Awards case study: Find out how Agent3 nabbed the award for ‘Best use of account-based marketing’

Find out how Agent3 created an ABM campaign that influenced significant pipeline and exceeded all expectations.

About the client

Splunk had historically faced a tough battle dislodging an incumbent competitor in the cloud monitoring and observability space.  However, following its acquisition of SignalFX, its observability solutions were sufficiently bolstered to be able to offer customers the same level of monitoring capabilities for native cloud applications as it historically had on-premise.  So, it was game on for Splunk and time to persuade on-premises customers that it could compete in the cloud.  

Agent3 did this by focusing on the unique differentiators of the Splunk-plus-SignalFX story in order to arm its sales teams to better target this competitor.  By using account-specific propensity data Agent3 was able to point them at the accounts where they would win biggest and fastest.  Most importantly, by implementing a scalable approach to deep account-by-account personalization, we left those target accounts feeling like Splunk was much, much more invested in their business.

In doing so Agent3 achieved both breadth and depth results: while pipeline was driven across accounts, Splunk was still able to support individual accounts with unique insights and content. Ultimately, this ABM campaign Influenced significant pipeline, exceeding all expectations.

About the client company

Founded in 2003, Splunk is the world’s first Data-to-Everything Platform designed to remove the barriers between data and action, so that everyone thrives in the Data Age. Based in San Francisco, California, Splunk has more than 6,000 employees in 27 offices worldwide and aims to build a future where data provides clarity, elevates discussion and accelerates progress for innovators in IT, security, DevOps and more.

Strategy –broader business issues the company is facing

Data fuels the modern business and, as such, when Splunk, the data monitoring and analysis platform, acquired SignalFx in Fall 2019, its newly bolstered observability solutions secured the company its position as global leader in monitoring and observability at massive scale. As a result of this acquisition, Splunk could now offer customers the same level of monitoring capabilities for native cloud applications as it historically had on-premise. But the challenge was how to pinpoint and persuade its on-premise customers that Splunk could also beat out the competition in the cloud.

Splunk’s brief to the Agent3 ABM team was to solve this challenge and help drive cross-sell deals into a targeted account list of existing on-premise customers who would be ripe targets for Splunk's expanded cloud proposition. 

A key challenge facing many ABM programmes is the ability to scale to hundreds of accounts while not compromising on the deep, account-level customised messaging which is inherent in ‘true’ ABM. Agent3 broke the mold, though, with its scalable approach to personalization leaving Splunk’s target accounts in no doubt who the market winner was.

Objectives of the campaign

The commercial objectives set were a tall order by most standards, but Agent3 is fast becoming known in the marketplace for delivering commercially impactful ABM programs that drive such needle-shifting results. 

Agent3 approached this by developing a simple, three-stage framework for the programme:

  • Prioritize: Pin-point the accounts with the greatest likelihood to buy Splunk's Cloud Monitoring solutions, based on a combination of 1st and 3rd Party data analysis, and intent signals, underpinned by stakeholder mapping research
  • Surround: Built out an engaging narrative around helping customers achieve 'Cloud Nirvana', expressed through an integrated content strategy to ensure Splunk was front-of-mind as they were engaged in-parallel by sales teams
  • Close: Deliver a deep-yet-scalable level of personalized sales enablement support to accelerate their deals - arming them with digestible account intelligence and producing rich, account-specific magazine-style assets to land Splunk's account-specific 'Cloud Nirvana' message 

As with any successful ABM program, the success of this campaign would be dependent upon achieving the right blend of three key ingredients: data, content and technology.   

  1. Data: informed Agent3 which target accounts to select based on which had the greatest propensity to buy Splunk, including identification of relevant stakeholders.  
  2. Content: a compelling narrative was created that Agent3 knew resonated with the target audience and would encourage engagement
  3. Technology: an integrated digital targeting program was run to ensure Splunk Cloud Monitoring was front-of-mind for those accounts, triggered by propensity signals 

The target audience

Who was the campaign designed to appeal to? What particular issues are there associated with appealing to this particular audience? Please caption any images and then attach them at the end of the submission online.

The target audience for this campaign included C-level, Developers, and DevOps / ITOps B2B technology buyers in North America (US and Canada), EMEA, and APAC.  

The challenge with all of these audience types is making yourself heard above the noise in the already-saturated marketing channels.  Any message needs to take aim and strike with laser precision targeting the right people at the right time with exactly the right message.  Specifically, the C- level audience is looking for strategic value, while Developers crave education around new, innovative and creative propositions, and ITOps/DevOps seek trusted partnerships.

Media, channels or techniques used

In order to achieve the level of precision required, but at scale, Agent3 ran a ‘Responsive’ ABM framework to drive the right balance of scale, personalization, and impact within the program. As opposed to a traditional ABM model - which might entail running deep insights, positioning, creative, and activation work streams across a 12 - 18 month period - our strategy here was to run tiered Sales and Marketing ‘plays’ into a broad volume of high-opportunity accounts, then layer-on heightened levels of resource and account-specific support as they demonstrate increased likelihood-to-engage. 

These ‘plays’ were executed to align with short, sharp bursts of tactical activity, triggered by the compelling events of upcoming renewals and/or opportunity close dates:

Phase 1: Account Prioritization (so as to weight ‘Phase 2’ activity to accounts representing the greatest levels of opportunity)

  • Stakeholder identification across c. 250 pin-pointed accounts
  • Cross-referenced Bombora 3rd party ‘Intent’ propensity signal data with 1st party 6sense data based on engagement data 

Phase 2: Integrated Digital Air Cover Activation (so as to give accounts the opportunity to ‘self-identify’ in terms of engaging with campaign content)

  • Outbound to target accounts:
    • Message teaser videos
    • Digital display ads
    • LinkedIn sponsored content
    • Content syndication
  • Outbound to target individuals:
    • InMail
    • Email
    • Social selling
  • Inbound to target individuals and accounts:
    • Video content
    • Custom landing pages, including blogs content

Phase 3: Increase velocity-to-close of opportunities based on personalized sales enablement support (triggered by engagement with ‘Phase 2’ content)

  • Deliver a deep-yet-scalable level of personalized sales enablement support to accelerate their deals arming them with digestible account intelligence and producing rich, account-specific magazine-style assets to land Splunk's account-specific 'Cloud Nirvana' message 
  • Arm account teams with digestible account intelligence and exec-level insights
  • Produce rich, account-specific decks to land Splunk’s ‘Cloud Nirvana’ message and ‘leave behind’ enablement assets

Timescales of the campaign

All three phases for this campaign, ie: phase 1: Account prioritization, phase 2: Surround: Digital air cover activation and phase 3: Close: increase velocity-to-close of opportunities ran concurrently between June 2020-January 2021.


The results exceeded all expectations

"Our 'Cloud Attach' ABM program took an ambitious, innovative approach: to deliver a deep level of account-specific insights, messaging, and sales enablement assets to help our Sales teams best deposition the market incumbent while achieving a truly impactful level of scale and breadth. I'm thrilled with how the programme has gone, driving over 100x ROI of marketing-influenced pipeline, and gaining a really enthusiastic response from our Sales teams and customers alike."

Jeff Lo, Director, Product Marketing, Splunk

Elevation Awards 2021 

This entry won Gold for 'Best use of account based marketing'. Check out our full shortlist and full list of winners now to see who won big! 

Check out the winners here!

Elevation awards Cross Sell