When it comes to customer acquisition and retention for small business, e-mail marketing has gradually morphed from a luxury to a necessity. This is because e-mail marketing has become more powerful and more effective in its results, thanks to new tools, formats, and processes. For example, one innovation in the realm of email marketing has been Event-Based Marketing (EBM), a relatively new concept refined and deployed at scale by Silicon Valley marketing tech enterprise Gorgias.
Gorgias is a help desk platform that focuses on providing customer support for Ecommerce stores. Since the company’s inception, their groundbreaking EBM tool has played a major role in growing its customer base to nearly 5,000 clients worldwide.
Meet Sonia, Growth Ops at Gorgias
Gorgias Growth Operations team member Sonia Moatti started her career there in May 2018 as a newly hired intern in the San Francisco office. Back then, the company was very much still in startup mode, with just 300 clients being serviced by five employees. During her internship, Sonia focused on growth hacking and growth marketing, trying out various innovative strategies and techniques in an effort to acquire new customers. SEO, website redesign, social media marketing, and email marketing were all given a spin depending on available month-to-month budget. In 2020, the Gorgias team has grown to more than 100 employees distributed across six global offices.
Sonia provided us key insights on how Gorgias has excelled at acquiring new B2B customers. Gorgias deploys two primary customer outreach strategies, one focusing on bigger retailers and another focusing on smaller, niche retailers with long-tail properties. Sample strategies to generate leads for the latter include attending Ecommerce events and building partnerships with agencies; sample strategies for the former - which Sonia specializes in executing - include outbound marketing, digital advertising, and other innovative growth hacking methods.
Companies typically conduct outbound marketing through two channels: emails, where potential clients can respond for online tracking purposes, and social media, where they can see in real-time potential clients and customers posting items of interest on social media and corresponding responses from competitors and other customers. Both channels can be used to better understand stakeholder preferences and tendencies as well as discern competitor strategy. Although automation of outbound efforts is one of the most common methods deployed by companies to acquire clients, it mostly targets the long tail leads, which are minor efforts that are more likely to be automated and require less follow-on work but also have lower conversion rates.
Through EBM, Gorgias has applied innovative enhancements above and beyond mere automation to the outbound marketing process, which has produced “work smarter, not harder” results to increase quality lead collection and subsequent client sales.
What iIs an Event-Based Marketing Strategy?
The fundamental objective of Event-Based Marketing is to align a company’s limited availability of resources for outreach efforts with customer buying intent, which may be discerned or inferred through specific events. An “event” is classified as a detectable user action in the digital network realm that sends a signal of an elevated likelihood that a customer would be interested in, or can benefit from, the Gorgias platform and services. Example events include visiting the Gorgias website, installing a competitor’s live chat, or publishing a new job post seeking a customer support manager.
Gorgias has integrated with Shopify using their API to provide users enhanced customer service, then layers its Event-Based Marketing on top of this integration to discover more users in need of their service. With EBM, Gorgias customer service agents can gain access to more comprehensive and more targeted evidence about problems or needs of a potential customer, gleaned from email and social media channels; with this information the agents can provide more specific and more detailed outreach messages that are more likely to convert. Gorgias has integrated with other third-party platforms like Builtwith, Datanyze and HubSpot to provide a list of retailers that have already utilized Shopify.
In the past, what worked well for Gorgias was the traditional approach of reaching out to the appropriate people with a compelling headline and approach. Data would be collected in HubSpot CRM and analyzed by Gorgias marketing and sales staff, who would then deploy additional scraping operations to obtain more details about their potential targets.
Once a list of outreach targets has been compiled, Gorgias unleashes its secret sauce: using custom scripts developed in-house. It generates a list of highest priority store targets, then crawls the internet to pull contact information for individual employees at the candidate companies and reach out to those contacts, using third-party tools such as the Clearbit Prospector API. Gorgias’ marketing employees then create an outbound email campaign using tailored templates that are based on timing signals tied to message type - signals that determine buying intent and likelihood of purchase, and proximity to purchase.
Here’s an example: Gorgias wants to target a large e-commerce store, and this store has a Facebook page where a dissatisfied customer who has reached out with the following message: “Hello, I just bought a pair of Nike sneakers on your online website two weeks ago and they still have not arrived. I called your help line twice, and I was put on hold for more than 15 minutes both times before I hung up.” For most companies in this position, a designated customer support agent would reply to the post or direct message within hours or even minutes, via a social media manager who is the designated point of contact.
How does it work?
Deploying its proprietary strategy for scoring leads based on intrinsic properties and events performed, Gorgias would collect potential B2B customer contact info, then send out the following message: “Hi, I see that you use Shopify and I saw that on Facebook Messenger you take up to 3 days to respond to your customers - you can certainly reduce that time by using Gorgias and our Facebook Messenger integration which will ultimately help you respond more rapidly to avoid negative feedback.” Or: “I see that you are using Shopify and that you are no longer using Zendesk, and that you are actively looking to hire a customer support manager.” Predictably, many retail businesses encounter delays in responding to customer feedback on social media channels, especially when they are experiencing a rapid growth phase.
The EBM process deployed by Gorgias is akin to deploying an army of tiny crawling spy robots on 24-hour watch and at full alert to act on any and all signals sent from customers. On a more advanced level, EBM detects changes in messaging patterns, response times, and technology deployments. Such changes can then trigger a marketing event such as an automated email, a direct message on social media, or a ping to a customer support manager to schedule a call.
The EBM platform executes custom web scraping of public domain source code so that when a potential client being monitored uses Zendesk or any other platforms that Gorgias considers direct competitors, Gorgias marketing staff can see which competing platform is being utilized and develop a strategic outreach plan to the potential customer. Example modes in which the scraper operates include, but are not limited to:
- It can crawl the “About Us” section or other sections of a company’s website to see if there are any new job offers
- It can see if a company is running any widgets that cycle news or other updates on their websites
- It can count and parse information on potential customers from social media follower bases
- It can see when someone visited the Gorgias website or social media profiles, how long they stayed on certain pages, and what actions they took.
The latter target type is arguably the most valuable, because it has executed an event that sends the strongest “signal” that a customer is interested in - or in need of - the services that Gorgias provides. Apart from Gorgias and competitor websites, the scrapers also monitor adjacent webpages like Upwork and Indeed (job platforms) or Crunchbase (a database of startups and early stage businesses), inspecting their source codes (with the Python scraping module Selenium or inspecting their RSS web feed) to detect events like support job postings or new fundraising rounds that might indicate suitability as a target for potential outreach. The goal is to access sequential website source code modifications in a standardized format. Finally, the suite organizes and reformats the information into a user-friendly HTML format for the Gorgias marketing team to digest, analyze, and act upon.
Additionally, the signals’ stack utilizes tools like Albacross or Clearbit Reveal to identify Gorgias’ website visitors, turning an IP address into a corresponding domain name.
Once a list of outreach targets has been defined and prioritized, EBM incorporates a wide array of tools to define the internal process steps toward connecting with the leads. Gorgias customizes and continually refines the scrapers for each candidate site and pulls all data collected (via daily automated processes) into their CRM - HubSpot - with the help of Zapier to process automated actions.. Within Hubspot, they set a workflow of tasks for their marketing team members from the data; the automated nature of this setup saves significant time and prevents redundant actions. In the initial business process, considerable coding efforts were required by Gorgias growth engineers to get Zapier to “talk” to the incoming data properly, but this up-front effort has reduced the process flow touch time, which has freed up the Gorgias marketing team to execute more value-added work of higher complexity and creativity.
In one example of the process chain, the EBM system scours reviews from the App Store, Quora, Facebook, LinkedIn, G2 Crowd, and other social platforms for Company XYZ to see if any individuals have left bad reviews on a particular competitor’s pages. The data is pulled into Hubspot, distilled and ranked for likely buying intent, and assigned to one of the Gorgias salespersons to strategize a plan for outreach. Based on factors like XYZ’s industry and maturity stage and effectiveness of past campaigns, the salesperson decides to approach the individual that left the review with a messaging campaign along the lines of “I see that you are not satisfied with XYZ’s services - are you interested in trying the Gorgias solution?”
Using Zapier, one can deploy autonomous repeatable process loops to execute any or all of the above EBM steps. However, Gorgias is constantly refactoring their growth stack - transferring some Zapier automations over to cloud functions - to be able to scale volume and ensure stability. But some automations that are still in the testing phase would stay in Zapier to be able to easily iterate and quickly ship variations. For instance, if for some reason Gorgias does not want the process to be fully automated, they can go into Zapier and set up two seperate paths: Path A would be activated if the signal is coming from a big Shopify store, and a Slack alert will automatically be sent to the Sales team; Path B would be activated if a small Shopify store is picked up, and the target query redirected to the standard automated emailing tools Gorgias has integrated into Zapier.
The tools stack matter
The Gorgias Event-Based Marketing strategy incorporates data, elements, and technical integrations from Zapier, Albacross, Hubspot, Captain Data, Phantombuster, Slybroadcast, Clearbit, Hunter, Bigquery, Amplitude, Reply.io, Hull, PredictLeads, and dozens of other best-in-class tools to achieve impactful results in client identification, communication, and conversion.
Sonia Moatti and her colleagues are happy to offer new companies a one-month free trial to test out Gorgias and their EBM platform, as well as provide a deep-dive demonstration on any of EBM’s existing API integrations.