Here is How to Do MUCH Better Outbound with Clay

by | Jun 13, 2024

Look at your inbox.  If it’s like mine, it’s full of pitiful, limp-wristed outbound sales and link-building emails with the most feeble attempts at personalization.  Here is a recent example. (I just search by inbox for “Quick Question” or “Collaboration” in the subject line and find 100’s)

cold email example bad 2

Others don’t even bother with the personalization or targeting criteria with a “no BS” approach.  PS. I can also find 100’s of cold emails in my inbox by searching “No BS”.

Bad outbound email example 1

So, where am I going with this?

I’ve cluttered plenty of inboxes myself over the years.  So, we as SEOs, growth, and salespeople, need to do better.  Much better.

We need to go back to the roots of marketing:

  1. WHO: find who can benefit from your solution
  2. HOW: tell them how you can help them specifically
  3. WHEN: reach them at the time that they need your solution

If done right, receivers of your email blast should be thankful to see your email and eager to speak with you.

As an example, if you could know that I just purchased a new house — you’d probably have a better chance or selling me new furniture — and even better if you know my new house was midcentury modern and then offered me a catalog of midcentury modern styles.

So how do we know these details about our ICPs across our TAM at scale?

That’s what this post is about….

Last night, I attended a Clay Community Meetup hosted by the crafty Jordan Crawford of LinkedIn influencer fame and the founder of Blueprint GTM.

clay meetup

If you’re unfamiliar with it, Clay is software that enables scaled personalized outreach through better data enrichment.  It enables sales people and marketers to turn campaign ideas into outreach in minutes.   This is possible with Clay’s 75+ enrichment tools and their own AI agent, Claygent (powered by ChatGPT or Claude). Then, you can also use AI to craft the perfect outreach by inputting dynamic fields from your research into the message.

Ok, that was a mouthful but outbound with Clay is intensely powerful.

Let’s explore a few of the ways people are achieving their targeted marketing dreams with Clay:

Examples of Amazing Outbound Campaigns

Construction Safety AI Tracking + OSHA Violators

  • The Company: AI-powered safety monitoring for job sites.  Think trackers on workers to see when they’re driving forklifts too fast or other unsafe activities.
  • The Prospect: Construction and manufacturing companies.
  • The Insight: Prospects that have recently been hit with an OSHA violation fine are feeling the pain and motivated for a solution
  • The Approach: Using Clay, the company scraped the OSHA website which lists violators.  They then reached out to them to sympathize with their violation and offer them a solution to avoid it from ever happening again.

Schools + Hall Passes

  • The Company: Digital hall pass software for schools to ensure students have time windows and other parameters on their hall passes.
  • The Prospect: Schools
  • The Insight: Schools that still use outdated paper hall passes.
  • The Approach: Using Clay, scrape the student handbooks of schools at scale to extract which are still using paper hall passes.  Then outreach with a message highlighting the benefits of moving to digital and explicitly pointing out the likely headaches of each school’s current paper pass program.

Customer Data Platform + Startups with Free Solutions

  • The Company: Customer Data Platform provider.
  • The Prospect: Startups that had been issues a free 2 year customer data plan by the company’s competitor as part of an accelerator program.
  • The Insight: Startups that had grown would be hit with a huge bill once their free 2-year period ended.
  • The Approach: Using Clay, generate a list of startups that had received the free competitor plan as graduates of the accelerator.  Message them several months before their offer ended to warn them, and offer the company’s similar but much more affordable solution.

A lot better than “I loved your recent blog/post – want to meet?” or “Congratulations on your funding – want to meet?”

In these campaigns, the company is actually reaching prospects that can greatly benefit from their solution at the time of the outreach.  When and who makes what to say a lot easier.  Needless to day, all these campaigns crushed it!

So how can we crush our own outreach campaigns?

How to Gain the Inspiration for Amazing Outbound Campaign Ideas

Where did the “insight” come from in the example above?

Simple.  Ask customers why they bought.

In other words, do complete customer and sales team interviews to extract the different scenarios and reasons why people bought.  All the insights in the examples came from these interviews.

Jordan suggests these types of questions in your interview, which you should do for the customers and for the people on your team that speak with the customers most.

  • What do they care about (motivations)
  • What are they doing now?
  • What did they do before you?
  • What else did they consider?
  • How did they consider it?
  • What were the results?

And going 3 why’s deep.


What do you about?

  • I want more sales leads


  • Because we just hired 2 more sales people


  • Because we just set our new annual goal and we need to grow revenue by 30%


  • Because we just launch a new product for the X market and need to promote it

How to Craft Spectacular Outbound Audiences and Messages

Once you have your insight, you just need to find a way to build that list.  This is where data imports and web scraping come in.  You could have a sales person dig around and do the research but that doesn’t scale and the cost of the personalization may not match the boosted performance of personalization.

This is where Clay comes in.

It has a learning curve and also takes some creativity, scrappiness, and resilience to get the audience list that you want.  But with so many data sources, AI, and powerful web scraping you have plenty of options.  AND Clay has a waterfall feature, so you can check one data source, and if it fails, a second, third, fourth, or fifth data source provider can attempt to source it.

Since Clay has plenty of training videos and a generous free tier, just jump in and start using it.

But to wrap your head around Clay I’ll lay out some of the fundamentals…

How does Clay Make New Levels of Personalization and Targeting Possible

clay ui

Automate Manual Research

Clay helps you automate manual research that used to be done manually. Beyond scraping LinkedIn data like employee count, Clay automates sales research that traditionally required significant human effort.

For example, if you sell to SaaS companies, there’s no specific “SaaS” industry category on LinkedIn—only broad categories like Computer Software or Advertising Services. Reps would filter these lists but still have to manually check each account’s LinkedIn profile or website to confirm it was a SaaS company. Now, you can scrape a company page or website home page and feed it to ChatGPT to confirm the specific company type. You can train the AI model to be as specific as needed, filtering by SaaS companies, sales tech, cold email tech, etc., without hiring a salesperson.

Instead of manually researching accounts, you can enrich them with data on tech stack, job openings, website traffic, headcount growth, new roles, and keywords. GPT can then infer additional information about the account or prospect. Better yet, you can use Claygent to automate any manual research your sales team does today with Google. Claygent combines Google search, web scraping, and ChatGPT to automate research, answering questions about accounts for less than a penny per account with incredibly accurate results.

With Claygent, you have rock-solid lead lists, making your script practically write itself. After all, your list is your strategy. Bad lists go nowhere in outbound sales, but with Clay, you can create lists of your dream prospects with a fraction of the time, effort, and money previously needed.

Personalization at Scale (For Real)

Personalization was traditionally left up to individual SDR/BDR talent, with each rep manually looking up prospects and writing personalized copy by hand. This inconsistency meant only 20% of your outbound team did a solid job, while the rest struggled to keep up. Even top producers had limited bandwidth. Now, 90% of this process is accelerated with AI.

Fully automating the process can still lead to disaster if your prospects can tell the email was written by AI. However, with clever data and prompting abilities, you can segment your lists so that your message comes across as personalized. For instance, instead of saying “It looks like you live in Austin, Texas, United States,” you can use GPT to turn their LinkedIn profile location into a more natural expression, like “Looks like you live in the Austin area.” Small tweaks like this can make a significant difference, making your email feel personalized and avoiding the spammy feel.

AI That Works Well

Clay’s AI stands out because it allows you to do more with AI, applying it on a granular, row-by-row basis. While other tools might generate generic, spammy outputs, Clay’s AI can be finely tuned with detailed prompts and rich data for each prospect. For example, you can scrape a prospect’s profile, feed it into ChatGPT, and use the insights to craft highly personalized messages or even unique gift ideas.

AI Personalized Gifting at Scale

  • Accurate, fast, and cheap account research: Normalize data to avoid giveaways.
  • Automatic Enrichments: Seamlessly pull information from 50+ data providers and use ChatGPT to infer information about an account.
  • Flexible Integrations: Easily connect any app not natively integrated with Clay via Zapier.
  • Brilliant, relevant, and personalized cold emails: Turn vast amounts of data into emails that look handwritten. The possibilities are endless.

Scale Outbound without Scaling Cost or Headcount (with powerful automation)

Sending emails with Clay is far cheaper than using a salesperson. It takes a rep about 10 minutes to research an account, find the right prospect, and craft a handwritten cold email, which means they can send around 48 solid cold emails in an 8-hour day. With an average BDR salary of $60k/year, that’s $5 per cold email. But reps don’t send emails all day—they take breaks, go for lunch, and so on.

Clay, on the other hand, can send virtually unlimited emails per day at a cost of $.05 to $.10 per email, or maybe $.20 for the most complicated tasks. That’s 25-100x cheaper per email than a salesperson. Combining these cost savings with added scale drastically improves your pipeline and cost of sale.

Smarter Outbound Sales Automation Stack for Modern Sales Teams

Sales teams have no shortage of tech options.  The problem is putting it all together and executing with speed and consistency.  These are the tools I’ve personally landed on and could not operate without (and don’t need anything more either).

  • Clay: Automate enrichment, research, and personalization.
  • OpenAI: ChatGPT is incredibly useful in Clay. Get an API key.
  • Apollo: Great data platform to build raw source lists for further refinement in Clay.
  • HubSpot: CRM systems for managing your data.


Let’s all raise the bar on outreach.  Let’s stop cluttering email inboxes and LinkedIn InMail with stale messages to irrelevant prospects.  Talk to your customers, get your inspiration — and then turn it into a targeted audience with timeliness — so the message writes itself.  Then do scaled, personalized outbound with Clay.

And if you’re looking for inbound leads or awareness air coverage with display, LinkedIn, search ads, and SEO, that’s what we do at Upgrow.  Book a free intro call to learn more or check out our thick stack of case studies to see what kind of results we could drive for your business.

Free Ebooks & Video Training

Download PPC, SEO, and lead generation resources from our library to take your performance to the next level.

Ryder Meehan

Ryder Meehan

Ryder has been on a 16-year journey to master digital marketing from every aspect. His resume includes Razorfish, Slighshot, Fossil, Samsung Mobile and Tatcha before launching Upgrow. Ryder is the acting CEO, heading business development and account services. He has been featured as a digital marketing leader on Forbes, PRNews,, Workamajig, Databox, Fit Small Biz and other outlets.

Read More from Our Blog

PSA: – Beware of Imitators
PSA: – Beware of Imitators

I wanted to formally and publicly announce that Upgrow has an imitator,, which is in no way affiliated with our company. While they are not a direct competitor in the performance marketing agency space, they have an Instagram following service (presumably...

read more
How to Use Google Ads’ New Generative AI Image Generator
How to Use Google Ads’ New Generative AI Image Generator

On April 16, 2024, Google announced the release of a new generative AI feature for Demand Gen campaigns in Google Ads. The feature allows advertisers to generate original AI images using text prompts, similar to DALL-E and Midjourney but more specialized for ad...

read more