June 26, 2024

Webinar Recap: Driving $1M+ in Pipeline with Clay and Strategic Gifting


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In today’s highly competitive marketing landscape, standing out from the crowd requires more than just conventional strategies. It calls for a combination of innovative tools, personalized outreach, and data-driven insights. 

At Sendoso, we’ve taken this approach to the next level by integrating the powerful capabilities of Clay into our outbound marketing efforts. By leveraging the strengths of both platforms, we’ve been able to scale our outbound motion effectively, driving significant improvements in engagement, conversion rates, and overall pipeline growth.

In our webinar hosted by Austin Sandmeyer, Head of Growth, Cody Farmer, Head of Product, and Katie Penner, Head of Sender Relations, we dove into how Sendoso uses Clay as a data manipulation layer, connecting multiple tools, to enhance our outbound marketing strategy. 

Austin, Cody, and Katie walked through our entire approach from start to finish with key takeaways that you can implement immediately. 

Let’s get into it!

Why Gifting Matters (and Works!)

The Framework for Personalized Gifting

Standing out in today’s crowded market is becoming increasingly difficult, and Sendoso aims to help cut through the noise by adding a personalized touch to your outreach at scale.

A successful gifting strategy follows this framework:

  • Right person
  • Right gift
  • Right message
  • Right time
  • Right delivery channel

Using this framework, you can utitlize gifting to drive revenue, offer personalized experiences, create positive emotional brand associations, and build prospect and customer relationships.

Why Gifting Works

Buyers are bombarded with countless messages daily, leading to what we call "buyer fatigue." Personalized gifts help avoid this by creating memorable and emotional connections. Studies show that 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences. According to McKinsey, companies that excel at personalization generate 40% more revenue than their average counterparts.

“As a buyer persona myself, I get lots of these messages, and I recognize that often they feel automated and unauthentic. So how do you stand out in today’s crowded environment? We found that personalization is key.” - Katie Penner

The Power of Personalization

Have you ever gotten a gift from someone that completely missed the mark? Imagine having that feeling about something you received from a company that wants your business - at best, you roll your eyes and throw it in a drawer (or the trash). At worst, it totally changes your perception of the company and potentially your willingness to do business with them at all.

This is why we believe personalization really matters. Personalized interactions not only capture attention but also drive higher engagement and loyalty. Gartner reports that 71% of B2C and 86% of B2B customers expect companies to be well-informed about their personal preferences. 

Emotional Connection and Loyalty

“Today, customers don’t just want personalization, they are demanding it.” - Katie Penner

Katie’s favorite example of the power of gifting is Chewy.com, a pet supply company known for its customer-centric approach. They know a pet is as much a part of the family as their humans, and this is reflected in their gifting strategy. 

Birthday cards and remembrance gifts are a core part of their customer experience - for example, in 2022, Chewy sent enough birthday cards to stretch from New York City to Dallas. They also send sympathy bouquets and pet portraits to families of those pets who have crossed the rainbow bridge.

This level of empathy and personalized attention has tangible business benefits. Customers who feel emotionally connected to a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value and recommend the brand at a much higher rate (71% versus 45%). Chewy's success in fostering emotional connections through gifting led to its acquisition by PetSmart for $3.35 billion, the largest e-commerce acquisition ever.

While Chewy’s success story is rooted in B2C marketing, the principles of personalized gifting apply equally well to B2B contexts. In a business environment where decision-makers are also inundated with marketing messages, a well-timed and relevant gift can differentiate a company from its competitors. Gifting helps humanize the sales process, turning transactional interactions into authentic, meaningful relationships.

Personalization at Scale

What is Clay?

Clay is a data enrichment tool that helps you gather and manipulate data from multiple sources. This gives you a comprehensive view of your leads and enables you to personalize your outreach at scale. It works by using tables to organize and aggregate the data, and runs commands to produce a specified output. 

You can customize the types of data inputs you use to build your Clay table - some examples of what we use include intent surges, 6sense score changes, and account or contact signals.

By integrating data from these and other sources, Clay can build enriched profiles of your leads. This means you get detailed insights into their job roles, company info, social media activity, and more, all in one place. This information helps you craft messages that resonate on a personal level.

Example of a Clay Table

The Tech Stack Waterfall

As mentioned, Clay is a data manipulation layer - meaning, it works with the data sources you plug into it. 

To best explain how Clay can fit into your tech stack, it’s easiest to think of it as a waterfall. For example, you may have five data providers plugged into Clay that source and verify email addresses. Clay will attempt to find and verify the email address using the first provider. If it’s unsuccessful, it will move to the second, the third, and so on. When it is successful, the process ends.

What a Clay Play Looks Like

By integrating Clay into our outbound marketing process, we automate many of the manual tasks associated with data management and campaign execution. Clay’s powerful data manipulation capabilities enable us to set up automated workflows that handle everything from data enrichment to campaign deployment.

Here is a high-level example of how we would structure a play:

  1. The intent score for a target account surges
  2. The account information is enriched with contact names, titles, and email addresses using the data providers you have plugged into your Clay table
  3. Several automated actions can be triggered
    • A personalized email coming from a BDR/SDR is written by ChatGPT
    • A LinkedIn connection is sent to each of the contacts
    • Tasks for phone calls and other manual steps are set up in your outreach tool

In another scenario, we might use Clay to pull data from Salesforce about a lead who has recently interacted with our content. Clay enriches this data with information about the lead’s role, company, and recent activities, allowing us to craft a highly personalized follow-up message that addresses their specific interests and needs.

The Outbound Process: Before and After

Before: Manual, Semi-Personalized Outreach

The traditional outbound motion is something a lot of marketers are familiar with - it’s time-consuming, manual, prone to human error, and difficult to scale. Take an in-person event, for example. Here’s how the process used to look at Sendoso.

Our team would attend the event, chat with prospects, and maybe even book some meetings. 

After the event, the lead list is received - and this is where things get complicated. Any prospects that have booked a meeting with a salesperson need to be removed first. 

Then, we would choose the top 100 leads and drop them into an Outreach sequence. This sequence would include semi-personalized emails, phone calls, and LinkedIn touches - but was also dependent on the SDR handling the outreach to not miss any steps.

This process would be repeated for any and all outbound motions.

Because of the manual nature of this process, we were limited to the number of leads an SDR can realistically handle, and were unable to provide specific personalization to each person being put through this sequence. For us, this was less than ideal - until we found Clay.

After: Programmatic Scaled Outbound

Our programmatic scaled outbound strategy is built on two pillars: data signals and the team managing the process.

Signal Sources

There are several sources you can use to track signals for your Clay plays, depending on the campaigns you want to run. Some examples of the tools we use to provide signals are:

  • Madkudu: Buyer intent and readiness
  • Mobly: Event leads
  • Usergems: Job changes or updates

Any one of these categories of signals can be used to execute creative personalized plays that will catch the attention of your audience, and ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of your outreach.


“When you think about the old way of outbound, it was ‘How many BDRs can we hire, how many BDR managers, and just let them rip.’” - Austin Sandmeyer

The team we use to manage our outbound strategy consists of three roles: Clay Table Manager, SDR, and Campaign Engagement Manager.

The Clay Table Manager is responsible for managing and customizing data tables, making sure that all relevant information is collected and enriched efficiently. This role is crucial for maintaining data accuracy and relevance, which are foundational for effective campaigns.

The campaign engagement manager designs playbooks based on the enriched data. They work with both the Clay Table Manager and SDR to think through the campaigns, determining what data to pull and how to customize outreach to make it as impactful as possible. 

“The campaign manager is the person thinking through the campaigns. Thinking through, ‘Okay, [this person] is a new user, based off of this signal from UserGems. What type of data do we want to pull from our core tech stack, what type of data do we want to go and do research on, and what can we do from an email component to have this really be personalized to them?’” - Austin Sandmeyer

Finally, the SDR executes on the manual points in the playbook. On the email side, they manage email volume and contact lists, and action on inbound email responses. From an outreach standpoint, they are the ones making the cold calls, LinkedIn touches, and holding the first qualifying meeting.

Campaign Example: New Job Congratulations

One of the most effective campaigns we’ve seen to date is sending a gift to a contact on an account when they move to a new job. These contacts include end users, those who have moved on from a company that is a current customer, previous contract signers, and other relevant audiences that fit our ICP. In our case, we have UserGems providing us with these signals.

When a signal is identified, the Clay table aggregates data from various sources, enriching it with contextual information like previous interactions and new job details. The table then runs several processes that uses this enriched data.

First, through data pulled from Marketo and Salesforce, information is gathered about their previous interactions with Sendoso. Their new company and role are verified, and confirmed that they are still in our ICP. 

We then use DynaPictures to create a custom celebration image, and SmartSend to choose a personalized gift that matches their interests.

Finally, ChatGPT puts all of this information together and crafts a personalized message that congratulates them on their new job, gives context for the outreach, offers the gift, and inserts in the image.

The last step in this process is to push the completed information into a sales automation tool, such as Smartlead, Instantly, or Reply, kicking off a campaign to send out emails with the personalization variables. These sequences also include calls and LinkedIn touches as necessary, based on seniority and ICP matching.

Is It Actually Working?

This is probably the question at the top of everyone’s mind - and the short answer is yes. 

From November of 2022 to October of 2023, a year before we implemented Clay, outbound accounted for 25% of our meetings booked. Direct traffic made up the bulk of our meetings, likely due to the brand awareness generated by higher spend on events and advertising.

Since November of last year, however, outbound has taken over as our main meeting source, jumping to almost 63% of bookings. With less budget allocated for higher-spend activities and fewer resources to pull from, we’ve been able to capitalize on the efficiency of programmatic outbound to pick up the slack from our other channels.

How Do I Use AI Without Sounding Like….AI?

We’ve quickly become trained to spot AI-generated content when it’s used poorly. A copy-and-pasted email or LinkedIn message written from a less than well-crafted prompt can be painfully obvious, so it’s critical to train your instance on your voice, tone, and language.

Here are three tips Austin shared to help you get the outcome you’re looking for in a personalized message.

Tip 1: Use Specific Prompts for Better Conversations

AI is only as good as the prompts you give it, so be as specific as possible. Name the persona the messaging is coming from, include the voice and tone, and provide examples for it to follow.

“Naming the persona and understanding that..in this example, you’re writing an email to congratulate a friend versus a colleague versus a random person. Each one of these will get you very different tone and verbiage.” - Austin Sandmeyer

For example, this is the prompt we use for our new job congrats campaign:

You're writing an email opening to congratulate a friend on their time as a role at a company. 

Here's the info you need: [Company] [Name] [Title] [Time at company]

I need you to take all of that info and formulate a super casual, human sounding email opening. 

Here's a few examples:

- "congrats on one and a half years as a marketing and sales director at JJX!"

- "congrats on nearly twenty four years as a sales and partner vp at Umu!"

Tip 2: Train the Model on Different Writing Styles

In addition to prompts, you can provide writing samples to your AI tool to help it recreate human voice and tone. Emails and LinkedIn posts that have come from the sender are great sources. This creates a persona you can reference in the future, and can refine over time.

Another way to train the model is to have your BDR/SDRs write the prompts in their own words. This can help add in an additional layer of humanization to the output. 

"This is something that we've been working on since before October of last year. It's a constant iteration to make sure it's non-AI sounding AI." - Austin Sandmeyer

Tip 3: Test, Test, Test!

No campaign should ever be “set it and forget it”. Testing and iterating is an important part of your success, and this is no different.

When you’re running your prompts, test them with multiple times with different combinations of variables. Read through the outputs and look for any weird or questionable results, and use this information to edit your prompts. 

"You're going to get feedback from your market. If you send out emails that sound super robotic, they'll reply saying you'r emails sound super robotic. I've gotten emails from people that sound super robotic - so it all comes down to the voice and tone that you want." - Austin Sandmeyer

Additionally, you can run your prompts with entirely different wording to test multiple outcomes that way. You may test three different versions of a prompt, and find that prompt B provided terrible results, but a piece of each prompt A and C would work better together than on their own. Keep experimenting and know that it may take a few tries to get it just right.

Wrap Up

No matter the tools and processes, an outbound sales motion isn’t easy - but it can produce some big results. If you decide to implement a system like clay, remember these three things:

  • Identify the signals that make sense for the plays you want to run - Not all signals will make sense in every campaign
  • Run examples and practice - Test pairing different signals together, try out versions of ChatGPT prompts, and figure out which tools work best for the play you’re looking to run
  • None of this is rocket science! Start with campaigns you’re already running and seeing success with and add the automation for efficiency. Once you have the process down, you can start launching new plays from scratch with these tools.

At the end of the day, it comes down to testing and learning - imperfect results lead to better optimization. With the range of data and tools you can plug into Clay, this process allows you to build a fully customized approach to your sales strategies. 

As we continue to refine our outbound processes, the key takeaway is clear: embracing innovative tools and personalized strategies can transform your marketing efforts, setting you apart in a competitive landscape. We encourage you to explore the powerful combination of Clay and strategic gifting to enhance your marketing efforts and achieve outstanding results.

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