Certainly CEO’s 2021 year in review (& a sneak-peek into 2022)

2021 in review 

2021: Kudos to us, but it’s all thanks to you. 

2021 was certainly quite a year. We doubled the team, did a complete rebrand, and reached or exceeded our goals. Kudos to the entire Certainly team for this accomplishment and here’s to a brilliant 2022! We would however be nothing without the value we provide to our customers, so I want to lead with that: It’s 110% about the value to our customers. 


Most companies today use us to drive more revenue or scale support. We are fortunate to see first-hand how our customers’ conversation-first user experience unlocks outsized value, and our mission is to accelerate their growth. Here are some examples from across our customer community: 

Higher CR: The average is 3x the usual conversion rate.

More conversations with more visitors help our customers better understand each visitor and what’s important for the visitor in each unique session. As their bot responds to questions, personalizes the webshop content accordingly, and drives the conversation forward, their visitors buy at a much higher rate. Here’s an example from a fashion brand: 

Screenshot from the Conversation Inbox
(Screenshot from the Conversation Inbox)

Sizing is amongst the top 3 reasons for concern when buying clothes and apparel and the #1 reason for returns. In the example above, the visitor is advised by the bot to purchase another size than the one they expected, based on their input. Only through conversation can you pick up on this and advise accordingly. 

Depending on how merchants use their Certainly chatbots (e.g., reactive vs. proactive), the conversion rate ranges between 3-18%. This number matches a multitude of third-party studies reporting that 70-85% of shoppers say personally relevant content from brands increases their purchase intent (M. Kaptein, R. McFarland, P. Parvinen, How personalized sales tactics can be automated online, 2019). 

Data from ecommerce businesses using Certainly chatbots shows The Average Order Value is 20% higher. 

Enabling personalized help at scale also means customers end up purchasing more per order. Merchants that are using Certainly to drive sales see on average 20% higher order values and often this is driven by cross-selling relevant products. Here’s an example; the bot has added a product to the cart and continues the conversation with a potential upsell: 

Screenshot from the Conversation Inbox
(Screenshot from the Conversation Inbox)

Online buying experiences that adapt to the individual shopping session – not just the individual user – generate outsized results.  
 
And again there is a lot of research, including from MIT, that suggests the same: “If you know the shopping type of the individual shopper and personalize the webshop accordingly, you will increase sales by +20%.” (J. R. Hauser, G.L. Urban, G. Liberali, M. Braun, Website Morphing, 2009. & more).

Customer insights: Forget big data – go for the right data. 

By the end of 2021, our customers were collecting an average of 100,000 zero-party data points each month using Certainly chatbots. This is data that their visitors have voluntarily provided via conversations, usually by requesting help in finding the right product for them. 

When you pair zero-party data with Certainly that enables unlimited sale conversations, you can tailor the experience to each purchase moment. When measuring the impact on a company’s business, it is proving itself.

Gross Margins – your margin is your opportunity

With the larger number of sales due to higher conversion rates and when each transaction is 20% higher, your gross margin per order improves significantly. 

Using benchmark ecommerce P&L data, the GM improves in the ranges of 200-550%. That is new revenue our customers are using to grow their customer base and revenues faster. As we see customers adopt our technology and see the results, they are rapidly increasing their usage of Certainly to help even more visitors and drive more value.  
 
In 2021 the revenue impacted by Certainly varied depending on the number of visitors and average order sizes of the individual merchant. Small to midsized merchants as an example, saw extra revenues of ∼ €400.000 via sales impacted by their bots, which added ∼ 10% on top of their 2021 overall online revenues. 

In 2022 we aim to help grow the revenue even more for merchants across our customer community. If you want to see how we can help drive more revenue in 2022, please reach out to your direct contact or via support@certainly.io. We’d love to hear from you! 

Support scales in quantity and quality.

As our customer’s bot handles more and more requests during 2021, their customer support teams experienced several things: 

  1. The total number of requests from visitors increases as more people can get answers to questions whenever they want. This is good for gathering customer insights, solving their questions, and driving sales. 
  1. As customers’ chatbots handle between 20-80% of end-user requests, the agent’s average response-times drop significantly, often by 50% or more. 
  1. The combination of the bot’s scalability and the agent’s effectiveness means the overall customer satisfaction increases as faster resolutions are offered to a breath of requests and more quality time is available for agents. Tiger of Sweden’s work with their bots is a good example

Customers & partners growth.

We saw great growth in 2021 and we accelerated even more during the second half of the year. We hit the important end-of-year targets for new business and NRR which was 18% above the target. The new business indicates our ability to attract new customers and NRR indicates how good we are making current customers successful, so these are very important metrics for us.  

As of the end of 2021, we are helping customers from 17 markets across EMEA and the Americas with the US, UKI, and Benelux being the fastest-growing markets throughout the year. 

Our tech and agency partners played a big part in the 2021 growth, and we’ll continue to invest a ton in partnerships during 2022. Thank you to all our partners for a great year! Now, let’s make 2021 jealous of 2022. 

Team growth – investing in technology and support.

In 2021 we doubled our team in Copenhagen, Madrid, and remotely. The team now consists of 26 different nationalities and is a diverse group across all departments and functions from individual contributors to leadership. Many colleagues took on new responsibilities within the company and that we create personal growth opportunities for individuals, is something I am particularly proud of.   

Almost 70% of our team works in Product and Customer Success – this is a deliberate focus on investing heavily in providing value to you, dear customer, via our technology and support. In 2022 we’ll grow our team even more, with talented new colleagues ready to add to – and accelerate what we are already doing. 

Certainly Team
Certainly team

New Board members.

In 2021 we announced Jesper Lindhardt, a SaaS veteran and the former Chief Commercial Officer of Trustpilot as Chairperson. Jesper joined the board along with the CEO of Templafy and the Strategy Director of Valtech. To me, this is like having Pep Guardiola, Zinedine Zidane, Diego Simeone, and Michael Laudrup as coaches (yes, I am a football fan). In 2021 they have played an important role and will continue to help us play our best games in 2022. 

From Botox..sorry BotOX…argh…BotXO, to Certainly. 

Even though I thought “BotXO” was a brilliant name when I came up with it, I slowly got the message as customers couldn’t pronounce it and colleagues didn’t dare to say our company’s name during job interviews.  

I am happy we decided to do a total rebrand towards an identity that is less tech and more human. We launched the Certainly brand in May and thank you for all the positive feedback we have gotten from you since. That meant a lot. 

Certainly brand launch
Certainly brand launch in May 2021

For those of you who came after – or have forgotten how we looked like previously – here’s a before and after comparison.

From BotXO…

BotXO visual identity
BotXO visual identity

…to Certainly.

Certainly visual identity
Certainly visual identity
Certainly website
Certainly bot builder
Certainly brand

Product usage & features.

The volumes of conversations and zero-party data through our platform have grown 10x during 2020 and 2021. In the second half of 2021 alone, the volumes doubled. That is significant growth and we’re excited that our customers’ usage grows rapidly as they see the results and want to utilize our platform more.

Monthly growth in conversations with Certainly chatbots
Monthly growth in conversations with Certainly chatbots.

In 2021 we launched a ton of new features, including a cutting-edge new Conversational AI engine that many customers are already using. In our efforts to continuously shorten the time-to-value for our product, we launched many new default domains, intents, and entities based on the use cases from our customer community. We also added to the templates integrations we offer and currently, we’re integrated with 60+ third-party tools and channels. In 2022 we’ll grow the list even more.

Integrations with Certainly.

If you have any suggestions for tools to integrate with, we’d love to hear from you: support@certainly.io  

Covid…  

I have to mention Covid and acknowledge how it kept impacting our lives, both privately and at work during 2021. Kudos to all of us for coping and getting things done despite it.  

A peek into 2022 

However, much we felt we accomplished in 2021, we have only just gotten started. We’re already working hard to make 2022 an unforgettable year. 

In this write-up, I will not dive too much into 2022 – that we will do at another time soon. For now, I just want to touch on some of the major topics for us in 2022 for driving value to you, and why. 

Zero-party data & Personalization

Covid has accelerated ecommerce penetration forward several years. Omnichannel brands are prioritizing growing the online share of total revenue and online-only DTC brands are similarly growing fast online. 

The frontrunners look to hyper-personalization as customer demand increases and capturing their audiences’ real-time intents, motivations, and preferences at scale allows them to create a truly personalized experience for each visitor. A user experience that drives revenue and turns one-time buyers into brand loyalists. 

While competition is increasing Apple/Facebook/Google’s efforts in protecting consumer’s data, (or war on advertising $$$ depending on what you believe), is restricting the use of third-party data, cookies, and IDFAs to target and understand visitors. 

This means that zero-party data becomes king and queen.  

What is zero-party data and why is it important? 

Targeting is especially important for brands with products that cater to specific audiences. With fewer opportunities to use third-party data (e.g. targeting your audience on Facebook/Google) and first-party data (e.g. what visitors are doing on your website), you must increasingly rely on data collected in real-time and directly from the visitor to convert them and get the ROI you are looking for. 

That is what zero-party data is. Zero-party data is that which a visitor intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include purchase intentions, shopping session context, and similar. 

With zero-party data, you tap directly into the mind of the visitor, what she/he/they are looking for and what is important in that exact purchase moment. As mentioned earlier, when you pair zero-party data with technology that enables unlimited, concurrent conversations, you can tailor the experience to each purchase moment. 

That is where Certainly comes in. 

Enabling our customers to collect and use zero-party data in real-time conversations to drive sales and consumer insights is one of our main areas of focus in 2022.  

It’s not easy adopting a new product.

Most of our customers see immediate and great value in our product. That is a good starting point, but we know that our type of technology is still new to most people, and we, therefore, must work on enabling the market and helping each customer see value fast and continuously
 
Just like us, we know you already have your workday more than full of things to do. Now we’re asking you to take a bet on us and adopt a product that is most likely new to you. This is a BIG ASK and even though we successfully show the value to you, you still must carve out time to get familiar with our product, use it continuously, and allocate resources (time, money, people). 

Therefore, we focus relentlessly on making it faster to see the value and manage your bots continuously. It’s that simple. Keep improving the product experience to increase the value it brings to our customers, and enable the market to understand why, and how to use the product.  

More actionable insights & a new product version.

As part of this dedication, we will invest even more in how we provide you with actionable insights; in automated ways in the platform, via 1:1 dedicated support, via newsletters, webinars, and in the form of benchmark reports, best practices, and more. 

We will also launch a new version of our product in 2022. A version that is based on all the inputs and learnings from the past years being one of the frontrunners within Conversational AI. Stay tuned.  

Thank you for 2021 – here’s to a great 2022 together. 

Before ending this write-up, I want to thank you, dear customer and partner, for the time, resources, and valuable inputs you have provided in 2021. Let’s make 2022 a very successful year together. 

P.S. Remember life is a marathon with sprints – make sure to have fun while running it. 

Henrik  

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