If you’re in the early stages of bringing account-based marketing (ABM) to your organization, it can seem overwhelming. As a concept, it makes a lot of sense. You spend your limited resources targeting those accounts that are most likely to receive significant value from your product or solution. But it can get tricky when you start rolling out your own strategy. You need to get internal buy-in from the sales team and your leadership team, apply the right technologies, develop your tactics, figure out how you will measure the program’s effectiveness, and much more.
To give you some tips on how to address some of these issues, we interviewed Joe Chernov, Chief Marketing Officer at InsightSquared. Joe joined InsightSquared from HubSpot where he served as VP of marketing. He held a similar role at Eloqua. Joe saw both companies through their successful IPOs. The Content Marketing Institute awarded him “Content Marketer of the Year” and AdWeek named him one of the 100 most creative people in advertising. And Joe advises several marketing tech startups.
In this post he shares great insights for marketers grappling with ABM in their organizations.
What advice can you offer to marketers struggling to get sales to support ABM campaigns?
If sales is slow to support ABM, there’s a good chance you’ve “sold” it wrong internally, because there is no marketing model that is more sales-first than ABM. Try this message: Demand generation marketing — marked by one-to-many email, high lead quota, and “inbound” talking points — burdens you, the sales team, with having to close whomever it is that we, marketing, happen to catch in our content net. ABM transfers the burden. It requires marketing to engage whomever it is that sales wants to win. We can quibble about tactics, definitions, and processes later. But for now, let’s agree on the methodology: would you rather be obligated to sell to leads we source, or would you prefer that we are required to engage the companies you want to close?
Is there such a thing as too much personalization in an ABM strategy?
Ultimately, that determination is made by the recipient of the marketing, not the marketer — and everyone’s line is drawn in a different place. For example, a company once made a bobblehead of me. To get the likeness right, they had to send the manufacturer several photos of me, which they culled from my Facebook profile. Because I’m very friendly with several members of their leadership team, neither the bobblehead nor the process by which it was created bothered me at all. In fact, the only person who liked it more than I did was my 7-year old son. (I sometimes hear him show it to his friends, as if I’m a ballplayer or something. It’s neat.) However, if a company I didn’t know went deep crawling in my profiles, it might trigger a bit of an “ick factor.” Even if what people share publicly is fair game, their reaction to the use of this information could be sub-optimal if you hit a little too close to home.
If you need a general rule, I’d plot revelations across a slider. On one extreme, there’s business information — role, function, reporting structure, progression — that’s pretty much always safe. On the other extreme, there’s family, children. Unless you’ve actually spent time with that prospect’s family, I’d say it’s off limits — even if it’s shared publicly. In the center of the slider are factors like hobbies, pets, interests. The better you know the person, the more tacit permission you have to employ this information in your marketing. Strangers should err on the side of general. I have a Doberman. If a company made a donation to Doberman rescue in my name, I’d think that was cool. If they wrote me a letter asking how my dog’s surgery went, I’d think that was creepy — unless I knew them. (Her surgery went fine by the way.)
What technologies or tools are vital to consider when running an ABM strategy?
If ABM dies, the cause of death will be “poor data.” I’d say you start with a reliable data provider — account sourcing, contact enrichment, account scoring are all critical elements of an ABM program. That’s your foundation. Then you’ll need an operational tool to help convert leads to contacts. That’s a process requirement. Then you will need a way to track account engagement and report on ABM performance. That’s how you keep your job. And then there’s all the campaigns stuff, which vary from company to company. Personalized site copy, dynamic content matching, account-targeted advertising, scalable personalized direct mail and gifting… these are all viable options, depending on your business.
How should marketers think about measuring ABM today, and what’s necessary to report to the board or leadership team?
ABM is ultimately an exercise in prioritization because “lead sourcing” is no longer part of the model. So I’d suggest you report in a way that shows leadership how many named or target accounts marketing has engaged, how deeply you’ve engaged them, and how does that cohort of engaged accounts perform downstream. Do they have a higher propensity to buy? Is the sales cycle faster? Is the sale price higher? Are they “better” customers after they buy?
What trends do you expect to see in ABM in 2018?
We’re all about to get invited to a lot more dinners and receive a lot more direct mail in our mailboxes.
Thanks to Joe for sharing his wisdom with us. Check out the InsightSquared blog for more great insights. To learn how Evergage can help you tailor your website experience to your target accounts, request a demo today.