The extraction features are important – at least to me – because they determine whether 6Sense qualifies as a “customer data platform” (CDP), a type of system I see as fundamental for future marketing. As a quick refresher, CDP is defined as “a marketer-controlled system that supports external marketing execution based on persistent, cross-channel customer data.” The part about “supports external marketing execution” is where data extraction comes in: it means that external systems can access data within the CDP for their own use. 6Sense wouldn't be a CDP if it merely displayed its data on a CRM screen without letting the CRM system import it. If 6Sense exposed model scores but no other data, it would qualify as a CDP by the thinnest margin possible.
Of course, there are more important things about 6Sense than whether I consider it a CDP. Starting at the beginning, the system imports a list of each client’s customers and sales opportunities from CRM and marketing automation systems. Standard integrations are available for Salesforce.com, Oracle Eloqua and Marketo. APIs can load data from other sources, potentially including other CRM marketing automation products, Web logs, order processing, call centers, media impressions, and pretty much anything else.
The system standardizes and deduplicates this data at the individual and company levels. It then matches against company profiles that 6Sense itself has gathered from the usual Web sources – public social media, Web sites, job boards, directories, etc. – and from a network of third-party Web sites. The Web site network is unusual if not unique among B2B data providers; the most similar offerings I can think of are audience profiles from B2C site networks, from owners of large B2B sites, and based on other B2B activity such as email response. The advantage of Web site activity is it finds companies early in the buying cycle, when they are most open to considering new vendors. It’s important to clarify that 6Sense doesn’t receive individual contact information from its Web site partners; instead, Web site data is aggregated by company.
The result of all this is a database with deep company and individual profiles including both attributes and activities. 6Sense uses this to build company and individual-level predictive models. Company models score each company’s likelihood to buy from the client. Individual models predict the individual’s likelihood to be the best sales contact. Models are built by 6Sense staff and take about three weeks to complete.
The system can also estimate what product each company is most likely to purchase, when it will buy, and what stage it has reached in the buying process. Stages are defined in consultation with the client. Assignment rules might use purchase likelihood or a predictive model trained against a sample of companies in each buying stage.
Outputs from 6Sense can include lists of new prospects (not in the client’s existing database), lists of current prospects organized by purchase stage and ranked by purchase likelihood, lists of individuals within each company, and key indicators that drive each company’s score. The key indicators can be very specific, such as searches for competitors’ names, visits to product detail pages, or activity by known leads.
Users can define segments based on these or other attributes and export their related data to CRM, marketing automation, ad targeting, or Web personalization systems via file transfers or API calls. 6Sense can also display the information on screen to help guide sales conversations, although it doesn’t (yet) recommend specific talking points. While new prospects are identified only at the company level, 6Sense can add contact names from those companies using standard sources.
Pricing for 6Sense starts around $150,000 to $220,000 and is based on factors including the number of models created. The company was founded in 2013 and released early versions of its product that same year. Formal release was in May 2014. It has ten current customers and more in the pipeline.