Account-Based Marketing — everyone is talking about it, but is anyone really doing it yet?
A year ago the Invoca marketing team and I were working hard to optimize our traditional ‘waterfall’ marketing funnel, yet we struggled to get real traction at our most coveted accounts. In a whirlwind six months, we moved to an account-based marketing approach and now have a few months of successful takeaways under our belts.
Here’s what I’ve learned along the way:
1. Over communicate, be transparent, and set really clear expectations.
Because we have a great relationship between sales and marketing, our teams were excited and enthusiastic to launch something new they’d heard so much buzz about. But when it came to implementing ABM, there was a disconnect between the hype and what marketing was actually going to deliver.
Make sure you not only communicate what ‘ABM’ stands for, but more importantly, what the personal implications are for the folks on your sales and marketing teams. Have the answers to questions like:
- What effect will it have on the usual volume of leads, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), and pipeline creation?
- Will it impact both outbound and inbound marketing and sales development rep teams?
- Will the daily tasks and weekly goals of sales reps change?
Enthusiasm and excitement can quickly sour if you’re not delivering (or asking for more than) what people were expecting.
2. Getting the account list right is half the battle and will be harder than you anticipate.
Use historical data and predictive models to identify the top accounts you want to target. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong.
There is a LOT of legwork that goes into picking your target accounts and the right contacts within those accounts. Since your programs are only as good as your data, we used a combination of sources — feedback from sales reps, modeling of the various account data points in our CRM, Everstring (a predictive analytics platform), and old fashioned manual spot checking.
Marketing and sales may be aligned on the ideal customer profile and buyer personas, but deciding which data sets and models to use in identifying those people within our database took a lot more work than anticipated. Then came the process of selecting the right ‘top’ contacts within each account that we wanted to flag for our higher spend programs. Ensuring the best possible quality involved a lot of manual work.
3. Start with a small group to measure impact and be effective.
You may find yourself wanting to start with a large group. After all,you believe the results will be so great you want them for all your top targets (at least I did). But having a large rollout group can have two negative implications:
- It makes it difficult to accurately measure the impact. If you include all your top accounts in the ABM program, you don’t have a control group of top accounts to measure against.
- You may spread yourself too thin resources wise. Our most successful programs are the most personalized and creative — both of which take more investment in terms of time and budget.
4. Get the technology you need to measure results — but don’t go overboard.
If you’re investing resources to drive engagement from a channel, you need analytics to measure that channel, whether it’s video, display, inbound calls, etc. You also need to measure this engagement at an account level — by channel, or pulling the data from each channel into a single platform that aggregates it for you at the account level. The latter is nice to have, but not necessary to get started.
Our approach has been to do the best we can with the existing tools we already have (many of which are actively developing account-centric reporting based on the current ABM craze). We’ve found LeanData invaluable for ABM. We use it to measure marketing influence on the opportunities and revenue and to tie in all the various leads and contacts within each account in Salesforce. The only net new platform we’re using is Terminus, to help us quickly and easily do account-based display advertising.
Whew! I know that’s a lot of information, but that’s how excited I am about account-based marketing. To summarize, here are the four major takeaways:
- Communicate clearly and often with everyone involved in the ABM rollout.
- Plan at least a month to get your account list all sorted. If you’re able to do it faster, I would love to learn how. 🙂
- Show some restraint in rolling out ABM, and keep the initial target group small so you can be as effective as possible.
- You may need to invest in some new analytics and advertising tools, but you may not. Start small and wait until you’re running before you buy the expensive new gear — after all, per #2, it may take a while to get there.
Good luck with launching your ABM program, and if you have any tips, please let us know in the comments below.