B2B marketers have migrated to an account-based marketing (ABM) approach in massive numbers over the past few years. The ABM strategy matches the way the overwhelming majority of B2B products are sold by focusing on account-based targeting rather than marketing to individuals.
ABM allows marketers to concentrate efforts on accounts that meet their ideal customer profile (ICP) rather than potentially wasting resources on accounts that don’t meet the selling company’s criteria. ABM also creates better alignment between sales and marketing, resulting in greater efficiency.
That said, it’s critical to have insight into how leads are moving through your funnel no matter what type of marketing strategy you use. Here’s a look at seven steps you can follow to achieve full visibility into your account-based marketing funnel.
- Know your ABM framework inside and out: Step one is to internalize the framework you’ll be using for your ABM marketing strategy. The Forrester B2B Revenue Waterfall is a popular choice because it uniquely captures the opportunities in ABM and accurately represents the B2B account journey. In the Forrester B2B Revenue Waterfall, Job #1 for marketers is to move accounts to the “prioritized” stage, which is equivalent to a marketing qualified lead (MQL).
- Identify your target accounts: The next step is to identify which accounts you’re pursuing. This will include companies that you haven’t yet acquired as customers as well as current customers you’re targeting for retention, upsell and cross-sell. Make it a joint exercise between the sales and marketing teams. Collaborating at this stage is an important way to align the two groups. Once target accounts are identified, they should be marked in Salesforce.
- Access intent data: Thanks to intent data providers like 6sense, Bombora and Demandbase, B2B marketers can hyper-segment campaigns. The availability of intent data is one reason ABM is so popular now. Before intent data became widely available, marketers tried to hyper-personalize outreach for target accounts, which is difficult if not impossible to do at scale. With intent data, you can detect when target accounts indicate interest in your product or service before any buying group members contact your company.
- Use Salesforce as your single source of truth: Marking target accounts in the CRM and tracking funnel metrics using data inside the CRM serve several critical purposes. At most B2B companies, Salesforce is the de facto system of record for revenue. Data and reporting generated from the CRM are credible and shareable across the organization, so it’s a single source of truth. This strengthens the alignment between the sales and marketing teams.
- Track funnel metrics: Make sure you have funnel tracking capabilities so you can keep tabs on volume, velocity and conversion rates, i.e., how many accounts are active in the funnel, how fast they are moving through the funnel, and the rate at which they are converting from one stage to another. This can help you optimize your marketing mix and invest more efficiently. It can also help you identify and mitigate process issues. Using historical data as a guide, you can also engineer a reverse waterfall to calculate what you’ll need to invest to hit revenue targets.
- Monitor trends: It’s a great idea to monitor trends overall so you can allocate spend more efficiently. For example, you can use data from an account-based marketing funnel to analyze which types of marketing outreach resonate with specific company categories or job roles within buyer groups, e.g., in-person events attract SaaS CMOs, finance company CIOs download whitepapers, etc. That’s important in ABM because you have to sell to a buying group rather than an individual, and their information requirements will vary by role and funnel stage.
- Adjust target accounts quarterly: B2B marketers should meet regularly with their colleagues in sales no matter what type of strategy they use — it’s essential to be on the same page since moving leads through the funnel is a collaborative effort. But with ABM, it will be especially important to meet at least quarterly to review your ICP and adjust target accounts. Intent data may surface new accounts that should be targeted, and sales may find that targets that looked promising on the front end aren’t ideal upon closer inspection.
As with any other marketing strategy, visibility into the account-based marketing funnel is essential. That’s how marketers can tell what’s working and what’s not so they can shift marketing spend to campaigns that drive revenue and refine processes like the marketing-to-sales handoff. With these seven steps, you can achieve full visibility into your account-based marketing funnel.
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