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How Keap helps small businesses optimize communications with Twilio

Keap is a SaaS CRM, sales, and marketing automation platform for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Keap’s applications are focused on allowing users to follow up with their leads and clients automatically, allowing users to communicate with their current and prospective customers in a user-friendly and mobile-first way.

The Results
391%
Increase in total messages sent and received
2X
Keap Business Line users over previous year
60%
Reduction in churn

Keap makes a user-friendly customer relationship management (CRM), sales, and marketing automation solution for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The company has three core areas of business: the CRM, sales/marketing automation, and communication. Keap’s core customer base of small, service-oriented businesses or sole-proprietorships, like coaches and consultants, tend to communicate actively with their clientele. They need a personalized platform to manage their leads, convert them into clients, and then stay in touch with them.

“Our customers go into business because they're passionate about what they do, and they find that running a business can be really challenging,” said Dan Navarro, Group Product Manager at Keap.

Rajesh Bhatia, Keap’s CTO, added, “They want to run their business, not worry about software.” By using Twilio, Keap empowers their customers to grow their businesses without worrying about the technology that makes it possible.

Filling the gaps

Keap’s use of Twilio started internally as part of their contact center. From there, Keap’s engineers began experimenting with ways to integrate Twilio messaging APIs into customer-facing projects. When they saw the value they were bringing to users, Keap started to integrate more Twilio APIs. “Almost every one of our communications products in one way or another has Twilio as part of the foundation,” Navarro says.

Customer use cases drove the most prominent Twilio adoptions. Many small business owners would prefer to communicate with customers via text message, and this was a gap in Keap’s automation platform. “We were missing out on a large segment of that small-business communication journey, and they were using multiple tools to fill that gap,” Navarro said. “Twilio allowed us to make our platform more comprehensive and eliminate that chaos.”

Programmable SMS gave businesses the one-to-one and one-to-many conversations and transactions they needed. To go further, Keap added Twilio’s Conversations API to provide group-texting capability.

One of Keap’s strongest uses of Twilio is in Keap Business Line. Many small business owners use the same cellphone for their work and personal lives. Keap Business Line adds a second phone line to a cellphone to keep business and personal use separate on a single device. What sets the service apart is that it includes integration with Keap’s simple-to-use CRM. This keeps all customer contact history in one place, including tasks, contact details, and notes on interactions. Business owners can also book appointments easily via text message and handle invoicing all within the same platform. The system uses more than a half-dozen Twilio APIs, including Voice, Messaging, Authy, and Verify.

Text marketing is another initiative Keap pursued in response to customer demand. Small business owners have seen email open-rates decline, and many are interested in marketing via text message. Keap provides toll-free 800 numbers for text messaging, and Twilio Programmable SMS handles the backend and keeps customers compliant with fast-changing FCC regulations.

We were missing out on a large segment of that small-business communication journey, and they were using multiple tools to fill that gap. Twilio allowed us to make our platform more comprehensive and eliminate that chaos.

Dan Navarro, Group Product Manager at Keap

Sticky and valuable

The results have been impressive. Since enabling Keap Business Line and other Twilio-based communication methods in Keap, sessions per user jumped seven-to-eightfold, to 55 per month. Among people using these enhanced features, the conversion rate from free trials to paid subscriptions rose over five times, from an average of 10 percent to 55 percent. This has doubled the number of Keap Business Line users from September 2020 to September 2021. And those new customers tend to stay: there is two-thirds less churn among customers using Keap Business Line than among Keap customers who don’t use it.

The adoption rate for text marketing has been even faster. In the first two months alone, 12% of Keap’s user base adopted text marketing. In only four months, those users sent one million messages. “Overall, Twilio has enabled us to create communications products which are incredibly sticky and valuable, and they solve meaningful problems for users,” Navarro said.

Twilio is also quietly at work behind the scenes for Keap itself. “Our innovation is at a different scale now,” Navarro said. “The ability for our engineers to experiment is stronger than it’s ever been.”

Data is the next frontier

Initiatives are in the pipeline to democratize the Keap platform by making it more accessible to more customers. “We expect the usage of Twilio’s APIs to make us more self-service and to open the top of the funnel even further,” Bhatia said. As they take on that scale, there’s room to better leverage the vast amount of information they have. “Data is our next frontier,” Navarro said.

Building in two-factor authentication and adding phone calls via mobile app or the web are in the pipeline for the near future. Further ahead, Bhatia says they’re thinking of shifting to SendGrid for email so that they no longer have to manage that infrastructure. As he looks towards a more international future, he sees the possibility of using Twilio to help Keap’s customers communicate with the two billion people who use WhatsApp globally.

The company holds frequent hackathons for its engineers to play with new ideas, especially around AI and video. One that came up for exploration was providing video services natively in apps. Another possibility is bringing Facebook Messenger capability into Keap.

“Our engineering team loves working with the Twilio API,” Navarro said. “It allows us to move incredibly quickly and to actually focus on solving the customer problem from a design and product perspective, rather than on the send-and-receive functionality.”

“Twilio provides an amazing infrastructure for communication, and what we’ve done is taken that infrastructure and made it delightful for small business owners,” Bhatia added.