Attentive Raises $40M Betting That Texts Can Replace Promo Emails

by Gordon Gottsegen
August 12, 2019

For Attentive, the messaging app is the new inbox.

If you're like me, your personal email is probably flooded with promotions. You wake up every morning to handfuls of deals, coupons and sales crowding your inbox. And throughout the day, you probably get more emails from lists you thought you'd unsubscribed from, or online shops that gave you 15 percent off once. It can all get a bit overwhelming and distract you from the deals you may actually care about.

Mobile marketing startup Attentive is trying to move company promotions away from emails and towards texts. It's partnered with over 400 retailers (including Sephora, Urban Outfitters, Coach, CB2 and Jack in the Box) to help send personalized promotional texts to interested customers.

On Monday, Attentive announced that it raised a $40 million Series B funding round led by Sequoia.

Attentive's text-first model has proven to be a success. Retailers that use Attentive have experienced a 30 percent increase in click-through rates and 25x return on investment. Meanwhile, click-through rates on email marketing campaigns are down 45 percent.

“As people increasingly use messaging as a primary form of communication, businesses will too,” Sequoia partner Pat Grady said in a statement “With their mobile messaging platform, Attentive is leading a new category of direct-to-consumer marketing that we believe has huge market potential.”

Founded in 2016, Attentive experienced 250 percent employee growth in the past year. The company is hoping to use the new funding to keep the momentum going. It's hiring across all departments, with an emphasis on engineering and sales.

“CRM is changing. Businesses can’t build a relationship with the modern consumer through email alone,” Attentive CEO and co-founder Brian Long said in a statement. “Rather than continuing to shout one-way messages at consumers [through email], smart brands will stay relevant by embracing personalized, real-time, two-way communication channels.”

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