I first heard of Ninja Outreach when reading Ali Lawrence’s article on TechMania411.net. I actually heard so much buzz about the article, that I had to read it and try out the app for myself. It was at that time that I also got in touch with founder, Dave Schneider, and interviewed him this week.
Real Company: Transparency and Approachability
In this day and age, it is not unusual to find start-up tech companies that are reachable, but I was really impressed by how approachable and personable Dave Schneider was (is). He is the man behind the app, but it says a lot when he is so transparent about the limitations of his tool and where he and the company hope to see the tool go, in the future. In a forum where he could have bragged about all that the tool was, he was very open and presented it as if he were sitting at a table having coffee with you. In my book, that goes a long ways for credibility and I’m willing to give the tool a shot. This is especially true since the tool offers a free trial for two weeks.
Windows Desktop Application
Admittedly, being a Windows-only, desktop application, is a drawback for Macintosh users (which I am). This is also a drawback for those who desire to have a web-based tool. Fortunately, Dave Schneider has indicated that the plans are to make Ninja Outreach into a web-based tool soon. In the meantime, Mac users can use the tool in Parallels and likely other Parallels-like software. I installed it and did not have any issues running it inside of the Parallels application environment.
The interface is very clean. It is very easy to follow. For the first 60 seconds or so, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. But, thanks to its Google-friendly interface, I typed in a phrase in the search bar. I was just about to think nothing was happening when the interface filled with data! From there, it was pretty easy to follow how to move contacts from the search results to the contact list. The only glitch that I ran into was that I needed to create a campaign first and actually choose the campaign before the search (or at least before trying to add a contact to it). However, as I figured that out, I realized that those instructions are boldly indicated at the top of the interface. Based on the interview with Dave Schneider, I anticipate that these minor (I mean really, really minor!) aspects will improve over time.
Data Gathering All In One Place
The data that is presented by Ninja Outreach is even more than I had hoped. The tool pulls publicly available information like phone numbers, email addresses, and also Klout scores, PR, and alexa ratings (to name a few). I did find it amusing to see what an impressive alexa rating I had (16) until I realized it was reading my Pinterest profile in the search results and that was Pinterest’s alexa rating. So, when reviewing the data, be sure to wear your “common sense” hat in interpreting the data (i.e. difference between actual web site data and social profile data pulling the social site’s data).
All of this data could be obtained by visiting the different sites to obtain the alexa rating, PR, contact information, etc., but would take a bunch of time to do so. That is where the key advantage with Ninja Outreach is the amount of time it saves the prospecting marketer.
For those of you wondering about the term “inbound marketing,” check out the HubSpot article, specifically the portion on CRM. While it is true you could use Ninja Outreach for prospecting, there is also the analysis aspect that helps to define what type of content helps in the inbound attraction portion of the inbound marketing. Also, the Ninja Outreach tool is a CRM, which is how it fits into the “inbound marketing” category, by keeping track of the relationships and the data related to those relationships. However, it can also be used as an “outreach prospecting” tool, more along the “cold calling” type deal. So, the label is really based on how you use it but fortunately, you are not limited by that use and can use it for both, as your very detailed CRM tool.
Uses for the Tool
The first thought I had, for this tool, was that it was for marketing, to find buying clients. While that is one use, the tool is not limited to that use. The first tier of subscription is for the “blogger” and that realization (through a simple label) helped me to realize that this tool could be used for any type of campaign. For example, if you are a podcaster and looking for guests for your podcast, you could use Ninja Outreach. As a blogger, you could use it to find brands, to find columnists, interviewers, and interviewees. There really are endless possibilities for using this tool.
At first this tool reminded me of my trial run with Vocus. Clearly it does’t haven’t all of the modules that the Vocus tool has, but it is a fraction of the prices. At $19/mo, this tool is affordable. The key thing on the prices is to determine the ROI (return on investment) for your particular situation. If you use the tool and are able to close a $50 sale per month, then you are money ahead ($31) in paying for this tool. Also, if you are able to save on what you pay a virtual assistant (or helping that virtual assistant to be more productive with the time you are paying for), then you may have an excellent ROI. Fortunately, with the price so low, you have a better chance than if it were up in the $500/mo range.
I’m still on the fence about whether or not I will subscribe. This has nothing to do with the tool itself. The only reason for that is that I don’t use this type of tool currently. However, I am seeing where even the CRM features of this tool go way beyond my current use of Google Contacts. Currently, I have to jot this information down in the notes section of my address book. This particular CRM would seem to be a very handy one-stop-shop. If I were already doing something like this, the decision to pay for Ninja Outreach, monthly, would be a no-brainer.
Interestingly, I may have contradicted myself saying I don’t do this currently and then stating that I jot the information in Google Contacts!… Are YOU in the same boat?
The idea of a free trial helps those of us on the fence to make a decision on whether or not this tool fits our business strategy. Also, this tool would have a tiny bit lower rating, because of the Mac limitation and some desired functionality, but it is given a 4.5 star rating because of the approachability of the founders (most notably Dave Schneider). That is really saying something when a tool review gets extra “points” because of the people behind it.
This is still a very new tool on the block and from the looks and sounds of things, it has the potential to really go places. I’d like to be there when it does.