Validity Launches Everest Email Deliverability Platform

Email deliverability vendor Validity announced the global availability of Everest, a new platform for email optimization, analytics, and delivery.  The platform combines the capabilities of 250ok, Return Path, and BriteVerify, businesses that they acquired over the past two years.

“Validity built Everest to give marketers everything they need to ensure email success,” promised the firm.  “Everest is a complete email analytics platform powered by Validity’s exclusive data feeds, the largest data network in the industry, and widespread integration and support within the email ecosystem.  It offers marketers a complete set of tools to prepare, test, optimize, and measure their email campaigns.  With fully configurable dashboards, a highly intuitive user interface, and seamless integration with many of the leading email service providers, Everest makes it fast and easy to optimize campaigns.

Other features include performance tracking reports, customizable alerts, list hygiene, and campaign benchmarking versus competitors and global senders.  Unique features include email certification for avoiding spam filters, View Time Optimization (VTO) for Verizon Media mailboxes, and enterprise-grade managed services.

Everest pre-send optimization features include form validation, bulk upload verification, and design and content tools.  Emails are checked against over seventy device-mail clients.  Email links and images are tested, and A/B testing is supported.

Competitive intelligence features include message samples, subject lines, sending volume, message patterns, and performance metrics.  Everest also flags competitor list hygiene issues, authentication gaps, and blocklist history.  “Beyond that, you’ll be able to compare brands side-by-side to identify low-hanging fruit and quick wins around sending volumes, accessibility, mobile compatibility, image animation, localization, and sending best practices.”

Verizon VTO delivers emails at the top of the inbox when the addressee is in her email client, quadrupling open rates and doubling click through rates for Yahoo, AOL, Verizon.net, and ATT.net mailboxes.

Everest “is, by a wide margin, the most comprehensive, insightful, value-add email platform ever offered in our industry,” said Validity CEO Mark Briggs.  “Any business that relies on digital marketing should consider Everest as the key to delivering email success.”

Openprise Agile CDP

B2B data hygiene vendor Openprise announced the availability of Openprise Agile CDP, the “first and only B2B Customer Data Platform (CDP) built on a data orchestration platform.”  As a data orchestration platform, Openprise offers a single customer view combined with no-code business rules, third-party data, and business process automation.

Openprise emphasizes the advantage of being a data orchestration platform with a B2B CDP.  “Because it’s built on the Openprise Data Orchestration Platform, Openprise Agile CDP includes all the capabilities Openprise has developed over the years to improve data quality in tools like Salesforce and Marketo—including lead routing, account scoring, and attribution—advanced features not typically found in traditional CDPs.”

Openprise supports data unification, data enrichment, normalization, deduplication, lead-to-account matching, and lead-to-contact conversion.  Analytical tools include advanced segmentation, lead and account scoring, ABM activity analysis, campaign attribution, lead routing, and account assignment.

“One of the biggest challenges marketers face is making sure their systems of record deliver accurate, high-quality data to drive marketing initiatives.   A CDP solution that automates all the critical business processes required to make the data work gives marketers high confidence in the accuracy and quality of the data they manage.”

Julian Archer, VP, Principal Analyst in the Marketing Operations Research Service at SiriusDecisions

Openprise claims it can be up and running within ninety-days, much faster than its competitors.  Firms can build custom apps with automated business processes, package them as an API, and create web-based UIs and Chrome extensions for end-users.  Openprise no-code app use cases include advanced segmentation, attribution, upsell, and cross-sell.

The Openprise data marketplace supports data enrichment from leading B2B and B2C vendors, including Zoominfo, Dun & Bradstreet, InsideView, Sales Genie (Infogroup), Cognism, Bombora, KickFire, Synthio, Oceanos (TechTarget), Acxiom, Bing, and Google Places.  Once enriched, data is normalized based upon customer-defined and Openprise taxonomic rules.  Normalization ensures that key values such as addresses, industry codes, job functions, and job levels follow a standard set of rules and taxonomic codes.

Priority Engine Enhancements

Priority Engine improved its Buying Team contacts and added contact card display.

TechTarget announced a set of enhancements to its Priority Engine sales intelligence service.  New features include improved Salesforce sync, refined Buying Team display, contact hygiene, and LinkedIn profile hyperlinks.  Improved Salesforce synchronization gives “sales reps easier access and dynamic visibility into active accounts in their territory, with even more accurate and actionable data on the buying teams within them,” said the firm.

Priority Engine now supports sales territories based on Salesforce account assignments, uploaded account lists, or firmographic rules (e.g. Industry, Geography, Size).  As accounts are added or reassigned within Salesforce, territories are automatically maintained, allowing Priority Engine to dynamically showcase activities within the territory.

Managers and directors can view individual rep account lists or multiple territories at once.

Priority Engine territories may be defined by SFDC, list uploads, or firmographic variables.

TechTarget acquired contact hygiene vendor Oceanos in 2018 and has begun to leverage it in Priority Engine for contact data enrichment and update to its 20 million opted-in contacts.

“Priority Engine helps sales and aligned marketing teams reach and engage more of the right prospects at in-market accounts to improve response and conversation rates,” stated TechTarget

TechTarget also adjusted its contact selection algorithm to improve its buying committee display, “vastly improving the fit of 3rd-party supplemental contacts in Priority Engine.”  A new contact card provides a detailed contact profile within the Buying Team list view.  Previous and Next buttons allow the sales rep to quickly view individual profiles.

Priority Engine also deployed improved persona logic to determine which DiscoverOrg contacts to display for accounts.

Within account views, Buying Teams now list emails, direct dials, and LinkedIn hyperlinks.

“Priority Engine has long provided essential intelligence to help sales teams fuel pipeline and close more deals.  These new enhancements are the first in a series of releases specifically designed to make it even easier for sales pros to access better data and powerful insights to maximize opportunities with active accounts in their territory.”

TechTarget VP of Products Andrew Briney

TechTarget collects second-party intent and opted-in contacts from readers of its 140 technology research sites.  TechTarget sites are available in English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, and Japanese.  Priority Engine supports English, French, and German UIs.

Of the 20 million contacts, 18 million are technology decision-makers or influencers and 2 million work in other functions but are researching technology.  9 million of the contacts are North American, 5 million are located in EMEA, 5 million in APAC, and 600,000 in Latin America.

Priority Engine pricing is customized based on market access and customer feature/function requirements.  Typical individual subscriptions begin around $100K. Designed specifically for the needs of small companies, the Priority Engine Express (PEX) offering – currently in beta release – starts at $36K.

There are over 600 customers for TechTarget intent data products, with 51 added last quarter.  Priority Engine Express will be generally available in 2020.

Aberdeen Behavioral Technographics

Behavioral Technographic Use Cases from Aberdeen.
Behavioral Technographic Use Cases from Aberdeen.

Intent and technographics vendor Aberdeen announced Aberdeen Behavioral Technographics, their next-generation installed technology dataset.  Aberdeen is the successor to the pioneering Ziff Davis and Harte-Hanks Access CI dataset that was developed over two decades ago.

Aberdeen notes that traditional technographics are binary, static flags at the corporate level whereas Behavioral Technographics “actively measure technology usage down to company location, number of users, and pains and priorities of the usage.”

“Technographic data has been overdue for innovation,” said Aberdeen CEO Marc Osofsky.  “The reaction to our data has been amazing, companies have signed up within days of seeing the data.”

Aberdeen claims that its technographics are “up to 55% more accurate than legacy install (technographic) data” resulting in improved account prioritization, pipeline, and win-rates.

“Historical technographic data is actually still pretty new for most firms.  And the way that it’s most commonly collected, at least in recent days, is focusing on job boards and individual websites to determine whether or not technology’s actually installed at a company.  And they do this by…focusing on the job boards to see if a technology is present within the actual job description.  There are a lot of fallbacks to this, and this new method gets around that way.”

Benjamin Cavicchi, Aberdeen Senior Data Analyst

Behavioral Technographics are based upon technology usage and topical queries, not simply installation.  Data is captured from over 1,100 websites that host educational content concerning technologies.  This takes them beyond traditional job board scans to include forums, tutorials, and educational sites.  365 days of behavioral data are captured which include deployed technology, pain points, and topics.

“We focus on the education of an individual about a technology because that is clear evidence that they use it,” said Aberdeen Senior Data Analyst Benjamin Cavicchi.  “So what we’re looking at is a handful or a couple of thousand websites that resolve to user tutorials or user forums where people ask questions and answer them about a technology, as well as a host of other, I would say, technology-specific blogs where experts write about it.”

Cavicchi’s idea was to focus on those pages ”that answer these very specific questions that you would have in your daily work working with the technology.”  This is the content that shows up when technology questions are typed into Google.

For example, if employees are researching topics about Excel, they are likely using it.  “The idea is that if you aggregate all of the individuals associated with a company and you look at this historical activity on Excel, you can get a better understanding of whether or not they use it.  So other users at his company may be googling other, more advanced things like how to write efficient VBA code, or creating dynamic Excel dashboards,” said Cavicchi.

And because they are looking at trends and technology questions, they can discern which companies are using precursors to more advanced solutions, usage levels, and current pain points.  Behavioral Technographics are available at the location level.

“Excel is the natural antecedent to a BI solution, a more advanced one.  So if you have a lot of people at a company that are writing VBA code, that are trying to create these dynamic dashboards, but they don’t have any activity on any other BI solution, it seems to me that they probably need one.  We’re finding the problems of the company, and helping companies to essentially find them, too.

“Behavioral Technographics is a perfect complement to Intent Data,” said Aberdeen.  “Both provide full visibility into your target market: Intent Data identifies companies in-market to buy and Behavioral Technographics provides technology in use insights to prioritize and target the remaining accounts not yet showing intent.”

Behavioral Technographics are patent-pending.  Aberdeen describes its new technographics as “dynamic and quantitative.”

The next step will be behavioral profiling which is common in B2C but has yet to be extended to B2B.  Behavioral Profiling will look at groups of individuals to determine buyers and influencers.  For example, high levels of research around python indicate the presence of a data science team.

Aberdeen entered the intent market when it acquired The Big Willow last December.

RainKing Federal IT Dataset

RainKing Org Charts provide headshots, social media links, contact information, and organizational position.
RainKing Org Charts provide headshots, social media links, contact information, and organizational position.

RainKing officially release their Federal IT dataset on April 18th.  The new offering covers federal agencies including Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Veteran Affairs, Treasury, Transportation, Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, State, Energy, Social Security Administration, and NASA.  Quasi-governmental agencies such as the USPS, Fannie Mae, and Amtrak are also covered.

The 2016 tracked spend hit $76 billion.

“The federal government represents a massive opportunity for software and technology companies to tap into a steadily growing market,” stated RainKing CEO John L. Stanfill. “This new dataset will be valuable in helping our customers quickly identify and connect with the right decision makers across the federal government.”

Profiles span a broad set of governmental and technographic data including

  • Org charts which “are equal in depth to the rest of the database, mapping decision makers (executives), influencers, procurement officers, etc.”  Org charts span departments, agencies, and sub-agencies.
  • Complete profiles and contact information for these individuals
  • Current IT budget
  • Technologies-in-use and those responsible for them
  • Daily investment signals for active projects, RFPs, and upcoming technology investments –including the decision maker for these projects
  • Location details for headquarters and other offices within the departments/agencies
  • Other relevant department/agency information

“Unlike with other sources of Federal projects and initiatives, RainKing’s intelligence focuses on the actual decision makers and budget holders, not just the government procurement managers,” said the firm.

RainKing maintains a sixty-day editorial review cycle and plans to continue expanding their Federal coverage.  The firm currently provides 100,000 Federal, State, Local, and Education decision makers.

“This dataset is different than any other existing solution, because in one view, our clients can not only search for active projects and RFPs, and pinpoint the actual decision makers responsible for those projects, but they can also gain insight into the existing technology environment within the agencies and bureaus. This is immensely valuable from a competitive standpoint,” said Jennifer Kitchen, Chief Content Officer at RainKing.

Customers can purchase the dataset individually or alongside other RainKing files spanning 60,000 global companies and one million executives.  They pre-sold over fifty clients.

RainKing has been rapidly growing its company and contact coverage over the past few years.  Their editorially-gathered dataset now spans over one million financial decision makers across nearly 60,000 global organizations.

The RainKing Prediction Engine suggests and ranks contacts.
The RainKing Prediction Engine suggests and ranks contacts.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Enterprise Launched

An embedded User Guide is displayed within a PointDrive page. Commentary is provided by sales reps.
An embedded User Guide is displayed within a PointDrive page. Commentary is provided by sales reps, allowing them to personalize embedded documents or multi-media elements.

LinkedIn unveiled a series of enhancements to Sales Navigator including a new Enterprise Edition, CRM widgets, and integration of PointDrive into the Team and Enterprise editions.  The Enterprise edition includes Single Sign-On, PointDrive sales messaging, 50 InMails per month per user, and TeamLink Extend.

These features are on top of recent Sales Navigator screening enhancements.

While the original TeamLink feature was limited to Sales Navigator subscribers that opted into the service, TeamLink Extend allows opted-in co-workers to share their personal LinkedIn networks with sales reps, even if they are not Sales Navigator licensors.  “That means, if you’re trying to reach a prospect, you can quickly see if anyone in your company has a connection with that person, and reach out to your colleague to ask for warm introduction,” said LinkedIn Sales Solutions Head of Products Doug Camplejohn.

The first 1,000 TeamLink Extend seats are included as part of the Enterprise Edition contract.

PointDrive, which LinkedIn acquired last summer, is designed to solve two problems with emails: attachment laden emails lack “control over narrative” as emails provide little flow, story, and “experience for the buyer.”  Also, they provide no visibility into who is viewing the email.  Thus, post-demo messaging is haphazard as emails don’t communicate a story very well.

According to LinkedIn, there are 5.4 decision makers involved in the buying decision which means that there is a high probability that sales emails with rich media attachments are being forwarded to others.

Bill Burnett, Director of LinkedIn Sales Solutions stated that the goal of PointDrive is to “turn this [email] exchange into a truly more engaging experience” which provides real-time sales signals about what content decision makers are viewing.  Instead of sending long emails, buyers are directed to a PointDrive landing page which allows the sales rep to control brand, content, and commentary.  PointDrive was designed as a “mobile first” interface with landing pages supporting both traditional and mobile browsers.

PointDrive Profile
PointDrive Profile

Brand and product information are “now presented in a way that truly differentiates and engages the buyer” through personalization and organization.  PointDrive also provides easy access to sales rep bios and contact information (see image on left).  Each attachment is displayed in a framed box with sales rep narratives and document descriptions alongside the marketing piece.  PointDrive supports embedded collateral, pricing sheets, presentation decks, multimedia, and images which are all displayed within the PointDrive landing page.  Users do not need to download content or window out to other documents.

PointDrive is customized to the seller allowing firms to convey their brand identity.  Burnett claims that creating a PointDrive is “as simple as creating an email.”  Users upload content and grab links, videos, and Google Maps.  “We’ll lay your brand and identity on top of it for you so that when you are ready to share with your leads [and] share with your connections,” said Burnett.

Real-time alerting metrics are provided for each document view.  Thus, PDF analytics indicate who viewed the document, when viewed, how much total time buyers or influencers spent viewing the document, total pages viewed, and how much time was spent on each page.  It even captures the viewing browser and location of the viewer.  This intelligence is available for both the original recipients and any forwarded viewers.

Sales reps have control over actions taken on PointDrive embedded content.  They can block downloads, password protect the element, set expiration dates, and track forwards.

Burnett calls this a “new way for sellers within Sales Navigator to engage with customers and prospects much deeper into the sales funnel.”  The service also provides “tremendous value for account managers or anybody inside of your organization that’s communicating on a regular basis” with customers and prospects.

“The new Sales Navigator features are to enhance the overall customer experience of Sales Navigator, and to integrate it into daily workflows to get people the information they need as easily as possible,” said LinkedIn Senior Marketing Manager Derek Pando.

PointDrive is available as part of the baseline Team and Enterprise editions.  While Enterprise Edition users will have unlimited access, Team Edition users will be limited to ten PointDrives per seat per month.

The Enterprise Edition includes additional management reports.

A new CRM Sync feature allows sales reps to take notes, send InMails, and track calls from their iOS and Android devices.  Information will initially only synch from Sales Navigator to SFDC, but additional platforms will be supported later this year.

Finally, Sales Navigator added new SFDC and MS Dynamics widgets which display Sales Navigator profile details such as photos, work history, job titles, and TeamLink shared connections.  Widgets will soon be available for Oracle, SAP Hybris, NetSuite, SugarCRM, Hubspot and Zoho.

“LinkedIn is a valuable pool of data that’s a great fit for CRM,” said Ian Campbell, CEO of Nucleus Research.  “As long as it doesn’t limit or preclude users from using other CRM options,” he told CRM Buyer, “this is a good move that will add value.”

Camplejohn told TechCrunch that LinkedIn is not looking to muscle in on Salesforce or other CRMs.

“We’re not competing at all with Salesforce.  We like the position that we are in. Ours is about the connections and activities that are happening. For us, the best play is to be a complement to all CRM systems so that we can exist in that world.”

  • LinkedIn Sales Solutions Head of Products Doug Camplejohn.

The Enterprise Edition begins at $1,600 per seat per year with multi-volume discounting available.  LinkedIn Sales Solutions published the following feature table for the three editions:

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is offered as a three-tiered service.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is offered as a three-tiered service.

EY (Ernst & Young) has already signed up for 30,000 enterprise seats but will be able to leverage TeamLink opt-ins amongst its 250,000 global employees.

Camplejohn hinted to Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch that gamification and other incentives will be deployed in a future release to encourage TeamLink participation.

Sales Navigator “has good traction with companies focused on B2B sales,” said Constellation Research Principal Analyst Cindy Zhou “Navigator’s ability to facilitate social sales through third-level connections is one of the primary revenue generators for LinkedIn, and a key driver for the Microsoft acquisition.”

Furthermore, PointDrive “provides one centralized location for prospects to access content, and it’s all trackable by sales and marketing.  This is a bonus for organizations considering the Enterprise Edition and a good bundling strategy.”

On the negative side, Zhou raised concerns about whether sales reps would manage the TeamLink opt-in responsibly.  “Organizations using TeamLink will need to be aware of their responsibility to properly train users to not abuse the access to connections.”

Crunchbase Series B

Last week was a busy week for VC funding in the SalesTech space.  Yesterday, I covered SparkLane’s funding round and today I am blogging about PE/VC database Crunchbase which announced an $18 million Series B led by Mayfield.  The funding announcement was paired with the launch of a new team-based Crunchbase Enterprise service.  Crunchbase was spun out of AOL in 2015 with $6.5 million in funding from Emergence Capital followed by a smaller $2 million round.  Crunchbase also laid out plans for a Crunchbase Marketplace that would allow the company to become the “Facebook of company information.”

The new funds will be dedicated towards extending its SaaS offerings, expanding its database, and growing its teams with a “significant commitment to diversity.”

“Mayfield is excited to partner with Jager McConnell and the team at Crunchbase to be the place where consumers, professionals, and businesses can easily access the information on companies to sell to, market to, partner with, finance, work for, research, acquire, and do business with. The early success of Crunchbase Pro and its usability have given us a view into the ambitious vision and roadmap of increasing the breadth, depth, and accessibility of the high-quality data platform Crunchbase is creating,” commented Rajeev Batra, Partner at Mayfield. “Crunchbase not only has a globally dominant position and brand, it has the potential to be a true platform company in becoming the actionable master record for company data.”

Crunchbase funding rounds and investors
Crunchbase funding rounds and investors

Crunchbase now offers an API along with three levels of service: free, Pro ($29 / month), and Enterprise ($99 / user / month with a minimum of five users).  Additional services are in the pipeline.

The free service receives 2.3 million unique visitors per month of which 40%  of site traffic is international.  Pro, which was launched last September, is “well past” 5,000 subscribers according to CEO Jager McConnell.  The firm has licensed its API to more than ten partners including Glassdoor and SimilarWeb.

The new Enterprise service combines Pro with API access, list downloads, email addresses, phone support, and a CRM connector.  The AppExchange service supports daily Crunchbase updates and data change alerts.

Crunchbase product pricing and features table
Crunchbase product pricing and features table

Crunchbase now covers a half million companies and 2,700 VC firms.  Other content includes investors, people, events, and products.  Data is maintained by a team of editors with updates provided to Crunchbase by their member community.  The database also benefits from VC firm updates and machine learning tools which search for anomalous information.  Annually, five million updates are made to the database.

Crunchbase has become the go-to destination for accurate and up-to-date company information for businesses all over the world,” said McConnell. “As we grow, hiring a diverse team will bring a variety of valuable perspectives into the business, which reflects the culture of Crunchbase. This will remain a focus of hiring as the company doubles in size in the next year.”

Crunchbase clients include Affinity, Datafox, Datanyze, Deloitte, Engagio, Everstring, Infer, Microsoft, Nestle, Samsung, Slack, Target, Volkswagen, and IBM Watson.  The firm has forty staff of which 43% are women and half are non-white.

McConnell wants Crunchbase to be the Facebook of company information.  “The premise is: it would be impossible for a single company to find all these slivers of company information, and put it into one spot on their own. They can’t be all those core competencies, so the idea is, let’s go and form these partnerships with all these companies that have those core competencies, put it in one place and, if we do a good job here, the user will say, ‘I know where to go, it’s where all this data comes together, that’s at Crunchbase.’”

To accomplish this vision, Crunchbase is readying a Crunchbase Marketplace of fifteen to twenty partners “to build a true company master record.”  Thus, Glassdoor would provide CEO ratings, employee ratings, and available jobs while SimilarWeb would feature website traffic for a specific company or industry.

Users will have the ability to select which content sets display.  The goal is to cover all of the companies on the Internet.

“Over time, pretty much every data provider that has some slice of company information, we’d like our users to have the ability to go and add that data directly into their experience. Sometimes that will be free, like Glassdoor will be a free dataset, but other times it may even cost a little bit of money to go add in technology stack data, or patent data,” said McConnell.  “Sometimes people want to know not just about funding, but about jobs, the CEO or all the companies in their geography that have a certain amount of website traffic.  Or sales reps want to find people who use a competitive product. Right now, they need three partners to get all that data. We want to let you choose it as part of the experience.”

David Sternis of Deloitte said, “The quality and accessibility of Crunchbase data is second to none. We save an immense amount of time by using Crunchbase Enterprise to power our TechHabor solution in order to stay on top of the innovation and startup landscapes. Our teams spend a fraction of the time they used to on research and market analysis and can prioritize focusing on providing strategic recommendations for our clients.”

Note: While Crunchbase and CB Insights both cover the PE/VC space, they are separate, non-affiliated companies.

Bill Gates on LinkedIn

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates supports the LinkedIn acquisition and views it as an opportunity to build a Facebook for business professionals.  This perspective is in line with LinkedIn CEO Jeffrey Weiner’s vision of an economic graph that captures the broad scope of business activity.

“This professional feed in LinkedIn, that is how I want to learn about my career, my company, my industry, and I’m going back there,” Gates told Bloomberg last month. “If we can make that as valuable as the Facebook feed in the social world, that’s huge value creation and that’ll happen over a period of years.”

Gates contends that Microsoft and LinkedIn are more valuable together than as separate entities even though Microsoft stock slipped two percent on the announcement.  “I certainly think that the value of the two companies combined is greater than the two by themselves, but I love the idea that the market wants us to show that,” he said.

Gates remains a member of Microsoft’s Board and is formally listed as a Technical Advisor to CEO Satya Nadella.

Dynamics 365 and AppSource

In other news, the firm continues to enhance the Dynamics platform (CRM and ERP) with the introduction of Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource.  “Dynamics 365 provides business users with purpose-built SaaS applications. These applications have intelligence built in. They integrate deeply with communications and collaboration capabilities of Office 365,” said Nadella.  “Dynamics 365 along with AppSource and our rich application platform introduces a disruptive and customer-centric business model so customers can build what they want and use just the capabilities they need.”

The new Dynamics 365 platform will be available this fall.

Merging the Microsoft and LinkedIn graphs to advance the Economic Graph (Slide from Fair Disclosure call on June 13, 2016).
Merging the Microsoft and LinkedIn graphs to advance the Economic Graph (Slide from Fair Disclosure call on June 13, 2016).

Nadella views Office 365, Dynamics 365, AppSource (a newly launched SaaS app ecosystem for businesses), and LinkedIn as all working together to provide “services in the cloud where you can reason about the activity and the data underneath these services to benefit the customers who are using these services. So that’s what this notion of a graph represents.”

Nadella continued, “The professional cloud or the professional network helps usage across all of that professional usage. Whether it’s in Office 365 or whether you’re a salesperson using any application related to sales, you want your professional network there. Of course, it’s relevant in recruiting, it’s relevant in training, it’s relevant in marketing. So that’s really our strategy with LinkedIn as the professional network meeting the professional cloud. And so you were right to point out that these are all part of one overarching strategy, and ultimately it’s about adding value to customers.”

On Microsoft’s Q4 2016 earnings call this week, the firm reiterated their belief that the LinkedIn acquisition will close before the end of the calendar year.

Hoover’s Concierge Services for SMBs

The Data Health Scan Report is one of the Optimized Customer Data Services.
The Data Health Scan Report is one of the Optimized Customer Data Services.

Hoover’s began rolling out a set of concierge services for small businesses after being merged into the Emerging Business unit last summer.  Dun & Bradstreet CEO Bob Carrigan has positioned the new services as important to turning around the Hoover’s product line which has been struggling of late.  In December, Carrigan noted that the new services have had “good success.”

The Concierge services target SMBs with revenue up to $250 million.  Concierge services target the standard Hoover’s B2B verticals including technology companies, business services, financial services, and manufacturing.

Dun & Bradstreet Product Leader (S&MS Solutions) Michael Umbach noted that the company has long received requests for assistance with customer marketing.  Dun & Bradstreet is meeting this need by combining their expertise with their data and solutions to help customers implement targeted list building, marketing file enrichment, and marketing campaigns.  Furthermore, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp, which was acquired last May, has had success offering concierge services to SMBs for credit products.

The services enable customers to perform targeted marketing without requiring them to add marketing headcount.  According to their website, “Our experts can serve as an extension of your marketing team, helping you find—and reach—your best customers.”  The underlying services utilize the Hoover’s, Optimizer, and NetProspex WorkBench (aka Optimizer for Contacts) platforms for fulfilling customer needs.  Dun & Bradstreet has also partnered with an undisclosed email platform to support email services.

Hoover’s is providing three related services for SMBs:

  • Targeted List Building – Identifies prospects similar to a client’s best customers.
  • Effective Email Marketing – Delivers email services including messaging, design, email coding, blasting, and testing.  Dun & Bradstreet also supports email verification, analytics, and unsubscribe / bounce management.  Landing site hosting is provided via an undisclosed partner.
  • Optimized Customer Data – Supports data cleansing, standardization, and data enrichment for customer company and contact files.

As a promotional tool, Hoover’s is offering a free data quality check which assesses email deliverability, phone connectivity, and duplicate records.  This service would be provided by their NetProspex Workbench platform.

Many of the Concierge clients are signing up for a full year of service allowing them to run multiple campaigns, target different audiences, and maintain and enrich their marketing data files.

The acquisition of NetProspex has also directly benefited Hoover’s users.  Following the acquisition, the NetProspex contact file was merged into the Hoover’s contact set.  Furthermore, the professional contacts file was processed through NetProspex CleneProspex validation process.  Umbach noted that the improved contact data quality has raised customer satisfaction around contacts.

DataFox: New Account Based Marketing and Sales Development Service

DataFox Home Page

DataFox, which has focused heavily on providing investors with information about growing technology companies and financings, entered the sales intelligence space with the launch of DataFox for Sales.  The move is reminiscent of CB Insights which launched a sales product last September.  DataFox has been messaging about its sales and marketing use case since July and formally launched the sales service this week along with a Salesforce.com connector.

DataFox claims the following benefits for sales reps:

  •  75% less time to discover a prospect’s needs and draft insightful emails
  • 54% more companies reached with this increased productivity
  • 34% increase in response rates

DataFox CEO Bastiaan Janmaat argues that executives are flooded with cold calls and irrelevant emails.  “This is largely being driven by the universal adoption of marketing automation software and the sharp increase in inside sales reps over the past two years.  It’s just too easy to send cold emails today, and most of them are not personalized. “We are changing the game when it comes to enhancing the sales and buying experience.”

DataFox for Sales’ primary information presentation model is lists.  While companies can be viewed individually, the product focuses on company lists maintained by DataFox, marketing teams or sales reps.

The DataFox platform is, therefore, well positioned for Account Based Marketing (ABM) and Account Based Sales Development.  It has strong list management tools for ABM targeting and sales alerts concerning ABM prospects and accounts.

DF1
The Inc. 5000 curated list filtered for a ten mile radius around Boston.

Lists can be built via traditional prospecting, uploaded as CSV files containing the name and URL, or constructed from one of several lists or tools:

  • Conference Lists: Conference lists are a unique feature of DataFox.  They can be used by sales reps for pre-conference / trade show planning to determine which competitors and partners are sponsoring the show, exhibiting, or presenting.  They are also useful for trade show planners in evaluating potential shows (are our competitors and peers attending?), demand generation managers for assembling account based marketing (ABM) targets, and business development executives for identifying potential partners or licensors.
  • Similar Companies:   Similar companies are identified using a proprietary algorithm which finds peers based upon sector, size, news co-mentions, participation in conferences, and company keywords.  According to DataFox, “Out of  the thousands of keywords in our database, any given company will list only about  a dozen. To deal with this, we want to be able to harness a measure of similarity  between keywords. After all, if company A lists cloud storage” as a keyword, then we should have more confidence they are related to a company listing ‘file sharing’ as a keyword than a company listing ‘mobile payments’ as a keyword.”  Similar companies can be executed against both individual companies and lists.  Thus, a sales rep can take their top client list and clone a set of comparables.
  • Curated Lists: Curated lists include published lists (e.g. Inc. 5000, Deloitte Fast 500), lists built by DataFox analysts, and lists shared by DataFox users.  Because these lists are matched against the DataFox database, they contain additional firmographics and insights which may not be available in the source lists.  Sales and Marketing can use these lists for ABM targeting, identifying growth companies, or extending into new verticals. Users may also share lists publicly or with team members.  Users can even collaborate on a list with team members adding or deleting companies from a list.

Prospecting provides an unconventional but compelling list of variables:

  • Keywords: Keywords are employed in lieu of traditional industry coding.  Keywords are quite granular.  For example, adtech included eight options.  DataFox should look at merging some of these codes.  For example Push Notification, Push Notifications, and Push Notification Services provided different company lists.
  • Location: City, State, Postal Code, Country,Country, and International Region.  While a few pre-canned metro areas are avalailable, MSA, County and Radius Search were not supported.
  • Investor: PE or VC investor
  • Exit Status: Checkboxes for Private, Public, Acquired, Subsidiary, Product, and Closed Down.
  • Headcount: Employee Range
    Finance: Revenue Estimate, Total Funding, Latest Funding Round Amount, Funding Stage, Latest Funding Round Date, Market Cap, P/E Ratio
  • Date Founded: Year Range
  • Scores: DataFox, Growth, Finance, Marketing, HR
  • Marketing: Twitter Followers

Uploaded company lists are automatically matched against their database and enriched.  An Insights feature provides quick list segmentation analysis.  This view includes top keywords, top investors, headcount distribution, funding distribution, and top locations.  Thus, a marketer can quickly upload a list of or trade show booth or webinar attendees to assess the value of the tradeshow or for tweaking the messaging of a webinar.

List layouts are customizable so additional DataFox variables may be added including additional Datafox scores, web traffic time series data, twitter followers, awards, and funding data.  Datafox even allows users to add editable columns (e.g. Notes, Follow up Actions and Dates, and calculated variables).

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Custom List formats may include DataFox variables, team variables, and calculated variables.

Any list may be filtered using DataFox’s standard prospecting variables.  Lists can also be downloaded as CSV files.  Unfortunately, CSV files do not maintain currency formatting and lose leading zeroes in ZIP codes.  This is a common problem for vendors that support CSV but not XLS formatting.

It is this list-centric model that most differentiates DataFox for Sales from the traditional sales intelligence competitors.

When run against curated, user saved, and conference lists, the Insights Report includes Top Keywords, Top Investors, Top Locations (city), Quarter over Quarter Funding (Historical bar graph), Investor co-occurrence, and Top Five Companies (by DataFox score).  There is also a bubble chart called Comparative Trajectory which graphs the DataFox score against the Year Founded with bubbles sized according to the number of employees.

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Comparative Directory Report is based on the Top 50 companies in the Inc. 5000 list.

DataFox does not provide company and executive counts, but they indicated that their company universe exceeds one million firms and that they are adding 500 companies daily.  DataFox mines its data from

  • 10 different funding databases
  • 3,000 conference lists
  • 7,000 blogs
  • 10,000 curated lists such as Deloitte’s Fast 500 and the Inc 5000
  • 40,000 News Sources
  • Job Listings
  • Corporate Websites
  • SEC (EDGAR) Filings
  • Online Profiles (Social Media, Websites, etc.)
  • Social Feeds (Twitter and AngelList)

Company data includes company descriptions, DataFox Score, location, employees, funding history, keywords, social media links (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Angellist), corporate blog link, news, executives, conferences, acquisitions, investments, similar companies, top public lists, and user lists.  Much of this information is not available in traditional sales intelligence tools but is visible via a one page overview.  Additional company views include people, news, and similar companies.

The DataFox Score is a proprietary score which sums four subscores: Financing, HR, Influence, and Growth.  Here is how they describe the scores:

At DataFox, our mission is to provide data-driven business insights to salespeople, marketers, analysts, executives, and investors. One of our proprietary systems is the DataFox scoring system, which uses machine learning to quantify hard-to-define traits like financial stability and management quality, and most importantly, how those traits can predict a company’s growth.

Using the companies in our database, we’ve developed models to provide a leading indicator of success. This predictive method is particularly important when evaluating private companies, where traditional factors like revenue and past performance paint an inaccurate picture of future growth.

To accomplish this, we’ve built a series of algorithms to evaluate companies based on growth, influence, finance, management and overall quality. These scores allow DataFox users to quickly search our company database and identify the best or most suitable companies in any sector, location, or stage. Our scores identify the best companies, just as Google’s PageRank algorithm identifies the best webpages.

It should be noted that while the Datafox scores are valuable for qualification and prospecting, they are not predictive scores.  Information is based upon historical data and not matched against a company’s ideal profile.  Nevertheless, if a firm is targeting fast growth companies, particularly those that are funding candidates, the scores help identify firms on a growth trajectory.

Users may follow a company by clicking a track button and adding the firm to a current or new list.  Users may also store private notes with profiles or share comments with their team.

Unfortunately, the company profile does not include an export feature for sharing with team members or reviewing when offline.

Contacts include title and a LinkedIn search button..  The LinkedIn searching was more effective than most simple name searches as DataFox passes the LinkedIn company number to assist with the search.  Users may also purchase emails and direct dial phones using credits.  No biographic information or executive news is provided.

News is categorized into the following categories:

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DataFox Sales Trigger Descriptions

Although the number of categories is limited, DataFox intends to expand the number and breadth of trigger categories.  Triggers are identified by natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning.  A subset are flagged as key articles and sent to their team of thirty editors for validation and summarization.  Here is an example of the summarized news story (“curated highlight”)  for Artesian Solution’s Series B:

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Sample Curated Highlight for Artesian Solutions concerning their Series B Funding

Triggers and summarized profiles are viewable within the product and as email alerts.  Users can email items to team members (or to clients and prospects) and post them to Twitter.  The fox icon allows reps to share notes about the item to their team.

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Email Alert for Justinmind, Users can Tweet items, forward to customers or peers, or share comments.

Product Marketing Director Arik Pelkey believes their sales triggers are an area of strength due to the quaility of their natural language processing.  “Our supervised algorithms are improving all the time and our unique approach to sales triggers is a big differentiator for us.”

DataFox includes a Salesforce.com connector with I-frame viewing on account and contact pages along with “stare and compare” updates.  Within the I-frame, reps can view the one-pager, people, news, and similar company tabs.  DataFox also offers bulk de-duplication and cleansing of SFDC accounts.

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DataFox Accounts I-Frame provides company overviews, people, news, and similar companies from within SFDC.

If the CRM connector has been deployed, prospecting lists display filterable flags indicating current customers and prospects.  Users may also send individual companies, company lists, and executives to SFDC.  When uploaded, companies are added as accounts and execs as contacts or leads.  There is also a two-click company add from company sites to SFDC.  This feature requires users to install a Google Chrome Add-in.

Overall, the UI is clear and well laid out with fast site response.  Key qualification variables are easy to identify and actions are clearly labeled.  A search box provides type-ahead suggestions for keywords, companies, or lists.  A dynamic left hand icon bar expands when the user mouses over the icons providing easy access to the home page, key features and lists, tutorials, and recently viewed items.  When mousing over a company name, a baseball card profile is displayed.

Because DataFox is coming from the funding world and utilizes a different presentation metaphor, there are some significant differences between DataFox and traditional sales intelligence services:

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Comparison of DataFox against traditional sales intelligence vendors. (c. 2016 GZ Consulting)

DataFox offers fourteen day free trials.  Pricing was not disclosed, but it is seat based and subject to volume discounts.

DataFox has released a very strong 1.0 release.  They provide some compelling features not found in other products which make it a worthy offering for sales teams focused on fast growth companies and marketing teams looking to assemble ABM target lists.  As with all 1.0 products, there are functionality and information gaps.  In the case of DataFox, they lack public company financials, family trees, technology data, and executive screening.

However, with ongoing investment DataFox could become a credible competitor to the incumbent sales intelligence vendors.  In the meantime, companies focused on fast growth companies and ABM sales and marketing should check DataFox out.

Top Image: DataFox Home Page