ZoomInfo announced that it acquired Conversational Marketing firm Insent.AI this morning. The new offering was immediately rebranded as ZoomInfo Chat. Insent, ZoomInfo’s latest post-IPO tuck-in, follows acquisitions of Everstring (firmographics) and Clickagy (intent data) in late 2020. In total, ZoomInfo (FKA DiscoverOrg) has acquired eight companies over the past four years.
CEO Henry Schuck focuses on acquiring complementary data assets that become significantly more valuable when combined with ZoomInfo’s data assets and are then cross-sold by its sales teams.
Last month Schuck told Yahoo! Finance:
“It [the size of the company] doesn’t really matter because the way that we evaluate M&A is, we look for opportunities where, number one, our data makes a big impact from a competitive differentiation perspective. And number two, which goes to the valuation piece, because we are seeing incredibly high valuations on M&A targets today.
But on that piece, we’re always looking to see, hey, if we buy this company and we integrate it into ZoomInfo, and we have all of our sellers selling that product or service and it’s integrated and it’s gotten better with the data asset that we have, how fast can we grow the business? It’s always much faster than that business is going to grow on its own.
And so, when we’re doing the analysis on what to buy and what to build, the buy equation has a lot to do with how much faster we can grow the business. And so while a valuation today might feel like a lot, when we look at what we’re going to be able to do with that asset over the next year and two years, we look for those assets to be accretive in the short term. And it really becomes a go-to-market exercise for us.”ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck, Yahoo! Finance interview, May 4, 2021
Conversational Marketing is a rapidly emerging segment that provides value across the revenue team. Insent, which will be powered by ZoomInfo’s WebSights visitor identification and its global database, performs real-time routing of conversations to sales reps. Low-scoring prospects are managed by the chatbot, with high-scoring visitors routed to the appropriate sales reps. Insent, which competes against Intercom, Terminus, and Drift, calls itself a “human-first chatbot.”
“Marketers spend enormous amounts of time, money, and effort to drive traffic to their websites, but only convert less than two percent of visitors into leads – an incredible inefficiency for teams,” said Schuck. “The acquisition of Insent will combine chat with ZoomInfo’s dynamic IP-to-company graph and insights. Marketers will be able to instantly identify previously anonymous companies that are on their websites, route prospects to the right account owners, and arm them with ZoomInfo’s key intelligence about their buyers. As a result, they’ll initiate real-time conversations that can yield significant conversions.”
Insent also looks for website triggers such as page visits and scroll locations when launching the chatbot.
“As visitors engage in personalized conversations with a chatbot, the nature of the interaction can further inform and qualify visitors for a seamless transition to a live chat with a sales representative,” blogged Schuck. This interactive intelligence will be combined with firmographics and other account and contact intelligence related to the prospect. These insights then “trigger automated sales and marketing workflows, plays, and alerts to create informed, serendipitous, personalized engagement.”
The Insent chatbot supports inline meeting scheduling and additional information gathering for the rep. ZoomInfo will also support automated follow-up workflows and conversations.
Chatbots have an advantage over traditional web forms. Not only do they capture and enrich information, but they can engage with prospects when “your brand is top of mind” and selectively pass high-scoring visitors immediately to sales reps. If the sales rep is not available, the chatbot can schedule a call and collect additional intelligence for the meeting.
“And that opportunity extends beyond the lifetime of that visit,” added Schuck. “Leveraging the visit as a trigger event, ZoomInfo can expand the audience at an account by identifying other likely members of the buying committee and activating outreach to those professionals following a website visit by one or a number of their peers.”
Insent supports integrations with Salesforce, Marketo, HubSpot, Slack, MS Teams, and Zendesk (customer support).
Real-time integrations between platforms and the chat engine, combined with real-time reference data are key to this deal. “Without tightly integrated, highly accurate data and timely insights, these systems are merely empty repositories that lack the intelligence to surface, prioritize, and trigger effective, personalized engagement at scale,” blogged Shuck. “At ZoomInfo, we are actively executing against our vision to build a go-to-market platform that combines our best-in-class data and insights with a tightly integrated engagement layer that activates those insights as they surface. Our system facilitates real-time connection with buyers in their time of need, alerts sales teams to meaningful activity, and feeds engagement activity data back into the system for better future profiling and targeting.”
“ZoomInfo is a trusted leader in go-to-market intelligence and orchestration that enterprises rely on to help them identify and close their ideal customers,” said Insent CEO Arjun Pillai. “ZoomInfo and Insent will help shape the future of chat by allowing teams to have data-centric, intelligent conversations that can expedite sales cycles.”
Insent isn’t “just building a chatbot that generates leads, but a collaborative platform that is going to help marketers create, nurture qualified opportunities, and shorten sales cycles,” said the firm earlier this year.
The goal is to remove “digital walls” between buyers and sellers by replacing web forms and follow-ups “with instant live conversations on websites” that schedule meetings and deliver “personalized content recommendations based on engagement history.”
Insent describes itself as an “integration first platform,” with MAPs, CRMs, and ABM Platforms “to help sales teams talk to engaged prospects while they’re on the website.”
According to Insent Digital Marketer Aatharsha Jey, “integrations should be planned and carried out in a way that does not ask people to change their behaviors in order to adopt a new tool.”
“By guiding their buyers at the right time and proactively alerting your salespeople, Insent generates new revenue opportunities and accelerates existing ones,” said Pillai.
Initially, the pandemic slowed Instent’s growth as marketing teams reduced budgets and delayed decisions, but chatbots are high on the list of MarTech digital acquisition solutions. Between May 2020 and January 2021, Insent revenue quadrupled.
Earlier this year, Insent was using 6Sense for visitor identification. “We go and task 6Sense through an API,” said Pillai in February. “We take that data, and we do further processing of that data. All of this happens in microseconds. Basically, the moment somebody lands on the website, boom, the API call comes back with the data based on that website, company visitor.”
Insent stress-tested various platforms before settling on MongoDB and AWS. Pillai contends that the platform gives them a five-year or six-year window before rearchitecting. The platform was designed with an account-based, versus lead-based, architecture that ties leads to accounts for account-based orchestration.
The new ZoomInfo Chat offering will be available to new and existing customers in Q3. Deal terms were not disclosed. The acquisition was deemed not to have a material impact on the firm’s 2021 financials.
Pillai will be joining ZoomInfo as the SVP of Strategic Growth.
GZ Consulting offers a detailed analysis of ZoomInfo which includes a one-hour Q&A session. Contact Michael Levy for licensing.