From Demand Gen To ABM: 5 New Rules for B2B Marketing

A few days ago, I was at an after party at the SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange 2016 conference in Austin. The best part of these live meets – you get a level of candor that rarely comes through in web meetings or conference calls with fellow B2B marketers.

One Senior Martech Product Leader said this about their Account-Based Marketing (ABM) plans: “Our (Enterprise) Customers are telling us that they’ve all the new product they need for now.” It turns out this Product Leader’s organization delivers an industry-leading marketing automation platform. However the platform has yet to offer core ABM capabilities. That said, their customers were quite happy (it seems) running traditional demand gen programs – tracking Leads, MQLs, and Sales Accepted Leads. All the “ABM” buzz seemed to have simply passed them by…

So why is ABM resonating with some B2B companies and not with others? Do many B2B marketers still view ABM as the next “shiny object”? Are we as ABM tech providers falling short in explaining how ABM relates to and changes demand gen as B2B marketers know it today? It certainly seems that way. So what’s new with ABM? What do ABM metrics bring to a B2B business that are missing from traditional demand gen metrics? What outcomes should B2B companies expect if they do bet more on ABM?

So here’s our attempt at answering these questions. While here at Kwanzoo, we specialize in ABM for Display, we would like to propose “5 New Rules for B2B marketing the ABM Way” that go well beyond display, to include all the other channels where ABM strategies can be applied (email, website, 3rd party content, live events and more.)

1. Base Your Nurture Streams On Target Account Lists, Not Contacts

How do your nurture streams look today, especially for Prospecting (not Customer Up Sell)? It’s probably built around groups of contacts based on their actions as they engage on you website or with your outbound emails? Perhaps you send specific nurture emails to free trial users, or to users who register for your webinars?

Now think about how your Sales team evaluates prospects visiting your booth at that Big Live Event. Let’s say 3 people stop by from Account A and one of them engages in a quality conversation. Then one person from Account B comes by, scans her badge, picks up a brochure and moves on. What does your Sales colleague look at when deciding who is the more interesting prospect to pursue? Simple: They’d start with the Account first, and then evaluate the Contact(s), right?

Your digital nurture streams re-done the ABM way can cater a whole lot better to the way your Sales team really wants to drive for new business. If you sell products/services with $10,000+ in Annual Contract Value (ACV), where the buying decision requires some level of consensus across multiple parties, your sales team will want to expand their engagement with ALL relevant buyers and influencers at specific target accounts, in preference to going scatter shot across individual contacts, across lots of companies, simply because they filled out a form on your website.

Tweet This: Demand Gen to ABM Rule #1: Base Your Nurture Streams On Target
    Account Lists, Not Contacts #ABMDoneRight

Your biggest challenge is NOT the tech and data to support this change, but simply the willingness to think different, and make that mental mind shift away from contact-oriented nurture programs, towards an account first approach….

2. Build Your Account Lists, Then Realign Your Contact Database To Match

So you’ve been building up your Contact Database. It has all those folks who filled forms on your website, or those Content Syndication Leads you purchased from an e-Book offer. But are those Leads even relevant to your Sales Team? How do they fit in with your Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs)? Are any of the form fills from Target Accounts that you have previously identified as your “best fit” accounts?

The ABM approach here would be to build out your target account lists first:

  • prospecting lists of accounts by sales geos, industry segments, channel partners or competitor-owned, and any 3rd party intent / interest signals
  • prospecting into new accounts that show inbound interest (and fit your ICP)
  • up-sell / cross-sell lists of accounts organized around owned products and your account owners in the sales team

You’d then connect your existing leads to accounts (with lead-to-account matching in CRM). Then classify your contacts into those that fall within your target account lists, and those that do not. You’d look to “fill the gaps” on missing contacts from target accounts who match your buyer personas (have relevant job functions, levels, titles and interests).

You could even delay or defer sourcing contacts, until the accounts exhibit real interest and engagement with your brand as demonstrated through marketing programs that target those accounts, before you have your sales teams source contacts, and pursue deeper conversation with those contacts at specific accounts.

Focus on account lists first, and build out or rightsize your contact database to match, to accelerate your sales pipeline at the right set of target accounts.

Tweet This: Demand Gen to ABM Rule #2: Build Your Account Lists Lists First, Then RightSize Your Contact Database To Match #ABMDoneRight

3. Sales (Should) Care About Engaged Accounts, Much More Than Form Fills (Leads)

Your Sales Team has been working with Leads (Form Fills) they receive from Marketing. Using all the new ABM technology that’s available today, you can now deliver new types of reports to your Sales teams that focus on Account-level Engagement. We call these “Account Engagement Reports” (AERs).

Each AER would provide details on “Engaged Accounts” that includes the following:

Account name, account geo city / state/ country, the account’s interactions with your content & offers + date/time/duration of these interactions.

Your Sales teams can use AERs to prioritize the accounts that are showing the greatest intent and interest in your brand – then identify both the unique contacts from that account as well as other 3rd party intent signals that may confirm that the account is in a buying cycle.

So now, instead of Sales working on Leads, they would pick up an “Engaged Account” to work on – map out relevant Influencers and Buyers at a Buying Center within the account, and pursue relevant contacts through outbound sales development rep (SDR) emails and phone calls.

By looking at an account as a whole, and not simply acting on individual contacts who have raised their hand with an e-book download, with an ABM approach, your Sales team will be able to penetrate an account deeper & faster for a more fruitful relationship.

Tweet This: Demand Gen to ABM Rule #3: Sales (Should) Care About Engaged
    Accounts, Much More Than Form Fills (Leads) #ABMDoneRight 

4. Maximize Your Account Reach & Coverage, and # Of Engaged Accounts / Rep / Quarter

Your success as a B2B marketer depends on your delivering value to ALL of the Sales Teams and Account owners that you support. Regardless of what marketing programs you invest in, when you buy into an ABM approach, your key measure of success is the Number of Engaged Accounts you deliver per Sales Rep (that you support) per Quarter. The higher this number, the better your Sales Reps can prioritize their time, focus on the Accounts with the highest potential, before resorting to other strategies to self-source Prospective accounts, create opportunities and close new business.

In order to be able to engage an account, you need ABM tech and data that enables you to reach the account through one or more online channels (email, display, 3rd party Webinars, and more) in the first place!

Make sure that your ABM tech and data providers can show you their Account Reach and Coverage for your target accounts of interest, before you make a long term Investment with them. Instead of leads (form fills), it’s now time for Sales to work on Engaged Accounts that you deliver to them every week, so that they penetrate their Accounts faster, and build more pipeline.

Tweet This: Demand Gen to ABM Rule #4: Maximize Your Account Reach & Coverage, and Engaged Accounts / Rep / Quarter #ABMDoneRight

5. Optimize Your Program Budget for Cost Per Engaged Account (CPEA), Not Cost Per Lead (CPL)

Most B2B companies make their marketing investments in 4 key areas: Content, Infrastructure, Data and Programs. With traditional demand gen, your programs spend is designed to maximize the # of leads (form fills) delivered to your Sales teams. You’d then track down-funnel metrics (Marketing Qualified Leads or MQLs, Sales Accepted Leads or SALs, Opportunities, Closed/Won Deals).

With an ABM approach, you would shift the dial from leads (form fills) to measuring the # of target accounts you are able to engage for a given program budget.

Cost Per Engaged Account (CPEA) = Total Program Budget / # Engaged Accounts.

You probably run multiple programs (email, display, social, 3rd party webinars). Simply Measure your CPEA by program, e.g. CPEA for ABM Display, CPEA for 3rd Party Webinars.

Total Program Budget = Cost of (Paid) Media + Data + Tech + Services during the program duration (e.g. each quarter). Paid Media and Program-Specific Data costs may only apply to some programs (e.g. Display). Tech Fees and/or Services may apply more broadly to a larger number of in-house or 3rd party marketing programs.

Instead of # of leads (form fills), it’s now time to maximize the # of Engaged Accounts you deliver every week to Sales.

Tweet This: Demand Gen to ABM Rule #5: Optimize Your Program Budget for Cost Per Engaged Account (CPEA), Not Cost Per Lead (CPL) #ABMDoneRight

So how far along are you with your ABM journey? Are you working on moving your dials from traditional demand gen to ABM? As you plan your 2017 ABM initiatives we hope you find these 5 Rules for B2B marketing the ABM way useful.

Have any thoughts, comments, questions for us? Please drop us a note below, or write to us here. Always happy to chat.

Full Disclosure: Kwanzoo offers a Complementary Account Coverage Report (ACR) for running ABM display programs. You can get yours here.

Full Disclosure: Kwanzoo is currently offering a Complementary ABM Consultation to help you with planning and budgeting for your 2017 ABM display programs. Our complementary budget modeler provides estimated CPEA numbers for lists of target accounts, that can vary by the specific ABM display program(s) that are deployed each quarter. You can sign up for your ABM consultation here.

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