ABM Reporting: tips and best practices from seasoned veterans
Whenever EOY comes around, marketing leaders must consider how they plan to structure and report on their marketing progress. What’s the best channel to get your message in front of the right people to drive interest? How do you effectively target prospects and drive pipeline? Many marketing leaders now need to answer these questions in the context of an Account-centric marketing and sales approach. We invited marketing leaders with extensive experience with ABM to answer your most burning questions.
Our panel included:
- Sherrie Mersdorf, SVP of Marketing at Phone2Action
- Kerry Cunningham, Product Marketing at 6Sense
- Jarin Chu, VP of Marketing at OpFocus
How do you tell if ABM is working?
It’s best to take a step back and consider why you are taking an ABM approach. You want to target a set of buyers at each account, run campaigns specific to the pain points of your target buying group, and so on. To tell whether ABM is working at your company, consider what the indicators will look like when done correctly.
Unfortunately, this initially means a lot of anonymous traffic on your site; you’ll eventually need to deanonymize this. You will also want to get more “leads” and more “MQLs” as a result of selling to accounts rather than selling to individuals. Identify the uptick in lead volume and anonymous traffic. Then, determine how you’ll execute on these new contacts. It’s also important to look at what’s driving the relevant traffic and scale up those corresponding activities.
What are some initial indications that ABM is gaining traction?
One significant impact of ABM done right is the penetration of high-value accounts. Looking at this over the quarter or the year shows how impactful ABM is at driving account interaction. Sherrie recounts that several contacts in the account doing many activities is more impactful than a single action taken by a high-level individual.
Other indications of success include producing pipeline opportunities. Pipeline Opps often take time to build up. You should also look at how many accounts are in the market. This number is essential to provide context on the success of your marketing efforts. Another number to consider is the number of “leads” that are organically added to each account and how the buying group grows over time.
Which metrics best communicate progress to leadership and the board?
You should start with the pipeline. Are you getting engagement from contacts and creating deals in targeted accounts? Similar to the previous question, you need to look at account penetration. Account penetration shows the high-level impact your strategy has on the account. You must also look at the number of leads in each account and lead interaction.
Some metrics you should NOT look at are lead conversion rate. When ABM is working well, these rates will decrease, as you’ll receive multiple leads from one account.
You should also avoid talking about whether opportunities are “marketing sourced.”. This designation creates unnecessary conflict with Sales over where deals originated. It’s also challenging to track the specific action that caused a lead or contact to convert. Instead, focus on the pipeline impact. Focusing on influence and not source helps your marketing and sales teams row in the same direction.
What metrics do you use to manage demand gen and marketing teams?
Look at many of the same metrics marketing teams traditionally track, such as open and conversion rates. Try to roll these metrics back up to the account level. As long as you’re consistent about how you look at metrics, you’ll be able to see the changes. It’s challenging to create an environment where you’ll have complete confidence in a campaign’s conversion impact.
Kerry recommends ensuring every campaign and medium has a clear purpose. Once defined, look at how well the campaign reached those specific goals. Doing so helps with evaluating content that may not specifically drive the sales pipeline.
If it’s hard to analyze campaign motions, how do you increase effort in a specific area when everything is interconnected?
It’s essential to look at what you’re trying to accomplish. Taking a step back to consider the central area of focus ensures you’ll focus efforts on the combination of priorities that will achieve the job you’re looking to meet. For example, if you need to focus on converting more late-stage deals, create a journey that addresses this challenge. Don’t look at the data and say, “we’re good at webinars, so we’ll do more of those.” if they don’t move the needle on challenges you’re trying to solve.
When should a company go with MQA vs. marketing-owned Opps?
When a company has only a single product, a “marketing qualified account,” or an MQA, can be appropriate. Most companies will likely branch out to include multiple products, so measuring marketing qualified opportunities is a better direction to take. It’s possible to continue with MQA’s when you have two products with some amount of manual accounting, but anything past this number of offerings and your company will need to rely on opportunities. Especially with account-based marketing, it’s important to see the intent data at an opportunity level for each product your team sells.
What tools should you rely on for your ABX tech stack?
You should start by evaluating the tools you use to support your industry. Sherrie mentions how her company operates in such a niche industry that they cannot find an intent tool that offers the data they need. The panelists emphasized that there are no “one size fits all” solutions available.
Kerry suggests first evaluating your needs, then looking at the platforms you have and what they do. Once completed, you’ll have insight into where gaps exist.
Panelists stress the importance of having a lead routing tool, which serves as a cornerstone of your tech stack. It’s also crucial to have a way to identify your anonymous site traffic. Identifying traffic is critical to effectively score accounts and determine where target accounts are in the buying journey.
In adopting ABM, are there areas we’re not discussing enough?
It may feel like beating a dead horse, but proper team alignment cannot be stressed enough. When people talk about ABM, they talk about the “how” and the “why” but rarely address the “who.” It’s imperative to keep the Sales and Marketing teams on the same page and rowing in the same direction.
When committing to ABM, you’re attempting to create long-term relationships with the accounts you identify. Your team must be honest about what you provide clients and ensure they’re happy with your offerings for this to happen—bringing the customer into the conversation to provide insight into what’s working and what isn’t.
Question 1 – How can I change outreach to include non-decision maker buying group members, but who are essential to the buying cycle?
Your BDR or SDR team should know your key buyer personas and use this list to build your contact list. Once they identify 2-3 people at each account that meets the buyer persona, it comes down to the tried and true approach of building interest and qualifying leads. Instead of doing the same cadence for every lead, your BDR team must see this as just one person at an account they’re pursuing. Once there’s an opportunity, it’s essential to add in all relevant stakeholders so the sales team knows who’s involved in the buying process.
Question 2 – What are best practices for creating a broad range of personas in an account versus a more focused approach?
Simply put, more targeted is better. Including a wide range of personas in each account drastically increases the time to build out each list. The time spent building a long list for one account can build lists of multiple key contacts. Creating a larger list of personas can be beneficial if you have a lot of bandwidth, but many teams do not have this luxury.
How do I begin optimizing my marketing strategy?
As the discussion ends, attendees leave with a more in-depth sense of what they can do to implement or improve their Account-Based Marketing model. With the knowledge and best practices shared by our panel, you can now avoid common pitfalls, accurately plan for the future, and optimize your ABM processes.
Your journey to marketing excellence is never over. There is always more to learn and improvements to make. Level up your ABM strategy through our marketing learning hub. You’ll find videos and articles outlining how to elevate your game and strategize for the future.
As you review your marketing strategy, there may be a point where you’re unsure how to overcome challenges relating to platform integration or scaling your ABM model. When this occurs, you’re not alone. Reach out to our team of growth consultants, and we’ll discuss how to set your marketing strategy up for success.