#DearB2B: Measuring ABM performance

Adam Needles, chief strategy officer of ANNUITAS, provides lessons on how to effectively track the performance of your ABM activity

Adam Needles

Q: I’m finding it difficult to measure the success of my account-based marketing activity. Tips? What’s the best way to approach this problem?

A: When it comes to measuring the success of account-based marketing (ABM), I think the starting place is to recognize that ABM success criteria are not really that different than how you would gauge success of demand generation or overall marketing in a B2B context. Getting in front of the right stakeholders, at the right time, at the right company, with the right messages for each stakeholder’s role in the buying process is the critical outcome for all of B2B marketing, including ABM.

What do our KPIs for ABM/demand generation/B2B need to tell us? Three things:

1) Demand creation efficiency: How can we be sure of the quality and sustainability of our demand generation efforts?

2) Buyer critical path alignment: How can we be sure we are optimizing our mix of content and channels against the ‘true’ journey of our targeted buyer?

3) Revenue impact: How can we be sure our marketing efforts are really providing ‘net lift’ to pipeline and revenue?

So what is nuanced about ABM? How can you achieve these goals in an ABM context?

First, when it comes to demand creation in ABM, one piece is to be able to grid out lead-to-revenue progress both at the contact and at the account level. But the key is that you have to make it work first at the contact level. Buyer touchpoint and 'qualified leads' all happen at the contact level. That means that we need to bring connections to opportunities and accounts all the way back to the contact level. At the most basic level this means, for instance, creating opportunities starting from a contact in Salesforce and ensuring those are the same contacts where your marketing automation is correlating activity upstream. This also means associating those opportunities to accounts and then mapping back account-level data back to the contact level (and vice versa). Salesforce does not natively map all of the fields required to show end-to-end 'lead-to-revenue' attribution from contact to account, so you will have to do some work here.

Second, it's important that we are able to track at a contact field level all of the multiple interactions a buyer has across content offers and engagement channels. Each piece and each channel should have a field whereupon first interaction there is a date stamp, enabling you to record a multitouch buyer journey and to measure the 'elasticity' of your content and channels. Essentially, you need to be able to do the math at a contact level for how many contacts touched a given content offer or engagement channel and then how many were closed Won. The percentage value from this math is something we call ‘elasticity’ and enables you to measure the probable performance of specific content and channels to revenue outcomes. And that tells you what is working in your 'mix,' and what is not.

Third, we may want to think about maintaining two funnels for ABM – one that shows a contact view and another that shows an account view. Most marketplace benchmarks from firms such as Forrester, ITSMA and Sirius are based on a lead-to-revenue context that starts with a contact, but you may also want to pivot and roll that up to an account level so you can begin to measure metrics such as average number of contacts per account – to better-connect the dots between contact-level activities and account-based outcomes.

At the end of the day, ABM success is no different than demand generation success – leads, buyers and revenue – but in order to see things from an account point of view, you may have to change how you have set up your CRM and how you are pivoting your dashboards. The key is to connect the dots between marketing activities that happen at a buyer/contact level and the outcomes desired at a logo/account level.

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