Tuesday, February 20, 2024

ABM early adopters: Here’s what we’ve learned — and what you should avoid

It was during what he describes as a “patio meeting” that Evan Little and his team decided the time was right to try account-based marketing — after all, nothing else was working anymore.

“We were working very hard for very little results. We had to change something,” Little, director of growth at Toronto-based employee benefits startup League Inc. told a group of fellow B2B marketers at an ABM hosted by DemandBase, Brainrider and TOPO on Wednesday.

Less than a year ago, League was primarily focused on more traditional demand generation activities, Little said, including research reports and webinars. Today, however, approximately 90 per cent of the firm’s marketing activities are based on ABM, and booked meetings have soared from nine percent to in the range of 28 per cent in some cases, he said.

According to Craig Rosenberg, co-founder and chief analyst at San Mateo, Calif.-based TOPO, stories like League’s are still something of an outlier, and that less than 20 per cent of companies are running what could be defined as mature ABM programs. That said, he noted that panel discussions like the one he was moderating were far more credible than those that might have been held a few years ago, when “You wondered why some of these people got to be on stage.”

To some extent, according to Rosenberg, ABM is a matter of recognizing that the way marketing efforts are evaluated are going to change, as well as the process.

“ABM is judged by different metrics and it’s the good ones, the ones people care about,” he said.

At Ideal, an AI-based recruiting startup, ABM began with a pilot project involving a research report sent via direct mail to target accounts, along with a $10 Starbucks gift card. While the pilot worked well enough to continue using ABM, the project offered some lessons, said Kayla Kozan, Ideal’s vice-president of marketing. The firm didn’t want to invest in an annual subscription for a data source, for example, but that meant looking up addresses by had. Offering the right incentives is also key.

“For the level of people we were targeting — in some cases the CHRO, in hindsight — in hindsight it was a little too small of a gift,” she said, noting the “ask” was to have the target accounts call Ideal’s sales team after readind the report. “When you look at balancing the ask and what you’re giving, I think it’s more about, ‘Small give, small give, medium give, big give, small ask.”

Adam Lacombe, director of demand generation at visual marketing platform provider Crowdriff, said there were many ABM campaigns in which “there’s gifting going on that’s superficial.” At his firm, however, the focus is on recognizing the ABM-like activity his sales team has already been doing, from creating unique messaging and building personas.

“It’s been a matter of how we can leverage marketing automation and the other tools we have in place and scaling it out,” he said.

Little suggested his peers ensure approach ABM in a much more granular way than they would with demand gen types of activities. Otherwise, the results may not pan out.

“You might have a webinar with 500 registrations, 1,000, whatever, and I find what happens is you book 30 meetings out of that and then move on . . . (ABM) is the opposite of scale. From my experience, you have to go deep on every single one of them.”


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Shane Schick
Shane Schickhttp://shaneschick.com
Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.