Account-based marketing (ABM) can reap huge dividends for high contract value (ACV) deals, from increased engagement, to higher ROI, improved win rates, and high potential for cross-selling. It can also build trust and reduce friction and frustration in the sales cycle. With that said, ABM is not effortless — it requires a lot of time to build relationships and trust. The investment required to design and build a strong ABM program means it isn’t the right solution for every product or market. As a marketer, it’s crucial to discern whether the likely payoff will justify the investment of your time, energy and focus.
A framework that helps — S.C.A.L.E.
We developed the S.C.A.L.E. framework to help companies grasp a fundamental understanding of the strategic ABM process. S.C.A.L.E. stands for:
- Secure ABM program goals
- Choose strategic accounts
- Advance targeting tactics
- Lead a seamless campaign
- Evaluate progress, measure results
This blog post will focus on the S of S.C.A.L.E.: securing your program goals. This is the first in a series of posts that will further explain our framework.
What kind of product fits the ABM paradigm?
ABM’s biggest strength lies in heightened focus and specificity of targeted materials and messaging. Putting that level of effort out only makes sense when you’re working with a limited, addressable customer base. It works well in situations with high annual contract value products, long and complex sales cycles, and with accounts that have expansion potential to over $1M in annual revenue. If you have a land-and-expand strategy, a large buying committee, and an account executive and sales engineer, the odds are ABM would be a great marketing strategy for you.
What do I need to start an ABM campaign?
First, you need to secure your program goals. This is pretty straightforward: In addition to understanding your target, you need to define your own objectives before you launch an account-based marketing campaign. You can’t improve what you don’t measure!
What type of ABM works for your product?
Start out with a clear understanding of what kind of ABM relationship you’re pursuing.
Strategic Account-based Marketing
This is outreach at a one-on-one level. Generally the list is targeting 1-10 companies and devising a marketing plan for each of them. This process is personalized, manual, and labor intensive, but the results are more than worth it under the right circumstances. You might select this tier of account-based marketing in situations when the objective is to change a perception, secure a larger deal, build relationships or identify opportunities — and when contract values are at least $1M per year.
Think less hyper-specific, with highly niche segmentation and account-targeted engagement. ABM Lite is useful for larger deals, increased deal velocity, and relationship building.
Perfect for identifying opportunities and generating marketing qualified accounts (MQAs). It’s also a great way to determine interest before investing deeper effort into an account. Depending on how much potential opportunity you identify in a programmatic campaign, you might discover it’s worth upgrading the approach to Strategic or Lite ABM.
Account-based marketing metrics
Securing your program goals means establishing the right metrics.
Align your desired outcomes and KPIs as you hone your strategy. Think about what actions show movement of accounts through the funnel from awareness to conversion.
The metrics that matter to you depend on the type of campaign you’re running. You might be focused on creating net-new accounts or expanding existing ones. Some of our recommendations for program KPIs are as follows:
- Email open rate
- Click-through rate
- Folloze board visits
- Content engagement
- Accounts engaged
- Accounts influenced
- Deal velocity
- Sales Accepted Accounts
- Closed wins
Benchmarks for net-new account campaigns
Realize, net-new means cold. The benchmark for a net-new email campaign open rate for a non-ABM campaign is just 1-2%. With more targeted lists and content, that benchmark is 5% for an account-based marketing campaign.
Benchmarks for expanding-accounts campaigns
This could be a cold list, if you’re aiming for new people inside the account who don’t work with your company yet, or it could be a warm list if you’re sending emails to people you already sell to. The rate for a cold list is the same as net-new above.
Selling more things to current customers takes less time and effort — and has a higher success rate — than selling new things to prospective customers. The benchmark for opens on current clients is higher, as it’s a warm email. Expect the open rate to be 10-20%, depending on the industry.
Engagement is generally a particularly productive focus area, since the more relationship connections you forge within an account, the more potential opportunities you have to move a prospect into an opportunity. Pay attention to things like expanded reach within a key account, increase in meetings booked, or faster journeys through the pipeline. Whatever your focus, getting clarity on your own desired outcome is key to crafting your approach to an ABM campaign.
Quality becomes quantity
People are busy. Enterprise prospects receive upward of 60 emails per week from suppliers. They’re much likelier to engage with messaging that speaks intelligently and directly to their needs. Emotional connections matter and are worth cultivating. A well-crafted ABM campaign enables exactly that: more lasting sales relationships, a smoother sales cycle, and revenue growth, via both increased conversion rate and increased average deal size. Ensuring sales, marketing, and customer success teams work synergistically through the entire process can massively impact revenue growth and cultivate trust.