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Does programmatic ABM work in reality?

One-to-many ABM comes under a lot of fire in B2B, but Andre Yee tells Molly Raycraft it’s an approach that really does work in practice


What inspired you to talk about ABM in the ‘real world’?


Andre:

It’s less of a reality check and more about getting to the heart of the matter. Most of the conversations on ABM (especially in the US but I imagine even in the UK), have been around the concept of ABM.  What we’re hearing from a lot of marketers is they want to go beyond the concept. They want to answer more operational questions; what actually works and what doesn’t when rolling out an ABM programme, what are the best practices, or how to measure success.

What encouraged you start account-based marketing?

I was formerly the senior VP of product development for Eloqua. We established marketing automation as a category, we scaled the business, we extended the platform, and had extraordinary growth. During my time there we grew from $20 million to $125 million in revenue in about five years. It lead to an IPO and we exited to Oracle for almost a billion dollars.

I stayed at Oracle for less than a year because I wanted to explore what the next generation of B2B marketing platforms look like. It led me and my Triblio co-founder Mike Ball to believe it needed to do two different things: To unify sales and marketing around a single funnel that map to the buying journey, and to be AI-driven; a system of intelligence, not just a system of record or data.

Why do you think ABM has gained popularity?

Traditional marketing automation is all about capturing as many leads as you can indiscriminately using marketing automation to qualify those leads at scale. One problem with this is

three-out-of-four marketing qualified leads are typically rejected by sales.

ABM takes a different view. It’s about targeting the right accounts and the right buyers in those accounts. Why not start figuring out who fits your company upfront as opposed to capturing leads and then sorting through?

What are the common misconceptions with ABM?

First, some people think of ABM as a fairly narrow tactic for your top 20-50 accounts. We think that’s completely false. The reason people say it’s narrow is due to the limitations in tools to scale an account-based approach. Instead, we tell our customers to think in terms of 100 or 500 accounts – or even 1000 to 2000 accounts. We do have customers who do scale an ABM approach to a couple of thousand accounts and it works.

The second is to think of ABM as just a marketing programme. ABM is not just targeting the right accounts; it operationally connects your targeting to marketing and sales. This adds value to sales, delivering lucrative opportunities to the team.

Where do you begin with ABM?

I would say start with a well-defined programme in the small. You may scale to thousands of accounts but start by finding a segment in your audience that you want to specifically target.

I sometimes don’t like to use the word pilot because people think that’s something you run for three months. I don’t recommend that. Instead give it at least eight months to a year because with an emerging discipline like ABM, there’s so much learning you have to do.

Once you’ve learned what works in your organisation, you’re ready to scale.

When should you implement technology?

Obviously, I’m a technology vendor so my view is probably biased. But I do actually think it’s good to start with the mindset of using technology upfront. I have two reasons for this:

You want to know what’s possible with technology. Some think ABM is resource-intensive. They may be right, but they may find if they use a particular tool, it doesn’t require as many as they imagine.

You also need to learn. Vendors are often at the forefront of what works and what doesn’t because we see the early-adopters and what works and what doesn’t for them. A thoughtful vendor will distil best practices and be able to communicate that. That’s invaluable if you are launching out with ABM, finding the right technology with a partner who can lend their expertise.

Can programmatic retain the authenticity that ABM can give you?

One-to-many ABM can be leveraged to deliver meaningful content and messages to a broader audience. It’s what we call industry ABM. This is when it’s appropriate to cover a broader group of potential buyers because they’re all in the financial sector. It can be very meaningful and helpful to the customer in the buying journey.

Some people say ABM is just good marketing. What would your response to that be?

I agree, ABM is good marketing. It is not rocket science. If you sit back and think about it, it’s what makes sense – it’s sensible marketing. It’s being able to deliver meaningful interactions to a particular segment of an audience.

What’s your top piece of advice for marketers doing ABM?

Start benchmarking account engagement and you’ll get insights that can guide your ABM programme. What percentage of your target accounts are coming to your website? How often do they engage with your content? Are some segments of your target audience more engaged?

ABM at Triblio

Triblio implement a blended ABM approach. It targets a specific named account list as well as a broader base. “We’re doing what we tell our customers to do, which is reaching all the right buyers in the right accounts using account-based ads, personalise the experience on your website, score your accounts, then activate your sales team,” says Andre.

The vendor scores accounts, with online and offline activity. Once these accounts reach a particular score, a follow-up with the sales team is activated.


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