What does a beginner’s account-based marketing (ABM) tech stack look like?
To find out how a company brand new to account-based marketing uses technology in their approach, we spoke to Renold Liu, the marketing director at Speed Shift Media.
“Speed Shift Media is an advertising technology company that serves the automotive industry,” Renold explains. “We help dealerships and agencies that work with dealer groups use display advertising and behavioral targeting to match buyers in the marketplace with vehicles on the lot.”
It’s Renold’s job to make sure everyone in the market understands Speed Shift’s product. To do this, he uses channels such as PR, digital advertising, trade shows, and webinars to engage their target audience.
At the end of 2016, Renold’s team decided it was time to get started with ABM. We asked him to grade his marketing technology stack using the ABM Stack Grader and then answer some questions about his team’s marketing strategy.
Now, let’s hear from Renold Liu about how Speed Shift Media uses ABM.
How big is your team?
We have four people on our marketing team: myself, a designer, a product marketing specialist, and a marketing coordinator. Everyone on the team has been involved in building our ABM strategy in different ways, and they’ll all be part of the execution.
What was the main problem you were trying to solve with an account-based marketing strategy?
When I was brought on back in 2015, the marketing team was very reactive, doing what I call “checkmark marketing.” Instead of focusing on overall messaging, strategy, and results, the focus was more, “Did you send this email or did you create this webpage?” Checking tasks off of the list was sufficient, and there was no accountability from marketing for revenue.
I wanted to shift the focus to be more results-oriented, and within a year, we went from having a pipeline that was 15% marketing sourced and 85% business development sourced to 85% marketing sourced and 15% business development sourced.
To us, this looked like a huge success, and it was a big win for marketing at the time. The amount of customers we got was higher, revenue was up, but we began to realize the quality of customers wasn’t as high as we’d like. Since our major focus between 2015 and 2016 was inbound and generating as many leads as possible, we continued to see a high quantity of smaller deals coming in. For us, bringing on these smaller dealerships as customers takes the same amount of time and effort as the larger agencies and dealer groups, but those larger companies aren’t coming in through inbound. Their behavior isn’t to go out and find us, so we needed a way to be more proactive with those larger accounts.
ABM works well in a niche industry. We have a finite group of people that play in that industry and that would fit our ideal customer profile (ICP), and we have access to lists of dealer groups and agencies, so to me, taking an account-based approach just makes so much more sense.
Our old way of thinking was: “These guys want to buy our stuff, let’s sell to them.” My new ABM mantra is: “I know who they are; let’s go get them.”
[Tweet “@renoldliu’s #ABM mantra: I know who our ideal customers are; let’s go get them.”]
So, ABM is a new strategy for you. How did you find out about it and what made you want to get started?
I went to Atlanta back in December for the Terminus Untapped customer conference and #FlipMyFunnel. After hearing all of the sessions and listening to how other companies were finding success with ABM, I thought to myself, this makes so much more sense.
What are your main goals with your new ABM strategy, and what KPIs will you use to measure those goals?
We’re rolling out our initial ABM campaigns in January and will use that information to continue to build out our plan, messaging, and talk tracks for our sales team. We’re still going to do inbound because it’s a great way for us to test out different messaging and figure out what works, but we’ll take those findings and use them to craft messaging for our ABM efforts.
The main goal for our initial campaigns is to drive more meetings for sales. Our Terminus campaigns will provide “air cover” on target accounts while they’re also receiving a cadence of emails and calls from our account executives.
I’ve been working really closely with our VP of sales and marketing, and we’ve come up with a very coordinated plan around the goal of setting more meetings. We’ll use historical data to test the results and see if we get more meetings this year with our ABM efforts versus this same time last year.
Once we get these first campaigns up and running, we’re planning to launch a sales acceleration campaign later in Q1. Our pipeline effort today still relies heavily on the salesperson, and marketing doesn’t have a ton of influence over that yet. We’ll use Terminus to run stage-based campaigns to help move accounts through our sales cycle quicker.
Walk us through the tools in your stack and explain how you use them for each stage of the account-based marketing funnel.
In the Identify stage, we built our lists based on data from the NADA (North American Dealer Association) and Automotive News, which also publishes the 150 top grossing dealers in the United States. This helps us find the accounts. We then use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find people within those accounts and Data.com to verify emails.
In the Expand stage, we use Terminus to expand our reach within each account based on department and job titles. We also use LinkedIn at this stage to expand even further into these accounts. We provide them an account list, and they create a custom audience that we can serve ads to.
We have several tools that we use in the Engage stage. Hubspot plays a big role as our CRM and our content tool. Since we’re still new to ABM, we don’t have extra budget for ABM-specific tools at this time, but we’d eventually like to get a more robust CRM to really do ABM more effectively. We also use Vistaprint to send postcards to specific accounts, but currently it’s more of a one-off type thing. In 2017, we’ll integrate this into our ABM campaigns, and it will be a much more coordinated effort.
For digital ads, we use a number of tools including Google, Terminus, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Terminus helps us serve ads to our target accounts, and we supplement that with additional ads on LinkedIn and Facebook. We then use retargeting on prospects that have visited our website or taken some other action.
Webinars and events are a big part of our marketing strategy, and we use GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, and Join.me for any online meetings or webinars. We go to about ten industry trade shows a year, so that’s another big opportunity for us to try out ABM in 2017.
Currently, personalization is manual for us. Our designer creates custom videos and demos for our high-value prospects. We’d like to eventually create a scalable process for personalization, so that’s something we’ll be looking to do in 2017.
For the advocacy stage, we capture customer reviews and testimonials through industry-specific review sites.
To measure our efforts, we’re currently using Google Analytics and an engagement metric we’ve created through Hubspot, which looks at website engagement, number of page views, number of events attended, downloads, and other trigger points. This helps us build a cumulative account score, but the process is very manual at this point since we don’t have a CRM tool that can do this automatically. As we roll out our ABM efforts this year, we’ll be looking for ways to more effectively measure the results.
Why did you choose Terminus to be part of your account-based marketing stack and strategy?
When we first set out to find a tool for digital advertising, we were looking for a way to limit ad spend by targeting the companies that received our ads. Advertising was just too expensive otherwise. That’s when we found that Terminus could help us deliver ads to only the specific companies we selected, and even further, those ads could be targeted to specific departments or titles within those companies.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as you begin your ABM journey?
As we transition from being solely focused on inbound and lead generation to incorporating this new idea of account-based marketing, the biggest challenge has been getting sales to understand and buy in. While our teams are very aligned and work very closely together, ABM is still a very new concept for them. The sales team is used to saying, ‘Hey, give me the leads that look like they’re interested,’ versus, ‘These are the accounts I want to go after and here’s why.’ They all know about those large accounts that are out there and have tried calling them, but there was never a unified front between sales and marketing of, ‘Let’s see what we can do together to get these guys.’ As we move into 2017, we’re excited to work even closer with the team as we execute our ABM efforts.
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