Rhetorik expanded its technology sales intelligence coverage of Europe with the addition of ten Eastern and Central European countries to its NetFinder+ service. The CEE expansion pack provides company profiles, technographics, and contacts for Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and Ukraine.
NetFinder+ also supports enhanced install data on cloud, system software, middleware, enterprise, and vertical industry applications.
Earlier this year, Rhetorik rolled out the Rhetorik Technology Map, “a comprehensive new taxonomy for classifying key enterprise technologies” that “structures business technology assets, services, and products” from over 7,000 vendors. The Rhetorik Technology map contains over 150 tech categories.
Rhetorik contacts are fully-GDPR compliant with name, title, email, and phone numbers that are “compliant with all relevant data privacy and data protection regulations.”
California is a logical location for US market entry (the firm already has a Canadian development office). Not only is a high percentage of US enterprise software and cloud companies headquartered in California, but the CCPA data privacy regulations are akin to EU GDPR requirements, making marketing departments more sensitive to data privacy and regulatory compliance.
Microsoft rolled out a set of enhancements to its Customer Insights CDP earlier this month, including a set of technology and data partnerships. I covered the functional enhancements yesterday.
“Organizations can automatically augment profiles with survey responses to truly uncover sentiment and drive detailed segmentation of customers, empowering agile actions that build brand loyalty and driving detailed understanding of customers,” said James Phillips, President of Microsoft Business Applications. “Furthermore, organizations can enrich customer profiles with proprietary audience intelligence on brand affinity and user interests or by using third-party enrichments such as Experian and Leadspace.”
Leadspace supports B2B firmographic enrichment use cases, including industry codes, discrete and ranged sizing variables, geocodes, social media links, URLs, and standardized addresses. Leadspace plans to include more advanced account-level insights such as company hierarchy and site-level details, as well as lead and intent scores, in future releases. Firmographic updates may be processed daily or weekly with company matching performed by Leadspace.
The Leadspace data license is written on Leadspace paper and based upon the number of records under management. Volume discounts apply. When additional content sets are available, tiered pricing will be employed.
“We’ve been really honored to collaborate closely with the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights team as their first B2B data enrichment partner and excited about the value it’ll bring our joint customers who want a single source of truth to fuel their sales and marketing efforts. This offering goes a long way to helping them improve their ability to segment, prioritize, and personalize engagement across the customer lifecycle.”
Leadspace CTO Amnon Mishor
Experian supports consumer data enrichment spanning lifestyle segmentation, demographics, purchasing habits, brand preferences, life-event triggers, and mobile location data.
Microsoft also rolled out a set of new Customer Insights integrations that “drive meaningful actions across the customer journey.” Customer Insights is vendor-agnostic, “from ingesting data from any source to activating insights on multiple destinations.” New partners include AutopilotHQ, Bing ads, dotdigital, Facebook, Google Ads, HubSpot, LiveRamp, Marketo, Mailchimp, and SendGrid (Twilio).
Phillips emphasized Microsoft’s commitment to data privacy and security “by enabling organizations to better control and secure sensitive data with data classification and permissions from Microsoft Information Protection.” Organization can “configure policies to classify, label, and protect data based on its sensitivity.”
Customer Insights pricing begins at $1,500 per tenant per month for up to 100,000 profiles.
Microsoft has begun beta testing a set of enhancements to its Dynamics 365 Customer Insights CDP. The upgrades focus on extending CDP capabilities into deeper insights and AI capabilities. The new functionality will GA during the first half of 2021.
Engagement Insights, currently in preview, provides cross-channel analytics that assess customer behavior and intent across the web, mobile, connected devices, and other touchpoints. Engagement Insights combines behavioral analytics with transactional, demographic, survey, and other data sets “to create interactive and rich insights that help drive the next best actions and personalized experiences.”
Engagement Insights begins with standard analytics around web site visitors, pages viewed, and visit duration. A custom report builder lets marketers “curate the exact views to answer the business questions at hand.” Funnel reports track customer journeys, identify gaps and opportunities, and inform next best actions.
“Engagement Insights is about directly funneling web, mobile and connected product data back into Customer Insights to help continue to enrich that understanding of the customer in order to better serve them.
James Phillips, President of Microsoft Business Applications.
Insights are deployed across the customer lifecycle and assist with personalizing offers, including presenting new product or services that better match customer needs.
“As everything’s gone digital, the need to deeply understand your customer and to increase the efficacy of those engagements has really been heightened through this pandemic,” said Phillips.
AI enhancements focus on better customer predictions. The AI functionality employs Azure Synapse Analytics and includes a set of pre-built templates for predicting customer churn, automating product recommendations, and evaluating customer lifetime value. The templates help marketers gather customer insights without requiring data science or IT professional support.
A new integration with Dynamics 365 Customer Voice captures customer sentiment and feedback.
According to Phillips, Customer Insights is the “fastest-growing application in the Dynamics 365 portfolio.”
The acquisition included the DataUnlimited US B2B contact dataset. VanillaSoft users will be able to subscribe to or purchase leads from both the Autoklose and VanillaSoft platforms. DataUnlimited spans 40 million US B2B contacts that are revalidated in real-time. Contact records include name, company, email, phone, address, SIC, URL, and LinkedIn URL. DataUnlimited is supported by a ten-person data team that verifies data and performs custom research.
Autoklose competitors include Mixmax, Reply.io, Apollo.io, and Cognism.
Following the acquisition, VanillaSoft described itself as a “Tier-2 data provider” that offers B2B contacts. They target the SMB market and “real-world industries,” such as professional and financial services, manufacturing, and educational fundraising. Their clients are not bleeding-edge tech firms or large enterprises but smaller firms with full lifecycle sales reps. Typical customers are price sensitive and resource-constrained with high turnover. As such, they are late adopters of technology that highly value a solution’s ease-of-use. VanillaSoft noted that 40% of their customers have yet to deploy a CRM.
“SMBs are looking for ROI, not AI,” stated the firm.
According to VanillaSoft CRO Darryl Praill, “Sales Engagement will become the primary platform used by Sales teams, just as Marketing Automation has become the primary platform used by Marketers.” Furthermore, the vision of SEPs will expand as they add ABM workflows, marketing automation, contacts, opportunity management, forecasting, chat, and video.
“VanillaSoft will offer a broad, pragmatic sales engagement platform that meets the diverse requirements and price-points of SMB sales teams or individuals in traditional industries,” said Praill. This will include industry-specific versions of the platform to meet the unique requirements of their core industries.
“One of my favorite things to say when a customer or prospect praises our product is to point out that if they like what VanillaSoft is today, they are going to love what it is tomorrow. We’re making this promise a reality by continuing to grow internal development and incorporating great teams and technology to deliver the best sales engagement tools available.”
VanillaSoft CEO David Hood
VanillaSoft’s acquisition of Autoklose is a smart, strategic move that enhances both its email capabilities and its B2B prospect intelligence. Sales Engagement vendors have been slow to integrate verified leads into their platforms. Even the market leaders have developed little more than third-party ‘Send to SEP’ functionality.
Integrated prospecting will be particularly valuable to VanillaSoft’s customer base of SMBs serving insurance, finance, and manufacturing. This intelligence gap has led some Sales Intelligence vendors to incorporate a subset of SEP features into their offerings, thus becoming Hybrid Engagement Platforms. HEP features include cadences (Zoominfo, Cognism, Data Axle Genie), dialers (Zoominfo, Data Axle Genie), email (Zoominfo, Cognism, Data Axle Genie), email signature management (Cognism/Mailtastic), messaging (LinkedIn Sales Navigator), and event-triggered workflows (Zoominfo).
Privately-held VanillaSoft is based in Plano, TX and Gatineau, Quebec. The firm is profitable with 6oo customers and 4,000 users (pre-acquisition). With Autoklose, they now have 88 employees, up 34% this year. New executives include Shawn Finder (Sales GM); Marko Dinic (Fractional CTO); Vladan Djokic (Senior Dev Lead); and Vedran Rasic (Director, Marketing).
Autoklose was on track for a record year at the time of the acquisition, despite a revenue dip at the beginning of the pandemic.
Sales Engagement Platform vendor VanillaSoft acquired outbound email automation platform Autoklose for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition augments VanillaSoft’s email capabilities and adds Autoklose’s DataUnlimited contact database to its feature set.
Autoklose offers an all-in-one outbound email automation platform featuring automated lead generation, drip campaigns, calendar scheduling, reporting, and CRM integration.
“The Autoklose technology and team will make a significant contribution to our vision of establishing VanillaSoft as the number one sales engagement platform for SMB customers in real-world industries such as insurance and fundraising. After evaluating a number of different technologies and companies in the market, we saw that the capabilities and technology in the Autoklose platform would be a perfect fit for what our customers are looking for to enhance their sales outreach and engagement capabilities. Further, the founders have a great vision, a passion for the industry, and built up an extremely talented group of people. We are incredibly excited to bring Autoklose into the VanillaSoft team.”
VanillaSoft CEO David Hood
VanillaSoft is a multi-channel sales engagement platform that supports email, phone, and SMS. Autoklose provides them with enhanced email cadence capabilities, personalized email automation, and personal sales nurturing. Autoklose email features include email tracking, email templates, scheduled send, bounce detection, A/B testing, unsubscribe support, multi-media and attachments, and integrated Vidyard and Calendly functionality. Real-time analytics track emails sent, delivered, opened, CTR, replies, and bounces.
Autoklose email tracking supports Gmail, GSuite, Outlook Office365 inbox, or any other email account via IMAP.
“An integrated, easy-to-use solution is something that SMB organizations with limited resources have been waiting for. With this acquisition, VanillaSoft stands alone in the marketplace – offering SMB sales teams and individuals in real-world industries an all-in-one solution to meet their unique sales intelligence, email automation, sales nurturing, and sales engagement requirements.”
Mark Hunter, Author & Public Speaker, The Sales Hunter
VanillaSoft will continue selling Autoklose as a standalone sales automation platform with lead data as an add-on and has begun integrating the Autoklose email platform as the back-end for most email sends. Autoklose will support future inbound email functionality. Eventually, Autoklose will support a “light” marketing automation service.
“The stand-alone Autoklose platform will remain available to customers and we will be working hard on future development to make it even better,” blogged VanillaSoft CEO David Hood. “It’s a great option for prospects who aren’t quite ready for – or do not require – a complete sales engagement platform like VanillaSoft.”
Streaming Intent improves the timing and messaging around sales and marketing workflows such as
Prioritizing sales outreach to companies that are ready to buy
Interacting with prospects earlier in the buyer’s journey to build trust that won’t be present with later stage vendors
Triggering automated campaigns that warm-up prospects for your Sales team to call
Streaming Intent delivers real-time behavioral intent data that is “expansive and customizable.” The Clickagy platform employs an NLP engine that identifies behavioral context in real-time. Intent data is gathered from over 300,000 publisher domains and includes six trillion-plus new keyword-to-device pairings each month. Intent data is sourced from over 91 percent of accessible devices in the United States.
Clickagy supports thousands of B2B topics and sub-topics spanning marketing, natural resources, entertainment, business services, government, healthcare, retail goods, and science and technology.
“Innovation in the B2B intent landscape has lagged behind the business-to-consumer landscape for much of the past decade. Most B2B intent solutions today rely on the same set of underlying data generated by limited media cooperators and third-party cookie tracking. Existing offerings only provide weekly batches of buyer intent on a finite number of topics because of heavy data processing that takes days to complete, negating opportunities to reach buyers at the opportune moment. Other solutions offer late-stage intent, where vendors have already been identified, and it is too late for the addition of competing solutions.”
“ZoomInfo: Acquires Clickagy to Deliver Streaming Intent Data,” ZoomInfo Press Release, October 15, 2020.
Clickagy was founded in 2013 and based in Atlanta. Clickagy CEO Harry Maugans has been named a VP of Product Management.
“Robust business data has always been the biggest hurdle keeping us from offering a transformative B2B product,” said Maugans. “But now with ZoomInfo, we’re giving sellers and marketers the ability to further propel their go-to-market motions more effectively and efficiently.”
Actionability and usability have been significant issues that slowed the adoption and hampered the ROI of intent data. Shuck laid out his vision of how Clickagy intent, tied to ZoomInfo company and contact data, will create significant customer value:
“The B2B world has been largely behind the B2C world with respect to using intent to activate go-to-market motions. The primary reason for this lag is that B2B Intent offerings were never connected to the companies and the professionals at those companies in a way that would allow seamless activation. By combining Clickagy’s powerful Intent with ZoomInfo’s robust database of companies and professionals, we unlock the power of intent for every B2B Go-to-Market organization…
Soon, go-to-market organizations will be able to build workflows that tell them instantly when Fintech companies in California, who have Snowflake in their tech stack, at least 100 employees, and $50M in funding, begin spiking on research for “cloud data platforms”. That signal can simultaneously kick-off a workflow that captures the Vice Presidents, Directors, Managers, and other key stakeholders at those Fintech companies, check for open opportunities in CRM, and begin marketing automation, sales automation, and CRM campaigns against those decision makers…
Said another way, our customers will be able to create behavioral filters and overlay them across live web traffic, capture highly-refined intent signals in real time, and make them actionable within seconds. This lets them engage prospects while they’re still in the research mode with a buying mentality—not weeks later when they’ve moved on to something else, or worse, after they’ve already made their decision.
ZoomInfo CEO Henry Shuck, “Why ZoomInfo is Acquiring Clickagy”
Intent data becomes more valuable when it can cast a wide net, gather and interpret signals with a high level of precision, and promptly deliver these signals. It is in these dimensions that ZoomInfo has confidence in the breadth and heuristics of its acquisition.
Clickagy opens up the “black box” of intent data rules, offering a “robust and configurable technology that unlocks those algorithms and enables administrators to adjust the logical rules, keywords, inclusions, exclusions, and thresholds used to determine when a company is indeed exhibiting intent for a particular keyword or topic in order to reduce false positives.” Transparency and configurability provide “unprecedented control” over the quality of intent signals.
ZoomInfo Intent complies with privacy rules. Clickagy does not collect any personally identifiable information. Information is collected in the aggregate at the account level. Instead of revealing who is conducting the research, Zoominfo identifies “functional decision-makers” at the account who are likely involved in purchasing decisions related to the intent signal.
Clickagy also offers audience targeting and activation across 300 DMPs and DSPs. ZoomInfo already supports website visitor intelligence.
Deal terms were not disclosed. ZoomInfo said the deal would have a non-material impact on their fourth-quarter financial results.
No company size data was provided, but LinkedIn lists 26 employees at Clickagy.
There are six major categories of B2B intelligence, and ZoomInfo is a significant player in four of them: Contacts, Technographics, Sales Triggers, and Intent Data. They also provide firmographics, but this remains an area for future growth and development. The category where they do not offer datasets is financial services intelligence, including company financials, filings (e.g. SEC EDGAR, UCC, UK Companies House), and risk reports (credit and supplier).
“In the last year alone, we’ve had literally hundreds of thousands of conversations with customers and prospects and one thing is clear—they want intent data to live at the core of how they go to market,” blogged CEO Henry Schuck about the rationale for acquiring Clickagy. “And over the course of those calls it’s easy to see intent data taking a seat right alongside the two most important pieces of business information—account and contact data. The three together, driving account identification, targeting, and segmentation will soon be table stakes for how sellers and marketers identify their next best customers.”
Schuck emphasized that product design at ZoomInfo is iterative with plans for improving a product in place before each release goes to production. Shuck called their previous intent offerings good, but not good enough. This drive to improve their intent services led them to investigate best-of-breed intent data solutions to enhance their offering. Their research led them to Clickagy.
“Clickagy had built a robust data processing engine that looks at billions of key data points across millions of websites and then uses robust natural language processing and artificial intelligence to categorize and make sense of those data points. Their technology, approach to data collection, privacy-first perspective, and focus on intent data made it clear that we not only wanted Clickagy to be a part of our intent product, but we needed Clickagy to be a part of ZoomInfo.”
ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck
ZoomInfo Intent will continue to provide “good keywords, quality-focused data science, [and] industry-leading account data,” but now “casts a wider net” and delivers actionable intent throughout the day. Combining the companies will “dramatically shorten the path from data, to decision, to action,” blogged Shuck.
“B2B intent data is becoming core to the way modern go-to-market organizations prioritize their outreach to prospects and customers,” wrote Schuck. “Our acquisition of Clickagy enables us to scale intent to provide what will soon be the market’s most predictive and complete B2B intent data set for sellers and marketers. We believe this acquisition both exemplifies our mission to continuously innovate and cements our position as the pacesetter for data-driven sales and marketing outreach.”
Tomorrow I will wrap up my discussion of the acquisition with an overview of Streaming Intent and Clickagy’s approach to data privacy.
Last week, Dun & Bradstreet acquired long-time partner Bisnode, greatly strengthening its position in Europe. Bisnode provides them with direct access to regional and multi-national customers in the Nordic region, Eastern Europe, and D-A-CH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland).
Dun & Bradstreet described the execution risk as low to medium as they know the company well, have established relationships with Bisnode, and Bisnode is “very familiar” with Dun & Bradstreet’s products and solutions. The deal was also structured as a mix of debt and equity so as not to increase Dun & Bradstreet’s financial leverage.
One the announcement call, Dun & Bradstreet did not discuss Bisnode products, but one asset that Dun & Bradstreet will likely operationalize quickly is Bisnode’s file of 40 million GDPR-compliant business contacts across 21 European countries.
Dun & Bradstreet anticipates the deal will close in January 2021 subject to standard regulatory reviews. The acquisition will add around 2,000 headcount to Dun & Bradstreet.
Bisnode revenue will be included in Dun & Bradstreet’s international division and will be broken out for the first year after acquisition.
Jabbour indicated that Dun & Bradstreet is strategically reviewing its World Wide Network of partners to “look for ways to improve the commercial arrangements that we have or make them more relevant.” Options include purchasing the partner, ending the partnership arrangement and picking a new partner, or renegotiating the relationship.
The market appeared pleased with the transaction as Dun & Bradstreet’s stock price increased 8.53% last Thursday following the announcement and analyst call.
[Part I] Last week, Dun & Bradstreet announced the acquisition of Bisnode Business Information Group for $818 million. The deal greatly strengthens their European presence across 18 countries, including the Nordics, D-A-CH, and Eastern Europe.
When the deal closes, Dun & Bradstreet will “rapidly introduce” its credit and supplier risk management solutions, along with its sales and marketing services, to clients across Europe, “providing vital business intelligence to help them compete, thrive and grow.”
Ratos AB CEO Jonas Wiström noted that Bisnode’s focus has “improved customer offering, stability, and profitability,” but that ongoing growth “requires that Bisnode participate in the consolidation that is taking place in the increasingly global market for data and analytics.”
Over the past four years, Bisnode has doubled its operating margin from 7% to 14%. In H1 2020, eleven to the twelve companies within the Bisnode group improved their earnings.
“We are convinced that Dun & Bradstreet is the best possible partner to lead this consolidation. The combined strengths of our assets and capabilities will greatly serve our respective clients, increase competitiveness and position Dun & Bradstreet/Bisnode for long-term growth. I look forward to joining the Dun & Bradstreet International Strategic Advisory Board.”
Ratos AB CEO Jonas Wiström
Ratos’ strategy is to hold companies that are or can become market leaders, but Bisnode, as a standalone organization, is not in a position to build a market-leading position in data and analytics.
Dun & Bradstreet offers a suite of advanced B2B sales and marketing solutions that can be cross-sold into the Bisnode customer base. Cross-sale opportunities include D&B Lattice (a customer data platform), D&B Analytics, D&B ABM Platform, D&B Audience Solutions (Visitor Intelligence, webforms, and programmatic advertising), D&B Optimizer (DaaS enrichment and validation), D&B Direct (API), and D&B Hoovers.
Dun & Bradstreet anticipates operational efficiencies from migrating Bisnode customers off legacy platforms onto Dun & Bradstreet solutions, more efficient data sourcing and curation, and leveraging global resources to make all functions more efficient.
Owning the full revenue stream of Dun & Bradstreet products increases the profitability of localizing services due to the removal of revenue shares and the availability of local sales and support teams. The D-A-CH region would likely be the initial target for localization. For example, D&B Hoovers has Nordic, German, and Austrian financials and corporate linkages, but the UI and event triggers are only in English.
“When you get into some of those 18 countries within the Bisnode territory, there wasn’t that level of localization” as compared to the UK, said Jabbour. “So there is a fantastic opportunity to bring our modern platforms [and] modern APIs and make small tweaks from a localization perspective.”
“The products that we have rolled out have been very successful,” continued Jabbour. Dun & Bradstreet expects continued success and greater market focus on the Bisnode markets. During the pandemic, Dun & Bradstreet’s product sales by Bisnode grew “nicely.”
“The closer we can get to the headquarters of any business and really share our value proposition [and] ways [that] we can help that business grow their revenues, improve their margins, and remain compliant,” the greater the opportunity. “We have a lot of confidence in our go-to-market approach, and this simplifies it because now there is one instead of two companies involved in serving that large enterprise on a global basis,” observed Jabbour.
Another advantage of direct ownership is Dun & Bradstreet is no longer looking to influence the sales team but will have direct control over incentive and compensation plans.
Dun & Bradstreet, which has long relied on global partnerships to address the sales, marketing, and risk evaluation needs of its multi-national customers, is expanding its presence in Europe with the acquisition of Bisnode Business Information Group. Bisnode is 70% owned by private equity firm Ratos and 30% by Bonnier.
The $818 million acquisition, which is 75% cash and 25% common stock, expands Dun & Bradstreet’s presence in Scandinavia, Central Europe, and D-A-CH (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland). The acquisition provides direct ownership in eighteen “strategic territories in Europe” and “provides opportunities for scale by leveraging existing Dun & Bradstreet product portfolio, data supply chain, and technology infrastructure.”
Upon close, Ratos will hold a 1% stake in Dun & Bradstreet.
Bisnode’s Belgian operations were not included in the deal.
The deal adds 110,000 Bisnode customers to Dun & Bradstreet’s customer base and provides direct access to an additional fifty Global 500 companies headquartered in the Bisnode countries. The deal provides direct ownership of 33 million business records (around nine percent of the WorldBase file). It also allows for the direct sale of Dun & Bradstreet products into major European markets.
Bisnode currently has an annual revenue of around $400 million, net income of $28 million, and adjusted EBITDA of $70 million.
Bisnode has been a Dun & Bradstreet reseller since 2003. Dun & Bradstreet’s solutions account for 33% of Bisnode revenue, and revenue has been “growing in a solid manner for the past few years” in the Bisnode territories. The remaining Bisnode revenue consists of proprietary in-market solutions.
“We are pleased to bring Bisnode into the Dun & Bradstreet family following a nearly two-decade strategic alliance. The powerful combination of our data, analytics, and innovative solutions, paired with Bisnode’s deep client relationships and expertise in European markets, will provide our existing and future clients with vital business intelligence to support their own growth ambitions. We look forward to welcoming the Bisnode team to Dun & Bradstreet and to working together to grow the global business.”
Dun & Bradstreet CEO Anthony Jabbour
When the deal closes, Dun & Bradstreet will create an International Strategic Advisory Board headed by Neeraj Sahai, President of Dun & Bradstreet International. Ratos AB CEO Jonas Wiström will be joining the Advisory Board.
“Integrating our two leading organizations provides significant opportunity to deliver a broader product set to a substantially larger global client base. As the international business community becomes increasingly data-driven, we look forward to combining our teams to unlock further potential, drive innovation, and deliver solutions that are tuned to client and market needs,” said Sahai.