Legal Name: CampaignUP Ltd
Location: London, UK
Founder(s): Ali Arslan
INDUSTRY – Mobile Marketing Technology
Size: $275.9M in 2018 (Source: Absolute Markets Insights)
Projections: $568.9M by 2024 (Source: Absolute Markets Insights)
The CampaignUP Story
Around 58% of the active internet users in the UK use WhatsApp as their primary messaging channel. At the same time, more 85% of WhatsApp users in the UK are aged 18–34, signifying a huge untapped opportunity for brands to leverage the platform to target the next generation of consumers – millennials and Gen Z. CampaignUP, a London-based startup is UK’s first-ever WhatsApp marketing solution helping brands build a customized interface to communicate with their customers. By enabling brands to send newsletters, targeted promotions, and one-on-one chats, the startup helps them engage and serve customers better and create additional value for them.
I interviewed Ali Arslan, the Founder and CEO of CampaignUP to find out more about the platform and the company’s journey so far.
Sharang: In your own words, how would you describe CampaignUP as a company?
Ali: CampaignUP is a WhatsApp marketing solution that helps businesses use the messaging application as an effective tool for marketing, communication, and customer engagement. Think of it as a Mailchimp for WhatsApp, but without the spam. Using a platform like CampaignUP for WhatsApp-driven marketing communications, companies can potentially achieve an open rate that is 12 times compared to that with email.
When CampaignUP started in 2018 there were no companies in the UK offering a WhatsApp marketing solution. Even now, the use of WhatsApp marketing is only gradually gaining pace. Our greatest challenge has been convincing companies to give WhatsApp marketing a try – something which they’ve never done or seen other people do before.
Another challenge we have faced in our journey so far is that CampaignUP has not been included by WhatsApp as a registered Business Partner. While we are in the midst of discussions with WhatsApp on making this happen, it has nevertheless made our growth very challenging.
Sharang: How do you differentiate yourself from other mobile marketing platforms or marketing SaaS startups?
Ali: There are several companies offering text message automation or chatbot tools for Facebook Messenger, Telegram, email, and other instant messaging platforms. However, when we started in 2018 we were only the second in the world after the German company WhatsBroadcast which is now called MessengerPeople, and the first in the UK offering a WhatsApp marketing interface for businesses.
CampaignUP is fully GDPR compliant and comes with a default ‘zero spam’ mechanism in order to stay ahead of the curve and ensure the privacy of consumers. What this means is that clients or brands offering a WhatsApp marketing channel cannot import mobile numbers into our system but instead, each and every subscriber has to send the first message to our clients’ WhatsApp channel.
This also means that our customers have to build their WhatsApp database from scratch. It’s hard work, but worth it as everyone on the channel will have willingly registered their numbers and is genuinely interested in communicating with the brand. The users can unsubscribe anytime by texting “STOP”, and will no longer receive marketing content. The ‘zero spam’ mechanism on our platform will also make it capable of being used both as a marketing and CRM platform, and this differentiates us from the competition.
Sharang: Does CampaignUP also offer segmentation features like other marketing automation platforms such as Mailchimp?
Ali: Yes, clients can build customer segments for WhatsApp marketing using CampaignUP and easily organize their subscribers into targeted lists. Using this feature, they can send relevant content, offers, newsletters, or updates in the form of media such as images, videos, gifs etc. to their subscribers across multiple targeted lists. Additionally, companies can also design automated responses to predefined question topics for faster resolution of customer queries.
Further, the platform also integrates with Zendesk so clients can have visibility on their customers’ profiles and transaction histories. This enables brands to integrate their customer support functions and ensure a smoother customer journey.
Ali Arslan was born in Turkey and moved to the UK to pursue his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at King’s College in London. A project management expert with a career spanning nearly two decades, Ali has worked across industries such as technology, e-commerce, marketing, and advertising.
In April 2012, he founded a text marketing company called Esram Marketing Systems. The company built a proprietary technology platform to enable SMEs to create and run SMS campaigns, and sent over 4 million SMSes per annum through the platform.
Sharang: What was the idea behind CampaignUP? Was there any specific trigger that led to its creation?
Ali: Before building CampaignUP, I founded and ran an SMS marketing business that was selling SMS credits to pizza shops in the UK. So I was already familiar with the use cases of text messaging as a channel for brand communications.
The idea for CampaignUP came to me at the hospital my son James was born in, in June 2017. The UK general elections were underway and I was watching the results at the hospital ward. The Conservative Party had won the elections but surprisingly it was the Labour Party that had won the social media war.
There were lots of negative statistics on how young people are just not interested in politics and were not using their vote. My ‘Eureka moment’ was when I realized that young people are more likely to engage with brands on WhatsApp than on SMS, given the number of young people who were using the former. Soon after, we hired a team to conduct market research for us outside Canary Wharf station and it was soon obvious that not just young people but a much larger number of people would be more likely to engage with their favorite brands using WhatsApp.
Sharang: How has CampaignUP done so far?
Ali: In 2017, I was introduced to The Conservative Party by Stephen Roberts, our mentor at Level39. It was because of the platform’s technology and privacy component that we were able to sign them on to help them with their voter outreach efforts. Subsequently, we also worked with clothing brand Select Fashion, a major fashion retailer with 160 high street stores across the UK.
Currently, however, we are not onboarding any new clients until we become a WhatsApp Business Partner. In the meantime, our focus has been on incorporating the WhatsApp chat concept into new markets. For example, we’ve set-up weekly WhatsApp channels to send news pertaining to the communities in the UK, such as Italians (http://aggiornami.uk/), Turkish (http://nehaber.uk/), and Russians (https://www.vesti.uk/), wherein subscribers of these channels receive news directly on WhatsApp, sometimes with a podcast episode featuring successful entrepreneurs/artists from that community.
Sharang: What are your plans for 2020?
Ali: We have big plans for 2020. Based on our experience in the market so far, we have used our existing expertise and talent to build a new startup – Wishlist Alerts. In 2020, we’ll be focusing our efforts towards further building this platform. The concept is simple – users who are signed up on Wishlist Alerts will be notified via WhatsApp when an item they’ve added to their wishlist has reduced in price or is available cheaper elsewhere.
Subscribe to our newsletter