Clay, a tool to deepen your network
Written by Rayouf Alhumedhi for KP Product Fellowship
What is Clay and why is it amazing?
Clay has been one of my absolute favorite tools in the last few months. With the help of AI, Clay allows you to methodically organize and maintain their professional network, like a very pretty personal CRM. Long are the days where I have a manual Notion spreadsheet that logs my coffee chats and what we talked about or when I last followed up. Clay makes the monotonous process of documenting contact information, conversation notes, and self-reminders effortless.
Clay is monetized through a subscription service
Its subscription pricing plan is set up in 3 buckets: personal plan for free, personal plan for $10/month for additional features, and a business plan. The business objective is likely to increase conversions from the freemium to premium personal plans; doing this requires a fine balance between offering enough features for the free user to be hooked onto the product, but also avoiding making the premium product seem like a slim improvement.
I reflect on Spotify as the hall-of-fame example of getting it right. The freemium experience is enough for users to realize the value of the platform, but still is just enough of an inconvenience (in terms of ad and limited listening), to trigger that switch.
Clay’s appeal is its ultimate ease and thoughtfulness
The many features of Clay that stand out include a feed that combines your email, LinkedIn and other media into one social stream that either reminds you to reconnect with certain people, shares friends’ updated bios, and if a friend has been mentioned in the news. The latter to me has been super useful, as it allows a nice ‘reason’ to reach out to somebody, making the all-too-daunting process of reaching out much more personable.
It combines your fragmented online spaces into one, making the process of staying in touch much more joyful. Here’s a select few of my favorite thoughtful product choices:
‘Moments’ and ‘Setting a Cadence’
When expanding a person in my network, I’m shown the ‘moments’ we have shared, which encompass the subject line of what we last communicated about and the date. Here’s a look:
'Searching' for any sub-group
Clay’s cleanest feature, in my opinion, is its command line that allows you to search for a group of people seamlessly, such as “People with a design background.” The benefit is that it enables users to be ultra-specific in their search, with minimal manual effort. This feature shines relative to LinkedIn’s search feature, which often cannot extrapolate location or shared experiences as well.
Clay’s opportunity area lie in doubling down on its 'effortless differentiator' through the following recommendations
Filter who enters your Clay network by your shared community
A feature that utilizes AI to automatically group people who share certain qualities, such as workplace, or university. Clay will offer pre-selected groups based on the organization’s email or shared workplace and allow you to select the ones you want to be as a part of your network.
The clear benefit of this is that it allows for a much cleaner database of people you actually care about. For instance, when you link your personal email which you also use to book your dentist appointment, your orthodontist shouldn't be someone you’re recommended to reconnect with.
Another benefit is that it targets a pain point: users spend a lot of time manually creating groups for people in their network, separating them by shared experiences. Currently, I have mine grouped by ‘Netflix,’ ‘LionTree’ and ‘Stanford.’ Tracking down the emails and manually entering them feels a little unnecessary. This feature could be included as a part of the $10 plan, since it’s not necessary for the use of Clay, but also an extremely nice-to-have that may incite users to make the jump from freemium.
Product research and A/B testing will be required to validate the pain point that users tend to create their own group and spend a lot of time doing so. This can look like analyzing how long a user spends creating their own groups for people and also deleting contacts from their network (like my dentist.)
Here’s a quick task flow journey of the Filter Network by Grouping feature:
User signs up on Clay and link accounts
Clay displays to the user a series of automated groupings based on shared metadata
To determine the success of such a feature, here are some potential metrics:
The average number of groupings selected relative to the number of times ‘import all’ was selected
User satisfaction survey
User has the option to skip and ‘Import all Network’
User selects the groups they want to be a part of their network
User is directed to the opening home screen
This feature is in line with the consistent thoughtful touches by Clay which successfully attempt to make staying in touch easier. It’s thoughtful for Clay to internalize the work that the user is likely to do. However, potential risk factors include inaccurate algorithmic tags, so that my list does not actually reflect the extent or content of a user’s division in terms of work, school, and others.
Aggregate the ‘moments’ of the same person, but from different platforms
This feature proposes a way to combine a user’s several different interactions with a person across different media platforms under the ‘moments’ tab. Currently, if a user has ‘Jane Doe’ on both LinkedIn and Email, they are listed separately, so the last time we connected (ie. ‘moments’) will be reflected inaccurately. Aggregating a person’s profile into one ‘super-profile’ will remove redundancy and also reinforce Clay’s mission of joining our fragmented digital relationships.
The key pain point this feature targets is the unnecessary back-and-forth clicking involved in trying to find a person in a user's network and instead aggregating all the information about them.
Clay’s product is differentiated in both what it offers and how it offers it
As someone with a product design background, I can’t help but also applaud Clay’s sleek design. Both on desktop and app, it offers functionality in a non-fuss way. Further, the fact that it can exist as a widget on iOS allows seamless integration into daily life. Overall, I think with a few changes and incorporating features that can improve the UX, Clay will be able to continue framing itself as the most thoughtful personal relationship manager.