What? Are we ready to optimize? As an industry, we were trying to entertain ABM for a few years, but have not “figured it out” yet… 🙂
At the beginning of the event, a roomful of marketers was asked if they were doing or thinking about ABM – most hands went up. The next question tried to identify who “figured ABM out;” at that moment most marketers in the audience were turning around trying to find raised hands (so we could find these gurus at the bar later and investigate the secret). Nobody claimed to figure out Account Based Marketing. Everybody wanted to get an advice. Presentations started.
Interesting: several vendors in the field formed an “alliance” to promote the concept, and this event was part of their effort. Also interesting: the alliance members are technology companies, but a very traditional live event introduced the organization to many local marketers.
ABM is clearly working for many organizations (based on ITSMA research).
Though there are challenges (click to enlarge an image below).
Usual three types of ABM were discussed.
Marketing and Sales
Marketing and sales alliance is critical for AMB, and it is generally understood in the industry. Marketing and Sales, however, may understand ABM differently.
- Sales: marketing will dedicate a marketer to my account – excellent!
- Marketing: ah, not quite…
“It is important to work with sales as a partner, not as a helper.”
Many companies apply “top ABM” to large existing accounts. The dynamic of ABM expansion is different in large enterprises and smaller companies. Enterprise typically starts from “one-to-one” and progresses to “one-to-many,” while smaller organizations are moving in the opposite direction.
Many organizations discover new competition: “We were here… and now Amazone is a competitor – no matter in which market you are…” This environment encourages the move to ABM.
- Getting 50 new logos – mass approach
- Getting a marquee client – “one-to-one” approach
An unusual approach to account selection from one of the presentations: top accounts are split by “high visibility” and “high potential.”
All ABM approaches are based on research prior to execution; you could spend 1 month before you are planning campaigns…
“Planning and account selection took us 4 months.”
Off-line personal activities are as important: road shows, direct mail, etc.
Campaigns leveraging 4 channels are about 3 times more effective than campaigns concentrated on one channel.
LeanPlum: “SDR team is under marketing. ABM was successful:
- first quarter: 33% of opportunities from the target accounts
- second quarter: 66% of opportunities from the target accounts
Snowflake: “Started from switching to an account-based sales organization. Marketing process followed… Marketing contributes intelligence for these accounts, as sales might have information for top accounts, but not all of them.”
As the event was sponsored by technology vendors, one critical aspect of ABM-specific technology was discussed – strategy. “Do not buy any technology before defining a strategy!”
Why would technology vendors be so concerned? Very often they encounter customers, who lament: “I bought X technology and it did not work, therefore, ABM does not work for my company…”
Technology vendors recommend building a foundation first, before adding any additional tools. “Yes, everybody has CRM, but how effectively are you using it? Do you have an account view, etc.?”
“We invested in a lot of tools and not using all of them…”
” Try introducing new tools gradually.”
One of the “stack samples” with reasonable, and clearly defined categories.
Interesting: “one-to-many” approach is considered a “traditional marketing” by some organizations, what makes sense. Other companies maintain “one-to-many” or “traditional marketing” approach in addition to ABM for all accounts. It might be done because of branding benefit or for practical reasons, as excluding key accounts from every campaign might be difficult on the organizational level (particularly in the enterprise setting).
Important to select “one-to-one” accounts carefully;” it is difficult to allocate resources to “one-to-many” approach. May not be possible to apply ABM approach properly.
“Existing opportunities are not required to go through the program.”
“We do a lot of A/B testing on the buyer’s level, and it is very time-consuming.”
“We are creating less content, but extremely relevant for the buyer.”
Traackr: “Materials created for a specific target prospect might be interesting for peripheral companies. Targeted accounts activities are included in the report done weekly for sales and marketing: which companies are doing what?”
Traackr: “Very effective tactic: 15% conversion rate from LinkedIn ads targeted to senior executives.”
Metrics and Dashboards
MQL is dead… Set meetings in qualified accounts are one of the metrics; general account engagement is another metric. HOWEVER, ABM approach functions alongside traditional demand gen, as more leads are needed.
(click to enlarge images below)
Interesting: in HCL’s perspective of ABM, there is no “marketing generated” category; all business is “co-created,” though I do not remember what are “marketing closures.”
Insights from ABM veterans
What do you wish you knew before starting your ABM journey?
- We should not look at leads but concentrate on account engagement.
- We spent too much time on content journeys, while we needed to concentrate on volume. Do we have people to target?
- We needed to find data: if data is not good, relationship with sales would suffer.
What were your “Aha” moments?
- We are a video company… and direct mail is one of our most effective channels. All campaigns should be planned across multiple channels.
- Rep said: “Marketing does not do anything for me!” The rep was involved only after any solid lead was generated. However, the account had many interactions; this information was not initially exposed to sales.
- Start by building relationships with interested reps. They will help to involve the rest of the sales organization.
- One person from marketing is now sitting in sales meetings. Sales are comfortable giving feedback to this person.
- Community managers are great resources for ABM.
- “…even within marketing itself, we were not aligned on ABM…”
Was investment in other areas reduced because of the start of an ABM effort?
- We are just investing more overall.
- Currently, ABM efforts are 25% of spend; plan to expand to 60% – 70%.
- We added ABM and not cut anything; ABM and “traditional” demand generation are working in parallel.
New (for me) tools:
NetLine – a Content Syndication Network. Could potentially allow testing content free of charge – need to investigate.
Sigstr – allows creating promotional elements for employee signatures. The promotions are editable from the central location and include reporting.
Excellent event! (Great venue and lovely snacks 🙂 )