COMMVAULT SYSTEMS, a backup and recovery company that targets enterprise buyers, is a David among Goliath competitors that include IBM, PNC and Veritas. “We have been the No. 1 vendor in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for the past six years, but we compete against very big brands,” said Dawn Colossi, Senior Director of Worldwide Digital Marketing at Commvault. That’s one reason the marketing team needs to maximize its impact, and ABM has helped Commvault completely reshape its marketing strategy.
Colossi said she and her team had implemented the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall in the past, and “the top of the funnel looked really, really healthy. We were getting the right amount of suspects to go to MQLs, to go to sales qualified leads and, after that, they were dying on the vine.” She likens it to being “at war” with sales. “They thought marketing leads stink, and we said they didn’t follow up on anything, and we were basically at a point where everything looked bleak,” Colossi said. She and her marketing team searched for an efficient way to compete more effectively and spend its smaller marketing budget wisely.
Enter ABM. For the first step of selecting accounts to target, Colossi zeroed in on closed-won deals.
“WE HAVE BEEN THE No. 1 vendor in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for the past six years, BUT WE COMPETE AGAINST VERY BIG BRANDS.” Dawn Colossi, Commvault
“I had convinced myself that the reason why the sales team wasn’t picking up the leads that we were passing over was because they had a target account list, and what I was passing them was not on that list.”
Armed with 5,000 target accounts from sales, Colossi began working with Prelytix, a predictive analytics provider that has since been acquired, and its consultant, Charlie Tarzian, to serve ads to target accounts. But what they found was surprising.
“Very few of them were actually in the market for our content,” she said. Colossi continued to follow those 5,000 accounts with Tar-zian’s help, and Prelytix additionally tracked what they called the Market View. The parameters were enterprise companies with more than 1,500 employees in North America at a certain revenue level who were searching specific Commvault Google Adwords. That universe totaled about 3,500. Prelytix was able to track these “lookalike” accounts and determine what they were searching.
EARLY WIN SPURS NURTURING PROGRAM
Soon thereafter, Commvault identified a major pharmaceutical company and current customer of its backup and recovery services in its Market View, consuming “a ton” of content around archiving services. When the rep on that account followed up, it turned out there was another buying team within that office looking for an archive solution, but the buying teams were not aware of each other until the rep raised the issue. That inquiry resulted in a $75,000 archiving solution sale.
Colossi knew they were onto something, and the sales team began to take notice as well. She and her team developed a complex email nurturing program from the 5,000 sales-identified accounts and the Market View accounts they were tracking. Account data that came in was divided into nurturing tracks based on solution area, stage of the sales cycle and type of company.
TYING THE REVENUE TO ABM EFFORT
Colossi launched the program quietly so that she could test it and track progress. At that time, Commvault was in between CMOs, and she was able to spend “a certain amount of budget that I wasn’t getting questioned on. We just started to let it run, to see how it did.”
Content naturally played a major role in the nurturing program across channels, according to Colossi, and she wanted to make sure they would have the right content and enough of it for prospects and existing customers. A content audit determined Commvault had plenty of mid-stage content, but it lacked top-of-the-funnel assets that spoke to customer pain points.
Colossi needed to build the awareness-stage and persona-based content arsenal fast, and she contracted with a former colleague who developed a network of writers to create the necessary content. She then created a content map of various types of content and planned the cadence and channels for distributing them. After initially relying on an Excel spreadsheet and loose workflows, Colossi and her team brought in Kapost, a content management platform. She used it to classify content according to persona, industry, buying stage and solution area.
The Commvault team also added a new webinar strategy as a conversion point. “[Webinars] were [historically]… based on what our product managers thought we should be talking about. We flipped that,” she said. The team instead crafted webinars based on the company’s “digitally engaged audience,” described as people who were taking three or more actions within a 90-day period. “We could see what kind of content they were responding to, so we knew what they were interested in,” she said.
Webinar attendance spiked from around 25 to 40 people per webinar to 300 to 400 participants per webinar. That inbound traffic was converting to opportunities for the company. “We now see it as one of our biggest conversion points,” Colossi said.
At the time, Tarzian moved on from Prelytix to co-found The Big Willow, a data and sales enablement provider. Colossi followed him there, and Commvault has continued to work with Big Willow, refining its Market View.
SIRIUSDECISIONS VALIDATES ABM APPROACH
It was also around that time that SiriusDecisions was brought in by Commvault’s marketing intelligence team to do an analysis on its funnel. They found that digital activities were driving the most opportunities, which was validation for Colossi’s approach. “It was really empowering,” she said.
“BY TARGETING THE ACCOUNTS that were showing us intent signals rather than the spray- and-pray method, WE ENDED UP GETTING MUCH MORE EFFICIENT WITH OUR MONEY AND WITH OUR ACTIONS.” Dawn Colossi, Commvault
After the study, the marketing intelligence team looked at the effect of digital activities on close rates and deal size. Companies that were digitally engaged had a 20% higher average deal size and closed 15% more of the time than accounts that were not digitally engaged, according to Colossi.
Colossi said that the results encouraged the sales team to commit to the approach 100%. “They all wanted to digitally engage their accounts, because they knew it was going to end up being more money in their pocket,” she said.
“By targeting the accounts that were showing us intent signals rather than the spray-and-pray method, we ended up getting much more efficient with our money and with our actions,” Colossi said. “It’s a little bit different than traditional account-based marketing, but it’s still there with a spin on it.”