Author: Joe Paone and Vyoma Kapur
Account-based marketing is gaining in popularity in large part due to its high potential for improving return on investment (ROI). Couple high ROI with the fact that new technology allows marketers to conduct ABM at scale, and you’ll quickly realize how it can transform your business. But how do you ensure your strategy is headed in the right direction?
Whether you’re an early adopter of ABM or just venturing into it, there are many mistakes that you could be making that will limit the effectiveness of your strategy. Hopefully, we can help you avoid some of those pitfalls with a closer look at some of the most common mistakes in the world of ABM. We’ll take a look at three mistakes now, but if you’d like a deep dive on the below and/or are interested in learning about additional mistakes, you can register for our upcoming webinar, 8 Biggest Mistakes Account-Based Marketers Make and How to Avoid Them.
Let’s jump right in and take a look at three big mistakes account-based marketers make and how to avoid them:
Mistake #1: Poor Account Selection Methodology
Nothing will derail your ABM strategy faster than selecting the wrong accounts to include in your programs. If you rely solely on sales to select accounts, you may end up with subjective accounts that look good to a sales rep, but are not the accounts that will generate the most ROI. On the other hand, if you act unilaterally and attempt to select accounts only using a marketing lens, you may find it difficult to get sales buy-in when it comes to execution.
Start off strong by identifying the right accounts for your organization. There are many different strategies and approaches you can use for selecting accounts, and each of them has their own merits. For example, some organizations may target companies that are using a solution that complements their own, while others may target key verticals or accounts that meet other specific criteria. If you have a large list of accounts, you may want to create a tiered strategy that prioritizes your focus on different levels of high-value accounts.
As a rule of thumb, account selection should include some or all of the following:
- High yield: Accounts that are likely to result in larger than average deals and generate substantial revenue over the long term.
- Product fit: Accounts that have business needs that clearly match your solutions, which increases the likelihood they will purchase.
- Strategic importance: Accounts that align with your company’s strategy. For example, winning a big logo in a new territory or vertical to help your company enter those new markets.
- Competitors’ customers: Accounts that are using your competition’s products or services.
It’s also important to consider accounts that exist outside of your database. There are many different vendors that you can use to help you find net new companies to add to your database. You’ll want to leverage the critera above to determine which accounts you should purchase from your chosen vendor.
Regardless of which inputs you use to select accounts, all stakeholders should be part of the account selection process. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and each group feels ownership of the process.
Mistake #2: Operating in Silos with a Disjointed Strategy
Once you have selected the right accounts, coordinate your channels and work cross-functionally to deliver a seamless customer experience. The biggest mistake you can make in ABM is to work in silos with only a few channels and tactics. For ABM to be successful, multiple functions not only need to be aligned, but also be committed to playing their part in penetrating the target accounts.
Here are some of the ways account-based marketers can work with other teams and departments to leverage their programs for an integrated ABM strategy:
- Events: Event marketers humanize your brand, creating opportunities for buyers and sellers to meet face-to-face. There are plenty of opportunities to leverage events when it comes to ABM. Work with your field and corporate events teams to prioritize target accounts before, during and after an event, whether it involves alerting your sales reps when attendees from target accounts check in or giving them an exclusive offer after an event.
- Content marketing: Because ABM is a targeted strategy, you’ll need to leverage relevant content to engage your accounts. The good news is that ABM in itself requires a deep understanding of your target accounts and their pain points, which can be leveraged to create relevant content or repurpose existing content. At the same time, think about how you can leverage content launches for your programs. One way to prioritize target accounts is to give them exclusive early access to premium content. This could go a long way in building relationships with these accounts.
- Paid programs: With multiple vendors offering paid advertising solutions for the purpose of ABM, there are plenty of opportunities to reach your target accounts across the web. You can target your accounts precisely and layer on additional filters such as intent data, engagement history, and types of content consumed to target the right people at the right time.
Mistake #3: Measuring the Wrong Metrics
Account-based marketing is different from broad-based marketing in multiple ways. While the goal of broad-based marketing is to drive as many high-quality leads as cost-effectively as possible, ABM flips the traditional B2B marketing funnel and starts with identifying key accounts, penetrating them, and then landing and expanding them. Accordingly, the metrics that matter look very different.
In broad-based marketing, conventional metrics such as leads, conversions, and MQLs are used to determine program, channel, and campaign performance. Because ABM is a very targeted approach, only tracking these metrics will not give you a complete and accurate picture.
Here are some key metrics, which can be found in your engagement platform or CRM system, that are instrumental in determining the success of ABM:
ROI-centric metrics take time to mature as prospects become familiar with your offerings, but until then, there are early indicators that you should be tracking to make sure that your campaigns are progressing in the right direction.
One metric that you’ll want to track from the start is account score. An account score groups the individuals involved in a buying process and provides a group view of readiness to buy, which will help you understand their overall engagement. If the account score is low across your target accounts, it is an indicator that you should revisit and rethink your program mix and content strategy.
If you are seeing account engagement, you’ll want to look at specific channel metrics to see which channels are performing the best. Some (but, not all) of those channel metrics may include:
- Ad views: Look at impressions and click-through rates to gauge the effectiveness of your ads in drawing key accounts into your funnel.
- Web traffic: See how many people from target accounts visit your website and how well the personalized web experiences drives content engagements, downloads, conversions, and other desired actions. Did you receive multiple visits or visitors from the same organization?
As the prospects within your target accounts engage with your communications, take a look at how they interact with your marketing programs and sales team by tracking the following metrics:
- Marketing campaign and channel metrics: If you are using a marketing platform, this data often lives within in the platform. Analyze it to understand how your various campaigns are performing and whether prospects are converting.
- Web engagement: Interested prospects will be visiting your site in almost every stage of the sales cycle to further educate themselves on your offering. Look for high visit counts to identify potential buyers that are drilling into your content.
- CRM: Look into your CRM platform to see what information the sales team may have logged and determine how that can inform your future activities.
- Sales feedback: Talk to the sales team to discover how close the prospects are to engaging.
It may take some time to measure revenue, but it’s essential to determine the success of your efforts. Don’t leave out the bottom-of-the-funnel as revenue is the key measurement that both sales and marketing can influence. These late-stage metrics include:
- Opportunities created: Take a look at the number of qualified leads your campaign generated who fit your criteria. The number of opportunities for each campaign reveals how valuable your leads are in regards to your primary internal customer–the sales team.
- Account penetration: Number of key people (decision makers, influencers. etc.) that are in your database and opted-in.
- Deal sizes: The average selling price (ASP) of closed-won opportunities from target accounts. The average deal size of target account opportunities should be higher than that of other accounts.
- Win rate: The number of closed won opportunities as a percentage of the total number of opportunities closed. Like deal sizes, this should be higher for target accounts vs. default accounts.
- Velocity: The number of days it takes for an account with an open opportunity to become a customer. The average of this should ideally be smaller for target accounts than default accounts
Curious about other mistakes marketers make when it comes to ABM? Register for our webinar, 8 Biggest Mistakes Account-Based Marketers Make and How to Avoid Them on Feb 8, 2017.