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The power of personalization with Scout’s Jordan Crawford

Episode #

10

Show Notes

- Personalization is all about who you are targeting
- Everything starts with identifying and solving the customer pain points
- “Once you can target, the world changes for you”
- Nailing down an effective process to enable you to move into new segments
- Learn more about the future of personalization

Resources
The comprehensive guide to cold email personalization that Jordan co-wrote with Tarik Sehovic -> How to Personalize Cold Outbound by Pain(Not Persona)

Get in Touch
Connect with Jordan on LinkedIn or book a virtual coffee.
Connect with Tariq

Stuart
Hello, and welcome to the Customer Conversations podcast today. I'm so excited to be joined by Jordan Crawford. Jordan is the founder of Scout, B2B Advisor, YCLM, and previous growth leader at Zinc. Jordan, thanks so much for joining me.

Jordan
Thanks for having me.

Stuart
I'm super excited to dive into all things personalization with you. I know we originally, connected through, I was following up on a post that you wrote for the Clearbit about personalizing B2B chat. So, I'd love to hear a little bit about what you're working on with Scout and how personalization plays into all of that.

Jordan
Thanks so much for having me here. I could talk about personalization all day, and I think that the interesting insight is not that you should personalize. It's that who you're targeting is the more interesting question. And that naturally leads to kind of more interesting personalization. So the more you know about your ideal customers, the better you can send great outbound or, or even great inbound via chat, which is the post that you're reading. So, that means going way beyond customer name, industry, job title. There's so much great public data. It's really about looking for pain and understanding pain. So in the ChatBot example, worked with a client and we did, in the time where people are at their offices, we use Clearbit to do this personalization by industry to say, "Do you want to see how we worked with Chevron to do X?"

So the Exxon Mobil's of the world come through and they don't interact with the website because the website is just generic stuff. But if I can have a message there, it's like, "Oh, Chevron, I know Chevron. I'm like Chevron." People generally respond to that. And the next level of this is really thinking about what are the public signals for pain and how can you identify pain and personalize based on the pain? And so, I'm working on a massive cold outbound email post about that.

And it's thinking about, it's kind of inverting the problem and thinking about, okay, if you're... I was chatting with a customer that they helped speed up websites and to improve for SCO, right? So her pain was slow loading websites. It's just like use BuiltWith, find the top traffic sites that are on Shopify, run them all through speed test, and then message them and say, "For every one second of speed increase that you get, we can see Z amount of increase in traffic or Y amount of increase in paid conversions. Do you want to have a conversation?" People respond to that email all day long, more so than, "Hi, Shopify customer, do you want to go faster?" It's like, "Uh, God, no."

Stuart
Right. Yeah, that totally makes sense. It's really interesting actually, the sort of tied to personalization there, but is it using social proof in a way that goes beyond just... I mean, this is all personalization, right? That goes beyond just, "Look, we have great customers. Look, we have great customers like you." Right? And so, one thing that I'm really curious about here is you mentioned BuiltWith as an example of how to get publicly available data about companies such as Clearbit reveal, which is mentioned in there. We'll post a link up in the show notes as another way, but what's sort of the place that you would start when it comes to identifying sort of the actual information that you're going to use in these campaigns? What's sort of the typical starting point?

Jordan
Yeah. That's a great question. And the unfortunate and lame answer is it depends. So it depends on the product and it depends on... So a good friend of mine that did some growth work for him, sayprimer.com, Keith, he's the founder there. They help you target your ads to people, not IP addresses, or not allow LinkedIn or Facebook to do the targeting for you. So we thought, "Okay, what's the pain here? How can we publicly identify that?" So, what we did is we looked through, we A, looked through all of the ads on Facebook, Ads Explore, and LinkedIn of his ideal customers. Right? We started with YC Startups or whatever, or customers of Demandbase and Terminus. So we looked at those folks and we said, "Okay, those are the folks that are doing IP targeting right now."

We verified to make sure they were running ads. Right? I don't want to be sending an email to Airbnb now, like, "Hey, do you want to expand your ad budget?" Like, "No. I don't want to expand my ad budget." Right? So, there's a qualifying process there. But then what we did is we looked at the date the ad was run and we looked at both the commenters and the people that were liking it. So, we then went to their website and looked at who their ideal customers were, what are their customer testimonials? And we matched the two.

So then I could say, "Hey Stuart, I noticed that you ran this ad on April 26. And it turns out that Jordan liked that ad and Frank liked that ad. But those two people don't seem like Stuart, who is a VP of Bank America. It seems like you're not targeting the right folks. Do you want to have a conversation?" And that's a much different idea about what personalization is and how to think about this pain, because I'm showcasing you something in a cold email that maybe you didn't even know.

Stuart
Right. Which is really interesting because sort of the, we were talking just before we got into this conversation on sort of recording, around actually adding value for people. Right? Going beyond sort of the surface level, this is better than that, to actually adding value. And when you, I mean, it's really interesting you bring up things that people might not even have known about their own customers, right? And that's not really your goal. That might be part of your process, but that's not really what you're selling. Right? You're selling improved conversion, improved revenue, improved pre-sales, but you're not only demonstrating trust and sort of your ability to execute, but you're also making that person that you're sending the communication to look really good to whoever they're... They can now go and tell their boss that they now know this thing and it sort of, it makes it easier for them to sell you. Right? Which is really interesting. And it's something that, like I say, certainly goes beyond company name, a person's name.

Jordan
I think that the interesting insight here is people will, A, people will respect a great cold email because they don't get them. B, people will reply to them and C, there's this fallacy. It's like, "Oh, that takes so much time." It's like, "No, the hard thing is you have to be able to structure the outsourced work to be binary." Right? You have to remove your context when you get an outsourcer to enrich things like company name or these pain points. So, that there's so much structure to this that you don't screw up the email. And that's, I think the more challenging part, is how do you remove context from you so you can get outsourcer to look at a thousand rows. Well, a good way that I was able to do this with Scout is we're targeting solar companies. And I'll talk to you about some of that kind of personalization in a second.

But we found, I messaged the guy that runs the membership director at CALSEIA, Carter Levin. It's a solar association. I said, "Hey, where's some good solar data." He pointed me to this dataset that shows every single solar installer and the total system amount that they've installed by date. So now I can send a message that says, I sent out an email, "Hey, Ambrose Solar, it looks like you did 19 million, 346 thousand, 512 dollars in 2019 in solar systems. Amazing. That's why I'm reaching out. Your best zip code looks to be 95109, where you've installed 34 installs. I have a tactic that works well for that zip code. Do you want to have a conversation?"

And that is a much different approach than like, "Hey, want to buy my thing?" And it just, I get in that campaign, when I did heavy personalization, I got a 20% reply rate, all positive. And if I dumb down some of that personalization, even if I'm just including one piece of data, which is the total amount of solar installs that they did last year, I get a 3-4% reply rate. So the personalization, I mean, it matters a lot.

Stuart
Right. Yeah. It's really interesting that matching the person's sort of context or matching their goal with the message that you're sending, rather than... Nobody wants to buy a product. Right? They want to get to some end result, and showing that you understand what that end result is that they're trying to get to is important. So, one thing that I'm curious about, being able to do this level of personalization sounds like it's pretty based on knowing who your best customer is. Right? You have to understand actually important. What are the things that matter when you personalize them to a prospect? So, what's your approach to sort of figuring that piece out for a company that, a marketer who maybe doesn't know, at least in the level of detail that you might want to, to be able to run these types of campaigns?

Jordan
Figure out your company. And I say that sort of both a little joking, but it's also true. I advise a lot of companies, I'm a B2B advisor. And the problem that a lot of companies take is that they're way too shallow and wide. So, I'm having a conversation with a company that does a widget for texting on your website, and I said, "Who are your ideal customers?" They're like, "Lawyers, solar companies, startups, people with feet." It's like, okay, so you can't really do this type of thing horizontally.

And there are so many products that don't lend themselves to that specialization that they try to take a marketing approach to sales. Which is a terrible idea, right? The way that you should think about it is find that one segment that does incredibly well. What is the highest ROI for segment X, right? And that could be, you could look at their ACV, for example, if your product helps them with ACV. You should find the customer that says, "Oh my gosh, you're undercharging by a hundred X. I can't believe that I'm stealing this software from you." Right?

Stuart
Right.

Jordan
Find that customer. And then you find out their pain. And that really, it's not about personalization, so much, it is about the building of the universe, the building of that list based on that pain, because then the copy really doesn't matter as much. And that's not title, that's not industry, that's load time on your Shopify website that will decrease conversions based on your traffic. That's that list.

Stuart
Right. Interesting. So for a company that has, maybe taken this broad or like wide approach, how do you recommend they dial it in? What are the steps you take to go from, okay, we think that people with feet, solar companies, startups, are our market. What's the first thing that you would do? What's the place to start in terms of dialing in who is the person that we should be focused on, and who should we learn more about?

Jordan
Yeah. Depends on your size. So, if you're a relatively early and small, you could just have a conversation with your customers and say, "Hey, look, this isn't going to impact your pricing, but let's say I came to you today. What would you have paid for my software? How is this benefiting you? Can you give me access to your data? I want to look at something. I have some ideas about how to improve the product, but I want to see what conversion rates are looking like." It depends on what your product does obviously, but that's what you want to get to. You want to get to that segment that you have the best. And it could just be, if you're further along, it could just be by numbers. It turns out that we seem to be doing really well with lawyers.

Okay. Well, why lawyers? What was the pain that they were in? Oh, well, they had a lot of traffic to their website, but not many conversions. Okay, great. And what is it about their website that led them? Well, it turns out that they all are using this 12 page lead form and that's like this technology. And when they came from this technology, they were like, "Oh, this is a world different." So, you have to really, really deeply understand your customers. And even if you're doing well across a bunch of segments, that's not how you should do B2B, personalized, outbound, or even targeting. And once you can target, right, the world changes for you.

Stuart
Right. Interesting. So, this sort of really impacts everything, right? Like it goes from all the way from very niche messaging in a particular campaign all the way to, which segment are we going to allocate our ad budget towards this quarter? Right? So maybe you can give an example from, so you give one example from Scout of approaching solar companies with this much revenue. How do you sort of iterate on, what's your sort of process from going from, okay, I know this is a pain for a prospect or for a customer group. How do you iterate that messaging? Is there a sort of a structured process for increasing the amount of personalization that you're doing, reducing the amount of personalization that you're doing? After you've done it once, what happens next?

Jordan
Yeah, it's a good question. And I think I start at the other end where I'll optimize for, I guess, too much personalization, if you will, to start with this enrichment, and then I'll hone that down in the messaging. So, what that looks like... And to give you kind of another example of what this looks like. One of the companies that I work with, trypico.com, turns out they were able to help folks that were transitioning to an online world; so like yoga studios, gyms. So we're like, how can we find out who are the yoga studios that are like, "You know what? We're shut down, forget it. We'll open back up when we opened back up." Versus the folks who are like, "I want to get online. I want to start doing these classes. I want to be able to provide for my yoga instructors and just change the format."

So, what we were able to do is we ran an advanced Google search, searched only for sites on yelp.com, and yelp.com has a generic COVID message. So what we did is, we filtered out that generic COVID message. So, I built an advanced Google search that it says, "Give me all of the businesses on yelp.com that have the word yoga that have a specific COVID, basically that don't have this generic message." So now we have a list of the yoga studios that are trying to transition online, had an outsourcer grab their COVID message. So that then we could start saying, "Who's trying Zoom? Who's trying this service?" So I could think about the messaging in different ways, but really the key here in terms of personalization is how do you remove your context and teach an outsourcer?

And whether that outsourcer is onshore or offshore, it doesn't really matter. How do you remove the context of someone looking at a page and saying, "Oh, this is a good customer," to customers that have this, "Go pull this information." So like for the SayPrimer piece that we did, I said, "All right, go click here." I built all the company URLs. "Click on the company URL. Click on ads, copy the link to the post, go find the exact date that the last commenter posted, and then take a screenshot of the people that liked the post." Right? So that's a structured approach I can ask where someone's not going to be like, "Did you mean the green one or the yellow one?"

Stuart
Right. Interesting. And I guess, even if you're, are you outsourcing from the very beginning? Is that sort of the goal, is that because you're building it in the structured way, you can outsource to get to a larger volume than you would do yourself? I'm curious at what volume you're testing here.

Jordan
Yeah. So you don't have to do a crazy lot of these. 300 folks is enough to be able to run one of these tested campaigns. But the trick is, I do the first 10 to 20 rows myself, because you'll find all this context that you have that you didn't document. So it's like, okay, go find the first ad. And it turns out that some don't have ads. Some folks don't have a presence on Facebook. Sometimes the order of the ad may be different, right? So you start to learn all these things about what you're asking someone to do, that you wouldn't have an understanding. So instead of saying, "I need a hole in the backyard," you can say, "Take this shovel, dig here, dig this deep, and make sure to water the soil first because it's going to be too hard otherwise." So that's the kind of, you have to in-source it yourself, manually do 20 or 30 rows until you start seeing the same pattern. And then you can have an outsourcer take care of the next piece for you.

Stuart
Got it. That totally makes sense. It's great. I think it's really interesting that you're sort of answering your open questions upfront, but building for scale pretty quickly. Right? If it works for that first 300 people in the tests, it should... Because you already have the process, you're not sort of doing one off things here, one off things there. It should scale, assuming the total list is big enough.

And you can move to your next segment. So, let's say you do this for lawyers really well. Well then, in two weeks you can move over to cake bakers or to B2B SAS companies, right? Because you've done this, you know the process, it's easy to move over to the next segment. But the thing is, you can't send a cake maker, a lawyer, and a window person, the same message that you would send a B2B SAS company. And you can't target. It just doesn't make sense. Even if you could help all of them, it doesn't make sense. Your message gets diluted.

Right. Yeah. Right. Because like you said, they all have different context in the same way that you have different contexts when you're running the process, they have different contexts when they're seeing your message. So, it's interesting that you mentioned, it seems like a lot of companies, or most commonly companies are using personalization and B2B with higher ticket items, right? I guess account based marketing or account based sales is a sort of, it's less automated, higher touch approach to personalization.

Stuart
It sounds like this could equally apply to any B2C business, too. I'm curious, where are the trade offs in terms of like, is there a limit to who you can tie it with this level of personalization? At what point does it sort of not become... It must always be profitable. Right? You're just talking about increasing ROI, whatever you're doing. So, I'm curious there.

Jordan
Yeah. I try to, my circle of competence is really B2B and in the B2C world, things are different because, actually B2C marketers are... I've got so much respect for them because in B2B we can close our eyes, throw a thousand darts. And as long as one of the darts get somewhere close to the dartboard, we win. So it's like, "Look, I spent a hundred thousand dollars. I can't even tell you where I spent it all. But look, I can tell you that $400,000 came through the door," and they're like, "Good job, Jordan." You know? But in B2C it's like I have to acquire a customer for $26.52 cents. And I have to know did that customer convert, and I need to make a change on the landing page.

And so, this type of work, it's not something you can do for a $50 sale. You should be doing, you need to be doing marketing at a $50 sale, at a hundred dollar sale, at a... But when you start getting into the 20, 30, $40,000 a year sale, you can spend some time doing this. Right? And so it works really, really well for B2B, because you can afford the outsourcer. You can afford the thought process to go deeper into a segment. In the B2C world, you have to get someone on the phone, right? You can't send a cold email and say, "Complete your checkout here." No one does that. It's like, no, that doesn't make sense.

Stuart
That's interesting. Although I do imagine that kind of in the, back to the Clearbit article, with the example of Drift onsite, which I guess still applies mostly to assisted sales and in B2B. Are there opportunities sort of non-cold? Do you think that you can apply a similar approach too sort of with data that you're collecting either onsite or sort of customer life cycle or customer journey type data?

Jordan
Sure. And there are products to do this, like Mutiny HQ is one of them out of YC and they will take Clearbit data and personalize the site with... So the logos will change for example. So Jaleh who worked at Gusto, she was the head of marketing there. If they saw a Nike or an apparel company come to the site, they would switch the logos to Adidas. Right? If they saw Drift come on the site, they would switch the logos to Entercom or other startups. Right? So you see people like me. They also would personalize based on the ad that you came in. So, for example, let's say you were searching for ADP, which is another Gusto competitor. Right? All of the language on their homepage would say, "ADP versus Gusto, here's the difference." Everything would change based on that context.

So you can do some of this sure, based on who the user is, but I don't think you can get as fancy as you can do with B2B. Unless, there's a couple of other tactics you can do this with. I mentioned SayPrimer, so they can target individual leads for custom Facebook audiences. So you could do this. You could say, "Start with the pain list and basically do ABM, but do it for marketing for B2C if the margins make sense." That's the thing is that each of these pieces cost time and money, and there's an opportunity cost. And so it's not going to work on a $12 product, but maybe a $1,200 product.

Stuart
Right. Yeah. It's interesting. I'm curious to ask you sort of, what do you think, because personalization is relatively new, at least at this level of sophistication, as sort of tools have evolved to make it easier to collect the data that you're using to inform this personalization. And I guess just there's more data available in general online, right? As people are more active online. What do you think the future of personalization looks like? What are the sort of the next three to five years? Where do you think this sort of goes? Right? What does this look like in five years time? And is there a limit where it starts to get creepy? I think that's maybe kind of a blunt way to ask it, but I think that's always a question. Right? And especially as privacy becomes a bigger talking point, at what point do people start saying, "How do you know all this stuff?" Right?

Jordan
You know, it's funny. I was having a conversation with a guy that used to run Google's email marketing for them. Right? And he said, "Google doesn't want to personalize." Because Google could send you an email, "Hey Jordan, did you enjoy your coffee walk yesterday at 10:52 PM? And the latte that you ordered after I saw that come in with Google Pay? Was it a good latte?" Google could totally do that. Right? But they recognize that that's counterintuitive. Right? And Google does some of this today. They send me, "Here's a map of where you walk." Google maps will send me some borderline creepy emails. But, I think actually this is where the messaging really matters. I think that if the targeting is done right, the messaging almost doesn't matter, and the personalization doesn't necessarily increase rates.

So really, if I can get a signal that I have a bike that I bought, a hundred million years ago, and I've been looking at a VanMooth, I can't pronounce it. I can't pronounce it like the Dutch, but it's this great, it's the Tesla of e-bikes. And they just released a new version. So if they knew that I had been to three biking shops recently, and they sent me a generic message. I'd be like, "Oh yeah, I was just thinking about bikes." Right? And I think that that feels serendipitous, not creepy. Now, if they told me where they got that data and they said, "Jordan, I noticed you visited 123 Main Street on this date." That's a different story. And, for Scout, we can do that actually. I can target based on history of some of where someone has been. And I don't share the addresses to the marketer, and I don't allow the marketer to personalize the message, but I can build a list that is based off location.

It's sort of a balance there between knowing enough to be in the right place at the right time and actually, yeah, actually giving away everything or sharing everything that got you to that point.

Yeah. And I think some of this will change. Some of this will change in terms of what data is accessible, CCPA, GDPR, that kind of stuff. Especially because the penalties are much greater, but I think that people are making information public all the time. And there are tools to get public information all the time. I mean, house records, there's just so much public data. The government has a bunch of data that you can use FOYA, Freedom of Information Requests for. I'm looking to do some marketing for the SGIP program for California, which basically they will pay for a Tesla battery in your home, almost a 100% if you meet certain criteria.

And one of them is if you're on well water, or if you have a medical necessity. Right? And so to have a medical necessity, you have to file that with with PG&E. So I may be able to get public records on who has these medical necessities to market to them. So, I think there's always going to be, there will be more and more public data. And I think as long as you use it for targeting and you don't have to use it all for the messaging that things will convert.

Stuart
And I guess the messaging aspect, it's more likely that you're going, you can use more generalized data there if you're segmenting well anyway. Right? You're going to be talking more about the pay and more about the higher level goal, rather than that specific person's specific situation that made them receive this communication. So, I guess to sort of start to wrap things up here, I'm curious for somebody who has sort of not thought about personalization at all. Right? Is sort of doing either demographic targeting, sort of pretty broadly, or just not thinking in this way, at this level of depth about the messages that they're sending to their prospects, what's the first place that they should start?

Jordan
You always start with the customer. I mean, you always start with the customer and their pain, and a specific customer. It's just so, so easy to say, "Okay, we do everything for everyone." And I'll hear this on, when I listen to my founders sales pitches, what they'll do is they will listen to reply, not to respond. And the difference there is, if you said, "Hey Jordan, do you have enough toilet paper?" And I said, "Great, let me tell you about my great shoes that I bought recently." Right? I'm listening to reply, not to respond to your question. Right? And so that's what you need to do. You need to understand one of your segments so well, that you could figure out what is their pain, why did they sign up for you? And then you'll start to hear, they'll tell you something that just out of left field that you'll have this ah-ha moment.

They'll be like, "Oh yeah. So when I was looking for your service, I was actually on this website and I found out that what we really needed was a faster load time," or just something that you wouldn't expect at all. And you're like, "Oh, that's correlated with my problem. Great. Now I can use that load time data to figure out the actual pain my prospects are in." And that may be a feature that you didn't even know. You're like, "Oh, my engineers are just good. I just didn't really think about that that was a challenge."

And, I will say one other thing about this personalization piece, we're running a campaign right now where we target the six nearest neighbors of solar installs, and we will message them with information about their neighbor. We'll put their neighbor's address, their first name, last initial information about how much money they have saved by going solar, the information about their tax credit. And the first thing that anyone outside of this industry thinks is like, "Oh my gosh, that's creepy. Why are you putting my neighbor's name on it? Oh my gosh."

But I chatted with all these customers. And I said, "Hey, how would your customers feel about this?" "Look, we get reviews from all of them. They tell us how much they like us. We can even pay them for these referrals. And this is why they'll rate us five stars. And so, now I can start to pay the customers I'm doing marketing on behalf of with their information," and that's a different conversation. If I say, "Hey Stewart, can I use your name and market to your customers? And if any of them close, I'll pay you 500 bucks." Right? So, there's a way that you can do this and that's sort of hyperlocal social proof.

Stuart
Right. Yeah. This has been really amazing. I've learned a ton. I am sure that there are plenty of people out there who are either starting to dip their toes into the world of personalization, or are yet to try it at all. I think there's some really great actionable stuff that they can go and start implementing right away. So, where can people go to learn more about you, sort of see what you're up to with Scout, and to generally get in touch?

Jordan
Sure. So I've got a hack. If you go to sendwithscout.com, I'm trapped in the bottom right corner with chat. So you can always just chat me live and instantly start a conversation. I'm linkedin.com/in/JordanCrawford. So, I have my own namesake. I also have jordancrawford.com, which you could find me there. So, I'm everywhere. And I'm always happy to chat about this stuff. I advise a bunch of different B2B companies. I've got a gigantic cold email post that walks you through these examples, which I'll provide in the show notes so that you can see examples of this and learn about how to hire an outsourcer so that hopefully you can start replicating this in your business.

Stuart
Amazing. Well, thanks so much for joining me.

Jordan
Sure. Oh, well finally, jordan@sendwithscout.com. So you can always email me too. I'd be happy to chat.

Stuart
There we go. We'll link all this great stuff up in the show notes.

Jordan
Great. Thanks, Stuart

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