Twilio on building a global customer engagement platform

Twilio’s customer engagement platform helps leading companies build direct, personalised relationships with customers everywhere. It enables 250,000 businesses and more than 10 million developers to facilitate rideshare messages, video conferences with doctors, data-driven loyalty campaigns, and more.

We spoke with Eyal Manor, chief product and engineering officer at Twilio, about developer velocity, the importance of customer communication, and the rise of first-party data. Stripe powers Twilio products around the world.

Products used

Global
Enterprise

Where is Twilio heading over the next few years?

Most people know Twilio as a messaging company that facilitates nearly any type of communication from video to voice to text, all through a simple set of APIs. We’ve already helped millions of developers build a platform to send messages from their app, website, or server.

Our path forward is about helping more developers and businesses around the world, and delivering new tools to manage first-party data on our Customer Data Platform (CDP). It’s about helping companies create a smarter communication platform while ensuring developer success.

Why will third-party data become less relevant?

Third-party data compliance and regulations are shifting toward higher levels of privacy and control for consumers around the world. It’s a big transition as consumers have more control over what companies do with their online data. Compliance and regulation are also driving changes in the relationship between the consumer and company, as cookies and web tracking tools will become less and less relevant.

As a result, internet companies are moving to a world of tracking, managing, and transforming data directly from their customers, not browsers, which is where first-party data will come into play. Twilio is well positioned to help them do this while maintaining the highest level of compliance. Our products help businesses maintain a direct relationship with their customers, leading to more transparent and reliable insights.

Is that why you believe 2022 is the year of the Customer Data Platform?

Yes, over 43% of business leaders are now embracing first-party data because it's better for customer privacy. That wasn’t the case as of even two years ago, but 2022 massively accelerated the trend as a result of compliance and regulatory changes.

What are other surprising or unique ways customers are approaching their customer engagement strategy?

I meet with customers and developers as much as I can, and the level of customisation they’re building on top of Twilio is amazing. Take Vacasa, a holiday rental platform, which is using Twilio to create different messaging strategies for guests. Using our APIs, Vacasa was able to better understand how customers journey through its website, and build datasets that inform marketing decisions and spending. From there, they built personalised communication channels to boost booking conversion and grow their revenue.

How much of your role is focused on monitoring the existing products versus preparing new iterations or launches?

We have a great portfolio of existing products, but we’re constantly building and testing new ideas. My goal is to innovate through rapid experimentation, which is how we launched Twilio Frontline, Twilio Flex, and most recently Twilio Engage. We’re pretty excited about how Twilio Engage uniquely puts the power of a native customer data platform and omnichannel together in one marketing solution, to deliver data-driven personalised experiences. We take pride in a building mentality across the company, another reason why we do our best to ensure Twilio developers can move at high velocity with the best tools at their disposal.

How are you optimising your teams and developers for innovation?

I’ve learned over the years to make things easy and to automate as much as possible. When you’re at a company with infrastructure at the scale of Twilio, this principle becomes even more important. That’s why we measure the quality of code we produce as well as the velocity of code to production for every product. I review these measures of success personally to ensure we’re heading in the right direction.

How do payments and online commerce relate to your overall product strategy?

When Twilio was founded in 2008, customers and developers were using Twilio’s infrastructure and needed a way to accept payments on top of what they built, be it apps or web experiences. At that time, there was a lot of complexity and friction, and we were also rapidly expanding into many countries and regions. Turning to Stripe was the best decision for Twilio, as we were able to quickly and easily integrate payments into pretty much all of Twilio’s products. It’s played really well for our customers.

We've seen a substantial increase in our revenue as a result of switching to Stripe as well. Stripe helps us detect issues quickly, and reduce payment declines among Twilio customers or developers.

Some leaders might view payments as a cost centre. Why do you see it as an advantage for Twilio?

One is global expansion – we are seeing substantial growth internationally in all of our core products. We needed a payments solution that offered local availability and low latency for Twilio customers. Second, having the right payment provider allows us to reduce issuer declines and maximise our revenue. Stripe has increased our authorisation rates by 10% around the world. Lastly, Stripe gives us access to card networks and makes it easier for our customers and developers to onboard payments seamlessly.

How do you think the partnership with Stripe is helpful as we head into an economic slowdown?

Stripe allows us to focus on things that can grow Twilio’s business in a downturn, allows us to focus on the customer, and removes the complexity of managing payments infrastructure. While I’m an optimist about technology, the economy, and the world, we’re always looking for ways to automate and increase efficiency. Stripe helps us build the best customer engagement platform possible.

How do you see the partnership between Twilio and Stripe evolving?

It’s really only the beginning. There are so many use cases, from ordering food on your favourite app, scheduling a doctor’s appointment, or receiving a discount marketing message, that Twilio and Stripe are powering. Our partnership allows us to support a substantial number of people, every day.

As Twilio continues to expand around the world, Stripe helps us navigate local regulation and empower innovation in areas such as currency conversion, billing, sales support, and regional expansion. Our partnership is helping deliver a smooth experience to our developers to get more done in minutes, not days.

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