3 Phases Of Mining Reply Emails: A Roadmap For Success

April 17, 2018 6:55:08 AM | By Matt Benati

3 Phases of Mining Reply Emails

I recently published a slideshow on Slideshare about the 3 phases of value that mining reply emails delivers. I’ve covered these topics in-depth in the past, but I thought a single, concise resource would be handy for organizations looking to adopt an automated email mining solution, like LeadGnome.

The three phases: Database Health, Account Penetration, and Pipeline Growth, build in value. Starting at a purely tactical, albeit necessary function, and going deeper to reveal strategic opportunities that have allowed two LeadGnome customers to improve their lead quality by 80% and grow pipeline by $30 million.

Let’s take a closer look at what your email mining journey might look like, and how to leverage the intelligence to add real value to your company.

First, Every Reply Contains Value

You know the story here. Every time you send a sales or marketing email campaign, your inbox is flooded with replies. Most are auto-responses, like Out-Of-Office or Left-The-Company. Some are giving you a heads-up that something is changing, like your lead’s email address or their role within the organization. Rarely, you get human replies, like legitimate inquiries from leads. (Which are exactly what you want and should be addressed immediately!) More frequently, you’ll receive manual unsubscribe requests from people that did not follow the automated process to opt-out. These are critical for maintaining compliance with email spam regulations like GDPR and should also be handled immediately.

Historically, you may have skimmed these replies, looking for the important ones — like questions from real people.

But they’re ALL important.

Phase 1: Database Health

According to Zoominfo, dirty data costs US businesses more than $611 billion annually, and it is the reason 40% of all business objectives fail. The worst part? 94% of businesses suspect their data is bad, while 50% of IT budgets are spent on data rehabilitation, and yet B2B data continues to decay at a rate of 70% per year.

It’s a vicious cycle that can be challenging to get in front of.

But not when you’re mining reply emails. In this first phase of email mining, you’re leveraging the value of replies in a very tactical manner to maintain the health of your database.

Maintenance & Enrichment

  • Validate Email Addresses – By mining replies you can learn from a Change-In-Email auto-response that your lead’s email has changed. They are likely still accepting emails to their old address, but who knows for how long? Update your CRM/MAP accordingly. Note that this improves your open rate, deliverability, and email reputation.
  • Enrich Contact Information – If you only had a name and email address before, an OOO may provide you with a phone number, cell, or title. Update your CRM/MAP accordingly.
  • Identify Replacement Contacts – When someone leaves a company, the organization usually puts a Left-The-Company auto-response in place for a period of time. Mining your reply emails alerts you to the change so that you can remove the old lead from your database and add a new one. Note that because you are removing an outdated, but still functioning email address, you are improving your open rate, deliverability, and email reputation.


  • GDPR, CAN-SPAM, CASL – Violating email spam laws can cost your company millions in fines. Mining email replies catches the manual unsubscribe requests, allowing you to quickly remove them from your database.
  • Capture New Contacts – Net new contacts mined from replies can be emailed under implied consent and legitimate interest under CASL and GDPR, respectively. I recommend having a permission-based process in place for getting these new contacts to opt-in.


  • Review & Data Entry – Automated reply email mining eliminates the manual resources needed to review, mine, and enter the data into your CRM/MAP, which can be time-consuming, tedious, and error-prone. Manual review of replies is one of the largest weekly tasks facing Marketing Operations professionals.
With LeadGnome we are able to consistently grow our database with quality leads. -- Siri Olsson, Marketing Automation Specialist at @Gigamon #leadgen Click To Tweet

Phase 2: Penetrate Accounts

According to Gartner, it now takes an average of 7 people within an organization to make a B2B buying decision. And with 30% of people changing jobs annually, it can be challenging to quickly penetrate target accounts and get in front of the buyers and decisions makers.

In this second phase of email mining, you’ll begin leveraging your reply emails in a more strategic manner to penetrate accounts by adding new contacts.

Add New Contacts / Builds Lists

  • Add 20%+ New Contacts Annually – Around 55-65% of reply emails contain an alternate contact. By sending just two emails per month, you can add 20%+ new contacts to your database annually. Yes, use this information to update your database, but also map these new contacts to your account to identify the influencers and decision makers you need to be in front of.
  • Identify Replacement Contacts – Not only do you have an accurate contact from a tactical standpoint, now you also have a new person to engage, which creates new opportunities.

Account Based Marketing (ABM)

  • Lead-To-Account Matching – In an ABM strategy, sales and marketing must agree on an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). When new leads come in, they should go into one of three buckets: part of an existing account, a match to your ICP, and everything else.
  • Account-Specific Contacts – One of the best things about email mining is that the intelligence you gain is coming from the freshest, most accurate source available: the leads and accounts you’re already engaging. After launching an ABM strategy in 2015, LeadGnome customer, Host Analytics, increased their database by 15%. They also improved lead quality by 80% by penetrating target accounts and enriching existing leads, versus spending time on high quantity but low quality leads that didn’t match their ICP.

Increase Connect Rates

  • Leverage Travel Dates – While you can learn additional contact information from OOOs, you can also use the dates your leads are in an out of the office to reschedule your message and increase your connect rates.

Surround Opportunities

  • Penetrate Accounts – Instead of just working a couple major decision makers within an organization, broaden and deepen the account to reach additional influencers – such as users and managers – to ramp up interest, create advocates, and positively impact the opportunity.

Accelerate Sales Cycle

  • Create Intelligent Conversations – Additionally, penetrating your accounts means acquiring a deeper understanding of the organization, its needs, and the personas within, allowing you to create targeted intelligent conversations that leads respond to. The more leads you’re positively engaging within an account, the more quickly they will reach a consensus and close the deal.
Our acquisition costs are significantly less for LeadGnome leads. -- Andy Brewer of @DiscoverOrg #salestip Click To Tweet

Phase 3: Pipeline Growth

When it comes to strategically leveraging intelligence from reply emails, the name of the game is trigger events. These are changes within your accounts that spotlight major opportunities – and revenue – for your sales team.

In the third phase of email mining, you have officially arrived. You are taking the same data you used in Phase one – like a lead leaving the company and now you have a replacement contact – but instead of just updating your database, you are looking at how you can turn that information into a serious selling opportunity.

Generate New Opportunities

  • Sales Trigger Events – Anytime there is a change within your account, a trigger event, you have an opportunity to be the first in with your solution and win the deal 74% of the time. This is because changes – whether new contacts, or following rebranding or M&A activity – result in new people working in new roles. And change begets change. That’s partly why trigger events often present a timely and opportunistic sales opening for you.
  • OCNC – The term “Old Client, New Company” means that when your old client leaves their company, if you had a good rapport with them, you should keep in touch with them at their new company and see if the new organization fits your ICP. People buy from people they know and trust.
  • Rebranding, Merger & Acquisition – Remember how we talked about email mining identifying email address changes? If it is a domain change (to the right of the @), it could signal a significant trigger event: rebranding or M&A activity. This is a prime time to research the changes within your account, frame your solution to meet their new needs, and be the first in to win the deal.
  • Overcome Opportunity Blockers – When your lead leaves the company, you often learn of a replacement contact in the LTC auto-response. If you had been working the account, but your original lead was blocking you from reaching key decision makers in the account, the new contact could be more receptive.

Expand Within Accounts

  • Add 20%+ New Contacts – We already discussed this briefly, but adding new contacts within your current accounts directly impacts your ability to penetrate accounts, reach influencers and decision makers, and ultimately grow pipeline.
  • Increase Seats/Users – For SaaS companies that depend on renewals, identifying additional contacts within an account allows them to increase seats/users for customers who are already satisfied with their solution.
  • Identify Adjacent Opportunities – Many companies have solutions that are a good fit for multiple departments within an organization, allowing them to upsell and cross-sell within the same account; or, they need to get buy-in for their solution from multiple departments. One LeadGnome customer, DoubleDutch, grew pipeline by $30 million after expanding their offerings and looking to existing accounts to find additional revenue opportunities.
How do you win the business 74% of the time? You reach decision makers at the right time by learning of the right trigger events. -- @CraigElias #sales #increasesales Click To Tweet

If You’re Going To Mine Emails, Make It Count

Mining emails delivers tremendous value at every phase. While I often see customers progress through these phases as they are adopting an email mining strategy, by the time they get to the point where they’re capitalizing on trigger events to grow pipeline and drive measurable revenue, I always hear, “Why weren’t we doing this sooner?!” Well, the answer is simple. Manually mining reply emails is time-consuming, tedious, and error-prone. It’s simply not realistic for a person to handle this task manually, especially for enterprise companies with large databases and a robust email marketing strategy

Thankfully, the solution is simple too. Automated reply email mining from LeadGnome runs seamlessly in the background, takes minutes to set up, and mines replies in real time. Integrate it with your CRM, MAP or email marketing system and enjoy zero data entry, zero changes to your existing email campaigns, and zero IT involvement — making it one of the easiest additions to your martech stack. It delivers incredible value through actionable intelligence that you can use to: maintain your database, penetrate accounts, and grow pipeline — TODAY.

Take a look at the most popular reply emails we mine and the quality sales intelligence we uncover by downloading our free eBook, Transformative B2B Demand Generation:

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