The conversion & other metrics behind Xeneta’s fully automated marketing success

The conversion & other metrics behind Xeneta’s fully automated marketing success

Continuing our series unearthing the secrets of Xeneta’s successful, fully automated, outbound marketing campaign, Fernando Nicolić Director of Demand Generation at Xeneta shares the all-important details on the metrics – from conversion to revenue and more.

Alex: Walk us through the conversion rates that you’re seeing. 

Fernando: Right now, I would say; from lead to MQL conversion is between 5% and 10% and from MQL to SQL 20%. 

Because the funnel filters low ROI leads out, those 20% are very important for us because at that point they should have high lead scoring and be super duper qualified. The probability of conversion to customer becomes very high. 

Alex: What’s the point in that 30 day cycle where you see the most conversions happening? 

Fernando: I would say the third touch point has the most conversions for prospects in the lead life cycle stage. We usually get some traction at the first and second touch points but the third is where we see higher open rates, click rates and reply rates.

For MQLs, the point of most traction depends on where they are on the lead scoring. It’s also important to recognise that it might not be the content that is contributing to any lack of traction. It could be that your email is just being sent at the wrong time and you just need to send it again in order to get a response.

We’re being very active on having a lot of touch points because we’re seeing that the engagement comes much later on than the case studies and blogs tend to suggest.

Alex:  Walk us through the costs typically associated with generating a new meeting

Fernando: This was an entirely organic strategy – no paid ads at all. The cost was really just the cost of the tools (Phantom Buster, HubSpot, Salesforce and premium LinkedIn profiles), the infrastructure and the combined team salary. 

Alex: Were costs the key driver?

Fernando: Time is really the big driver here and also the cost of opportunity – what opportunities would you be sacrificing if you were to do everything manually?

Being fully automated gives us the time freedom to be more creative and really hone down on the quality of the copywriting, emails and subject lines. We’re able to afford time to experiment with A/B and multivariate testing across landing pages and throughout our digital footprint. I would say that is where the real ROI is.

Alex: What about the revenue influenced, does the ROI speak for itself?

Fernando: For this year’s activities’, revenue is at $848k US from conversions. When you really think about how small the team is and the impact of these automation activities that’s a great return. I would say the revenue influence is a very strong indicator on how successful this whole approach is.

It’s also a reflection of our target audience. What we are offering is very novel – the industry as a whole, historically, don’t really mess with SaaS platforms or digital products. It’s still mostly Excel sheets… and faxes! Many of our prospects have worked in the industry for decades and have done things a certain way. So,  if they see a paid ad, even with great copywriting, it still won’t immediately resonate with them. 

There are also no competitors already doing this and therefore no landscape to reference. This makes direct contact channels like LinkedIn and email crucial for us  because they enable us to open up a dialogue with these people and to slowly convince them of the value of our platform before taking them through our prospecting engine.

Find Fernando at:

Twitter: @fernikolic

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fernandonikolic/

Web: https://mindfold.co/

Why the Demand Generation team at Xeneta built a fully automated outbound prospecting engine

Why the Demand Generation team at Xeneta built a fully automated outbound prospecting engine

Alex Field, LeadSift’s Head of Growth spoke with Fernando Nicolić Director of Demand Generation at Xeneta (a crowdsourced freight rate platform catering to the ocean and air freight industry) and asked him how he built a highly effective automated outbound prospecting engine – at scale – that feels personalized. 

Fernando leads a small, newly formed, team of highly talented marketers, account development managers, and demand generation specialists.  He is the BEST of BEST in the “outbound game” so we couldn’t wait to hear how he created Xeneta’s outbound engine.

Here he shares how his Demand Generation team came up with the fully automated strategy and how they identified their key prospects.

Alex: Thank you for joining us today Fernando. Walk us through your initial goal when you started out with the campaign 

Fernando: We focused on how, as a small team, we could make our impact felt as if we were a larger team. Our thoughts naturally turned to automation. So,  we created a plan around how to leverage different channels to automate every single step of the campaign. This was the first time that we used automation operationally rather than for data analysis.

Alex: What criteria did you use in order to determine who to target? 

Fernando: Demand Generation and Sales got together to identify our top 100 accounts. Demand Generation then identified five to six key decision-makers within each account that fitted our ICP. This created a list of 500-600 prospects.

Our strategy went beyond a pure ‘ABM’ ‘harpooning strategy’ with the running of a parallel ‘netting strategy’ at the foundation of the automations. The netting strategy was set around the following three strict criteria:

  1. Job titles
  2. Vertical market 
  3. Geolocation 

Using our LinkedIn Sales Navigator list as a starting point, we automated the process of identifying only prospects who fitted the ICP.  Being so strict on the criteria maximized our ROI. Sending weird messages to the wrong people at a weird time doesn’t equate to good ROI!

Alex: What were the main targeting criteria that you used to determine different messaging?

Fernando:  For each vertical market,  the job titles are all the same, and, from a day-to-day operational standpoint, the pain points for those prospects are also pretty much the same. So, for example, a Procurement Manager in one company will be doing a lot of the same things as any other procurement manager does. The vertical market is really the thing that separates the same job titles. They have different challenges such as seniority, company size, and geolocation. We made sure that we addressed those challenges when we reached out to them.  

Once the Demand Generation team had identified their strategy and created the target list, their automated system then did the hard work for them. We’ll be sharing exactly how they did that in our next post or you can listen to the full podcast audio of this interview on your favourite podcast platform.

Find Fernando at:

Twitter: @fernikolic

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fernandonikolic/

Web: https://mindfold.co/

A Guide to Intent Data for Customer Retention

A Guide to Intent Data for Customer Retention

Everyone would like more leads.

Companies dedicate significant resources to improving their lead generation, trying to get as many potential customers into the top of their funnel as possible. It makes sense; after all, the more leads you have, the more customers you’ll end up with, right? 

However, lead generation is only half the story. After all, a million new customers won’t do you any good if they stop using your product/service the very next day. 

Instead, smart companies realize the importance of reducing churn and retaining their existing customers. Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done. What causes customers to stop using your product/service, and how can you minimize this? 

What is churn?

When people talk about losing customers, they will often refer to their churn rate. This is the number of customers, as a percentage of your total customers, that stop using your product/service in a certain period.  

So, if you started the month with 1,000 customers, but 50 decided to quit, your churn rate at the end of the month would be 5%. 

The lower the number, the better you are at retaining customers.

It sounds simple, but it has big implications for your business.

Why you need to prioritize reducing churn

With 82% of companies agreeing that it costs more to acquire new customers compared to retaining their current ones, it makes far more sense to prioritize your existing customer base.

Mitigating churn can have a massive impact on the metrics and KPIs you use to measure your business’s performance. If you’re losing customers, you’re going to be losing the revenue they bring in too. As a result, monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and annual recurring revenue (ARR), two metrics commonly used to measure the health of SaaS businesses, are going to take a hit. 

If the churn rate is higher than customer acquisition, you’re in trouble. If they’re churning quickly and the customer lifetime value (LTV) is lower than the customer acquisition cost (CAC), you’re in serious trouble. 

It’s not just a matter of replacing those customers though. A 5% increase in customer retention can produce a 25% or more increase in profits. It’s even possible to achieve negative churn, where the revenue earned from existing customers (through upgrades, cross-sells, and so on) is higher than the revenue lost through customers leaving or downgrading. 

While there’s an obvious effect on revenue, a high churn rate is a warning, a symptom that something is seriously wrong with your service. Your brand reputation, maybe even your entire business, could be in danger. 

Why do customers churn?

It’s not enough to recognize that churn is bad for business; you have to identify why customers are churning in the first place. 

It might be a budgetary issue. As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe, companies cut any costs they could, restricting outgoings to just the bare essentials. UK marketing budgets were cut by their highest levels in over 20 years. While you might argue that your product is actually essential and provides a positive ROI, there’s not much you can do if the customer has no budget available. 

However, in many other cases, churn is completely preventable. If a lead hasn’t been properly qualified, then realize the product doesn’t do what they expected after signing up, chances are they’ll quickly churn. In this case, you might have an issue with your qualification process, either on the marketing or sales side, that you need to resolve. While it may seem great to close a new deal today, it’s no good if they churn tomorrow. It’s a waste of time and energy that could be spent pursuing leads that are a good fit. Instead, it’s better for your sales and marketing to focus on the leads who’ll get the most value out of your product. 

According to Retently, 53% of churn is due to a combination of poor onboarding, weak relationship building, and poor customer service. For example, customers who haven’t been properly onboarded may not see the value to their business. Customers who don’t feel cared for will look for a company that does nurture strong relationships. 

Of course, your product/service has to deliver the value your customer needs. If they’re getting a poor experience, whether that’s a clunky design or sub-par results, it won’t be long before they start looking for a better alternative. 

The good news is that, with intent data, it becomes a lot easier to anticipate when a customer is likely to churn, then put steps in place to resolve their issue.

Using intent data to prevent churn

Once you know the reasons people churn, it’s easier to prevent it. For example, many companies now have a Customer Success team in place. Rather than traditional Customer Support teams, who usually only jump into action when a customer reaches out in need of help, Customer Success proactively works with customers to ensure they’re getting the maximum value. 

One way they can do this is by leveraging intent data. 

While buyer intent data is an excellent way of finding potential customers who are looking at products like yours, it can also be used after prospects have converted to clients to see if they’re sending out signals that show they may be thinking of churning. 

For example, technographics are commonly used to see what technologies your prospective customers are using or trying out. However, if one of your existing customers has just signed up for a trial of a similar tool to yours, it’s a clear sign that they may be about to churn. 

Even before they start signing up for demos, they’ll likely be giving off other intent signals. If they’re searching for competitors, engaging with their content, or visiting review sites, those are other potential signals that they’re in danger of churning. 

Alternatively, their searches might indicate that they’re struggling with your product. If they’re having to Google how to do key tasks, then they’re likely confused or are struggling with your product, and it won’t be long before they start searching for another solution. This activity could even be happening on your site; if they’re spending an excessive amount of time on support pages or—even worse—looking up FAQs on how to cancel their contract, you need to know about it.

The knowledge gained from intent data can then be used to take appropriate action. In a post on CMSWire, Wilson Raj (global director of customer intelligence at SAS) shared how, when combined with analytics, intent data can be used to learn more about how your customers use your product/service and promote stronger engagement: “You can apply churn models such as uplift modeling and survival analysis to preempt customer defection with corrective actions, such as special offers or free upgrades.”

Beyond reaching out to the specific customers who are displaying the churn intent signals, the lessons you learn can be used to guide your overall product development, improving your service for all of your customers.

Achieving negative churn and increasing customer retention

Even when you address all of the potential customer satisfaction issues to minimize churn, you still might be missing out on opportunities. Even the happiest customer may look at other vendors for additional services if they don’t realize you can also provide them. If you offer a range of services, you must educate your customers on everything you can do to help them, a role usually handled by your Customer Success team. However, it’s likely that, despite your best efforts, some of your customers aren’t aware of all the services you offer.

By continuing to monitor buyer intent signals from your existing customers, you can see when your customers are looking for these extra services. At this point, you have an excellent opportunity to unlock additional revenue by cross-selling the service or helping them to upgrade. Companies like Amazon rely on cross-selling and product recommendations, which account for 35% of their overall revenue

If they’re a satisfied customer, they’re far more likely to spend the money with a provider they already know and trust. By selling to your existing customers, you can move closer to achieving negative churn.

You can also use data to keep track of your most valuable customers and build stronger relationships. For example, if you see your contact has been promoted, or the company opens a new location, you can send them a message congratulating them. If a new contact joins the company, you can take the initiative to introduce yourself and ensure they’re aware of all the ways you can help them. By taking an interest in your contact and their company, you can build a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship.


While it’s great to have a pipeline full of fresh new leads, it’s important not to neglect the customers you already have. Churn is an important metric to track and can have a huge effect on the health of your business. By using intent data wisely, you can see when customers are facing issues and anticipate when they’re in danger of churning. You can also help your satisfied customers by offering complementary services they’re searching for and engaging with them. By retaining more customers and providing more value, you can build a stronger business.

Stay ahead of your customer’s switching to a competitor. Get a custom intent report to see where you stand.

InsightSquared Harnesses Contact Level Intent Signals from LeadSift to Grow its Database and Generate Sales Pipeline


When Laura Lewis, Sr. Manager of Marketing Programs, joined InsightSquared, LeadSift was already in place. One of her first tasks at InsightSquared was to put a codified demand generation strategy in place, and implement automated marketing programs that aligned with the sales team. Having quality data and a constant influx of new contact/ account intent signals were key for this effort.

“In order to automate and ramp our programs, we needed to ensure that we had a stable influx of new leads and intent signals. And after a thorough review of all our inbound sources, LeadSift held up. LeadSift is a primary source of database growth for us.”


InsightSquared has automated workflows set up to get intent signals pushed directly into their Marketing Automation System (Marketo) and sync with Salesforce CRM. This set up allows them to leverage Intent Signals for both their Sales and Marketing efforts at scale.

The Intent Data from LeadSift is nurtured within Marketo and made aware of InsightSquared and their value proposition through high-value content pieces, such as eBooks, webinars, and white papers. During this nurture period, the leads are excluded from any other outreach. Once they engage with a content piece, or request a free trial of InsightSquared, the Business Development team is routed the lead in Salesforce to follow-up on and begin prospecting into the account.


Over the last 12 months, LeadSift has provided InsightSquared more than 25,000 new contacts for their database – providing them with constant stream of new contacts needed to feed their demand generation efforts.

As a leader in Revenue Intelligence, with InsightSquared closely monitors the impact of their different marketing activities. They track First Touch Attribution from LeadSift, and also monitor Influenced Pipeline and Bookings from the lead source. Influenced is defined as An Opportunity being created on the same account that an intent signal from LeadSift was captured on, within a 90-day period. LeadSift is the highest first-touch source of Influenced Opportunities and Pipeline at InsightSquared.

“As our primary source of new leads and database growth, LeadSift is a must-have for our marketing tech stack. Not only does it provide leads that are showing intent for our products, but it does so at a great value.”

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About InsightSquared

InsightSquared helps revenue-operations professionals make better decisions by equipping them with actionable, real-time intelligence on sales and marketing KPIs. Businesses rely on InsightSquared to forecast more accurately, manage pipeline, tailor rep coaching based on individual performance, understand their marketing attribution, and conduct data-backed planning and analysis. They have been ranked #1 for Sales Analytics and #1 in satisfaction and usability for Business Intelligence Platforms.

About LeadSift

LeadSift identifies B2B prospects based on social signals, qualifies them, and delivers them to your inbox. Whenever a prospect engages with your competitor’s content, or content published within your industry, LeadSift will discover and deliver them directly to you – complete with verified and accurate company and contact info.

LeadSift helps Branham Group double their goal of meetings booked at Dreamforce 2016


NSBI and Branham Group teamed up to help Nova Scotian companies to book meetings at the latest Dreamforce 2016 conference. There are over 170,000 of attendees at Dreamforce, so Peter Wolchak (Chief Analyst @ Branham Group) was brought on to help create sales opportunities for his clients by booking meetings with potential prospects at the conference. Provided with just a list of exhibiting companies at the show – it was a daunting task for Peter to figure out the decision makers at these organizations and also identify who will be attending.



Branham Group teamed up with LeadSift to help Peter identify executives that would actually be attending Dreamforce. Filtering the data based on Job Title, Seniority and Industry parameters – made the task of getting key contacts at target organizations a breeze. The information also included direct contact information along with social profiles, so that Peter would be able to reach out directly to these contacts and not worry about manually searching databases for the contact info.

In addition to the net new prospects, LeadSift was able to help harness the power of Account Based Intelligence by providing the contact information for different decision makers in the account that he was already working on. He saw much success when these contacts were brought forward and was able to book multiple meetings for his clients.



Within just a few days of using LeadSift, Branham Group was able to book multiple sales meetings for his clients. Starting out his goal was to book 6 meetings per client, however he ended up doubling that number and was able to book 10-12 meetings for each client. The fact that LeadSift provided direct contact information to executives that were attending Dreamforce, saved Peter several hours of manual research and allowed him to focus on the actual outreach.


“Not only did LeadSift benefit Branham Group for this project but I can see working with LeadSift in the future.”


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About Branham Group

Branham Group provides “Go to Market” direction to the global Information Technology products and services companies; particularly those that want to harness e-Business opportunities. Branham Group acts as an information channel for the future of business in a wired world, helping clients understand and leverage emerging and emergent technologies.

As enterprises expand worldwide in search of new markets, the need for complementary global and local business intelligence increases. All of Branham’s analysis, strategies and recommendations are based on our own primary research that covers the global market. We uncover and document latest developments, following user trends and next generation IT leaders. Over the last decade, Branham has assisted world leaders in software, hardware and services. Through our vast understanding of the IT Market, we have been able to deliver meaningful insight to our clients in the areas of planning, marketing, and partnering.


About LeadSift

LeadSift identifies B2B prospects based on intent signals, qualifies them, and delivers them to your inbox. Whenever a prospect engages with your competitor’s content, or content published within your industry, LeadSift will discover and deliver them directly to you – complete with verified and accurate company and contact info.

How the #1 Facebook Ad Agency gets 5X Meetings Booked with LeadSift


Abacus being a digital agency generates over 70% of their demand from Inbound/Paid Marketing. However, only depending on Inbound or Word of mouth was creating a growth ceiling. They wanted to explore a targeted outbound marketing strategy by identifying the right people to talk to at the right time.



Abacus reached out to LeadSift, with the goal of identifying and connecting with the right companies, where they could contribute with relevant and actionable value, and thus growing their own pipeline.


As part of their intent data driven outbound strategy, Abacus segmented their Intent triggers into 3 broad categories:

  • Competitive Engagement: identify companies that were engaging with other agencies in their space
  • Topic Engagement: identify companies that were consuming/engaging with content about relevant industry topics
  • Event Attendance: identify companies that were attending/sponsoring a few key digital marketing conferences

For each of the Intent trigger types, Abacus created three highly personalized Nurture streams with different calls to action. Each Nurture stream had between 4 and 7 touch points over Email and Social Media.



Within a month of using Intent data from LeadSift for their outbound campaigns – Abacus noticed a significant increase in their pipeline.

For two their nurture streams (Competitive Engagement & Topic Engagement) the Call-to-Action was booking a consulting meeting with the prospects and they booked meetings at the rate of 5% and 6% respectively. Average industry rate of response from cold emails is less than 1% and Abacus was booking meetings 5X times the industry average in a highly competitive market.

For their nurture stream based on Event Attendance – they used a more top of the funnel Call-to-Action and shared a piece of related content. For this campaign they got 17% positive reply rate.


“LeadSift helped us accelerate growth and unlock scale by connecting with the right companies at the right time.”


Using LeadSift Intent triggers along with a smartly created Outbound Nurture stream – Abacus was able to rapidly scale their outbound efforts and generate MQL’s. LeadSift added a firepower that not only made a significant contribution to growth but also gave an almost instant ROI.


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About Abacus

Abacus is a Facebook and Instagram Advertising agency specializing in advanced social media performance. They are currently the #1 Facebook Ad Agency – working with some of the largest brands helping with their paid social efforts.


About LeadSift

LeadSift identifies B2B prospects based on intent signals, qualifies them, and delivers them to your inbox. Whenever a prospect engages with your competitor’s content, or content published within your industry, LeadSift will discover and deliver them directly to you – complete with verified and accurate company and contact info.