many AI technologies to provide better recommendations to users. So the richness of our road map is a lot forward. We are closer to the starting line than the finish line of what we can achieve towards user engagement and user retention. We are getting more customers every month in this space.”

Asked how Google's decision to do away with third-party cookies has affected them and what alternative methods are being developed, Thomas said that in his personal view, this is a good move for the consumers. This is a new world where all the vendors and stakeholders will have to adapt to it, he said.

“We at CleverTap have always dealt with only first-party data because we are not that much in the user acquisition space. We deal with users once they are on the apps and websites. So for us, it is always first-party data. We have been extremely cautious about security. CleverTap is GDPR and CCPA compliant; we are ISO 27,001 compliant, which is the standard for security. We are also SOC2 Type2 certified. This has been a day one thing for us to give security its own space,” he added.

CleverTap is present in Southeast Asia in five countries—Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam—in Latin America and the US. Thomas said these markets have been responding well. They are also in the Middle East with a small presence in Dubai.

“It is also an extremely value-sensitive market so it keeps us on our toes and honest; and always delivers more and more value to these customers. So it's really been a fantastic journey,” said Thomas.

CleverTap Sunil Thomas