If your LinkedIn news feed looks anything like mine, you’re seeing everyone and their mother talk about ABM.
Over the last 18 months, I’ve interviewed hundreds of B2B marketing leaders...and as it relates to ABM, they all agree on something.
They all agree that before you wholeheartedly embrace ABM for your organization, you need to get crystal clear on the metrics you’ll be using to define its success.
So this begs the question: What should those metrics be?
There’s no one-size fits all answer to this question, so I interviewed 11 marketing executives to get their take on it.
Their answers give a rich, holistic picture of the results that ABM can drive.
In terms of ABM, Scott primarily measures:
- Number of accounts engaged
- Amount of opportunities in the pipeline
- Amount of closed/won revenue
As for specific campaign details, he measures these:
- Email opens and clicks
- Form fills and offer downloads
- Calls and connects
Andy shared that his most important ABM metrics were simply incremental improvements in what he already measured.
For example, before ABM Evergage already measured closed/won business, conversion rates through the funnel, and lead volumes.
They continue to measure all that—now they’re just measuring those results related to target accounts.
How many opportunities are advancing? How many are closing?
The most important metrics for Dun & Bradstreet are the ones that have always been important: pipeline and close rate.
Rishi knows there’s been a lot of talk around the number of contacts, meetings, and engagements, and those are all interesting and important. But to really drive results with an ABM program, he says you need to look at how the program is actually generating revenue.
With ABM, the marketing department can own revenue jointly with the sales team.
That’s an important component. You can generate pipeline all the time, but pipeline doesn’t pay the bills: sales do.
Driving real revenue is what allows you to:
- Get buy-in around the company.
- Drive alignment.
- Scale up the account-based marketing program in a way that drives the company’s growth.
At the end of the day, Tim’s team cares about sales-ready leads.
There are other metrics that lead up to that, but ultimately the team looks at the number of people that have raised their hands and said, “I want to talk to somebody from Miller Heiman Group.”
To give some context for Ricky’s response, it’s important to know that Pulse implements ABM for their clients.
Over time, Pulse has developed a suite of measurements. There isn’t one measurement that works well all the time.
It also depends on the client’s objective, Ricky told me. Typically, they’re looking at three different measures:
- High-level metrics: How many logos have we won? What’s the pipeline velocity and level of account engagement?
- Tactical performance: This is actually no different from what most companies are already doing. Companies are already running search, social, email/content marketing, etc. The difference is applying an account-based approach to how these work. That report is the one that most marketers find easiest to deploy.
- Account-level intelligence: Lots of companies have CRMs like Salesforce, which is great, but there are problems. Leads are dumped in and calls go out. Let’s say that in one week you call Verizon as a lead, and six or seven weeks later another lead comes in from Verizon. The chance of you making a correlation between those two leads is low. Account-level intelligence fixes this: it helps you rank accounts so you know when to call.
“I’m a data geek,” Mark said. “I believe data is marketing’s secret weapon. You need a deeper understanding of what you have and why.”
But Mark compared data to a typical garage: full of stuff that you haven’t used in a year.
He gave this illustration to say that data by itself isn’t going to help. So Apixio measures awareness, engagement, and conversion rates.
In addition, the also measure the size of their deals.
Because they sell into banks, PrecisionLender’s sales cycle is long.
It usually takes anywhere from 5-10 decision-makers to go through that process. The cycle can take one month, but it’s usually 6-9 months or even beyond.
With that said, the metrics Ashley uses currently depend heavily on response rates.
The people that her team try to contact are swamped, and trying to get a response is difficult. So they measure responses on LinkedIn, emails, and phone calls.
From there, they focus on how quickly they can book a demo.
In my conversation with Peter, he emphasized that B2B marketers need to measure business impact.
Too often marketers focus on metrics like click-through rates, webpage visits, and other things that have little bearing on the business results.
This is why it’s so easy for CEOs to dismiss the marketing team as creating “pretty pictures.” Instead, marketers should focus on real business metrics.
Peter looks at close rates, funnel velocity, and impact on annual contract value, and he compares those metrics for target accounts versus their non-target accounts. By comparing the metrics in this way, it gives a clear picture of ABM’s impact.
Andres measures the number of marketing qualified accounts that engage beyond a certain threshold, or accounts whose engagement is growing from a baseline.
“How many of my target accounts have reached that status from when we started measuring?” he said. “Together they tell a story about our content’s effectiveness.”
ABM is a really interesting beast in terms of what you can measure.
Tracy and her team have moved away from traditional metrics such as marketing qualified leads. Engagement is one of the biggest ABM metrics they’re now measuring.
InsideView has several hundred target accounts. Some are existing customers and some are not, and they look at them slightly differently.
On the customer side, they measure the engagement of multiple personas, email interactions, website visits, target account advertising, and whether customers are responding.
For non-customers, they measure the number of meetings they’ve had with the account. They also measure the number of touches it took to get the first meeting.
When Highspot started out, everything in Salesforce was centered around leads, focused on the individual.
“I thought the marketing team and my CEO were going to kill me,” Haley told me, “but I told them that we needed to change everything so that each lead would be associated with an account.”
The only way they were going to be able to measure their demand generation efforts was if they looked at accounts holistically. So they have completely shifted how they measure success.
Now Haley looks at a multitude of activities, including social, email, phone call, or written notes. She also looks at targeted advertising, since they’re doing a lot around PPC.
In addition, she’s looking at conversion rates throughout the funnel, as well as velocity.
ABM has clearly changed the way that several B2B marketing organizations measure success.
Instead of relying on traditional metrics like MQLs, an account-based marketing approach requires you to measure engagement with specific accounts.
In a nutshell, it’s quality > quantity.
The more B2B marketing executives I talk to, the more I realize that focusing on quality over quantity is a proven path to success.
James Carbary is the founder of Sweet Fish Media, a podcast agency for B2B brands. He’s a contributor for the Huffington Post & Business Insider, and he also co-hosts a top-ranked podcast according to Forbes: B2B Growth. When James isn’t interviewing the smartest minds in B2B marketing, he’s drinking Cherry Coke Zero, eating Swedish Fish, and hanging out with the most incredible woman on the planet (who he somehow talked into marrying him).