“Don’t count the people that you reach; reach the people that count.” David Ogilvy
Marketing has made significant progress in using metrics to earn accountability and respect since Mr. Ogilvy first said this quote, but its significance finds new meaning in today’s world, as the rise of Account Based Everything (ABE) demands new ways of thinking about marketing metrics and measurement.
Traditional demand-gen metrics simply aren’t enough to optimize an account-based strategy.
While leads and opportunities are important and even necessary metrics, they are not sufficient to measure ABE. You need metrics that are suited to this specialized discipline – or you’ll be pursuing and rewarding the wrong things. Because ABE is a fundamentally different approach, it requires fundamentally different metrics, those that provide an account-centric lens to your measurement. Here, marketing won’t be generating many “hot leads” – so even metrics that incorporate quality (MQL) become less useful.
With ABE, marketing needs to create influence with the people who matter. This is a departure from how marketing is measured in many lead management strategies, and requires us to adopt a new mindset. In an account-based strategy, traditional funnel metrics such as conversion rates simply don’t work, as the volumes in ABE are too low. A sales rep with 20 accounts can’t accept a 5% conversion rate – they need to be thinking about growing revenue from every single account. Which would your sales rep value more – 20 random low-level professionals downloading your whitepaper, or one meaningful conversation with a decision-maker at one of their target accounts?
We can’t wait until revenue
In a perfect world, every marketer would always be able to measure Account-Based Marketing (ABM) using closed deals and revenue (don’t get me wrong, Marketing should certainly be measuring those things.) But, in reality, we can’t afford to wait that long before we measure success, especially in complex sales cycles when there’s a long gap between top-of-funnel lead generation and bottom-of-funnel pipeline creation.
You need a way to measure progress in the middle-of-the-funnel, as an account develops. The longer the sales cycle, the more you need metrics that illuminate what’s going on as it progresses. According to SiriusDecisions, companies have recently reported a 24% increase in the length of their sales cycle. Analyst Megan Heuer recommends, “You can’t wait a year to see results [in ABM]. If you believe ABM success is measured only on lead volume… think again. ABM is about influence.”
That’s why engagement matters. By tracking how deeply the right people at an account engage with your brand, marketers have a quantifiable way of showing development through a potentially long nurturing process.
ABM is about supporting and influencing pipeline creation.
The larger and more complex the deal, the less we can measure marketing in terms of ‘marketing sourced’ leads and pipeline. Many ABE plays are about accelerating existing pipeline, not creating new revenue.
So instead of relying on marketing generated pipeline as a way to prove value, account-based marketers need to show their impact on revenue by demonstrating how well they influence deals and improve key business outcomes such as win rates, deal velocity, and average contract value (ACV).
Think expansion, not net-new logos
Deepening relationships with existing customers is a big part of ABE, but traditional marketing funnel metrics focus almost exclusively on new business. While cross-sell and upsell pipelineand revenue are certainly part of the equation, ABE metrics should also include advocacy, referrals, customer satisfaction, and net promoter scores.
ABE clearly needs its own approach to metrics – an approach that measures the right things in the context of large, complex deals.
So, which metrics matter?
- Program Impact
These new ABM metrics are extra dimensions to the traditional metrics like leads, pipeline, and revenue.
- Activity based metrics
- Outcome based metrics
ABE metrics are different because they track accounts, not leads, they focus on quality not quantity, and they track impact and influence more than try to apportion ‘credit’ (the ABE world is much more of a team effort).
Let’s dig in a little deeper to each one.
Coverage is the most basic of ABM metrics – it’s a measure of data quality and completeness, telling you whether or not your database has the right people in it. This metric answers questions like:
- How effectively is your team building contacts with the people who matter at your target accounts?
- How complete is your account data?
Beyond individuals, this metric can extend to your ABE strategic planning as well.
- How many of your target accounts have completed account plans?
- How many have you researched to create account-level insights?
- How many have you created account-specific custom content for?
Consider the organizational chart for your accounts. A complex account may have dozens of divisions, each with its own separate org chart.
- Do you know what each of the visions are, and how they relate to each other?
- Do you know the buying centers and key contacts in each division?
Ask a salesperson what they want from marketing, and they’ll likely say, “When I call into a new account, I want them to know who we are, and what we do.” They’re asking for awareness – not broad-based untargeted awareness like a consumer brand might build with a TV ad, but rather awareness at a targeted list of specific accounts.
This metric measures, simply, are your target accounts aware of your company and its solutions?
Unfortunately, awareness is notoriously difficult to measure. Traditional brand studies can take time and cost thousands of dollars, so you may need other ways to measure this important ABE metric.
- Traffic – One fast and cost effective way to track awareness is by measuring web traffic from target accounts. This is accomplished by using reverse IP lookup to figure out the domain names associated with the IP addresses of your website visitors, and then matching the domain names to your accounts. If web traffic from target accounts is going up, then it’s a good sign that your ABM efforts are increasing awareness – especially if you can show that it’s going up faster than at the non- targeted accounts.
- Interactions – Another way to measure basic awareness is to track the number of target accounts that have had any interaction with your brand recently. If a specific account has no emails opened, no events attended, and no phone calls accepted in the last three months, then it’s reasonable to say that nobody from that account is aware of you.
Are the right people at the account spending time with your company, and is that engagement going up over time? Higher degrees of engagement mean a deeper commitment. More time. More emotion. More of a relationship. More activity – such as buying and advocating.
The number of minutes that someone spends with your brand is a reasonable way to track engagement. These minutes should cover when they respond to your marketing programs, but also when people interact socially, use your product, and talk with the sales team. By combining these interactions at the individual and account level, you get a good proxy for engagement.
We detail step-by-step instructions for doing this in the Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing.
This metric seeks to understand if marketing programs are reaching target accounts, and identify waste. Every marketer wants to know which programs are working. But, historically, it’s been hard to know which programs do the best job of reaching your specific named accounts.
That’s why we use these additional program metrics to track ABM success:
- Successes – are specific to each program channel (e.g. for a webinar, success is attending the event.) Track the number of successes each program has at your target accounts.
- Coverage – the percent of target accounts that have a success in a given program. This measure how broadly the program reaches your target accounts.
- Focus – the percent of all program successes come from your target accounts. This measures how efficiently the program reaches just your targets, or inversely, how much waste the program is generating in reaching non-targets.
In general, programs with good coverage and/or good focus will do a better job of achieving your Account Based Marketing goals.
Long sales cycles with many touches can make a true attribution model difficult.
This metrics seeks to understand how ABE activities are improving sales outcomes such as deal velocity, win rates, average contract values, retention, and Net Promoter Scores.
In ABM we need to look for correlations between the activities and key sales outcomes. To do this, mine your data to find influence insights such as:
“Accounts in the top 25% of engagement have 18% faster sales cycles than those in the bottom 25%.”
Even if correlations don’t always imply causation, these insights are still a very strong way for marketing to show why increasing engagement and running Account Based Marketing programs should matter to sales executives and the C-suite.
Look for programs that create a lift in the key metrics that the company cares about, such as pipeline and net promoter score.
6. Activity-based metrics
In Account Based Sales Development, activity-based metrics answer the question, “Are my reps doing enough of the right things?”
How you define ‘the right things’ will reflect your own SDR playbook but they’ll be the thingsyou train and coach for, including:
- Task completion – are they keeping up to date on tasks or falling behind?
- Dials, emails or contacts per day – you’ll set your own targets based on the daily schedule but remember: highly personalized emails and conversations do take longer than templated ones (and they’re worth it)
- Account coverage – if your SDRs are responsible for building contacts or mapping accounts, you can track their progression this front
- Meaningful conversations – according to Trish Bertuzzi, if you’re only going to track one metric, track this
- Conversation to appointment – measuring the quality of conversations
7. Outcome-based metrics
ABSD activities are important, but only if they generate the outcomes you need. So you need to track that too. Outcome- based metrics include:
- ‘Accounts accepted’ rate – a pipeline metric often measured per thousand accounts prospected
- Pipeline created – the number and value of meetings and/or opportunities created for AEs
- Revenue generated – the mother of all metrics: the value of closed deals initiated by SDRs
Better metrics = better alignment.
One of the key sources of misalignment between marketing and sales is the disconnect between the way the two teams measure success.
One of the benefits of Account Based Marketing is how it brings the two teams closer, aligning focus on a specific list of named accounts. By evolving your metrics in the manner discussed here, marketing and sales can begin to speak the same language and come even closer together as a result.
For some, the movement away from tried and true lead-based metrics may feel unnerving, but if you’re going to embrace ABM, the change and its implications are unavoidable: an ABM program, such as display advertising, without ABM metrics will always be judged by the wrong yardsticks.
About Jon Miller
Jon Miller is CEO and Co-Founder of Engagio, the Account Based Everything platform that lets you orchestrate human connections at scale. Previously, he was the CMO and Co-Founder of Marketo. Jon has a passion for helping marketers everywhere, and in 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.