Note: Today’s guest post is from Brandon Redlinger, Director of Growth at Engagio. Engagio offers a marketing orchestration software to help B2B marketers create and measure customer engagement, scaling the benefits of automation with the personalized benefits of the human touch.
If you’re in B2B, chances are you’ve heard of account-based marketing (ABM), and you’re likely even implementing some of the elements effectively today. I want to help you take your B2B marketing efforts to the next level. At Engagio, we’re constantly testing, tweaking and refining our ABM program so that we can both build a world-class marketing software company and teach others to do the same.
In the spirit of the latter, I want to share some of the biggest lessons we’ve learned doing ABM successfully over the last few years.
There’s No “I” in the Account Based Team
Marketing can’t execute an effective Account Based program without the help of sales, and sales can’t execute without marketing. As Tracy Eiler and Andrea Austin constantly reiterate in their book Aligned to Achieve, “Sales can’t do it alone, and marketing exists to make sales easier.”
We’re not looking for a hero. If Marketing embraces ABM without a deep alignment with Sales, you get isolated tactics like ad retargeting and fancy mailers or field events that Sales doesn’t care about or participate in.
To really engage with a target account, the human touch is essential. Someone needs to pick up the phone, send a personal email, or make a real connection on social channels. Only then can the ABM tactics make an impact.
Similarly, sales without support from Marketing leads to a bunch of junior reps generating their own accounts and writing their own emails– then doubling the volume to try to improve performance, usually at the cost of quality.
Finally, account-based approaches in isolation results in Account Executives wasting their time prospecting without any support or leverage. That’s expensive and inefficient. What works is integration. That’s the heart of any account-based strategy.
|“ABM is a strategic business initiative. If it’s only sponsored by Marketing, it becomes a campaign.”
– Jeff Sands ITSMA
Track the Metrics that Matter for B2B Sales and Marketing
Marketers have made significant progress in the use of metrics to demonstrate the impact of their work, earning more accountability and ultimately, respect. Unfortunately, many marketers are still far too focused on vanity metrics such as the number of Twitter followers or Youtube video views. These are not only distracting, they’re dangerously misleading. More marketers are thankfully adopting more revenue and lead-based metrics, such as how many MQL’s were delivered this quarter and what percentage Sales is accepting and converting to opportunities. But even this approach isn’t appropriate when it comes to optimizing account-based activity.
Traditional demand-gen metrics aren’t enough. The rise of account-based marketing demands new ways of thinking about marketing metrics. While leads, opportunities, pipeline, and revenue are necessary metrics, they are not sufficient to measure account-based strategies. This is a fundamentally different approach that requires fundamentally different metrics.
|“Don’t count the people you reach; reach the people that count.”
– David Ogilvy, Ogilvy & Mather
If your account-based strategy is going to see the kinds of big gains it has the potential to deliver, you need metrics that are suited to this specialized discipline – or you’ll be pursuing and rewarding the wrong things.
At Engagio, we recommend focusing on five categories of ABM metrics:
- Coverage – Do you know the people at your target account?
- Awareness – Do those people know who you are? Do they have a heartbeat with you?
- Engagement – Do they spend time with you? Are they engaged with you, your content, or your brand?
- Reach – How many people are the right people?
- Impact – Do the efforts and ABM programs you’re running impact the sale?
The topic of ABM metrics and analytics deserves more than a section in a blog post. In fact, we think it deserves an entire ebook, which is why we wrote The Clear and Complete Guide to ABM Analytics, where we dive deep into how to connect your marketing programs to revenue.
Target the Right Number of Accounts
When determining who you’ll target, an important decision is how many accounts you should be targeting within each tier of your program. The way we look at it is there are different styles of ABM that will help you scale your efforts.
This will vary slightly depending on a handful of things:
- Your expected deal sizes
- The length of the sales cycle
- Your available sales resources
- Your current level of engagement with major prospects
- The intensiveness of your account based strategy
We think the best way to select target accounts is by looking at how many resources you have to invest. We call this Account Entitlement. Your entitlements depend on how you handle the different tiers or styles of ABM.
The right number of accounts is the number that your team can handle in a tier-appropriate way.
For example, let’s take a look at your “classic” ABM approach, where all of your interactions are 1-to-1. If you have 10 of these high-value accounts, but you’re struggling to keep your communications 1-to-1 (i.e., personal outbound emails versus automated marketing email, handwritten notes versus mass-printed letters, etc.), then scale back the number of target accounts. There’s no shame in doing less if your quality improves.
Put in the Time and Resources to Choose Your Target Accounts Wisely
The target account selection process is often more effective if you use data, not just opinions! Using the right data fuels your ABM rocket. Neglecting to use data, or even worse, using the wrong data, can lead to internal combustion and complete system failure.
Start with these 4 types of data to select your target accounts:
- Firmographics: What company characteristics best predict a successful sales process?
- Technographics: What technologies do they currently use or are they looking to invest in?
- Intent Data: Is the company showing signs that they’re in the market for solutions like yours?
- Engagement Data: How engaged is this account with your company right now?
Once you know the specific profile of an ideal account, it’s time to actually pick the accounts; to name the companies you’ll be targeting. On this front, there’s a maturity spectrum, with increasing accuracy and sophistication as you move up.
The accuracy and completeness of your account selection improves as you move up the maturity spectrum. There are also great solutions, such as InsideView Apex, that will dramatically help you with this process. The time, money, and effort spent on rigorous account selection will be repaid many times over in the number and quality of opportunities you generate.
|“You must recognize that ABM takes time. Once you’ve chosen your list of target accounts, stick with it for longer than you may feel is right”
– Jon Miller, CEO of Engagio
As I’m sure you can tell, ABM isn’t going away any time soon. ABM is a powerful strategy for B2B marketers. When you get the foundational piece of alignment, metrics and account selection correct, you’ll be well on your way to hyper growth. If you haven’t embraced ABM yet, perhaps it’s time to re-think your approach to doing business.