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How ABM strategies can accelerate marketing and sales velocity

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The B2B customer journey is set on a digital track

“What we have learned over the years in B2B — where we have higher average sales prices — is that we’re dealing with buying committees and multiple personas that are making [buying] decisions,” said Auseh Britt, VP of growth marketing at Terminus,  her presentation at The MarTech Conference (scroll down to watch the video of their session). “It’s a more efficient and effective approach to go after accounts than it is just one or two individuals.”

Rather than tailoring messages to individual customers, marketers in the B2B space are recognizing the need to adopt account-based strategies to resonate with groups of executive-level buying groups. This process necessitates a strong appeal to brands’ goals — often at the enterprise level — and this can’t be done without proper marketing and sales team alignment.

“The other thing that you need to make ABM successful is tight marketing and sales alignment,” Britt said. “It only works if you’re working together as a unified team and deciding who your ICP [ideal customer profile] is. Which accounts within that ICP are you going to go after?”

Here are three ways an ABM strategy can help improve sales and marketing velocity.

Account targeting from a marketing side

“I’ve worked for organizations where marketing ended when the opportunity was created,” Britt said. “We were all about driving the demand and the awareness and getting those qualified opportunities. But then after that salespeople are sometimes like, ‘Alright, it’s mine now. I don’t want any kind of marketing or promotions hitting them because I don’t want this prospect to get distracted.’”

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“I think that’s changing now; it’s refreshing to see that marketing does have a role to play with open opportunities,” she added.

Britt says marketing teams can improve account targeting by looking at these open opportunities, especially those one might think to glance over at first. She recommends including opportunities that aren’t just categorized as top tier — those with the highest propensity to close quickly. They should reach out to accounts that are under a certain dollar amount or those that are at a higher stage of the sales funnel as well.

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Sales engagement and outreach

Britt’s presentation also highlighted the necessity of sharing data between marketing and sales teams. When accounts start to visit your web properties, click on your ads, or attend your event, marketers must get sales teams involved with their marketing campaigns.

She said marketers should share that data with sales so they can see who’s engaging and what type of intent signals they’re showing. This provides additional opportunities for sales outreach — even if no one’s clicking on that ad, they might be showing other intent signals that sales can act on, such as visiting the site or interacting through some third-party intent.

Britt’s own marketing team’s process of collaborating with sales, enhancing their engagement and outreach opportunities. They put together an email template for sales to use (shown below). It showcases an upcoming virtual event in the signature portion, helping sales better connect with accounts via email marketing.

email signature marketing for ABMemail signature marketing for ABM
Source: Auseh Britt

“It’s about continuing to have those touches, that engagement with the account,” she said.

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Account analysis and measurement

“When it comes to pipeline acceleration, you’re hopefully improving your win rate with these [ABM] programs that you’re putting the surround sound type of campaigns around,” said Britt. “You’re increasing your average deal size as you’re nurturing them through the opportunities journey and then shortening that sale cycle and increasing the sales velocity.”

She suggested marketers develop methods for measuring account engagement — both from a marketing and a sales side. Teams should look into whether accounts are clicking on your ads, registering for your events or your webinars, signing up for the direct mail, and other straightforward measurements, but also less obvious engagement metrics. These include activity time, churn rate, customer satisfaction, customer lifetime value (CLV), and more.

She recommends marketers put together a high-level overview of their analysis for managers, what she calls an ABM scorecard (shown below). Scoring your marketing and sales teams’ account engagement in this way can make data clearer for higher-ups to act upon.

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Source: Auseh Britt

“This is a simple way to display those key metrics, especially when you’re reporting it to leadership,” she said.

Account-based marketing: A snapshot

What it is. Account-based marketing, or ABM, is a B2B marketing strategy that aligns sales and marketing efforts to focus on high-value accounts. 

This customer acquisition strategy focuses on delivering promotions — advertising, direct mail, content syndication, etc. — to targeted accounts. Individuals who may be involved in the purchase decision are targeted in a variety of ways, in order to soften the earth for the sales organization. 

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Why it’s hot. Account-based marketing addresses changes in B2B buyer behavior. Buyers now do extensive online research before contacting sales, a trend that has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of marketing’s tasks in an ABM strategy is to make certain its company’s message is reaching potential customers while they are doing their research. 

Why we care. Account engagement, win rate, average deal size, and ROI increase after implementing account-based marketing, according to a recent Forrester/SiriusDecisions survey. While B2B marketers benefit from that win rate, ABM vendors are also reaping the benefits as B2B marketers invest in these technologies and apply them to their channels.

Read next: What is ABM and why are B2B marketers so bullish on it?


About The Author

Corey Patterson is an Editor for MarTech and Search Engine Land. With a background in SEO, content marketing, and journalism, he covers SEO and PPC to help marketers improve their campaigns.

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MARKETING

B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

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B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

The B2B customer journey can be a long one, especially when the purchase of expensive software subscriptions is under consideration.

“The average B2B customer journey takes 192 days from anonymous first touch to won,” according to Dreamdata in their 2022 B2B Go-to-Market Benchmarks — a statistic described by co-founder and CMO Steffen Hedebrandt as “alarming.”

But the report also indicates that this journey can be significantly sped up — by as much as 63% — if accounts begin their research at software review sites, gathering information and opinions from their peers. Journeys that originate at a review site often lead to deals of higher value too.

Fragmented data on the customer journey. Dreamdata is a B2B go-to-market platform. In any B2B company, explained Hedebrandt, there are typically 10 or even 20 data silos that contain fragments of the customer journey. Website visits, white paper downloads, social media interactions, webinar or meeting attendance, demos, and of course intent data from review site visits — this data doesn’t typically sit in one place within an organization.

“We built an account-based data model because we believe that there’s such a thing as an account journey and not an individual journey,” said Hedebrandt. “So if there are two, three or five people representing an account, which is typically what you see in B2B, all of these touches get mapped into the same timeline.”

Among those many touches is the intent data sourced from software review site G2. Dreamdata has an integration with G2 and a G2 dashboard allowing visualization of G2-generated intent data. This includes filtering prospects who are early in their journey, who have not yet discovered the customer’s product, or who have discovered it but are still searching. This creates a basis for attributing pipelines, conversions and revenue to the activity.

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“Strategically, our ideal customer profile is a B2B software-as-a-service company,” said Hedenbrandt. “B2B SaaS companies are particularly ripe for understanding this digital customer journey; their main investment is in digital marketing, they have a salesforce that use software tools to do this inside sales model; and they also deliver their product digitally as well.” What’s more, it takes twice as long to close SaaS deal as it does to close deals with B2B commercial and professional services companies.

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Read next: A look at the tech review space

The Benchmarks findings. The conclusions of the 2022 Benchmarks report is based on aggregated, anonymized data from more than 400 Dreamdata user accounts. Focusing on first-touch attribution (from their multi-touch model), Dreamdata found that customer journeys where a review site is the first touch are 63% shorter than the average. In contrast, where the first touch channel is social, the journey is much longer than average (217%); it’s the same when paid media is the first touch (155%).

As the Benchmarks report suggests, this may well mean that social is targeting prospects that are just not in-market. It makes sense that activity on a review site is a better predictor of intent.

Hedenbrandt underlines the importance of treating the specific figures with caution. “It’s not complete science what we’ve done,” he admits, “but it’s real data from 400 accounts, so it’s not going to be completely off. You can only spend your time once, and at least from what we can see here it’s better to spend your time collecting reviews than writing another Facebook update.”

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While Dreamdata highlights use of G2, Hedenbrandt readily concedes that competitor software review sites might reasonably be expected to show similar effects. “Definitely I would expect it to be similar.”

Why we care. It’s not news that B2B buyers researching software purchases use review sites and that those sites gather and trade in the intent data generated. Software vendors encourage users to post reviews. There has been a general assumption that a large number of hopefully positive reviews is a good thing to have.


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What Dreamdata’s findings indicate is that the effect of review sites on the buyer journey — especially as the first-touch channel — can be quantified and a value placed on it. “None of us questioned the value of reviews, but during this process you can actually map it into a customer journey where you can see the journey started from G2, then flowed into sales meetings, website visits, ads, etc. Then we can also join the deal value to the intent that started from G2.”

Likely, this is also another example of B2B learning from B2C. People looking at high consideration B2C purchases are now accustomed to seeking advice both from friends and from online reviews. The same goes for SaaS purchases, Hedenbrandt suggests: “More people are turning to sites like G2 to understand whether this is a trustworthy vendor or not. The more expensive it is, the more validation you want to see.”


About The Author

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Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

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He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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