A Review of Seventh Sense Email Marketing with Mike Donnelley: One Last Tool Episode 3
Announcer: Is your digital business effort in need of a tune up or major overhaul? If you’re ready to get your sales, marketing and service machine up and running, you’re going to need just the right tools.
Welcome to One Last Tool, your pit stop for learning about all of the latest and greatest digital tools to get your business engine running on all cylinders. And now, here’s your resident technician, George B. Thomas.
George: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we are back with another episode of One Last Tool. I am super excited today because . . . well, you know what? I’m excited for every interview because I love tools and hopefully, you love tools. Usually we could get that thing done if we had just the right tool.
Today we’re actually going to be talking to Mike Donnelly and we are talking about a company called Seventh Sense. Now when I think about it, I think about the movie, but Mike, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself and let people kind of know who you are and what you do? Then really go into our first question, which is what is Seventh Sense?
What Is Seventh Sense?
Mike: Awesome. First and foremost, I really appreciate you having me on the show, George. You guys have been a really good partner of ours.
I’ll give you a quick background on myself. I’m CEO and Founder of The Seventh Sense. I started my career as a software developer. They made me jump to the dark side of sales. I was in enterprise tech sales for about 13 years.
During the latter half of that, I just noticed that reaching people is getting harder because people aren’t responding to emails and they’re not responding to phone calls. Just the sheer amount of communication we always see daily is just overwhelming.
The good thing for us as marketers and sales professionals as well is people are creatures of habit. We get out of bed at certain times of day. We commute at certain times of day and we’re more apt to respond to communication coming at us at certain times of day.
As a marketer, we have this plethora of data that we can actually look at to illuminate on an individual basis when somebody is most likely to engage in your messaging. What our system does is we have strategic partnerships with the HubSpot as well as Marketo.
In essence, our customer will come to us, they’ll connect to our system and then they will connect us to HubSpot or Marketo. We analyze all of the historical, what I call black gold or dormant data, that’s just sitting there providing no value to you and we analyze that and then again illuminate people’s patterns of when they’ll engage with you.
Then we take it a step further, which is rather than sending a batch and blast campaign at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday because your intuition tells you that’s when you get the most engagement, or you’ve read a study that says that’s when you should send it, we allow you to personalize the send times of those marketing communications.
George: Mike, that’s awesome. I love the fact that there’s black gold and then there are email hills, if you will. So you can keep this as simple as you want or as complex as you’d like to go. I kind of get what Seventh Sense is, but how does it actually work? What’s the underlying information here that we’re paying attention to?
How Does Seventh Sense Work?
Mike: That’s a great question. We actually can take in a couple of different data feeds. On the marketing automation side with the both HubSpot and Marketo, we look at open data, we look at click data and we look at conversation data. In essence, what we’re doing is we’re saying “What type of event is this and what time of day, day of week, week of the month and month of the year did this event occur?”
Then we can also take in another data feed. When you think about a way a B2B organization specifically talks to a customer or engages with a customer, it’s not only through marketing, but their sales organization is also having communication via the traditional email channel.
We can also bring in other data feeds. We have connectors for Gmail, Microsoft Office 365 as well as Microsoft Exchange. So we pull in when does XYZ customer, let’s say his name is George, respond to my sales team? We take these events, opens, clicks, conversions and email replies and then we score those events differently.
Obviously, a reply is a direct engagement. A conversion is a direct engagement. A click is a direct engagement, whereas open data can be a little bit finicky.
We score those events differently and weight them differently and all that goes into build a profile on each individual so that we can look at by time of day and day of week, when is George most likely to engage with me based on historical patterns? I don’t know if that was too geeky.
George: No, Mike, I don’t think that was geeky at all. I think it’s absolutely amazing and there are probably folks who are listening to the One Last Tool podcast right now whose minds are literally blown. If their minds are blown, let’s zero into if they’re a right fit for the tool or not because now we know what Seventh Sense is. We know how it kind of does what it does, but who is really Seventh Sense a best fit for, if you will?
Who Is A Good Fit For Seventh Sense?
Mike: Where we like to start off is with our pre-qualification: “Are you using HubSpot or Marketo?” That’s the first question. The second question is “Is email marketing a valuable part of your marketing strategy?”
Most people are going to say “Yes, that’s why I do it,” however they really can’t tie back an ROI to email marketing, so where we really focus a lot of attention is if you can really put a dollar amount to email and what it does for you either from a brand recognition or direct engagement, then we can really have a valuable conversation.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you have a list size of 5,000 or our biggest customer, which has close to 10 million contacts. The list size is not what matters. What really matters is does email move the needle for your organization?
George: So Mike, we’re talking about email. I’d love to say “I’ve got 99 problems, but email ain’t one,” but that probably isn’t true. One would think that the simple answer to “What problem does Seventh Sense handle?” would be that it handles your email, but I bet you have a better answer for that. What problem is Seventh Sense solving for these folks?
What Problem Does Seventh Sense Solve?
Mike: There’s a number of problems today that probably a lot of marketers, and rightfully so, don’t think about on a daily basis. One is, we’re all sitting in our inboxes and we’re just flooded all day long, day in and day out, so timing is actually becoming super critical to getting your email even . . . forget about engagement, think about just even seen.
If you’re getting 100 emails a day, or in an executive’s role, you might be getting hundreds, if that email is not at the top of the inbox when somebody sits down, it’s just never ever going to get seen, let alone engaged with, so again, timing is becoming super critical.
Another massive problem that marketers are facing but they’re not thinking about is deliverability. Spam filters are getting smarter, Google is getting smarter and people are deploying all types of technology to try and keep out either phishing scams or even marketing emails.
By simply blasting emails, you can affect your sender reputation if the emails are not highly engaged with and then the next thing you know, your email never makes it into somebody’s inbox. Even though they double opted in, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the email is going to make it. Those are kind of two big problems that we solve.
The other component is that you obviously don’t want to lose good subscribers to an unsubscribe, so what we’ve seen is decreases in unsubscribes across our customer base because they’re sending in a much more intelligent way versus blasting it out just like everybody else and then we’re sitting at our inbox at 10:00 a.m. and we have 50 marketing messages.
The fourth component is keeping people engaged. We all go and sign up for e-books or buy a product and then the next thing you know, the next few emails we get we’re interested in, but then there is content exhaustion. By sending your message at the right time, you can keep people or your subscribers highly active and highly engaged, which is really the goal of the email.
George: Yeah, I know I want all of those problems solved. Listeners, if you’re listening to this and you want all of those problems or a few of those problems solved as well, this next question is literally baked in here for you folks.
It’s usually the one where the interviewee gets a little bit nervous if they don’t like to talk about this topic, but I’m going to ask you Mike, what’s the cost? To solve these problems, how much does Seventh Sense cost?
How Much Does Seventh Sense Cost?
Mike: We’ve tried to make it incredibly affordable to customers. Really what we’ve done is rather than coming up with our own pricing model, we really follow HubSpot and Marketo, which are just based on the sheer number of contacts.
If you have a million contacts and you’re sending to those million contacts every single day, it doesn’t matter if you have a million contacts and you’re only sending to them once a month. We don’t do any type of tier pricing there.
We really have four basic packages. If you’re a startup and you have under 7,500 contacts, it’s $29.99 a month. If you are under 25,000 contacts, it’s $99.99 a month. Anything under 100,000 contacts is $299.99 a month. Anything 250,000 or above, we kind of do an enterprise deal and that starts at $599.99 a month.
I think where we also differentiate ourselves in the SaaS world and because we are subscription based, is everything we do is month to month, so there’s no long-term commitment. You can try things out and see what it does for you in a very cost-effective means.
The reason why we chose to do a month-to-month subscription is because it holds us accountable to making sure our customers are successful. What we don’t want is a bunch of customers saying “Hey, I’m locked in this thing for a year and it’s not doing anything for me.”
George: Mike, I think that’s super intelligent and speaking of intelligence, we have some pretty intelligent listeners of the One Last Tool podcast. If they are thinking about purchasing and spending this cost, which by the way is a bargain at twice the price if you ask me, the next thing they’re going to do is they’re going to go to Google, the source of all knowledge, light and truth . . . not really, but that’s where they’re going to go.
They’re going to start to look up competitors for something like Seventh Sense. I don’t even know if there are any, but do you have competition in this space?
Who Are The Seventh Sense Competitors?
Mike: I’ll answer the question in two ways. Our biggest competitor is just do it the way I’ve been doing it. Send an email blast at 10:00 a.m. The second I wouldn’t call a competitor, but another option is that HubSpot has recently released Time Zone sending, which frankly is a step in the right direction and it’s better than a batch-and-blast, but it’s riddled with all kinds of challenges, really from a technical perspective.
The third, and I would say they’re more adjacent which is actually validation of what we’re doing is a company called Audience Point. Audience Point has strategic partnerships with Return Path, Salesforce, ExactTarget and Oracle Responsys, whereas our customer base is Marketo and HubSpot, so we don’t compete with one another.
In fact, we are very friendly with them as an organization. I know their CEO. He knows me and our technical founders all know one another, so it’s a very good relationship at that level.
George: This is where you get to brag on yourself, Mike, because you gave us three sort of competitorish things out there. What makes you better than doing it the way you’ve always done it, doing it better than just Time Zone sends? What makes Seventh Sense better in the market for people to actually use?
What Makes Seventh Sense Better That It’s Competitors?
Mike: I look at kind of four primary benefits that a customer receives. The first is increases in opening click-through rates and in many cases significant.
We’re talking how on the click side, because our algorithms are very weighted towards getting somebody to click, are in most cases double digit and in some cases we’ve seen triple digit increases with click-through rates. Both small and large customers have seen that, so it’s increases in engagement and that also includes conversions. You can find out some more on customer case studies on our website, etc.
The second benefit again comes down to that deliverability component. The way spam filters work in one part is if I were to send 500 people at TheSeventhSense.com an email, the spam filter is going to wake up and say “Whoa, I’m getting the same message over and over again” and it’s going to tag it with either marketing in the subject line or it’s going to throw it in the promotions tab if it’s Google. By trickling the emails out, you’re in essence tricking the spam filters and helping to get the email into the inbox.
The third benefit is around decreases in unsubscribes, which we talked about. You’re standing apart from your seller or from other marketers that are all just doing traditional batch-and-blast.
The fourth is what we term waking up dormant contacts. Every marketer that does email out there has thought about doing re-engagement campaigns, where they take their unengaged audience and send some kind of special promotion to them. Seventh Sense, in essence, automates a re-engagement campaign.
I’ll give you a for instance. Mike Donnelly comes to your website and I download an e-book. You send me an email, I open and I click to download the e-book. I do all that at 10:00 p.m. at night. You now have my email address. If you start marketing to me at 9:00 a.m., that email is just going to continually get buried for months and months.
Seventh Sense comes along and says “Whoa, we have a data point on Mike. Let’s try him at 10:00 p.m.” Boom . . . I wake up and I re-engage in their content. Think of it as a natural way of re-engaging individuals.
The other thing I’ll touch on too since you asked the question and I know you have a very sophisticated audience is when it comes to Time Zone sending, the way that Time Zone sending works is it’s based on IP address. However, imagine I’m an East Coast worker, but my Microsoft Exchange server sits on the West Coast in my Silicon Valley headquarters and I have to VPM into that.
When I open and click an email, HubSpot is going to register that IP address in California, so it’s going to think that Mike Donnelly resides in California versus in Virginia, which is where I reside. That’s one technical hurdle when it comes to Time Zone sending.
Where we really differentiate is, we don’t like to think of ourselves as doing any kind of aggregation layer, like aggregate everybody in this time zone because I may read my email at 10:00 p.m., but George, I know you’re a very early riser and you read your email very early in the morning. So our goal is to get down to the personal level and go after your own individual preferences of when we deliver those emails.
George: Amazing. You know, the only thing I can say is as you were describing the whole Time Zone send, I wanted to just shout out the infamous words of Scooby Doo and say “Ro, Ro, Shaggy,” there’s something wrong there.
Let’s do this. Realize a reality to life, Mike, and that’s that not everybody on this planet is real savvy with technology. Knowing this, what are some possible problems that a new user might face with using Seventh Sense and is there any type of knowledge base, academy or anything like that that helps those folks get over those hurdles? What do you have for us on that one, Mike?
What Are Some Challenges Users May Face When Using Seventh Sense?
Mike: Great question. I would say probably the biggest challenge of adoption and something that we consistently think about is that it’s another tool. It’s another app that I have to go to login. From a usability perspective, it’s very simple, but we as marketers and as sales people are constantly going and running, etc.
There is that small learning curve of having to learn a new app and how that plugs into either your existing HubSpot or Marketo environment. It’s not that you just come in and click one button. There are a couple of extra clicks that you have to do to get up and running and then not only that, on a per-campaign basis to increase your engagement.
George: Super-powerful tool. Super-usable, every day for every company. I mean, seriously, if you think about it, it’s probably 24/7, 365 email somebody somewhere. If they want to learn more about you and if they want to learn more about Seventh Sense, where do you want to send them?
Mike: Just to our website, which is www.TheSeventhSense.com.
George: Very cool. Personally, can they reach out to you with questions on the Twittersphere or anything like that?
Mike: Absolutely. My email address is just Mike@TheSeventhSense.com and my Twitter handle is @KnowingWhen.
George: I love that Twitter handle. Mike, I appreciate your time on the podcast. Thank you very much.
Mike: Thank you, George. I really appreciate you having me and also for the listeners for listening.
George: Absolutely. Well, listeners, this has been One Last Tool. Remember, pretty much anything that we try to do we can do it as long as we have the right tool. Until next time, this is @GeorgeBThomas on the Twittersphere, saying go out, figure out what you need and then just make it.
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