The Gartner Hype Cycle states that when a new technology comes on the scene, it follows a pretty consistent pattern in its popularity or hype (hence the name). To begin, people start talking about it, companies start changing their websites and taglines to include it, and all of the sudden, this new piece of technology is everywhere.
This moment of pinnacle coolness is called the peak of inflated expectations. And right now, account-based marketing (ABM) is nearing—but hasn’t yet reached—its peak. Which is to say: everybody in B2B sales and marketing is talking about it.
[Since this post was first published, it’s clear ABM has peaked, and businesses are beginning to emerge, bleary-eyed, from the fog of hype to start practically implementing it — making this article all the more relevant! How time flies…]
The Core Components of Account-Based Marketing
Account-based marketing is a strategic approach that focuses B2B sales and marketing efforts on a defined set of companies (or accounts), allowing for a more personalized and targeted approach—not just to individuals, but to multiple decision makers, influencers, and champions within each company.
In order for marketing and sales to align together with this highly-targeted approach, they need to involve themselves with the three core components of ABM:
- Data: Marketing and sales work together to identify key decision makers.
- Content: Marketing then prepares and delivers a message each influencer actually wants to hear.
- Engagement: Sales connects with each prospect when they’re ready to buy.
Every effective account-based campaign must start with the first core component: data. But unfortunately, most B2B marketers have a serious data problem. In this article, we’ll explore what that is—and how you can fix it before it kills your campaigns.
The Data Problem of B2B Sales and Marketing
In our experience, most marketers are pretty satisfied with crummy conversion rates. They keep trying the same tactics over and over and over again, somehow expecting different results. Often, these marketers don’t even dig into understanding why their conversion rates are so low. But we’re here to tell you: it’s the data.
Research shows that more than 50 percent of the data in the average company CRM system is out of date. That’s right: there’s a really good chance that over half of the data your company is using for lead generation wouldn’t even be useful to you if you tried to start implementing ABM tactics today.
When you start trying to understand why you have this old, bad data, you learn that part of the problem is that CRM and marketing automation platforms can’t match leads to accounts. Plus, marketing tools are developed around people, rather than companies. And people aren’t always cooperative.
You’ve probably done this yourself, even as a fellow marketer: You go to download a piece of gated content, but you don’t really want the company to follow up with you after. So, when you fill out the form that feeds that organization’s CRM, you may put in a little dummy information. Or, you give them a secondary email account you set up just to collect your spam. The information they just gathered on you tells them nothing about your company—and it doesn’t even tell them very much about you.
Furthermore, with typical lead scoring, when a CRM system sees multiple people from the same account or company, it automatically gives them the same score. For example, one of them may be a CMO and a decision maker, while the other five people in the system are just part of an advisory committee on decisions and don’t really “get a vote.” CRMs don’t consider that each individual on the account owns a different role within their company.
Solving the Data Problem With ABM and Predictive Intelligence
RingCentral, the leading provider of SaaS solutions for business communications (and a client of Leadspace), runs one of the most sophisticated demand-generation programs in B2B. But despite the success of their inbound marketing, the company recognized they were missing out on many potentially valuable opportunities because their data was in a dire state.
For starters, 30% of their leads had missing or incomplete data. Leads were missing information about company size, individual job function, and more. Even worse, because of the missing data, 25% of their inbound leads were never contacted after they engaged with RingCentral in some way. We’re talking tens of thousands of leads who never received a follow-up of any kind!
Upon further investigation, it became clear that because of bad data in the system, 20% of those leads couldn’t be contacted even if RingCentral wanted to. These kinds of numbers are enough to keep any B2B marketer awake at night.
By implementing account-based marketing and predictive modelling, RingCentral filled in the missing holes and made sure their information was up-to-date and correct. The result? It was like finding money under the mattress: in their system, there were 200,000 valuable leads waiting and ready to be contacted.
Once the data was fixed, account-based marketing saved each of their reps an average of 65 hours per quarter in needless admin work. And perhaps most importantly, they saw a significant increase in their pipeline while simultaneously cutting their data costs by eliminating all the data that wasn’t adding any value.
For more information on RingCentral, you can check out the complete case study here.
Get Your Data Ready for ABM
So how can you solve your own data problems and get your information in tip-top shape for account-based marketing? Once you implement these four steps, your marketing and sales teams will have what they need to create a campaign that leads to revenue-generating customers and a boosted ROI.
1. Understand the necessity of data from multiple sources.
Before you do anything else, you must understand that the data in your CRM comes from many different places and sources, even when you’re buying data from a data provider. You’ll encounter the first-party data already in your system, as well as unstructured data that’s available from providers and is derived from social and the web, third-party structured contract information, and more.
The key here—especially if you’re talking to your data provider—is to make sure you truly understand where all those pieces of data come from, how they are aggregated, and how they are kept up-to-date and refreshed. This will help you gauge whether or not you’re seeing the full picture of your prospects using all the data that’s available about them.
Ultimately, you need to be able to pull all of these pieces together in a way that offers useful insights for your marketing.
2. Go beyond job title to identify your target personas.
We’ve all been there: I’d like to go after CMOs, Senior VPs of Marketing, Directors of Marketing—and any other marketing title I can think of. But titles will only take you so far. You won’t be able to create a marketing message for an individual if you don’t actually understand what he or she does. In this way, role and job function matter significantly more than title.
The content component of account-based marketing comes down to providing messaging that provides a solution or solves a problem that an individual influencer at a company has. You don’t necessarily know the needs of the Director of Marketing at ACME, but you can use data to identify the problems faced by Jane Doe, the ACME employee in charge of a huge content marketing strategy who doesn’t have marketing automation software at her fingertips. This brings us to our next point.
3. Score leads using all available insights.
At most organizations, the Marketing Manager (who may actually be an intern) shouldn’t have the same score as the CMO. Avoid this confusion by asking your data provider what signals they use and how those signals are factored into lead scoring.
Firmographic data (industry, size, revenue, etc) is valuable—but for ABM, so is persona data. What is this person doing on social media? What groups do they belong to? What are they searching for online? This information can teach you about intent. If everyone at a company starts asking their various groups about a certain type of technology, you can narrow in on what unique problems the organization is facing right now and provide a solution accordingly.
4. Integrate with your existing demand-gen workflow.
Finally, make use of your fixed data. Use each of these signals to integrate information into your campaigns and align your marketing and sales teams for their content and engagement efforts.
After the peak of inflated expectations, the Gartner Hype Cycle suggests all topics du jour experience a period known (somewhat dramatically) as the trough of disillusionment, which is to say, not all new technologies can live up to their hype. But luckily, account-based marketing isn’t a new tactic. It’s actually a pretty old school idea.
And with the right data in place, you’ll be able to create B2B ABM campaigns that have real ROI and boost your lead generation efforts for years to come. The proof is in some data of our own: 84% of B2B marketers say that ABM delivers a higher ROI than any other approach.
For more insights into preparing your data for account-based marketing, check out Oracle and Leadspace’s free webinar: How to Fix Your Data Before It Kills Your Campaigns.
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