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Clay Review: The Most Powerful Lead Enrichment Tool EVER

There's a new lead enrichment tool that brings a level of customization that you've never seen before. Clay let's you enrich leads to hyper-personalize your outbound email campaigns to boost your response rates & enable a deeper level of connection with your prospects at scale.
Updated August 13, 2023
a bunch of colorful clay in a pile that looks like a bunch of bricks in a big, empty, white room
a bunch of colorful clay in a pile that looks like a bunch of bricks in a big, empty, white room

I don't think I've been happier to send cold emails after learning about Clay.

As someone constantly on the lookout for tools that enhance productivity and makes the overall prospecting process easier, I must say Clay has been the biggest breath of fresh air.

First being discovered in 14,000 BC, Clay is a natural, fine-grained sedimentary material composed primarily of hydrated silicates of aluminum. Just kidding.

Clay is an innovative data automation tool that revolutionizes how to find and qualify both people and companies. Their ability to gather hard-to-find data from over 50 providers, cuts down significantly on the time and resources spent on manual searches.

The level of personalization and automation is something never before seen at this level, and I don't see myself using another tool for as long as I run any kind of business.

Whether you're interested in a company's tech stack, latest news, open job listings, growth metrics, and more, Clay has you covered at the click of a button. The tool can even identify if companies are remote-first, SOC II compliant, or if they mention certain keywords on their website. It's safe to say that the depth of insights offered is second to none, setting the stage for outbound prospecting. There is no other tool like this on the market.

Clay can also scrape things like a website sitemap. You can go ahead and scrape a company's pricing page to determine if they could afford your services before even reaching out.

Clay has fundamentally transformed our agency's experience with outbound sales, allowing our sales team to enhance the prospecting capabilities and completely stand out from the mountain of competitors in today's market.

Whether it’s information about a company’s funding amounts, headcount growth, or tech stacks – you’re now able to capture the information at your fingertips. You can learn about the companies you're trying to work with and reach them with hyper-personalized outbound messages at scale.

Honestly, the process of reaching out to leads has never felt more satisfying & effortless. Here's our honest review after using the tool for a few months.

What is Clay?

Clay is an automated prospecting tool that launched in February 2022 as a no-code platform to help find & enrich leads. I wouldn't consider them to be a data provider, rather a data aggregator.

They glue together the applications you use everyday into one. Whether it’s Crunchbase, Apollo, Google, LinkedIn, Hunter, Shopify or even Yelp, Clay is able to take the results you get from each platform and combine them into one to create a truly customized data set for a prospect.

Need to find their contact info? Use Apollo. Need to find a recent news article? Use Google. Need to find their email address? Use Hunter. Need to see if they use Shopify? Use BuiltWith.

And guess what…you can then combine those results and pass it through OpenAI’s GPT-4 and create the ultimate personalization you need for your key prospect to reply to your email. All done at scale.

Be sure to hop into their slack channel at clay.com/slack to start learning how everyone makes the best use of the tool.

In the slack channel, users talk about creative ways to use AI in your prospecting, tutorials, and are super super quick to respond to bugs, feature requests, and providing help. It’s honestly incredible to see how fast they respond and how quickly they ship new updates and features.

Who Should Use Clay? 

This might sound strange, but everyone who runs any type of business needs to be using Clay. Whether you’re a small solo business, or a company with a sales team of 50, Clay allows you to stand out in your prospect’s inbox or DMs.

At both sides of the table, prospects are being spammed with offers and promotions that don't seem relevant. You have to have an edge to even have a slight chance of getting the reply. Clay gives you that edge.

If we want to get specific to industries: technology/software, pharmaceuticals, real estate, manufacturing, and consulting are only a handful of industries that do outbound prospecting – they need clay.

Clay's Key Features

The best way I could describe Clay is being a mix of AirTable, Google Sheets and Zapier on steroids.

What makes Clay unique and unlike anything we’ve seen before is that it’s able to pull data from various sources, categorize and filter the data, combine that data into a set, and then utilize the power of GPT-4 to manipulate and customize that data all while ever leaving the platform. Done in seconds and at scale.

Finding Leads

Clay serves as a fast and powerful lead finder, allowing you to discover the work emails of prospects from over 50 data providers, including LinkedIn profiles, Apollo, BuiltWith, Clearbit, and Twitter followers. With Clay, you can automate Google searches to explore company websites, search for keywords, and convert web pages into lists. 

There’s a few different ways to go about finding leads in Clay. It’s important you first write down who it is that you're looking to get connected with to help yourself visualize things.

  • Are you taking an ABM (Account Based Marketing) approach where you have a book of accounts you need information on?
  • Do you need HR executives of companies with at least 500 employees located in New York City? 
  • What about companies that just raised a Series A and have open job listings searching for SDRs (Sales Development Representatives) or BDRs (Business Development Representatives)?

These are the questions you need to have answered before you dive into Clay because 1) you’ll get overwhelmed, and 2) you will burn credits (we’ll talk more about credits later).

Let’s take the first scenario as an example. Assume you’re a company that would like to sell something to the HR department at LinkedIn. 

When you create your first Clay table, this is what you will see.

You will have the Name, Email, and LinkedIn profile as the default columns. I usually delete the defaults so I can start from scratch.

New table view in Clay.com list building and prospecting screen

You’re going to click the “+” sign to add a column This is where you also click to add an enrichment, use their AI feature, or the other types of formars they offer like formula generator, data, checkboxes, email, url, etc. 

Adding a new column to clay.com table

You’re going to want to create a column, not an enrichment, select "Text" from the dropdown and name it “Domain.”

In that first row under the “Domain” column you’re going to type or paste the URL of LinkedIn. Which is https://www.linkedin.com/. It should look like this:

Adding a LinkedIn domain to a clay.com table

Now you’re going to add a new column, and it’s going to be an enrichment.

Click “Enrich Data” from the dropdown. You should now see and have access to all of the integrations Clay has to offer. 

Enrich Data options when working with tables and data in Clay.com

Simply type in the word “LinkedIn” and you will see the different options we have available when using LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn data enrichment list for use with Clay.com

Look for the one that says “Enrich Company, and select it. You should now see a few different options. 

Entering in custom data to enrich a LinkedIn Company with clay.com

Now we have a few options. Remember where we typed in LinkedIn, the URL?

Usually if you have a specific LinkedIn URL you would then use the first one that says “Company LinkedIn URL” but in this case, we just have the standard URl address. So we’re going to use the generic “Website” enrichment.

Click on “Website” and then it should prompt you to select a column. Once you click, it will show you a dropdown of your columns. In this case, we only have 1 so simply select the “Domain” column. Once selected, click “Continue to Add Fields”. You should see the following data points to grab.

Enrich Company columns to add to table in Clay.com

For this example, you only need the URL (the first one) so toggle that one. You see the blue bar at the bottom? If you click this, it will run multiple rows at a time which is not what you want when testing it out. On the right of the bar, you will see a small arrow/small blue box. Click that and then click “Save and Do Not Run”. 

You should be redirected back to your table and should now see the LinkedIn URL. 

To be fair, you could have found this on your own and saved a credit – but we’re assuming you only have the URLs of the companies you want to connect with.

Table list of prospect data in a Clay.com table

Now you’re going to create another column and add another enrichment. This time, you’re going to search for the enrichment that says “Find People”. It should look like this:

Find people enrichment for LinkedIn when using Clay.com

Select that enrichment and add it to your table. Once selected, you will only need to look for the “Company Identifier”, “Job Title Keywords”, and “Locations”.

Company Identifier custom options in Clay.com

For the company identifier, once selected, you’re going to see the dropdown again and for this you’re going to choose the new URL you created. So it should be the new data point you created. 

Using dynamic data to feed into an enrichment in Clay.com

For “Job Title Keywords” you’re going to input the keywords related to HR or Human Resources. 

I actually used ChatGPT itself to identify potential keywords to refine the results, but for this example we’re only going to use “Human Resources” as the keyword in Clay. This was the ChatGPT prompt and result:

ChatGPT result for keywords to target to identify human resources

The final inputs in the enrichment should look like this. If it does, click “Continue to Add Fields” at the bottom.

Adding job title keywords to the find people enrichment in Clay.com

You should now see quite a bit of information to pass over. 

Btw, all of this is sample data – don’t worry.

But if you see this, you’re going to toggle “URL” (Contact’s personal LinkedIn profile), “Name” and “First Name”.

Now back in your Clay table, you’ll see a bit of information.

Adding Find People columns to clay table in Clay.com

Let’s break down what you see. You should see the “Find People” Enrichment, and then three other columns: Url - People, Name - People, and First Name - People.

Remember, this is simply mapped over data from the “Find People” enrichment we ran. 

Though I bet something caught your intention. Find people says “Returned 10 profiles”. This means it found 10 different contacts that are relevant to your search, containing keywords around Human Resources, work at LinkedIn, and live in the United States.

This is basically a list of results.

When you click inside that “Find People”, you should see a few different items. These 9-10 items are contacts. Each one is a contact containing a different contact, and the information you need about each prospect.

Find People enrichment in Clay.com table
Cell details to find a specific person when using a Clay.com enrichment

For this example, we’ll use the default contact Clay gave us. Now we have Piper Galt’s LinkedIn information, and her full name. That’s all we need

Utilizing these enrichments, Clay is able to find potential accounts to prospect within a few clicks of a button. You go from having little to no information about a prospect to knowing everything about the contact or account within seconds.

You have complete access to all of this data. LinkedIn isn't even the only data source you can pull from. I took a users location from their LinkedIn and asked Clay to use ChatGPT to grab me a unique fact about the location. This would be great for an email first line.

Send a message to ChatGPT using custom dynamic data from a Clay.com enrichment

Like what! Imagine opening an email with this line. I'd be so intrigued (if I lived in Miami!)

A cell with information responded from a ChatGPT call after using a Clay.com enrichment

Find Emails & Verify Them

You’ve now seen a glimpse of the enrichments we can connect together via Clay to enhance your prospecting. Now that you have a little bit of information about a contact, you can now use these other integrations to find and verify their work email address. 

Whether it’s using Apollo, Hunter, or even Clay’s own email finder/verification tool you can find someones email address, ensure it’s valid, and have a verified prospect’s contact information for you or your sales team to reach out to. 

Something even cooler? It's called the waterfall effect.

Let’s say you try finding a person’s email using Apollo and it doesn't find it? You can then automatically try using Hunter. Still didn't find it? Use Clay’s own feature. All automated using a click of a button. 

Also something very cool worth noting: Want to save on Clay credits? Do you have your own Hunter or Apollo account? You can connect your own accounts to Clay so you save the credits on your account.

Validate emails in Clay.com using one of their enrichments. You can use Clay's API key or your own.

AI Formula Generator

Clay also features an AI Formula Generator which lets you specifically ask for something you want done to a cell. Let's say you have a list of LinkedIn profiles but nothing else. You can ask to grab the persons full name from the profile cell... and boom. This also doesn't use any Clay credits (which we'll get into the pricing later)

  1. Get the domain from {{Email}}
  2. If there is a value in {{LinkedIn URL}} use that otherwise use {{LinkedIn Profile}}.url
  3. Get the value after @ in {{Twitter Handle}}
  4. Split {{city}} by the comma and give me everything before the first comma. If it says "Area" in the input, delete Area. After that, add "" to every input.
  5. Get the first word from {{Column_1}} and add it to {{Column_2}}. Then remove all non letters.
  6. Get the amount of days between {{Created Date}} and {{Closed Date}}}}

It works great for conditional statements, cleaning up data, and when you forget that google sheet or excel formula that you need to use, You tell it exactly what you need it to do and it does it! 

“Remove the https part from the URL” , or “Combine first and last name” and within seconds your data is cleaned. No need to know or understand the formulas behind it. It just does it. 

AI Formula Generator in Clay.com
AI Formula generator outputting a name formatted differently when using a Clay.com enrichment

Chrome Extension

With the free Clay Chrome Extension, you can easily scrape any website such as Crunchbase and LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This cool feature auto-detects your scraped data and maps it, so you can export it to your Clay table or download it as a CSV file. If the list is undetectable or lacks some data, you can map it manually before exporting it.

Chrome Extension visualization of a Clay.com LinkedIn profile

How Does Clay Pricing Work?

So Clay has 4 plans each giving you greater access to data & allowing you to use more credits. A credit is anything that pulls information from somewhere. Want to enrich a LinkedIn profile? That's a credit. Want to verify an email? Another credit. Ask something to ChatGPT? Yup, that's a credit.

So at first glance this doesn't seem too bad, right? But now imagine if each lead in your list requires 5 Clay credits to sequence out a single email. Multiply that by 20 leads and you're at 100 credits.

The free trial of Clay gives you 1,000 credits to learn how it works (which would be enough to enrich the list above if you want to put something into perspective).

Clay has three (3) premium plans – Starter (for individuals and recruiters), Explorer (for startups and agencies), and Pro (for sales teams and more medium to larger sized companies).

Free Plan

The Free plan is designed to showcase Clay's capabilities for your business. It provides 100 free credits for testing, but note that these credits do not roll over; they're on a use-it-or-lose-it basis. You can now also add unlimited seats to your account even while on the Free plan.

Starter (starting at $129/Month)

The Starter Plan offers two pricing options. The first option, priced at $129 per month, provides 2,000 monthly credits. Though for $199 per month, you can choose the second option that comes with 3,000 monthly credits.

  • Everything from Free
  • Create Unlimited Tables
  • Use your own API keys

Explorer (starting at $349/month)

The Explorer Plan comes in three pricing options. The first is $349 per month, offering 12,000 monthly credits. The second is priced at $449 per month, providing 18,000 monthly credits. The third option, available for $649 per month, includes 30,000 monthly credits.

  • Everything from Starter
  • Email Tool Integrations
  • Access to Webhooks
  • Access to HTTP API

Pro (starting at $700/month)

The Pro Plan comes with a whopping five different pricing options. The first is priced at $700 per month, offering 50,000 monthly credits. The second option, priced at $950 per month, provides 75,000 monthly credits. The third option, available for $1,200 per month, includes 100,000 monthly credits. The fourth option, at $1,500 per month, offers 150,000 monthly credits. Finally, the fifth option, priced at $2,000 per month, provides 200,000 monthly credits.

  • Everything from Explorer
  • CRM Integrations

It's very important to mention that each Clay plan gives you access to a host of data providers at significantly lower costs than sourcing directly. Bundling Clay with these other providers can be up to 20 times cheaper and more accurate than if you were going directly to those other providers. Thanks to Clay's partnerships with these companies, you can acquire this data at a fraction of the cost you'd incur if you sourced them individually.

Clay also offers annual payments, where you can save about 25% monthly. I would highly recommend doing this to save on a plan, but first you should understand how the credits work and how many you'll be spending on each lead. Definitely start with a monthly plan.

Pros and Cons of Clay

PROS

CONS

  • Free trial with unlimited users

  • 50+ data providers

  • 15+ Native Integrations

  • Chrome Extension

  • GPT-4 Integration

  • Consistent updates

  • Easy to use

  • Starter pricing could be a barrier to some

  • Some enrichments you may find bugs in, however the engineering team fixes anything reported ASAP

  • Fairly small community but growing with time

Best Clay Alternatives

Uplead

Founded in April 2017, Uplead is a popular B2B prospecting tool that has similar key features as Clay. This lead generation platform has an email finder, data enrichment tools, and provides real-time email verification. According to the company, Uplead has access to 135+ million email addresses with around 95% accuracy. A worthy alternative to check out if you want to compare a few companies.

It's a bit cheaper than Clay, but doesn't have the extensive integrations and rapid support as Clay.

FindThatLead

Founded in 2014, FindThatLead is another popular freemium B2B prospecting tool that allows you to find local business information, regardless of industry and location. This is the cheapest out of all the lead finding tools, but doesn't have the complex customization and depth that other tools have.

Final Thoughts

Clay truly sets a new standard for lead generation and data automation tools. With all its features and smooth integrations, it’s like a magic wand for email marketing.

With Clay, you can say goodbye to the time-consuming hunt for data and focus more on creating messages that hit the mark. It's not just about finding leads anymore; it's about knowing your leads in depth, understanding their needs, and reaching out to them in the most personalized way.

That's what Clay brings to the table.

Clay isn't just a tool; it's like your personal assistant in the world of digital marketing. It finds leads, enriches them with useful data, and helps you reach out in a way that resonates. You can't send generic emails to thousands of contacts and really expect anything to stick anymore. It's 2023.

And keep in mind, all of this is backed by the power of AI, which makes the entire process smooth and quick.

So, if you’re a business hoping to make your sales and marketing strategies more effective, Clay is definitely worth a shot. It’s a tool that simplifies your work, saves you time, and delivers results.

Simply put, your email marketing gets easier, smarter, and more powerful when using Clay.

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Written by Justin Gluska
Justin is the founder of Gold Penguin, a business technology blog that helps people start, grow, and scale their business using AI. The world is changing and he believes it's best to make use of the new technology that is starting to change the world. If it can help you make more money or save you time, he'll write about it!
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