Sunday, May 29, 2016

Why Account-Based Marketing Changes How We Define Marketing Success

The adoption of account-based marketing (ABM) involves fundamental changes in marketing objectives, priorities, and practices. Therefore, ABM requires a different approach to defining marketing success and different metrics for measuring marketing effectiveness. Content is vitally important to the success of any ABM program, but it plays a different role in ABM than it does in traditional demand generation. Therefore, ABM also requires marketers to think differently about what constitutes effective content and to use different standards for evaluating content performance.

ABM focuses most marketing and sales efforts on a relatively small number of high-value prospects. When a company implements ABM, it identifies a group of target accounts and the relevant "buyers" within those accounts. Because accounts and contacts are identified in advance, marketing won't be "generating" many "new" leads. So, traditional measures of lead generation and "marketing-sourced pipeline" aren't particularly useful.

ABM also demands that marketing and sales professionals adjust their expectations regarding lead conversion rates. To be successful with ABM, a company must win business from a significant percentage of its target accounts, and that means conversion rates need to be substantially higher than are normally considered to be acceptable in traditional demand generation.

The reality is, you need a different set of metrics and standards for ABM. Engagio recently published an excellent e-book - The Clear & Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing - that includes a framework for measuring ABM performance. This framework is based on the fundamental principle that the primary objective of ABM is to cultivate engagement and create influence with the people that matter.

This principle also dictates how we should evaluate the effectiveness of content resources that are used in an ABM program. Most systems for measuring content performance include consumption metrics, engagement metrics, and sharing metrics.

Content Consumption in ABM

It's obviously important to measure the consumption of the content that's used in an ABM program, but how you use this metric differs somewhat from the traditional approach. What you really need to measure is the consumption of your content by the identified contacts at your target accounts.

It's also important to determine whether all (or most) of the contacts at each target account are consuming your content. If they are, it's more likely that your content is effectively advancing your cause with the account.

In traditional demand generation marketing, content effectiveness is usually associated with high levels of consumption, but absolute consumption numbers matter less in ABM. What really matters is whether the right people are consuming your content.

Content Engagement in ABM

Measuring content engagement is especially important when you're using ABM because it provides an early indication of how well your ABM program is working. In the Engagio measurement framework, engagement with your company is one of the "Big 5" ABM metrics. Engagio recommends measuring engagement by using the time that contacts at target accounts spend interacting with your company and your content.

Content Sharing in ABM

Most content marketing experts view content sharing on social networks as an important indicator of content effectiveness. When you're using ABM, however, content sharing is less important because you will be proactively communicating about your content with the relevant contacts at your target accounts. In addition, the content that you use in ABM is customized for a very specific target audience - sometimes for a single account - so it's less likely that the content will be shared on a "public" social network.

The bottom line is that account-based marketing demands a new definition of marketing success and new ways of measuring marketing performance.

Illustration courtesy of Richard Matthews via Flickr CC.

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