The pathway to “high-performance ABM"
Research indicates that most ABM practitioners struggle to find the right entry point for their program
Most of the research on ABM has focused on adoption. I think we can put that to bed now. There’s no doubt about the popularity of ABM, but as more companies are jumping on the wagon, it’s crucial to understand how it’s best implemented and maintained to drive revenue.
The collective wisdom of the ABM Consortium
Together with our fellow members of The Account-based Marketing Consortium – Vendemore, Markistry, Azalead, Demandbase, Engagio and MRP and Demand Metric – Freya News developed The ABM Capabilities Framework. It represents the collective wisdom of ABM thought leaders, and the programs of thousands of ABM marketers. The purpose of this framework is serve as a resource to attain the best possible performance of an ABM program, through a six step process.
Pathway to performance
The ABM Capabilities Framework is the only fact-based, research driven advice available to ABM practitioners today. Beyond conjecture and hope, the consortium reached out and collected insight from 500 marketers. This effort validated the framework and the advice I will lay out below. Whether you are starting a new ABM program or want to reinvigorate and existing one, these steps are critical for your attainment of success. Look at each step, evaluate your options and available resources, and document what you need to accomplish. This is pathway is starkly contrasted to simplistic and unsubstantiated advice to just select accounts and start advertising but is designed to produce success and revenue for you, not just revenue for a platform vendor.
The organizations were divided into three segments: low-, mid- or high-maturity, where high means having some degree of certainty in measuring the impact of ABM. The research question was: Does compliance with the ABM Capabilities Framework result in greater revenue impact from ABM? Satisfyingly, the results confirmed this. In this article we will present our main excerpts from the study.
First step: Account Selection
As the foundation for all following stages, the account selection is the first, critical step in ABM. If you don’t select your target companies wisely, the whole concept of ABM will be misplaced.
• The selection is often manual, reflecting on current practices, such as sales pipeline.
• The process can include relevant technologies, such as predictive analytics.
• 86 % of the mature users in the study are primarily using ABM to support cross- and up-selling to existing clients, making account selection rather easy.
Second step: Insights
Next step is account specific plans, to support each sales process. The first task is to identify decision-makers, buying processes and other factors for each account.
• The insights of your research is the fundament for your account plans.
• 84 % of the mature responders in the study, states that sales and marketing collaborates to conceive account-based plans.
• 55 % of them use data from systems, such as CRM, as a complement.
• 41 % of the least successful ABM, clusters their accounts in a “one-size-fits-all” vacuum.
Third step: Content
Content is the fuel for driving engagement from your targeted accounts. Account-based content is the core business of Freya News. An ABM content strategy is executed for each company, simply because you can’t say the same thing to all of them. Your different, potential customers will make their buying decisions based on different premises. Their sales and marketing pains and challenges differ. In order to earn their attention and engagement, you need to tailor content suitable for different maturity levels, stakeholders and for a range of channels. Freya News has developed a four-step ABM content method, that is used actively by over 70 companies internationally.
• The strategy is aligned with account objectives by each purchase stage, including a testing methodology to detect engagement.
• 90 % of the mature ABM users in the study produce versions of content, to address specific account objectives, suitable for all relevant channels.
• One third of the mature users change content, as each account progresses in engagement.
• The least mature users have a single set of content for all targeted accounts.
Fourth step: Orchestration
The orchestration defines and configures relationships between account plans, content and delivery channels. Orchestration is done manually and partly through automation.
• As the target accounts evolve in the buying process, content should change.
• Orchestration done right, minimizes money spent on the wrong media.
• 85 % of high maturity users in the study work actively with orchestration, while the least mature (and least successful) practitioners do not yet consider it.
Fifth step: Delivery
The tailored content can reach your targeted accounts through IP and cookie targeted ads, account-based websites, via customized social media, email messages and more.
• Two thirds of the less mature programs in the study are focusing solely on retargeted display-ads, although the key word for ABM content delivery is proactivity.
• The mature users surround their prospects through multiple channels. Everything from proactive targeted ads, connected with account specific websites, to sales managers, sending tailored social media messages to specific decision-makers.
Sixth step: Measurement
B2B marketers have traditionally been forced into a “spray and pray”-approach. Using ABM, you can measure the specifics of those to whom you market. Marketing investments are targeted to specific accounts, instead of investing in channels.
• Measuring the specifics of the engagement from your target accounts, helps you to understand their buying process and not missing momentum.
• 82 % of the mature study responders are tracking performance at account level.
• One third of them contrast the account-based results to the overall marketing investments.
• Few of the low level maturity responders included measurement to their process, meaning they will never know if their ABM program is succeeding.
As written in The ABM Capabilities Framework, ABM is not a quick fix. Nor is it simply a platform or a lead generation tool. An ABM program needs to include both your sales and marketing team, where the ABM itself works as the philosophy and strategy for you to lean on, throughout your sales processes. While not all respondents in the study are yet following the framework, those who does are getting measurable results. Read the full report here.
Freya News will, together with the consortium, continue to educate and form the art of Account-based Marketing. Are you interested in reading how some of the high-maturity users work? Go to:http://freyanews.com/case/ and look at our business cases.