This Chicago Tech Company Is Helping Big Brands Reach Their Customers During a Pandemic. Here’s How.

by Brendan Meyer
November 19, 2020

Shortly after the pandemic upended consumer spending habits, many large companies rushed to find a solution.

One of their most reliable sources of engagement — connecting with customers in-person at physical locations — had dramatically decreased due to the shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, so many ramped up an industry-wide trend that would still target and engage their customer-bases from afar: mobile marketing.

“Many companies were literally establishing new business channels on the fly, and we were able to help,” Richard Rivera, chief revenue officer at Vibes, said. Vibes provides a technology platform for mobile communication and marketing for businesses of all sizes, and in the past six months, the company has seen a large uptick in demand.

They worked with a global insurance giant to accelerate their mobile app adoption to engage active users, assisted a national sporting goods retail chain in driving more e-commerce traffic and helped a leading American auto manufacturer boost its mobile presence to remind and incentivize drivers to bring in their vehicles for services.

The work isn’t confined to retail though. Rivera said bookings have been up 100 percent in Q3 at Vibes across a variety of categories, including hospitality and financial services, and that the company is working toward a record number in Q4.

“When the pandemic hit, brands suddenly had to react to a new reality,” Rivera said.


Vibes Chicago

How has the urgency for mobile marketing shifted because of the pandemic?

So many of our partners had to shut down their stores and offices to a degree due to COVID-19, and they really accelerated their e-commerce and other digital engagement strategies. Brands are having to suddenly adapt to a new reality. We’re helping a number of customers with our curbside pickup product, as well as mobile wallet offerings. In some cases, these companies were literally establishing new business channels on the fly and we were able to help.

The bigger concern we’ve seen is that many big brands, even in 2020, don’t have as much customer data as they’d prefer. By increasing mobile engagement, you incrementally gain more data about consumer behaviors, profiles and preferences. That data is golden during a global pandemic when our physical proximity is non-existent.


Generally speaking, what role did mobile marketing play for retailers and brands before the pandemic?

Each customer was in a different stage of employing mobile as a key business channel. Certainly all were evolving toward more digitization. In 2020, those that were excelling at mobile optimized their practices, while those that had put it off had to ramp things up quickly. Across the board, mobile as a strategic channel has been accelerating across all verticals, from retail text-driven incentives to financial services offers. Email and web have been and will continue to be consumer-focused channels, but mobile has proven to deliver higher performance than those traditional channels. Mobile customer data is richer and more dynamic than those channels. 


Setting Records

Rivera said Vibes bookings have been up 100 percent in Q3, and that the company is working toward a record quarter in Q4. “New large brands continue to put their trust in us for the scale and performance they need. The mobile revolution is certainly global,” Rivera said.


What are the general features that Vibes provides?

At a base level, Vibes provides brands a technology platform for mobile communications and marketing. Our solution enables brands to send consumers intelligent and targeted messages, mobile offers, service updates and personalized content across different mobile channels such as texting, mobile wallet and push notifications.

But if you think about it, what we’re really doing is helping giant companies connect personally with customers and potential customers via the devices they increasingly live their lives on. More than sending an email that may not even relate to the consumer, or hoping to get site traffic and app downloads, these consumers are being incentivized to opt into thoughtful, ongoing mobile engagement. That’s revolutionary for brands.


Vibes Chicago

What do you think is the next big trend in mobile marketing?

Data and personalization. Every digital interaction results in tons of data being collected. So the big question is, how do we use this huge amount of metadata we’ve been collecting responsibly in order to deliver the most differentiated and thoughtful experiences to a consumer? Consumers are rightfully protected to have the utmost data and messaging privacy. We are already one of the strongest providers of proven compliance governance with a 95 percent audit pass rate. So assuming this is done in a compliant fashion, the question is: What can that data do for both the brands and the consumers? 

The value of personalization isn’t just for the brand. I personally don’t want to see content about products or services that aren’t relevant to me. I don’t want to be engaged in ways that don’t work for me. For the brand, how can we help them share that data across marketing systems and the consumer journey? Another big trend we see is the adoption of mobile wallets by consumers. We’re already seeing a huge uptick in our Vibes dynamic wallet product, and that’s only going to ramp up.



Where do you see mobile marketing and Vibes’ impact moving forward?

Mobile is becoming so central to people’s lives — as a communications vehicle and as a media consumption device. The pandemic brought a whole new crop of mobile shoppers to the market, forcing so many brands to overhaul their five-year plans. A lot of these habits are going to stick following COVID-19, and we’re in a great position to be integral to helping our partners set up for the future. For many large enterprises, digital transformation was an aspirational goal but they were still early in their journeys. Now, their mobile strategies are in hypergrowth mode.

Mobile is becoming so central to people’s lives — as a communications vehicle and as a media consumption device.’’

As more and more brands across most verticals and countries are formalizing their mobile strategies, we’ll need more marketing engagement and more sellers. We’re doubling down on our strategic partnerships and alliances to go to market globally. Our product engineering investment is accelerating. Most importantly, we’re elevating our customer success teams to be certified strategy leaders. The market is hungry to grow mobile engagement, so we’re growing our entire go-to-market team now.

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