Beacon Marketer Swirl Raises $18M

Beacon marketing startup Swirl Networks has raised $18 million in Series C funding.

The round was led by Hearst Ventures and SoftBank Capital, with a new strategic investment from Twitter Ventures and participation from previous backer Longworth Ventures.

Like other beacon marketing products, Swirl allows businesses to deliver targeted messages to customers’ mobile phones when they’re actually inside the store. Customers include Lord & Taylor, Hudson’s Bay, Urban Outfitters, Marriott, Alex and Ani, and Timberland.

Asked what makes Swirl different from the competition, CEO Hilmi Ozguc said via email:

While there are many players in the beacon marketing space, including those that focus on beacon hardware, developer tools, and retail analytics, Swirl offers the most advanced and complete enterprise-class beacon marketing solution for large-scale retailers and brands. From secure beacon hardware to the industry’s most robust beacon marketing software platform to a large-scale beacon-enabled audience to a private ad exchange capability that allows retailers to bring brand partners into their beacon ecosystem, no one in the market offers a more advanced and complete solution that meets the needs of the largest retailers and brands.

Last fall, Swirl released performance data from “tens of thousands of shopper interactions” — apparently 60 percent of those shoppers opened and engaged with beacon-triggered content, while 30 percent redeemed beacon-triggered offers at the store. It also surveyed shoppers who’d seen beacon-triggered content, and 73 percent said the messages and offers made them more likely to make a purchase at the store.

The company has now raised a total of $32 million.