Friday, February 10, 2017

LeadGenius Adds a Dash of Artificial Intelligence to Account Based Marketing

You may have noticed that I’m writing a little less about artificial intelligence than I had been. It may be that Skynet has imprisoned the real David Raab to block him from issuing dire warnings about its imminent threat to humanity and replaced him with a less alarmist simulation. You can’t actually prove that isn’t happening. But the David Raab, or Raab-bot, writing this will tell you it’s because he’s concluded that AI is destined to become so pervasive that it doesn’t make sense to treat it as a distinct topic. It will simply be embedded in everything and so should be evaluated as part of whatever it belongs to.

LeadGenius is a good example. The company is in the business of assembling B2B marketing lists – an industry dating back centuries to city directories and beyond. But LeadGenius was founded in 2011 to commercialize university research into combining AI with human inputs. It has since expanded from list gathering to all stages in the Account Based Marketing process, sprinkling in dashes of artificial intelligence at every step along the way.

Let’s look at those stages, using the four step structure of the Raab Guide to ABM Vendors.

1. Identify target accounts. This includes assembling data on potential accounts and selecting the right targets. Like many data gatherers, LeadGenius uses a combination of Web and other sources to build company and contact lists. Nearly every vendor who does this applies some form of natural language processing to extract information from unstructured sources. LeadGenius does this too. But it goes further by using artificial intelligence to identify records with questionably accurate information. It then sends these to humans for direct verification by telephone. The company guarantees 99% accuracy in its data, which is significantly better than most competitors can offer. AI's contribution here is to let LeadGenius call only the companies that need human contact, reducing over-all effort substantially. 

To find the right targets, LeadGenius loads a client's current CRM lists. It analyzes these for accuracy and completeness, providing users with reports that highlight problem areas. There’s probably some AI at work in that analysis. LeadGenius then identifies major file segments within the customer base and finds similar companies in the broader universe, estimating potential buyers and revenue by segment. Somewhat surprisingly , LeadGenius doesn’t create predictive lead scores, having found its more useful to prioritize prospects based on company attributes like size and industry. LeadGenius does use artificial intelligence, or at least its country cousin “fuzzy logic”, to map business titles into buyer roles, taking into account how different terms are used at different size companies to describe the same role.

2. Plan interactions. LeadGenius has a basic email campaign capability, including segment definition, email templates with personalization variables, and email sequences. There don’t seem to be any particular AI features here, although we’ll see in a moment that email does play a key role in LeadGenius’ AI utilization.

3. Execute interactions. LeadGenius sends emails through corporate or individual salespeople’s email accounts. It captures replies and uses AI-based natural language processing to classify them, distinguishing answers that indicate interest from out-of-office messages and clear rejections. Hot leads are pushed back to salespeople’s inboxes.  All response classifications are added to the database where they can be used in future selections. So AI does indirectly drive interaction flows. Response data can also be posted to or Marketos, with additional integrations planned for the near future. Messages through other channels would have to be executed through marketing automation or CRM.

4. Analyze results. LeadGenius has the usual email and campaign reporting, enhanced with the AI-based response classifications.

As promised, you see a bit of AI magic at each of these process stages (assuming you count the AI-based email response as enabling the interaction planning). Certainly there’s room for more features and more AI use. But it’s already enough to illustrate how AI will add power throughout the ABM cycle.

LeadGenius is used primarily by large enterprises selling to small businesses. Those are the firms that can most benefit from its comprehensive data, market analyses, and prospect lists. Pricing is tailored to each client. The company has more than 150 B2B clients.

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