A behind the scenes story of our latest Feature Article in ABM In Action: For ABM, Data Is A Good Four-Letter Word.
Make it easy for Buyers to buy
Meaningful data management processes provide significant value to your ability to measure and control your ABM program but perhaps the most meaning impact is that you can make it easier for buyers to buy. This sounds funny but is true. When you make your outreach more about target accounts and their needs, you’re more likely to be “seen” and much more likely to be acted upon. Why? It’s simple… you’re letting people know that you have expertise in the thing that THEY’RE interested in solving.
Here are some relevant stats to back up this point:
- Our “High-Performance ABM Research Report” found that 85% of high performing ABM programs connect target account needs to trigger delivery of relevant and consistent content across multiple channels
- Display ad performance jumps up by 700% – MarketingSherpa
- Email performance gets a 473% increase in CTR and 146% more opens – MarketingCharts/Epsilon
The Data Management Process
At the ABM Consortium, we’ve come up with a “Data Management Process” you can apply to your ABM program today. Applying this cyclical process, you’ll light up your sales and marketing data, making sense of the “digital exhaust” while you maximize the impact and sustainability of your ABM investments.
ABM Consortium Data Management Process:
- Aggregate – Your target accounts interact with you across channels, but data is siloed inside platforms. The true picture of your target account success exists across these platforms. While there are robust platforms that can automate this process, CDP’s (Customer Data Platform), here’s a great framework to get your thought process started:
- Flag target accounts in your CRM and marketing automation systems — This could be as simple as a custom field to identify the list and segment.
- Flag target account contacts in your marketing automation system — Simple logic sequences can identify contacts based upon email domain. More sophisticated marketers may want to use reverse IP in the form fill to identify the user’s company at the point of submission. During this step, it’s preferable to also flag those who share a role and title that reflect typical buying roles for your offering.
- Convert CRM target account leads to contacts — While this may pose a change to your normal lead processing, the key argument for this approach is it allows marketing to better synchronize their insights and actions with their sales counterparts. This point is addressed in the Manage section as a key to ongoing data management. For marketing organization who can’t “touch” the sales CRM, a lesser option is to tweak this recommendation and synchronize CRM leads back into MAP, making it a single data source of record.
- Whitespace contacts between systems — Start from a point where you’re 100% certain that the leads in your MAP are synchronized with the contacts in your CRM. Even those with the best hygiene processes will find gaps that will require record creation in one system or another.
- Analyze – Identify what you know, and equally important, what you don’t know:
- Contacts — Download contacts that you have in your CRM and Marketing Automation platform for each target account. In an Excel spreadsheet, pivot the data to identify key insights for each account and dedupe based upon email address. Rank the order of accounts with the most contacts and the ratio of buying-role contacts at each account. Ultimately, you want to identify accounts where you are missing data and determine if it makes sense for you to acquire more.
- Accounts — Download Campaign data from your relevant system of record for campaign participation data. Again, in Excel, pivot the data to understand campaign participation (frequency, response rate) and stage of buying cycle (no/limited sales interaction, current opportunity, closed opportunity). Are there campaign themes that surface as highly relevant for a particular target account? If you used CRM data rather than MAP for the first step, download nurturing flow participation for each flagged Contact in the system. Pivot the data to group by target accounts and count the number of different nurturing flows each target account participates in. Are the flows similar within each target account or different?
- Append – Apply learning from the “analyze” stage to form data-driven decisions about data acquisition and marketing system changes. This is where your work realizes its value, enabling you to buy or change only those things you need, saving money and time:
- Correct data inconsistencies — Are there automation contact records that need help, or multiple CRM accounts you can consolidate?
- Fill gaps in field data — Identify contact records missing roles/business contact information and account records missing ownership data. Similar to data inconsistencies, you’ll likely find many more issues to correct.
- Fill gaps in target account buying roles — For U.S. based contacts you could consider a purchase, but don’t forget other CPL options like content syndication or outsourced telemarketing and direct mail, for U.S. and international needs.
- Enrich data records — Are there account-specific firmographic or technographic data that could help you become better at targeting?
- External intent and predictive analytic signals — This is a critical source of data as it fills what we call the “blind side” of your sales and marketing efforts. However, don’t make a purchase without solving the ABM data conundrum as the value of the data grows logarithmically when you reflect it off what you see in your existing efforts. You’ll better understand how to deliver a compelling and targeted effort at each opportunity. Consider this, how would your response change if the intent identified target accounts that had an existing opportunity, compared to ones where you had no contact data or engagement history?
- Action – ABM revenue impact begins when your program reflects the needs of your audience — content that’s defined by them and not you.
- Adjust marketing automation flow and campaign participation — As you develop a hypothesis for content needs at each target account, you need to adjust your content strategy accordingly. There are two general dimensions that affect the need for change at each target account: the topic of interest and stage of the buyer’s journey.
- Triggered programs rather than campaigns — ABM revenue impact thrives when you capitalize on the expressed needs of a target account. This is a huge departure from the campaign-based philosophy of many, which generally serves its primary purpose only in a pre-engagement stage. Here, you scale insights (needs, topics, stages of buyer’s journey) and trigger execution asynchronously, only as the needs of a target account change.
- Manage – This process is cyclical, that is, it’s intended to be repeated on a regular basis. Between cycles, there are activities that should be updated on a continual basis:
- Lead-to-account matching — This is a critical step because marketers can generally control how messages are sent, but we have no control over the way that people interact. That is, leads come in from a variety of sources and you need the means to process target account leads in a prioritized manner. There are platforms you can purchase that do a tremendous job at this function if you have the budget. For everyone else, find a resource on your team that can scale or automate your processing of the contact section in the “aggregate” step above.
- Bounced email — Identify and flag marketing automation contacts who indicate a bounced state. Copy that information over to your CRM instance.
- Buyer reporting — Develop a report that can isolate the response of target account contacts with the buyer role and flag them. For extra credit, add pipeline stages as columns. This is a critical piece of information for your sales team, so they can see peaks and changes to buyer interaction, across channels and at each target account.
More than a new source of external data, marketers need to start their ABM program from a position of strength and with a solid, integrated view of target accounts and buyers across their sales and marketing systems — not a momentary snapshot from a BI tool or an integration of spreadsheet. First-party data is the single most valuable competitive tool you can ever own.