Note: This blog post was updated on July 8, 2020.
There’s been a fundamental shift in the B2B buying process over the last 5 years. So why has the way we measure success stayed the same?
Your customers can find everything about your company online — via product videos, reviews, your website, analyst reports, press releases — without ever filling out a form or talking to you.
As a result, leads are getting harder and harder to come by. And as the number of decision-makers involved in the sales process increases, even good leads aren’t as valuable as they used to be.
Enter account-based marketing. By focusing on the right accounts throughout the entire customer lifecycle, your marketing team can have a bigger impact on revenue than ever before. And you can prove it.
Why Measure ABM Differently?
First, let’s get one thing out of the way: we’re not suggesting that you dump your existing funnel. Instead, you should be operating separate funnels for your target and nontarget accounts.
If this sounds scary to you, don’t worry! It’s easier than you think.
To give you a jumping-off point, we’ve put together a customizable Google Slides deck that will walk you through account-based reporting. The templates in this deck make it easy to track your target account pipeline and communicate your results to your board, your C-suite, and your team.
But before you start reporting on your ABM strategy, it’s important to understand why your target accounts should exist within their own distinct funnel. There are three primary reasons you need to measure ABM differently.
ABM looks at accounts holistically instead of focusing on individual leads.
As Eric Wittlake puts it in TOPO’s Account-Based Measurement Model, “The demand-centric measurement model doesn’t support an account-based approach because it is focused on individual leads while the account based approach is focused on the entire account. As a result, organizations wrongly conclude their programs are ineffective and get a distorted view of their account-based strategy ROI.”
The top of the account-based funnel is static.
Now let’s compare account based marketing vs inbound marketing. With inbound marketing, you start by casting a wide net to generate leads at the top of your funnel. With account-based marketing, you start with a list of strategic accounts that marketing and sales will pursue together. Unlike a traditional funnel, your ABM funnel won’t continually widen at the top. You’ve got your list of accounts, and it remains the same until you decide to refresh it — typically on a quarterly basis.
With ABM, there is no marketing-to-sales handoff.
Leads and accounts in your ABM funnel will never be passed from marketing to sales. That’s because the two teams are working those accounts in tandem throughout the entire buyer’s journey. At no stage should marketing say, “This account is sales’ responsibility now. We’ve done our job.”
Defining the Stages of the New Account-Based Funnel
We all know what the traditional B2B funnel looks like, from awareness to purchase. Now, let’s take a look at the new ABM funnel and what each stage means. As you can see in the graphic below, we recommend operating two unique account-based funnels — one for new business, and one for expansion revenue. These funnels share the same key stages, with the only difference being the types of accounts in each one.
Target Prospect Accounts: Net-new target accounts and target accounts in your acquisition funnel
Target Customer Accounts: Existing customer accounts in your expansion funnel
Engaged Target Accounts: Target accounts that have demonstrated meaningful engagement with your company and are ready for one-to-one outreach. This stage of the funnel, which can also be called marketing qualified accounts (MQAs), can serve as a proxy for the MQL stage of the lead-based funnel.
Tip: Meaningful engagement is about quality, not just quantity. For example, you might consider an account “meaningfully engaged” when 4 individuals visit 8 product pages on your website. This will be your threshold for turning target accounts into engaged accounts.
Target Account Opportunities: Accounts on a sales target list that are in an active sales cycle
Won Target Accounts: Target accounts with closed-won deals — the ultimate goal!
Account Based Marketing Funnel
Account based marketing (ABM), also known as deal based marketing or key account marketing, differs from traditional lead-based marketing in important ways. It is becoming popular because the old methods don’t work as well as they once did. However, in order to be successful, it is important to understand the principles of account based marketing.
ABM itself is constantly changing as users find ways to tweak it for even better performance. Account based marketing 2020 therefore looks a bit different from account based marketing 2019, and 2019’s version isn’t quite the same as 2018’s rendition.
Because there are notable differences when you compare account based marketing vs lead generation, the account based marketing funnel is also different. With the ABM funnel, focus is placed on metrics that actually indicate progress, rather than numeric targets that only look good on paper.
Account based marketing 2021 best practices are set up not with blindly-chosen targets in mind, but instead, they are based on key indicators that accounts are moving towards becoming actual customers. Each account is seen as a “market of one,” rather than just a statistic. Therefore, ABM funnels avoid counting things like total numbers of leads, and instead put attention on where each prized prospect is on the path to becoming a customer.
Another key difference between ABM and lead-based marketing is a focus on expanding business with existing clients. It is often said that it costs more to get a new customer than it does to expand one, and ABM works to make expansion easier. Sales teams become intimately familiar with each client’s needs and trouble spots, and use that information to sell more things to each one over time.
An effective ABM funnel starts with the accounts that your company has decided to target. These accounts may be agreed upon in a collaboration between marketing and sales divisions, or by a team that combines these functions under one umbrella. The funnel should include activity by all revenue teams, rather than just the one(s) dedicated to selling your product or service.
At this stage, you should measure the total number of targeted accounts, the relationship score of those accounts, and accounts that have shown a surge in intent.
For the next stage, pay attention to engaged target accounts. You can measure engagement on your website or with your online ads, the percentage of accounts still not engaged, and similar factors. After this, focus on target account opportunities. Measure the time from the first engagement to opportunity generated, account penetration rate, and related metrics.
Continue the funnel through more stages. We suggest having a separate stage for new deals won, customer retention, and customer expansion. Each has its own set of measurements you can take.
Note that there are usually some differences between account based marketing B2B and its B2C cousin. Be sure to adapt your funnel metrics to take differences in purchasing behavior into account. Often, ABM B2B is a longer process than B2C, though this is not always the case. Each industry has its own specific quirks to consider.
Before you start measuring benchmarks, you must first decide what should be considered a benchmark at all. This is where your ABM plan comes in. By coming up with an account based marketing strategy first, you can be sure that you’re paying attention to the right things.
Examine your prior results to find patterns that are common to successful marketing endeavors. Then, use that information to create an account based marketing framework that you can use for your future accounts. If you have enough prior information, you should be able to spot some key factors to start paying more attention to.
If your company is new, it can help to download information or read blogs that talk about common account based marketing steps. Terminus has this sort of information on its site. Once you get a good feel for the standard steps, you can adapt the information to fit your company’s needs.
Don’t be afraid to change an ABM plan as time goes on. In fact, you should expect to need to make some tweaks to keep up with changes in the market, buying preferences, and other key factors to maintain ABM at scale. By staying nimble, you help to ensure that your plan will remain efficient and effective.
That said, it’s also important to avoid changing what is working well already. New isn’t always better, so be sure to think about how and whether a change will really improve results. A consistent account based marketing checklist will ensure that you have stability as well as the ability to adapt.
An ABM plan includes ABM processes. These differ depending on which stage of the funnel is involved and which initiatives are in progress. They also look different depending on which tools are being used.
For example, an account based marketing playbook can include account based marketing LinkedIn, Drift ABM chat, Bombora account based marketing intent signals, other intent based marketing tools, and more. Each tool you use should have its own process on how to use it, and when to use it to benefit your overall account based marketing strategy.
Your processes should be set up with account based marketing tactics in mind, as well. ABM tactics are, in some systems, referred to as plays or sets of plays. Whatever you call them, it’s best to follow account based marketing best practices for each one. This ensures that team members are doing things in a unified way, and that the way in question is the one that has been decided on beforehand.
Not all processes have to do with the use of a specific tool. For example, while a tool may let you know which accounts to contact, what is said during that contact will be partially process-based. This part is often more fluid since accounts will discuss different things, but it can still provide a guideline so that important points are covered.
As you build your ABM process, devise steps for everything you can. Then, you’ll get a good data set for later analysis and adjustment.
Now, it’s time to set key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure them on an ongoing basis. Checking these metrics every week, month, and quarter is suggested. Measure by phases and overall goals so you get a good overall picture of how well you’re doing.
How you do ABM reporting is, itself, a process. Be sure to set up specifics of what will be measured and when, target goals, and other relevant details. One way to get ideas about what should be reported is to check out account based marketing case studies, blog posts, examples of account based marketing, an account based marketing review, and similar information. You can find account based marketing benchmarks on the Terminus website as well as on sites like HubSpot.
Some examples of what to track include advertising performance, account engagement, account intent, opportunity engagement, and current pipeline. If you have separate marketing and advertising teams, set up weekly meetings between them to keep them on the same page and ensure that both sides are using best practices account based marketing. Disconnection between these departments is one of the largest sources of frustration and missed opportunities at larger companies.
Many of these tracking categories can and should be broken down further. Advertising, for example, should include metrics for cost per mille (CPM), cost per click (CPC), and click through rate (CTR). Offline advertising should also be tracked. Measure engagement rates, costs, and conversion ratio for a start.
Some metrics should be tracked weekly, but others can often be done monthly or even quarterly. Those with slower cycles include budgets, responsiveness according to verticals, and similar things. You may well see something that lets you know that there is another opportunity, such as engagements from an unexpected vertical.
Account Based Marketing Services
Since account based marketing has become popular, several account based marketing services have come into existence to serve the demand. HubSpot, an established company that is a well known name for marketing automation, is a newer entrant into the ABM space. Account based marketing HubSpot is a natural extension of its other tools, and it has even added helpful articles to its HubSpot Academy. Thanks to this company’s recognizable name and predictable HubSpot pricing, it is expected that account based marketing HubSpot will become popular.
Other ABM software tools include Demandbase and Engagio. These companies, like HubSpot, have been operating in the marketing software space for quite some time. You can find account based marketing articles on their respected websites, as well as other forms of account based marketing training.
Terminus is unique in that it is an Enterprise ABM Solution instead of one that started out doing something else and added on. This gives the platform a perspective that other account based marketing companies or ABM solutions may not have. All of its resources are dedicated to better helping you achieve success at ABM.
At Terminus, these resources include an Account Based Marketing for Dummies book to get newcomers started quickly, a more in-depth account based marketing course, account based marketing PPT resources, and other customer-focused ABM courses. The company also offers more personal account based marketing training, like an on-site account based marketing class for new team members.
For ongoing learning, you’ll find that Terminus has an account based marketing blog that explores specific topics within this category, and they even host account based marketing events to let you meet others who use this method for sales and marketing success. These events also teach key elements of this year’s main trends of ABM 2020.
It is important to look for the presence of learning materials and other support when you consider the options for account based marketing tools. After all, a tool is only useful if you can learn how to use it to its fullest. Terminus has ensured that it is not only a platform, but an excellent source of all of the information you need to build your account based marketing customer journey.