TRS 005: Thom Stallings Co-Founder of Visit Intel
Warm leads are visiting your website every day, but even the best sites are only converting 1% of these visitors into prospects. What could you achieve if you had insight into all the companies that were engaging on your website every single day? On today’s episode, we sit down with Thom Stallings Co-Founder of Visit Intel. He walks us through ways businesses are capturing this data and what steps they are taking to build stronger relationships and close more sales.
With over 20 years’ experience in customer relationship management (CRM), Thom immediately saw the value reverse IP technology could have on converting leads. If you had access to what companies were exploring your site, what could your sales team do with that data?
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Marcus: Hello, marketers and business leaders. I’m Marcus Grimm, and welcome to The Revenue Stream, the podcast from Web Talent Marketing. Here we discuss everything you need to know to build brands, generate leads, and convert sales from some of the brightest minds in marketing.
Marcus: Hey, marketers and business leaders, if you think about it, websites can be a bit infuriating, especially in the B2B world. Even if you have the world’s most compelling offer, think about it, your conversion rate most often is very, very low single digits. Super successful brands are often well under 1% which means that you know very little about 99% of the people who hit your website, and if you’re working under the assumption that your content is optimized in such a way that you’re attracting the right types of visitors, that means, guess what, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table in the form of un-monetized visitors.
Marcus: And who are these visitors anyway? Well, fortunately today’s guest is in the business of, as they say in the NBA, turning garbage into gold. We’re meeting with Thom Stallings of Visit Intel. Welcome, Thom, welcome to the program.
Thom: Thank you, Marcus. Thanks for having me.
Marcus: Well, Thom, I gotta be honest, this product feels like one that somebody just built out out of frustration- that they were sick of all this traffic that they couldn’t identify. Was it built that way, or was it out of opportunity?
Thom: No, one would think that, with all the frustrations behind web development and understanding your traffic and who’s coming to your website, one would think that that the product was built out of frustration, but it did happen out of opportunity. My background, I’ve got about 20 years of CRM background. And about nine years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet a mad scientist developer. His name is Mike Kinder. We call him the Lizard King. Why? Because he can do anything.
Thom: So, Mike Kinder threw this product our way and said, “Just start using this product.” It was called Visit Insight at the time, and Visit Insight was basically a scaled back version of Visit Intel. And we started using the product, and Joe Singer, a partner of mine, we started using the product and instantly we saw the value. We saw our customers visiting a website, we saw competitor intelligence. We’ve got all these warm leads, all this intelligence that was coming our way. We thought, “Wow, this is an amazing product!” So that was about eight or nine years ago, and then over the years, we started to develop the product further. So we started adding some additional functionality, enhanced it. We, you know, put some window dressing on it, and about two years ago, we officially partnered with Mike Kinder, and that was basically the genesis of Visit Intel. So today’s Visit Intel, it came out of opportunity.
Marcus: Well that’s outstanding. So let’s start with the benefit. Then we’re going to go into the features and the use cases, and your website has got a lot of great information about that. Thom, I think you told me before, it’s called the “wow factor.” You know, what’s the benefit? What exactly happens? What does a user see from Visit Intel when somebody hits their site?
Thom: Right, exactly. So first of all, set up takes minutes. So Visit Intel, set up takes minutes. When you download a trial version, you get a little piece of code and you post it to your website- takes three minutes. And then, like you said, there’s a wow factor. That wow factor is an automated site report. So it’s a notification that delivers intelligence about those visiting your website.
Marcus: And what sort of intelligence?
Thom: Well, the the notification will provide the company name- and I’ll stress company name because that’s very important. A lot of tools out there, they mask or hide the company name, and that’s important. You want to know which companies are visiting your website. It’ll tell you the city, the state, the IP address. It will then show you the destination links, where this company spent time on your website, what services they will-
Marcus: Which offer was most compelling to that customer.
Thom: Exactly. Okay. So you’re getting a snapshot of a company that is visiting your website, and you’re seeing their journey. So you know that this particular company has interest in a particular product or service.
Marcus: One of the things I think’s really interesting is you talk about that you’re doing the name identification. And I think that that is so huge because, what I see is in most organizations, you want to deliver this information. You don’t want to send it to the IT department; you want to deliver it right to the business development rep or the sales rep who is going to make that phone call. So you can’t turn this into a tech exercise. This needs to be clear identification.
Marcus: Let’s talk about the technology itself. How does it work? Is it cookie based, or how do you describe exactly how this technology works?
Thom: And to your last point, you’re absolutely right. So Visit Intel does allow you to route notifications to specific sales reps or whoever you would like. So that is an admin function that is offered in the portal.
Thom: But to answer, the product is not cookie based. And just like any magic trick, once you know the trick, it becomes very simple, and Visit Intel is no different. It’s reverse IP lookup technology. So what it does is, when a company of visits your website, it’ll take the IP address and it’ll do a reverse look up. And when it finds intelligence based on that company, it will deliver a nice automated site report to show you which company visited your website, where they spent time on your website, and all that fun stuff that you can leverage.
Marcus: So it’s got that reverse IP technology and then it’s also showing me what exactly they’re doing on the website. So you’re kind of combining that reverse IP with some of the nuggets of information that we get from Google Analytics at a macro level, but you’re taking it down to the micro level of that exact user.
Thom: Right. And again I’ll stress, exactly: Google Analytics is a fine product, but it doesn’t deliver the company name. But, Visit Intel does.
Marcus: So in a situation, I am curious, these days we do see more and more mobile traffic. Does this technology offer any benefit for mobile users, or how does that work?
Thom: Well, it does. And the short answer is that Visit Intel, is it a web-based tracking product. So whether you visit a website through a mobile device or a laptop, it’s going to track the same way. However, the only differentiator is that when you are looking at information from a high level or in the portal, you’ll be able to see who’s visiting your website through a mobile device versus a laptop. That can come in handy. In the B2B world, I’ve noticed more traffic, between 70-90% of traffic, coming through a laptop. So more traffic is driven through a laptop then.
Marcus: Very interesting. So the question then is, it looks like a similar feature set to what we’ve seen in some of the high-end market automation platforms out there. But you know, one of the things that I find, Thom, a lot of people don’t buy marketing automation these these days because of the high sticker price. So would you say that this is a tool that I might have in a high end marketing automation product, but I don’t need to buy a high end marketing automation?
Thom: Marcus, you nailed it. Absolutely. Some of the very, you know, expensive automation tools out there, some of them offer an IP, a reverse look up as a functionality, but some don’t. The fact is, we’re not trying to be a Swiss Army knife. We do one or two things very well, and we deliver intelligence. So if you are an SMB in the B2B world and can’t afford a Hubspot or Pardot or Marketo, Visit Intel will help you.
Marcus: You know what you said really resonates with me? You mentioned earlier, one of your use cases is a commercial construction company.
Marcus: And commercial construction’s a great example where, you know what, they’re not, my guess is if I could see Marketo’s customer list, I wouldn’t see a lot of high-end commercial construction companies on there, but this particular tool could be very, very useful. Now, you did mention price point. Can we talk price?
Thom: Sure. Absolutely.
Thom: We’re very proud of our price cause it’s-
Marcus: Cause it’s low, right?
Thom: It’s, it’s very low. In fact, I hear that a lot. A lot of our customers, they’re very honest and frank, say you guys are very inexpensive for what we offer, which is the intelligence and the short URL generator as well, but we’re $59 a month.
Marcus: I gotta tell, ya, and I realize that everything gets cheaper the longer it’s out on digital, but no lie the first time I use similar technology- like this was about 12 years ago- we were paying $500 a month for it.
Marcus: So it’s $59 a month?!
Thom: Yeah. And $500 is low with some of the bigger guys out there. I see $700, $1500, $2,000. But yeah, we can give you what the big guys give you for $59 a month. Yeah.
Marcus: I’ve seen a lot of these products through the years, and every time the response seems to be the same. People automatically go, “Wow, I’ve got the Wall Street Journal on my website. That’s really cool.” But inevitably, my sales rep might feel like, oh, it’s a little bit creepy. What do I do? Do I call them up and say, “Hey, Wall Street Journal, I saw you’re on our website?” I mean, your blog is incredible in terms of giving us advice on how best to utilize this intelligence. Nobody else has done that. So I’d like to talk about some of the tips and tactics you have on the blog.
Thom: Sure, thank you for bringing up the blog. Joe Singer, a partner, a longtime friend, he does a great job of putting together the blog and kind of capturing, you know, how industries are using the intelligence. There’s a great blog up there, I think it’s seven companies in seven different industries using Visit Intel seven different ways. But yeah, I’m amazed at how many different ways, and I learn weekly, Marcus, how many different ways people leverage the intelligence. And there are many different ways, and they do vary based on industry.
Thom: So a construction company’s going to use the intelligence differently than maybe an executive search firm versus a digital marketing firm. Lately we’ve been signing on a lot of construction companies. Stewart & Tate’s one of them. They’re a local construction company. Another construction company that’s using Visit Intel found that because of the Visit Intel site alerts that are automatically emailed to their sales reps, they’re able to contact the visiting company and bid on the construction projects earlier than normal. Typically they have to wait to be contacted by companies with construction needs. Now, based on the pages viewed on Visit Intel alerts, this construction company beats out the competition because of the early leads Visit Intel provides for them.
Marcus: Well, and you know, you’re talking about an industry that I understand very, very well. And so as you take a company like that, for our national listeners, Stewart & Tate is a large regional, commercial construction company in York, Pennsylvania. Now what’s interesting though about construction bids is very, very often these are very, very complicated bids and the bid team might have ten days to put it together- or less. So, if I’m aware that that bid is coming out even three days sooner than somebody else, you’ve just given my team that much more time. It’s tremendous information.
Thom: Exactly. Exactly. I mean, with construction companies, Eric Arcudi, he’s a business development exec over at Stewart & Tate. When he gets the Visit Intel reports, he sees, you know, companies interested in building warehouses or churches or whatever the case is. He knows that once something hits the papers, he’s lost the deal.
Marcus: That’s right.
Thom: So when he sees these reports coming in, he’s only two degrees away from talking to the person or the people that he needs to, to start planting the seed and get the ball rolling. So yeah, they’ve been using Visit Intel while, and have closed a lot of business from it.
Marcus: So that seems really, really useful, but now let’s talk about exactly what Eric can do with that information. So, Eric finds out that a Monarch Development, Monarch Development Real Estate Development has been on the Stewart & Tate website. What other tools exist inside Visit Intel for Eric to figure out what he should do next?
Thom: Yeah, great question, Marcus. Because a lot of people, you know, although they get excited when they see a report come into their inbox, they don’t necessarily know what to do with it, or what do they do next is the next natural question. The first thing I do when I see a report that’s active, so I see a company (company ABC) visiting my website, looking at different services and products. What I will do is I will hit, there are a couple data bridges on the report. One that goes to LinkedIn, Google, and so forth. And when I hit the data bridge, it zips me over to LinkedIn, and it’ll present all the contacts that are in that particular company.
Thom: So what I do then is I start “Linking-in” with those particular contacts, and then as they accept my invite, I’ll send them a personal message. So then I start building a relationship, knowing in the back of my mind that this particular company has interest in either my products or services. So that’s one way of starting to softly reach out to customers or contacts that you know have interest in your company.
Marcus: Right. And I’ve also seen, let’s be clear here, but one of the stories that I love on your blog- as you know, you don’t just do these things digitally. I think there was advice on the one, where you send a box of donuts from your company.
Thom: Cupcakes! Yeah, that’s a good, that’s a good story. I think that’s another construction company. Again, what they do when this sees that there’s activity, and what I mean by activity is you could get one report from a company or sometimes you get a company visiting or the website five or six times. So what happens then is you know that this particular company has interest in your product and services. So what this particular company did was they would send a box of cupcakes with hard pamphlets and marketing information along with that and just warmly touch a company, again that they know has interest in their products or services.
Marcus: That’s a dynamite idea; I love that one.
Marcus: Yeah, it’s a personal touch and it works. Yeah.
Marcus: Now I’m curious because I’ve never had the opportunity to interview someone who is right in your industry and I have had so many sales reps over the years in various industries literally say to me, “Marcus, should I call them up and tell them I know they’ve been on my website?” So I’m curious. No one probably has a better answer to that question. How would you answer Eric Arcudi? If he says, “Hey, should I call him up and say, ‘Hey, see you been on the website?'”
Thom: Well, no, you never want to do that. Again, you know, everyone uses the intelligence differently. And it’s funny, it’s a funny question because I have customers and prospects that say, “What do I do now?” or they’re almost scared of this intelligence. And I’m thinking, “No, you want to know that information!” You want to know it, but you want to softly touch and nurture the relationships in different creative ways. And one might be just, you know, pick up the phone and do a courtesy call. Now we’re just talking about potential prospects, but there’s other ways to use intelligence. If I see my customer visiting my website, they might be looking at pages directed towards a training or a particular service. Guess what I talk about the on the courtesy call or my weekly meeting with them.
Thom: Competitor information. You know, maybe somebody’s visiting my website that’s a competitor for some reason. That’s good to know. Some companies, and this was a new one for me, some companies actually use the intelligence to inject a level of energy into their corporate culture. So for example, if there’s a bid out there or the company’s courting another company, and they see that company is visiting their website multiple times, then they can spread the news around the office saying, “Hey, ABC company is visiting our website frequently this week; they must have interest!”
Marcus: And, everyone keep on your toes!
Thom: Exactly. And that brings up another example of, as I’m talking, an executive search firm. They were bidding on major project to staff an entire marketing and sales team for a pharmaceutical company that was launching a new drug. The firm thought they were out of the running, and then they started seeing Visit Intel alerts come in from the pharma company and realized they were still in the running.
Marcus: Oh, interesting.
Thom: Yeah. So the Visit Intel reports were showing exactly what the pharma company was interested in. As a result, the executive search firm, emailed the pharma company information that reinforced exactly what they were interested in, and without the Visit Intel reports, they probably would have lost the deal. They thought they were out of the running, and because of these Visit Intel reports, they won a big deal. And that’s huge! So that’s how they leverage the intelligence; many, many different ways to use intelligence. Yeah.
Marcus: That is really, really cool. And again, people really should check out the blog at visitintel.us and look at all those case studies. So I am curious, I do need you to get out the crystal ball because there’s so many things we could say about this technology. We could say, “Hey, people are mining more and more data today that everybody’s going to need product like this in the future.” We have privacy concerns out there now, so some listeners might be saying, “This stuff’s going to be illegal in two or three years.” You know, where do you see yourself a couple of years from now? Where’s the technology going?
Thom: Well, let me get out my crystal ball here. I wish I had one! But what I do know is that Visit Intel, and this is important for the listeners, Visit Intel is GDPR compliant. And for those that don’t know, GDPR is the general data protection regulation that’s being strictly enforced by the Europeans, and I think it’s made its way to California. The great news with Visit Intel is we don’t store any backend data. We don’t store any names or private data. All we do is we take that IP address, do a reverse look up, and deliver intelligence. And guess what, Marcus, anyone can take an IP address and find this intelligence. We just do it for you and deliver it in a fashion that you can understand.
Marcus: Got it.
Thom: So that’s important. That helps us moving forward. And what we’re doing now is we are integrating our technology with other backend, on-premise applications or databases like an ESP or a Mailchimp or Constant Contact or CRM. So what that means, actually, is you can drill down to the individual level you feel if you are integrated with a CRM or an esp, you’ll bypass that company level and you’ll be able to drill down to an individual level.
Marcus: Well now you’ve just pushed this conversation in a whole different way cause now I’m curious, how does somebody like yourself decide which CRMs to developed for? I mean you’ve got the big ones out there, you’ve got the Salesforces of the world, you’ve got the small ones. You’ve got the medium sized ones. Is that a big lift for your development team or not really?
Thom: It’s not really.
Thom: And again, if I could get my deck of magic cards out and walk you through the development process of the actual integration, it’s not all that complex. We’ve done it with a few CRMs and we’re gonna continue to really tighten up the integration with the Mailchimps and the Constant Contacts. And again, that drills you down to a richer level of data. And that’s where we’re going with it. We’re pretty excited about it.
Marcus: And I love what you guys are doing here because, to me, it really seems like a huge solution for the people. You know, for a wide variety of reasons you don’t want to invest in a Salesforce or a high-end marketing automation platform.
Marcus: So you have another product on your website. It’s a custom URL shortener. And I think listeners are familiar with the bitlys of the world, but you have your own product. It’s a custom URL shortener, and I want our listeners to understand some of the business applications for it. Why should I care, and what would I do with yours?
Thom: Okay, yeah, thank you for asking me about the short URL. Again, that’s a big component of our product. It’s a differentiator with our product, and it’s a very powerful tool, especially with all the social media selling going on. If you don’t have a presence on social media, you’re frankly behind. And with URLs, the shorter, the better- clean and short links. They appear more trustworthy and the fact remains that they get clicked more often than longer links.
Thom: With Visit Intel, you can custom brand your short URLs so that the URLs don’t look spammy. Again, with those long URLs, people are afraid to click on it.
Marcus: They figure there’s something in there that’s going to go wrong.
Thom: Exactly. Exactly. And then when you generate a short URL through the Visit Intel portal, you can put that short URL behind anything. You can post it to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. You can put it behind a PDF, you can understand if people were watching or looking at your videos, or opening your PDFs. So you can track just about anything.
Marcus: So you’re getting analytics off that custom URL.
Marcus: So if we go back to our example earlier, where Eric Arcudi with Stewart & Tate finds out somebody’s been on his website from Monarch Development. Now he goes into LinkedIn, he makes a connection and somebody gets connected with him. Eric could now send that person a note inside LinkedIn with a custom URL, and now I’ve gotten even more information about that person’s proclivity to engage with the brand. Is that how you would use it?
Thom: That’s one way. That’s a great way to use it. Or if you’re trying to drive traffic to your website, maybe you want to post a press release or a new project that was developed, and you’re driving people to your website. You can post them to all the main social platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and of those who are clicking or driving to your website, now you’re going to pick up the company name and all the intelligence behind that company.
Marcus: Oh! So I was using Visit Intel to get to the URL shortener you’re telling me I could start at the beginning, and I could use the URL to get the intelligence.
Thom: Exactly. Exactly. And that’s powerful because today, Facebook and LinkedIn, they will scrub or mask all the important information, all the intelligence that- or a lot of the intelligence- that Visit Intel delivers. So think about that, Marcus, from a customer journey perspective. So if I create a short URL using Visit Intel, and I post it to LinkedIn and companies visit my website through the press release or the announcement that I drove them to the website. And that company then goes to my website and bounces around on my website and spends time looking at products and services. I now have, I’ve now captured a full customer journey of, of this particular prospect, customer, or competitor or whoever it is.
Marcus: Very, very cool. And you know, and I keep going back to this idea, Thom, that you, quite frankly, I think what you have here is a pretty affective marketing automation tool for what, $59?
Thom: Yeah, thank you! You keep saying it because for $59 a month what you get it’s very, very reasonable.
Marcus: Outstanding. Well, as we head down to the backside of the program here, in addition to these two products, do you and your team have anything else coming out in the next several months that we should be aware of?
Thom: We do. We continue to enhance our portal. We’re always looking for feedback. Our feedback is always driven from our customers and also our agencies. We’ve got a lot of marketing agencies that take our product, whitelabel it and bake it into their suite of services. So they market it as their own. And so what we’ve been doing is we’ve modified and we’ve enhanced the portal to give our agencies more flexibility. So they’re going to be, they’re going to have control over creating the, the pixel, or the code there. They’ll be able to provide access to their customers to see certain analytics if they choose to. They can create campaigns, and they can do all that right from the portal. That’s from the agency perspective.
Thom: We are continuing to, as I mentioned earlier, integrate Visit Intel with the Mailchimps, the Constant Contacts, the CRMs. That’s on the horizon. That’s going to be happening early 2019. We can do it today. It’s just a three-step dance. We’re just trying to tighten it up a little bit. Oh, and the short URL, we’re improving the short URL creation and generator experience. So if you go into the Visit Intel portal and you want to generate four short URLs (one for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram) you can do it one full swoop. You don’t have to do it one at a time. And for those out there that are doing a social selling, a lot of people do that. They do that for their living. It’s a big win. It’s fast. It’s efficient. And also, you will be able to see in the portal which social platforms are performing better than others. So you’ll be able to filter data from non-short URL versus short URL data, and that’s important because then you understand, “Are my campaigns working? Why, why isn’t anybody visiting our website through Facebook or Twitter?” But yeah, very powerful stuff. That’s some of the stuff that we’re working on, and then we’ve got a couple surprises that I can’t talk about right now, but hopefully you’ll have me back again and maybe I can talk about it.
Marcus: All right! That sound means we are nearing the end of the program, which means it’s time for our Marketing Minute with Thom. Thom, are you ready?
Thom: I think so.
Marcus: Okay. These are some rapid fire choice questions that marketers just need to know about you. You ready? Apple or Android?
Marcus: Ad blocker or no.
Marcus: Email or text?
Marcus: Facebook or LinkedIn?
Marcus: Snapchat or Instagram?
Marcus: Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Don Draper?
Thom: Elon Musk.
Marcus: Timex, smartwatch, or bare wrist?
Marcus: And finally cable-holic or are you a cord cutter?
Marcus: That’s outstanding. Very, very confident. You did a great job. Thom! Love it. So that’s a fun one. Hey, before we get out of here, you mentioned you’ve got another story that you can share with us, and I’d love to hear it.
Thom: Right, yeah. I just want to share this story. Again, it’s another case study of a local company, Utility Keystone Trailers. And the reason I want to share it is because Quint Eno, the director of marketing over there, he was gracious enough to start using Visit Intel, yeah, about a year ago or so. I followed up with him after about, you know, a 15-30 day trial, and I was surprised to hear from Qunit that he was actually tying or connecting the dots from the Visit Intel intelligence that he was getting to close deals. So what that means is he was closing the deals- before he even bought the product!
Thom: So one deal probably paid for Visit Intel- I’m not kidding, Marcus- for the next decade.
Marcus: And we’ve talked about the low price, but I don’t think we talked specifics about the trial. So tell me about the trial.
Thom: So trial: to try out Visit Intel, it’s a very simple process. You go up to our website and fill out the trial request form. But what I do want to bring to the audience’s attention is please use the promo code Web Talent Marketing. So if you use the promo code WTM or Web Talent Marketing, you’ll receive a 10% discount off the first year.
Marcus: 10% discount off, and I already think your prices are crazy low!
Thom: Yeah, they are. Yeah, they are! So, yes, that’s it. Go up, and download, and use the promo code WTM to get 10%. And you’ll receive an automated email that provides instructions. Three minutes to set up; ten minutes to start receiving intelligence.
Marcus: Outstanding. Hey, we have been joined today by, by Thom Stallings of Visit Intel. Thom, I’m thrilled to have you with us today. Tremendous partner for us all at the Web Talent Marketing, and we certainly appreciate the time. Again go to visitintel.us. Thom’s extending that promo code. Use the promo code Web Talent Marketing or WTM. So that’s going to do it for us here on the program. Thank you very much, Thom! My name is Marcus Grimm, and you have been listening to The Revenue Stream from Web Talent Marketing.