The Seventh Sense for Better Email Communication

The Seventh Sense

In this Sprocket Talk interview, I talk with Mike Donnelly from The Seventh Sense. We talk about email measurement, communication, optimization and so much more. 

What can Seventh Sense do for you?

  • Send Time Optimization
    True send time personalization. Emails are automatically delivered to every individual at his or her most optimal engagement time.
  • Email Throttling
    Throttling increases deliverability, empowers you to pause campaigns, make changes and spread load on your systems, call centers and salespeople.
  • Increase Deliverability
    By increasing engagement, you'll increase your sender reputation with major email providers improving overall deliverability.
  • Email Frequency Optimization
    Customers have different needs. Automatic engagement based segmentation allows you to easily email customers at their preferred frequency.
  • Knowledge Transfer
    Empower your sales and marketing teams to share data on when individual customers or prospects engage with your organization.
  • Increase Conversions
    Send time/frequency optimization means happier customers, shortened sales cycles, and higher conversion rates.

About the Expert

Mike Donnolley

Mike Donnelly is the CEO and Founder of Seventh Sense where he leads the vision of the platform as well as growing the business. As a recognized sales leader in the technology industry, Mike has used the culmination of more than 13 years of experience building and managing territories to bring to market a revolutionary way of analyzing, visualizing and making data actionable for sales and marketing professionals.


Full Transcript

George Thomas 0:00
I'm super excited because I get to do an interview today. Any guesses? Anyway, this interview is amazing. We're talking about email. We're talking about communication. We're talking about time zones. We're talking about send later, and data and measurement. Oh, we get nerdy when it comes to streamlining and optimizing your email sends to humans, because you are sending them humans. And you'll realize that after this video, Hey, you know what time it is. Are you a HubSpot user looking for fun and interactive education that helps you be better at HubSpot then Welcome to sprocket talk. Well, sprocket talk viewers and listeners. It's your boy George B. Thomas. And we're back with another episode of well thought leader interviews where we're talking today with a very interesting person, a very smart person. And we're going to talk around the topic of email now for all of you that think emails dead. Maybe the way you're doing it is stick around. Watch this interview, see what you can learn. And we'll see you on the inside. So Mike, I'm super excited that you're here today. Why don't you take some time to explain to the sprocket talk viewers and listeners who you are, what you do and where you do it at

Mike Donnolley 1:15
Georgia awesome. On couldn't tell you how excited I am to be on with with you watch every episode. So again, thank you so much. So just a quick kind of intro into into myself and in some sense, started my career as a software engineer in the biotech industry. Then I made the jump to the dark side of technology sales was in the tech sales industry for about 13 years. And it was during that time, I just recognized like, hey, reaching people is just it's getting harder. What I liken it to is you know, if you think about our digital lives every day when we wake up, it's like we're all competing for attention in Time Square. And that is what our digital lives are looking like every single day. There's just all this stuff coming at us. You know, day in and day out. And so I would just pay attention particularly to, hey, when are people engaging with me? And I would just kind of profile them in the back of my mind like, don't, don't ever email Sarah on Friday, because Sarah is always playing golf on Friday. Whereas Scott, don't email him on Mondays, because God typically, you know, is in meetings all day on Monday. But then it just dawned on me, why am I spending my mental energy on this when it's all sitting there in my data, so we actually build a product to try and solve this issue. And the way that I like to phrase it for marketers, the easiest way to think about it is you've got all these SEO optimization tools, and what is the goal of those SEO optimization technologies is to really get you in position one. But then it's, there's a lot of things that get you into position one, great content, lots of backlinks, etc. The goal is to really try and get you to position one in somebody's inbox.

You know, raise the visibility. high level that's kind of

who I am what we do here something since then I'm sure we're going to be diving into a number of different areas.

George Thomas 3:08
Yeah, Mike, I love and I had never really thought about this until you just said it. So it's kind of I want to unpack it a little bit. The first position in your inbox, right? Because it is like Time Square it is. So like it's coming at you. It's like, it's impossible to keep up with as a human. Like, we've all gotten to the point where we literally say like, yeah, I hate email. Yeah. Because we hate it, then we want to say it's dead. So I want to start there. I want to unpack the fact of like, what do you say to a marketer or a salesperson or a team of people who think that delivering or having this first place in the inbox is actually dead and doesn't work anymore?

Mike Donnolley 3:53
Well, like you said, for the people that say email is dead, they're they're obviously doing something wrong. I think it's We really tried to unpack things. If we look back like, seven, eight years ago, everybody, you know, there was this huge push to social. And I think that has been up until very recently, everything has been about social because it's it's very sexy. But the problem with social is you're truly just renting your audience. You actually don't own it. Whereas you think about your email list. And so what we were doing is we were spending so much time energy money focusing on social, whereas we were really leaving behind the house that we own. If you think about every organization, the core intellectual property that marketing owns is their email list. However, the viewpoint is well, sending emails free, I've invested in something like HubSpot and I need to drive more leads, I can just send more email because it doesn't really cost me anything whereas the real costs come the real cost comes in on the attention of the recipients. But But again, we were treating it as a commodity channel, or a lot of marketers treated as a commodity channel, and therefore they get commodity like results. And again, it is the truth. It's the house that you own versus that that social channel, which is the house that you rent.

George Thomas 5:13
I love that. And we do need to own our audience. And here's the thing. It's interesting because first of all, I agree with you social media, it was the shiny thing, it's still kind of is the shiny thing, although people are getting frustrated with it. But before social email was the shiny thing and so it's like we have this thing that we just go through and do. But here's where it gets interesting to me when we start to talk about email when we talk about products like seven cents. You know, when we're building websites, Mike, we talk about personalized content, like being able to use their name and being able to understand like they're they do this thing, so let's give them this type of content. And, and you use the word a little bit ago of kind of like profiling these folks, but from an email standpoint, can you maybe talk about how seven cents, what they're looking at? How they're profiling? You know, is it, who they are? And the times and like, what are the multiple metrics that help us get to that position one in the inbox? When we finally realize, well, emails, not a channel, it's not a shiny new thing. It's a way to communicate. So how do we optimize and become the best communicators in that email channel? How does seven sets help us by what it's looking at? Mike?

Mike Donnolley 6:32
Yeah, it's a great question. So there's there's really two areas that we use data to profile individuals. The first of those being if you think about every time you have historically sent email with hubs, you know, and we have integrations with HubSpot, I would say there are top partner. There are also other marketing automation systems that we work with. Let's just focus here on the HubSpot ecosystem. So every time you've historically sent marketing emails, Inside of HubSpot, and every time you continue to send emails with HubSpot, you're generating what I term is black gold. It's all of this information about when is Sarah opening your emails? When is she clicking on your emails? Is she doing that on a mobile device? Is she doing that on a desktop. And there's, again, this massive amount of data that's just sitting there, that you're not doing anything with? What seven cents empowers you to do is we go unlock that data. And we use that data to them profile, Sarah. So it's complete individualized profiling. And what it does is it scores those events differently. And I'm happy to go into like kind of all the details. But essentially, a click is a much better signal than an open and actually click on a desktop is a much better signal than a click on a mobile device. So it utilizes AI to then profile that individual of Hey, based on statistics and probabilities, based on all of the data that I have on Sarah, her peak period of engagement across the week. Is it 7pm on a Wednesday. Now when I go to send emails with HubSpot, whether I'm sending to 5000 50,000 500,000 people, rather than blasting it out at 10am, to a huge list that Sarah is a part of, at 10am on Tuesday, because I've read a blog post or I've done some AV testing and 10am is the best time for my audience. What's gonna happen is based off of a window that you give the system, we will actually personalize the delivery time to each individual person. So think of it as like a smart scheduler, whereas HubSpot is still the deliver etc. So that's the first part of the personalization component. The second part of the community of really personalizing the communication level is, say, for example, you and I were having a conversation in person, and you started to just totally tune out and you're turning your head and you start talking to somebody else. I'm not going to keep talking to you. Whereas an email we keep talking, even though people are leaving those digital things Those are digital fingerprints behind. And we're just not taking the cue of them. So the second component of this system is we actually use a machine learning model. And it's an individualized machine learning model where we build a baseline on each person's level of activity. And then over time, we'll we will continuously learn and understand, hey, this person is increasing their level of activity decreasing, maybe they've crossed a certain threshold, and they've just completely gone inactive in our email program. So maybe I'm gonna change the way that I send email to those people that are either passive or inactive. Whether that be through frequency changes, like, Hey, I typically send four emails a month, maybe I'm only going to send this you know, this group, an email once or twice a month, and I'm going to make sure that it's high quality content. So changing the frequency, changing subject lines, changing the content, because I've got my active audience and I've got my passive and inactive audience. And so those are the two big areas that Seventh Sense focuses on. Where we want to take the company is ultimately get to the one to one individualized level to understand what is George interested in? From a content perspective? What is Sarah interested in from a content perspective? So that's, again, at a high level, the way that we we really profile individuals,

George Thomas 10:25
Mike, that's amazing. And sprocket talk viewers and listeners, you may want to rewind and listen to that part. I mean, imagine instead of just reading a blog article, and it tells you to send it 10. And you and the other 10,000 people are sending emails at 10 o'clock in the morning, makes zero sense. You have this ability to know how engaged how unengaged and the data points of when, and even maybe what they're kind of doing in those moments that gets you that email engagement that you're looking for. Mike, I do want to dig deeper into the strategy of once you figure out if they're engaged and what's the right time, what to kind of do inside of HubSpot or the marketing software that you're going to use. But I'm going to hold that question for just a few seconds because really what I want to do is dive into this idea of email as communication. And since seven cents probably sees, I don't know, a bazillion different types of emails. If you were to explain somebody, to somebody, hey, this is what really makes an effective email. Are there a couple 234 things that you see that help emails interact or get the response that they want from those folks that they're sending them to? I

Mike Donnolley 11:35
guess we could we could talk for hours on this point. I mean, the first piece is

are my emails even making it to the inbox?

That is becoming a

significantly increasing problem in today's world for marketers is, you know, is my I'm not talking about HubSpot, saying 99.8% of my emails. get delivered. It's did they actually make it to the inbox? Or did they? Did they go to the spam for? So that's the first piece that we always kind of look at consider with, you know, prospects or customers that that we work with is, you know, what is the probability that your emails are actually unboxing there's some simple things that you can do on that on that front to really evaluate. Um, obviously, the second is, you know, subject lines where or the third component i would say is probably next to deliverability or inboxing. is where are you sourcing your leads from? Where are you capturing these contacts? I mean, we've we've seen it ourselves internally and I'm sure you have as you run some Facebook ads and then next thing you know, you collect a bunch of just junk email addresses that are just never gonna turn into anything. I get I would rather a much higher quality list, then a huge quantity with Just you know quality is key when it comes to an effective email marketing program. Paying attention to the signals that people are leaving behind are they are they actually engaging with your emails HubSpot? does it add some great tools around? Like, are people actually reading your emails? You know, paying attention to those types of signals to understand what's where's my audience engaging, what are they engaging with, and then giving them more of that information, I think is the is, is the most key component of, again, an effective program.

George Thomas 13:36
I love that. So I heard, know what content they want to get and send them contextual specific content to their needs. I heard mazing subject lines, I heard have a how to get into their inbox strategy, paying attention to how many times you're hitting the spam filter, or ways that you might be doing things that are automatically getting you there that you could stop doing and a bunch of other things like that. Literally that that little section right there as a nugget of gold, you have to rewind, listen, those, write those down, figure out what you're gonna do in each of those sections. So Mike here, let's go a little nerdy for a second, I focused on those things that we just talked about. I've got this dope email that's ready to go out. It's contextual to the people that we're going to send it out to, because we've used list segmentation. And now we're going to even go more micro in that and let seven cents help us send it at the right time when we're going to get the most engagement. What does it look like when I go into HubSpot or go into seven cents to actually try to send this email out to a list of folks?

Mike Donnolley 14:36
Yeah. So we the way that the system works from just pure technical perspective is rather than sending an email like HubSpot gives you really three options. I can send an email now, and this is just purely blast. We can also integrate with nurture campaigns or drip campaigns, but let's just focus on Hey, I'm sending this email to 5000 people. And this is the list that I'm sending. It also gives you three options. One, I can send it Now, so I finished writing an email, I'm gonna click Send now to I'm going to send it tomorrow at 10am. So I can schedule it or three, I can send it based off or 10am based off of recipients time zones. Now time zones are absolutely riddled with issues. haps happily, you know, happy to go into that. Instead, what you do is you actually save the email for automation with HubSpot, and then we utilize the workflow engine as the delivery mechanism. So, HubSpot, still handling, delivery, analytics, reporting all of those things. So I, I create a very, very simple workflow. It's literally a one step workflow. That's all it takes in HubSpot. Then I come to the seven cents application. I go to the list, I find the list that I want to send to and you don't have to export import your list out of HubSpot, we automatically sync so there's, there's a very deep integration between the two platforms, or between the two systems. So I find a list that I want to send to and then I will just schedule it and Say I want this email to go out within a period of an hour. Although if you're gonna do an hour, you might as well blast it out all the way to seven days, and anything in between. The longer the window you can give us, the more heightened personality or personalization that you can give, as well as slightly increased the probabilities of engagement. So once you define the window that you want the email to go out on whether it be 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours a week, the system will then say okay, based off of this window, what is the peak period of engagement for every one of these 5000 people and then it will schedule all 5000 of those people when their time comes along tomorrow at 9pm. The system will then talk to HubSpot and say HubSpot send this email. Now, here's a little bit of the prize in the crackerjack box. We have all been in situations where we're sending an email to 5000 people, and we send it out and an hour later we go oh my gosh, there was a broken link right? Long image I'm sending to the wrong list. Oh my gosh, I'm sending the wrong email something has gone wrong. Well, it's too late. I've already said it was because seven senses throttling the email, which is a natural byproduct of what we do. I can simply go into seven cents Click pause sending.

Fix the email issue inside of HubSpot.

Once that's complete, come back, click resume sending, and anybody that hasn't gotten their email yet will get the new version of it. So it's kind of like an email insurance policy. It takes away the stress of pressing send everybody all at once. So from a technical perspective, that's how it works with really the blasting bat or batch and blast approach.

George Thomas 17:43
Sparks our viewers and listeners I got to ask you, would you like some email insurance? I know I've been on the side of the story that Mike has talked about. And of course, the only thing I could do a send an email with like an Oops, sorry and a keyboard and image of a keyboard through the computer. Have you been there? And with seven cents you wouldn't necessarily have to be. So Mike, I do want to ask you the question, though, because the you intrigued me. And you said you could go deeper. So my question to you that I want to dive into is, what are the problems with sending email based off of timezone so

Mike Donnolley 18:21
that it comes down to really two things that are really one thing, time zones are very the way that time zones are captured using HubSpot. It can be very inaccurate. And so what that means is say I'm based in the UK. And we'll just use a global example Sam based in the UK, and my corporate email server is in California. The IP address is going to look like I'm in California and therefore you're going to be sending me emails based off of California time versus the UK time. So or, hey, I've got a mobile device and I traveled overseas from vacation, and that and I opened an email with HubSpot, it's actually going to capture me as being overseas and then therefore that IP address sticks with with my contact record. And I'm gonna look look that way. It's actually doing some things around localization with

Unknown Speaker 19:19

Mike Donnolley 19:22
And we've heard this challenge from some folks is they'll send an email that is smart content, based off of IP address information. And because they traveled overseas that I seen, you know, all of their, all of their email digests are coming in, in Italian versus English. So IP addresses are just a very hairy, hairy thing. And that's, that's what's used to predict the time so

George Thomas 19:51
yeah, you, you want to be very careful. You don't want to get yourself in those sticky situations. It's like one of those things that sounds good on paper, but man, you can find yourself where it kind of puts mud on your face potentially. And it's funny because, again, we're talking about communication, even though we're talking about email. Anytime you communicate with other human beings, you want it to be the most streamlined, optimized, like best scenario you can have. And so you got to watch for these little what seemed like great things, short cuts that end up sending us the wrong way. So Mike, I got to ask this because the sprocket talk viewers and listeners they're looking at, you know, that maybe the Seventh Sense technology, they're wondering if there's any competitors out there. Is there even anybody else doing this in our space? Sure.

Mike Donnolley 20:36
There are

in the HubSpot ecosystem know, there are other marketing automation systems that are trying to build this type of technology. For example, Salesforce with Einstein, IBM with Watson. What I can say is a lot of their approaches are very rudimentary. Salesforce, in fact has been kind of a over us to go build an integration with them for numerous reasons. So I would say our biggest competitor is more or less the, especially in the HubSpot ecosystem is the status quo. I'm just gonna keep doing what I've always done. So that's, I don't know if that's a blessing or not. But if there is no competitors and opswat ecosystem,

George Thomas 21:27
well, I would say it's a blessing, but also I know competition breeds innovation. So you know, it's it's kind of a shoot, that's, it's funny, because I could tell you're having a difficult time. How do I want to answer this right? And but here's the thing, I want you to put a bow on it, and you kind of have for the entire interview. But if you had to give like three or four bullet points of what makes the seven sense, better than the status quo, better than these potential other software's or other marketing companies that are trying to do this, let's say you got it you Now that you've got three floors, what's the quick like, this is why seven cents is better than what you're doing with email communication today go.

Mike Donnolley 22:10
So, at the end of the day seven cents as an email optimization and testing system, so we give you a lot of tools and capability around that. If you've got a pretty strong email program or email is a critical component of your business. Ultimately, why wouldn't you optimize it? Why wouldn't you try to make it the best thing that it can be you wouldn't try to do come up with a SEO strategy and not have any tools in place to drive better, you know, engagement through search, etc. And that's what seven cents ultimately gives you is a system that can can help you drive better engagement with your email voter.

George Thomas 22:49
Love it. Mike, let's talk about the topic that most people will have a hard time talking about or just don't want to talk about but we always do here on sprocket talk and that is cost and price. If I'm about HubSpot user I want to start being a ninja at email communication and I want seven cents to help me do that. What does it look like from a cost perspective as a user?

Mike Donnolley 23:11
Yeah, so we're actually very, very transparent about about pricing. We try to make it very affordable for folks. We have different subscription packages that can they start at 150 bucks a month or $149 a month, and then scale from there. It's all based off of the number of contacts that you have within your, within your HubSpot portal. And I think, you know, I see some SAS companies take this approach, some don't. I think one of the things that holds us accountable to ensuring Customer Success is we're a monthly subscription. Like, you don't need to sign up for a year. We don't hold you hostage. If you want to try it for a few months, it's 149 bucks a month or you know, again, depending on what tier on that you can cancel at any time. Now, you can also start For a year, and then we give you two months for free. So there's those options. And what we typically find the path of pricing and subscriptions is people will sign up for a few months, tested out a few months and they come in, they just say, hey, tired of putting this on my credit card, I just want one bill. And then they sign up for a yearly subscription. And that gets them again, two months, two months for free.

George Thomas 24:21
So Mike, as we kind of close this out, I asked you what will be the final question here? When it comes to email when it comes to communicating with humans when it comes to this digital noisy world that we've kind of talked about through this interview? What are some words of wisdom strategy, or just like what you've seen that you would want to share with everybody watching this to help them be better as they move forward with their email communication?

Mike Donnolley 24:48
So great question. I think there's two areas one, like you said, just, quite frankly, be human. Don't Don't email people for the sake of saying hey, I sent three emails this week. And report that to your boss. Again, it would be you'd be much better served sending to, you know, sending one email of high quality than three emails of lackluster quality. And then the third is, you know, list size does not matter anymore. I mean, it doesn't serve your b2c organization and things like that. But for b2b, anybody that's actually concerned of, Hey, I sent an email to 50,000 people, they'll will look at me and 1000 of them engaged. You know? You got to think about it a different way. But like you said, the number one thing is, be human and think about email, think about the email that you're about to send and say what I engage in this, like, is this something that I would want to actually receive and and interact with?

George Thomas 25:50
That's good stuff. Mike. If people want to contact you, if they have questions about seven cents if they want to get a little bit nerdy or deeper into it. They want a demo or trial or something like that, where's the best place to send them

Mike Donnolley 26:04
to two places one, obviously check out our website which is the Seventh Sense calm all spelled out th e se ve th sem se calm. Or you can also email me directly, which is just Mike at the seven cents calm and I can point you in the right direction on our team of who would be best to interact with.

George Thomas 26:25
Awesome, Mike, thanks for taking time to be on this interview and I'm sure the sprocket talk viewers and listeners are giving you big thumbs up right now. Alright, so that interview had a ton of nuggets, you may want to rewind and re listen to some parts of it. Make sure you're focused on optimizing the strategy that you're using to email the human beings that might need your product services or processes. And while you're doing that, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble human. And of course along the way, make sure you're doing some happy hub spotting