How a phased approach will bring better ROI for B2B marketers—with real customer success stories.
Look at recent research from Forrester, Gartner, or any leading industry expert, and the consensus is clear: account-based marketing (ABM) is a must in the new digital era of B2B buying and selling. It has quickly become the most powerful way to drive engagement and revenue growth with key prospects and customers.
B2B industries have seen an accelerated shift to digital, fueled in part by the pandemic. Purchase decisions are increasingly made by large buying groups who spend most of their buying journey doing anonymous research online. In fact, they may not even contact a sales rep until they’ve already made a final decision and just want to negotiate pricing.
Rather than waiting for that sales call, companies can use ABM to proactively deliver personalized and compelling messages to buyers in their key accounts—early and across all marketing and sales channels—to guide them along the entire buying journey. Overall, companies with successful ABM programs see:
- Shorter sales cycles
- Bigger deal sizes
- Higher win rates
- And better marketing ROI
Considering these benefits, all the buzz around ABM is no surprise. But according to an ITSMA Benchmark Study, two thirds of ABM programs are still in the exploration or experimentation stage of development.
If you’re still in the earliest stages and need to secure the buy-in and budget to expand your ABM program, I’d like to offer a key piece of advice: ABM is a marathon, not a sprint.
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A phased approach for long-term success
If there is one thing I’ve learned while working with some of the world’s largest manufacturing and life sciences companies in my role here at Jabmo, it’s that you won’t see revenue impact overnight. Just as complex sales cycles in many B2B industries take months or even years, it takes time to see the business impact of ABM on metrics like revenue growth and win rates.
We’ve found that the most successful ABM initiatives are built on a phased approach over a period of 36 months. By measuring results at each phase with different sets of KPIs, you can understand if it’s working, double down on your most effective strategies and also demonstrate to internal stakeholders that your program is progressing towards the business outcomes you desire.
Let’s look at the phases of an ABM initiative and their corresponding KPIs:
- Define objectives: Everything starts by identifying a specific use case and campaign goals. In B2B marketing, there are many different possibilities. Some of the most common use cases we see among Jabmo clients include new product launches, solution-based selling (i.e., grouping of products and services), cross selling activities, regional expansion, customer retention/renewals, and upgrades. You can then select the appropriate target accounts that align with your use case.
|ABM IN ACTION: For example, Jabmo is working with a global healthcare company using ABM to introduce a new medical device in the UK market. The company had struggled with traditional tactics like email marketing. Due to GDPR, marketing was only able to email those contacts within hospitals that had opted in. But with ABM, they have been able to target all the hospitals within the National Health Service—reaching both known and unknown contacts within those accounts.|
- Awareness: Once you start running your digital ABM campaign, you enter the awareness phase. We recommend creating ads to make your target accounts aware of the problem that you solve first.
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Here, the key KPIs to measure are:
#1. Reach. In other words, are you able to effectively serve a targeted message to a particular target account? If you’re running an IP-based digital ad and/or social ad, for instance, are you getting that ad in front of that target account?
#2. Engagement. Are you getting that target account to actually engage with that message? Did it resonate with them? Are they clicking on the ad? Are they coming to your website to learn more?
- Consideration: During the consideration phase, you deliver more targeted messaging based on the products, content and solutions that have seen the most engagement. This may include a compelling offer that convinces a target account to finally have a conversation with your reps. Here, the number of meetings set and opportunities opened are your best KPIs.
- Decision: The decision phase is when your program has matured. You’ve guided your target accounts through the buying cycle, and this is where you can finally measure closed opportunities, win rate, and ultimately revenue growth.
Quantifying ABM’s impact and ROI
At Jabmo, we’ve found that the most effective way to quantify ABM success is through a test and control group study—performed not just in the initial phase, but throughout the entire campaign. This involves isolating a control group of key accounts and marketing to them the way you always have. Then, compare those results to a set of accounts that are part of your ABM program. It is a scientific, controlled way to measure not only short-term KPIs, but also ultimate business impact. Jabmo has adopted this methodology for all our clients, and we’ve even introduced an ROI Analysis tool as part of our ABM platform.
|ABM IN ACTION: A great example comes from a multi-billion-dollar oil and gas manufacturing client. We identified key accounts for an ABM group as well as a control group—all similar in size, region, and existing relationship to eliminate any other variables. With the client’s ABM program up and running, they saw 22% more sales opportunities opened in the ABM group compared to the control group. And the sales opportunities were 18% larger. Their marketing team was able to leverage this data to get continued buy-in from stakeholders and executives, secure more budget for ABM, and expand the program to other divisions and regions—which ultimately drove even better long-term business growth.|
ABM may be a marathon, but you don’t have to run it alone
When thinking about ABM success, the old saying “Don’t boil the ocean” comes to mind. The best way forward is to create a phased program with clear objectives, and then track the right metrics to measure and demonstrate ROI along the way. But since ABM is a relatively new strategy for many B2B companies, having the right partner can make all the difference.
Look for an ABM Platform and managed services provider with experience in your industry and the know-how to apply best practices at each phase of your ABM initiative. That’s what we aim for here at Jabmo—to not only offer a comprehensive platform for ABM, but also lend our expertise from strategy, account selection, creative, program development, execution, and beyond. We’ll get you started on the right foot and will be right there with you as you cross the finish line.
If you’d like to read more about getting started with digital ABM, JabMo’s founder and CEO, Nick Heys, has put together a great free CMO’s guide.
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