The Latest from the ABM Experts
April 22, 2019
Elevate Your Account-Based Marketing Strategy to ABM 2.0
Written by Betsy Hicks
Regardless of whether your organization is fully invested in an account-based marketing strategy or still primarily relying on a lead-based approach, you’re likely familiar with what Terminus Chief Evangelist Sangram Vagre calls “ABM 1.0.” In this early iteration of account-based marketing strategy, teams focus on the basics: account identification, marketing mix, and lead-based metrics.
But once you can walk, it’s time to run. Enter: ABM 2.0, the faster, wiser, and more sophisticated older brother to foundational account-based marketing strategy. With an emphasis on greater marketing-sales alignment, strategic channel mix, and a truer measure of engagement, an elevated account-based marketing strategy builds upon first-stage ABM campaigns by diving deeper into the metrics that deliver results.
So what does ABM 2.0 look like in action? Phononic, a North Carolina-based thermoelectrics startup working to change the way the world cools things, has one model. After successfully running ABM 1.0 campaigns for over a year, the Phononic marketing team streamlined and improved upon its account-based marketing strategy to optimize output and deliver even better results.
You might remember Daniel Englebretson, Phononic’s Director of Integrated Marketing, from a previous video in which he shared how the company bridged the gap between marketing and sales. Now, he’s back to discuss how Phononic has embraced the Crawl-Walk-Run model and share some insights into ABM 2.0.
Running an Account-Based Strategy with the TEAM Framework
If you’re operationalizing your account-based marketing strategy, the TEAM framework is tried and true. And while Target, Engage, Activate, and Measure are the core steps of any account-based campaign, the benchmarks for success are different for ABM 2.0 strategies.
Here’s how Daniel and the Phononic team implement the TEAM model in ABM 2.0:
Target: Use Account Identification to Launch a Deeper Conversation with Your Sales Team
“One of the first things that I hear from people is that they just can’t get started because they don’t know where to target,” says Daniel.
Compounding issues of confusion about how to identify targets are the relationships with sales. “Everything you read on ABM is, ‘Hey, have a good target account list, work with sales,’” Daniel says. “But sometimes it’s not so easy to work with sales.”
Walk: Start with a list of target accounts.
To jumpstart an ABM 1.0 target list, Daniel suggests populating target lists with the top 100 accounts from whatever segment you’re working in. After 30 days of targeting all 100 accounts, evaluate your engagement and share the list of engaged accounts with sales. Be prepared: the feedback you’re likely to get from sales might sound something like, “those aren’t the right engaged accounts to target.”
The good news: that feedback from sales presents an opportunity for a conversation about identifying targets.
Run: Integrate feedback from sales into your account list.
Use that conversation with sales as opportunity to discuss potential targets with your team and integrate their feedback into your account list. Collaborative effort between sales and marketing is a cornerstone of ABM, but it can be tough to launch those conversations. By bringing concrete information to the table for feedback, your marketing team can bypass initial resistance and gather meaningful information from the jump.
Be sure to get granular with the feedback from your sales team, too, emphasized Daniel. “This is something that I really learned,” he says. Beyond identifying accounts, “it’s about the departments [within] those accounts that you need [to target].”
If your sales team has gaps in their decision maker contacts within an account, “marketing and Terminus ABM can [identify] other departments where they don’t have any visibility and can make that happen.”
Engage: Stagger Your Marketing Mix to Optimize Results
Walk: Engage your targeted marketing mix.
“If you’ve been doing marketing for a long time, I’m sure you have your favorite tactics,” says Daniel. “You might be running email, you might be running a call campaign, you might be thinking about running Terminus ABM as a tactic. But what happens when you start running those all together in the same mix is you get a lot of noise and you don’t benefit from everything that an account-based marketing strategy can actually give you.”
Run: Strategically time channels.
On the traditional marketing mix approach, Daniel says, “it’s fine to run that way.” But there’s a better way.
Rather than run every channel for the duration of a campaign, layer and stagger channels on one another. He suggests running Terminus ABM tactics for the duration of a campaign window; two weeks later, launch email marketing; just before your campaign ends, layer a calling campaign and go for the conversion.
“I found that Terminus positively influences the conversion rates all along the way and gets a lot more efficiency out of the tactics that you’re going to run,” Daniel says. “It just changes it from being more of a tactical approach to more of a strategic approach.”
Activate: Transform Your Activations From Transactional to Insightful
“When I’m thinking about [activation], I’m actually thinking about optimized output. As marketers we’re trying to maximize output.”
Walk: Deliver traditional lead-based metrics.
It’s natural to rely upon the traditional lead-based metrics when you’re launching an ABM strategy. As the shared language between sales and marketing, leads, qualification, and MQLs/SQLs are an easy activation to measure and share with your sales team.
The issue, Daniel argues, is that, “volume-based metrics like that, that’s where you start to see a lot of pushback from sales. [Sales might say], ‘Okay, what is a raw lead really?’ Or, ‘Just because marketing says [so], that’s not a qualified lead.’”
Run: Deliver actionable insights to Sales.
Good news: An ABM 2.0 campaign provides a natural solution for that age-old debate about what “qualified lead” really means.
“What I’ve found with running Terminus ABM is that these metrics start to shift. Instead of raw, marketing qualified, and sales qualified, you start seeing account-specific insights.”
When running a campaign, Daniel suggests paying close attention to the department-level insights about engagement. “You’ll start to see spikes in [important] departments that you can start feeding back to your sales team, and say ‘Hey, this account that you’ve been after forever, these departments are starting to engage,’ and they know it’s time to [circle back to] that account. So, your activation becomes much less transactional and much more informative and insightful for the sales team.”
Measure: Embrace the Metrics that Offering Meaningful Insights Into Marketing’s Impact on Sales
Walk: Compare ABM to lead-based metrics.
“Traditionally, from a marketing perspective, you might be tracking some volume-based metrics, but you’re going to be looking at things like click through rate [and] CPL. Those are the kinds of metrics you’re typically trying to compare your Terminus ABM against, right?”
“You’re saying, ‘Well, what’s my click through rate compared to any other type of tactic or what’s my cost per lead compared to any other tactic?’ I’m not saying you shouldn’t do that, because it’s important for you to understand. But what I found is, once we started getting into it, it became less about click through rate and CPL.”
Run: Measure true engagement.
As Daniel said, CTR and CPL are important players on the team. But it’s time to bench those metrics and embrace a new starting lineup: unique visitors, duration of a visit, and specific visitor data.
“2018 was the first year I really ran ABM for the whole year and coming into 2019, I haven’t seen a bigger shift in metrics,” says Daniel. “Metrics became much more about how many unique respondents am I getting and how well is that account engaging?”
From there, Daniel says, you can start to dig deep into your sales cycle and see how marketing’s tactics shorten the turnaround time. “Let’s say the account learns about your business, your sales team is engaging them, and you’re improving the engagement organically within that account. What used to be hurdles internally — maybe they had to go to a value analysis committee or maybe they had to get purchasing approval — [become] audiences […] you start bringing along. You start to help [a target company’s internal] evangelist and help them move that process along faster.”
“We’ve seen some cases where cycles were taking nine months, now [we] can see them take one month.”