Twilio’s New Marketing Tool Challenges Salesforce, Adobe, and Oracle
  • Twilio launched a marketing-automation product that will compete with Salesforce, Adobe, and Oracle.
  • The tool’s advantage is that it analyzes customer behavior, the CEO of Twilio Segment told Insider.
  • But analysts say challenging the established marketing-automation leaders won’t be easy.

About a year after Twilio acquired the data-analytics startup Segment for $3.2 billion, the cloud-communications company is gearing up to go after new customers and become a competitor to some of largest players in the software world: Salesforce, Adobe, and Oracle. 

The company announced Twilio Engage, a tool to automate redundant marketing tasks, at its annual conference on Wednesday. It represents Twilio’s next phase, where it will grow beyond application programming interfaces and communications, an area where it dominates but has limited growth, Daniel Newman, a founding partner and principal analyst at Futurum Research, said.

Yet analysts say that even though Twilio, which has a $65 billion market cap, and Segment are both leaders in their respective markets, competing against the software giants who dominate in marketing automation won’t be easy.

Twilio’s challenge will be convincing customers of the value they can get from Twilio Engage that they can’t get from other products on the market, analysts say. While Adobe customers often use its marketing-automation platform with Twilio’s communications tools, Salesforce houses both marketing-automation and communications tools in one platform. That makes Salesforce the strongest competition to Twilio Engage on the market, Sheryl Kingstone, a 451 Research analyst, told Insider.

At the same time, Twilio and Segment partner with Salesforce, Adobe, and Oracle, and now compete against them, too. Such a competitive-cooperative dynamic is common in the cloud and cloud-software industry, analysts say, but makes things more difficult for Twilio as it goes up against those marketing-software leaders.

Peter Reinhardt, Segment’s cofounder and the CEO of Twilio Segment, told Insider that Twilio Engage was the first “post-acquisition evolution” of Twilio and Segment’s vision. The combination of their two products, particularly Segment’s customer data, is what gives Twilio Engage an edge over its competitors, he said.

“Most of these legacy marketing clouds are extremely limited on the times and volume and types of data that they can receive,” Reinhardt said.

Specifically, the competitors tend to ingest customer-demographic data like name, location, and interests, but Segment also includes behavioral data like product views and checkout status, he said. According to Reinhardt, that’s the information that companies who sell to consumers really want.

Twilio Engage is also modeling itself after Amazon, Google, and Facebook, and not the marketing tools of its competitors, Reinhardt said.

“The thing that those companies got right is actually very deep data infrastructure that was very complex and difficult to build,” he said.

Newman, the Futurum analyst, added that Twilio’s competitive advantage would also come from its robust developer community: While low-code and plug-in tools can work sometimes, developers are crucial to getting the type of customer data that marketers want. 

But Twilio’s goals extend beyond just marketing data. The company says it plans to combine Twilio Flex, its customer contact center, Twilio Frontline, its mobile app that connects customers with salespeople and account managers, and Twilio Engage into a single “customer engagement platform.”

“Each of those is solving service, sales, marketing, and so you can kind of see the arc for where we’re going here, in terms of building the next layer up,” Reinhardt said.

By Anisa