Email Mining Delivers Value Far Beyond Signature Scraping

November 8, 2016 6:43:17 AM | By Matt Benati

Salespeople love signature scraping plugins because they save them time — time normally “wasted” cutting and pasting new contacts into their address books. But, then again, a lot of junk sneaks in as well … mostly in the form of contacts that simply don’t matter to their pipelines.

When marketing and sales teams look for automated solutions to update their database using email, the two potential technologies that surface are signature “scraping” and email mining.

Signature scraping is a process that automatically extracts contact information from embedded email signatures and adds records to your address book. Email mining, on the other hand, reaches into the unstructured body of the email to extract relevant intelligence that goes far beyond basic contact information.

While there are some similarities between the two, there are many impactful differences that indicate email mining is a more efficient and comprehensive solution. In fact, the Account Based Intelligence (ABI) email mining uncovers goes far beyond simply adding new contacts to your database. It can be a game-changer for your sales team, increasing your pipeline and accelerating sales.

Let’s take a look at what makes email mining so powerful:

Signature Scraping – These utilities parse email signatures, regardless of their relevance to your sales and marketing efforts, and add them to your address book. Typically these simple algorithms are deployed as email client plugins. The upside is that they automate the process of adding contacts your address book.

However, there are major disadvantages with signature scraping:

  1. There must be an actual signature template embedded in the email. Only well-structured signatures can be captured by scraping utilities. Also note that many emails do not contain signatures.
  2. Only the information in the signature is scraped. The technology does not extend to the body of the email where most of the account based intelligence is found. The body of reply emails often contain net new contacts, but these are lost with simply scraping.
  3. The plugin scrapes the signature of every incoming email – even spam and senders you don’t need/want in your address book. There is no way to define which signatures get scraped, and which don’t.

Email Mining – The vast majority of Account Based Intelligence (ABI) lives in the body of an email. These sophisticated solutions leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP) and data mining techniques to analyze unstructured data (body of an email). The technology is a web-based solution formulated for individuals and high-volume department mailboxes, like your marketing team. It runs seamlessly in the background, automatically mining ABI from campaign reply emails. Like scraping, email mining is easy to implement and automatically extracts relevant data and updates your database.

But that’s where the similarity stops. Automated email mining has some distinct advantages over the way signature scraping works.

  1. Discovers sales trigger events like when a prospect or customer leaves the company or changes title or changes email address. These trigger events provide sales and marketing teams with significant competitive advantages (read more here).
  2. It mines the entire email, including the unstructured body. So in addition to the contact information gleaned in the signature, email mining also identifies net new contacts within target accounts (i.e., highly relevant to current sales cycles), important dates your lead is out of the office, and additional contact information for existing leads.
  3. Data mined is more relevant because it is coming from campaign reply emails or from people you email first – people you are already engaging with and actually want to know more about.
  4. Advanced lead-to-account matching goes beyond simply adding a new contact. It correctly matches the information from a reply email to the target account within your CRM, eliminating duplicate records and facilitating expansion within those accounts.

Types Of Data Gathered

As mentioned above, email mining extracts data from the unstructured body of the email, not just the signature. Let’s take a look at a sample reply email and compare the information gathered by signature scraping and email mining.

As you can see, the email signature contains only the contact’s name, title, address and website. The body of the email, however, is ripe with information that would have otherwise gone unnoticed if you relied on signature scraping technology alone. Here we see that Joe is out of town. We also learn when he’ll return and even more importantly, the names of another two contacts at Acme Financial. This is exactly the type of Account Based Intelligence (ABI) that your sales team can leverage to expand their reach and personalize their messaging.

The Importance Of Relevance

While it’s clear that email mining functions differently and collects a wider variety of data than signature scraping, the true key lies in the relevance of that data and its ability to support Account Based Marketing (ABM) alignment.

In an ABM strategy, the focus is on best-fit accounts first, and personas within those accounts second. Unlike a traditional lead-based approach, your marketing department is not blasting out generic email messages to thousands of unqualified leads. Instead, they are sending highly personalized messaging to segmented lists only within the top accounts you have agreed to target.

This means that any and all replies that come back contain valuable ABI about your accounts, from your contacts! Imagine filling in missing information about existing leads, adding net new contacts, and identifying important sales trigger events without lifting a finger, or the phone! This provides you with a huge competitive advantage and eliminates time-consuming data entry.

An Automated Email Mining Solution Does It All For You

In a world of marketing technology, you’ve come to expect automation, and signature scraping has been an easy solution for keeping your address book updated. But unless a lead from your target account sends you an unsolicited email out of the blue, you can never use signature scraping to add relevant new information – that is, contacts within the accounts you actually care about.

With LeadGnome, you can expand your reach into your target accounts and grow your database by as much as 36% per year just by sending 2 email campaigns per month. That’s how much valuable intelligence and actionable trigger events the technology uncovers. And it does it in a matter of seconds after a simple 2-minute setup.

Curious about what LeadGnome can do for you? Check out this post about the ROI of using LeadGnome, and how customers have seen it pay for their subscription thousands of times over, then sign up for your free trial (no credit card, no catch!).

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