In First Hand Accounts


A recurrent conversation… “When I see a bunch of ad clicks and website visits from a target account, I share the news with my sales team, but they in turn ask what they’re supposed to do with the information… What’s the right answer?”

The stark reality is that an impression, click, or site visit are not actionable for your sales team and can obscure important data from marketers. Then, I break the sad news… not only is this information not actionable, but most of these activities aren’t even valuable.

Engagement Isn’t An Objective

Don’t let others tell you that the quantity of ad clicks and website visits represent engagement, and that this is a key objective of ABM. This volumetric vision of engagement is a loosely fit activity measure, at best. Not that you shouldn’t track these activities, but they shouldn’t be the reason you engage your sales team, boast about the cool results you’ve generated or most importantly, the reason you declare an account as marketing qualified.

To be clear, this measurement won’t make your CEO open her wallet and ask you to do more. Why’s that? You’re unable to connect enough dots to make the investment that generated these activities worthwhile…

  • Your sales team has nothing to act upon. Who are they going to call? What do they talk about?
  • Who are the people on your site? Are they a part of the buying group or a team of interns?
  • What are they interested in solving? Did they register for any content or request a demo? What pages did they find interesting?

When the noise of this metric infects your analytics, things like account qualification go terribly wrong. Most this this form of engagement is not relevant. It’s not that these touch points are bad, it’s just that too many of those in the metric are irrelevant to the decision process. Their mindshare and activity can’t help you. Unless they’re removed from your analysis, so you can start to see buyer engagement and needs, you’ll never be good at calling balls and strikes in a Marketing Qualified Account world.

Influence Is A Key Objective For ABM

Influence is a part of engagement. It’s the part that reflects your ability to find a topic of interest and the results of triggered multichannel actions towards those needs. This narrower analysis allows you to isolate buyers and recognize their responses (engagement) and needs. When you can generate and measure mindshare for this group, you can influence purchase decisions and create actionable direction for your sales team.

Let’s go back to the “recurrent conversation” and test this idea of Influence. Consider how different the outcome will be if the marketer came to me and said, “When I see a bunch of ad clicks and website visits that point to a topic of interest for a target account, we double-down on that topic and drive home our expertise. When we’ve acquired and engaged several people from our buyer personas, we’ve validated the qualification of the account and can pass it to our sales team – a bundle of buyer contacts and topics of interest they can act upon.”

You need to be able to connect the dots: marketing investments to activity, activity to topics of interest, triggered messaging to known interactions and filter known interactions for buyer personas.

I recently caught up with John Muehling, ABM Leader at Digital Pi. I thought he captured this point well as he versed it through their client approach. “Companies who successfully execute account-based strategies are racing to capture total mindshare within a buying committee. Focusing only on webpage visits and email clicks does not provide the comprehensive lens required for an effective ABM strategy. When it comes to account-based metrics, especially for the near and mid-term, our focus is to help clients confirm that they’re talking to all the right people, and the content and messaging has a measurable impact.  Capturing mindshare is about helping the buying committee members in a target account either a) solve a problem they are aware of, or b) become aware of a problem they may not have known existed.”

Patience Is Not A Virtue

Don’t let somebody tell you that you need patience to see the right results, or that ABM is a long-term commitment before you can measure impact. When you find and act upon the things that interest a target account, you reinforce your expertise in the things that interest them. Make it easy for people to want your marketing. This generates influence.

If you’d like to gather the attention of your sales team, or if your CEO has asked for a review of your ABM program, wouldn’t you like to show radical improvement in activity metrics and be able to point to concrete examples where you’ve delivered actionable and truly qualified target accounts? Using this insights-based approach, you’ll dramatically ramp up engagement. Personally, I’ve seen a 14X increase in two weeks. Research confirms this point, highlighting that average display ad performance increases by 7X and email by 4.7X.  Having said all that, don’t let this immediate impact fog your vision. Focus on buyer personas and remove the noise. This is the key.

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