Although the concept of direct, targeted account marketing is not new, a disciplined and coordinated focus on account-based marketing (ABM) across the B2B marketing industry has come on like gangbusters over the past 12 months. Numerous service and software providers have joined the movement and are providing much-needed tools to enable more precise, focused and multi-channel engagement with specific Named Account targets.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll highlight several B2B marketers at the forefront of account-based marketing in 2016. Our first featured ABMer is Julia Stead, director of demand generation at Invoca. Julia will also be a featured speaker at the #FlipMyFunnel event.
1. How and when should an organization begin leveraging ABM practices?
I’m not sure whether ABM is the right fit, or even necessary, for all types of companies. It’s the right fit for Invoca for a few reasons. We are in an emerging market – there just isn’t a high volume of existing demand and searches for a product like ours. As a result, inbound programs can only currently deliver a finite volume of qualified prospects.
ABM works for us, because it allows us to focus our spend and resources on the ‘high affinity’ prospects that are already a strong fit. The types of companies that have an existing need for our product, but don’t necessarily know it exists yet. The types of companies that will benefit immediately from our platform. By focusing our time and energy on these companies, we get better traction, higher conversion rates, and quicker wins.
This also gives us time to build up brand awareness and customer wins to support our ongoing and future inbound programs. It’s also helped us create a more streamlined, specialized sales organization, with a clear structure around outbound vs inside sales.
2. How you or your customer done enterprise or Named Account marketing previously, and how does your ABM methodology change that?
We haven’t done much ‘Named Account’ marketing previously, because we didn’t have any plan or structure for how to approach it. Our Enterprise marketing was mostly one-off programs and projects, either vertical specific or account specific.
3. What are your best practices for integrating ABM efforts with your sales team’s enterprise sales strategy?
It’s crucial to collaborate with the sales team right from the start. One of the most important early phases of ABM is figuring out your target list of accounts. Sales should be involved in this process, to ensure you’re making the right selections, and also get their buy-in.
Providing full visibility into what ABM means for sales reps specifically is also key – how will this impact their pipeline forecasting? Their day to day priorities and outreach? What do ABM programs actually look like? By providing them with all this information, they’ll be better able to support marketing’s efforts, and also feel more included in the process. When switching to a new strategy or demand gen model, questions and concerns are bound to arise, so it’s best to head them off and assuage fears by being transparent from the start.
4. How have you or your customer integrated ABM with other marketing efforts – including inbound marketing? Or has ABM replaced other, less effective marketing efforts?
ABM takes up roughly 70% of our budget and focus. The remaining 30% is still devoted to inbound marketing. Our overall goals and KPIs for demand generation are the same – help sales create qualified opportunities and pipeline. We see ABM as a new framework for better accomplishing those same goals.
We run some of the same types of successful programs that we used to, but now more targeted and personalized for our target ABM accounts. We also view everything through a more complete, Omnichannel lens.
Our ABM programs tie in multiple channels (Display, Email, Direct Mail, etc) all targeting a small group of specific accounts, with customized messaging and progressive content that moves through the different sales stages.
5. What are some of the primary tools that have helped you or your customer implement and execute ABM?
We’ve invested in a number of new tools to make ABM possible. LeanData, to help match leads and contacts to an account view (in SFDC). BrightFunnel, to help us implement multi-touch attribution across all programs, and view the results specifically for our ABM initiatives. Terminus, to do account-based display advertising. PrintingForLess, to automate, personalize, and scale our direct mail ABM programs. Everstring, to help with a predictive model for selecting our target accounts.
6. What is your primary metrics for ABM progress and success?
Our primary goals remain unchanged with ABM – create qualified opportunities and pipeline, and maintain a healthy pipeline to spend ratio. We’re implementing new leading metrics to measure the specific success of each channel we’re using for ABM. For example with display advertising, we compare target accounts that have seen ads and clicked on them versus those that haven’t, and the impact that’s had on the creation of new opportunities.
For us, on a test Terminus campaign that we launched in tandem with an email and direct mail campaign, we saw a 200% increase in the level of engagement of our offer within those accounts that had seen ads, compared to those that hadn’t. We’re also measuring the conversion rate and velocity of accounts in our ABM program vs those who are not.
It’s still too early for us to have concrete metrics in this regard (given that we have a long sales cycle), but that will be a key metric we focus on this year.
7. Who’s writing and talking about ABM these days that you’re learning from?
Engagio, Terminus, BrightFunnel, DemandBase – all these companies are doing a create job of educating the market on the importance of ABM. This post by Jason Lemkin on SaaStr was a great turning point for our marketing team’s mindset and shift to ABM: https://www.saastr.com/just-remember-we-dont-really-need-any-of-this-crp-then-youll-do-even-better/
8. What excites you about the #flipmyfunnel movement?
There had been a growing amount of solid content put out by vendors in the ABM space. But vendors are only one part of the story. The #FlipMyFunnel movement is helping spread the stories of actual practitioners, and providing a much needed networking forum for marketers to share experiences and learn from one another.
Don’t miss Julia and hundreds of ABM professionals at the #FlipMyFunnel event.