How an enterprise B2B company came to embrace Account Based Marketing

Identified ABM prospects

After seeding the idea of flipping the funnel to one of our enterprise B2B clients, they decided to put it to the test. If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of Account Based Marketing, it’s an approach to B2B marketing in which marketing and sales teams work together to target the best-fit accounts and turn them into customers. In other words, you flip the funnel.

traditional funnel compared to flipped funnel

Until recently, their marketing and sales had each operated in their own silos, neither one coordinating efforts with the other. Programs and campaigns were rolled out, with the hope that new customers would soon be coming through the door. But then a realization began to emerge that, while each side took credit for their own efforts, they were efforts that could have performed better.

With that realization still hanging in the air, the sales and marketing teams came together and developed the first ever ABM campaign for their consulting service business.

The campaign’s key goals were threefold, and included:

1. Creating awareness of the new consulting service business
2. Increasing engagement and registration for the webinar
3. Increasing qualified leads

We divided our efforts into a 3-phased approach, entailing three distinct messages delivered through multiple digital channels. This helped us to stay in front of — and top of mind of — our leads. Over 3 months, we were able to generate significant activity throughout the pipeline from MQLs to opportunities that exceeded forecast and expectations.

How did we do this? To start, several meetings with sales were needed to gain their collaborative assistance on the approach. Quite often the biggest hurdle companies need to overcome is finding a way to bring together their sales and marketing teams. Without mutual support, the effort is not going to be successful. Specifically, you need to ensure that sales will commit to following up the leads the ABM program drives their way. Past perception was that leads coming from marketing were not qualified so sales considered following up on them a waste of time. But, with the ABM approach, the prospect list was nominated and agreed upon up front so any lead coming from the campaign was already recognized as an ideal prospect, fit for the product.

Our campaign strategy had three phases. Each phase had a specific purpose, including brand awareness, increased registration and engagement, and ultimately the generating of qualified leads. We planned to “warm up” the leads by building awareness before asking them to request a consultation. Due to a timing issue, we had to reshuffle the order of our three phases to start with a free consultation message, followed by a webinar-focused invitation and, finally, closing with a whitepaper download. Ideally, we recommend flipping the order in the future and starting with a content piece, followed by the webinar and then the consultation ask.

3 phases for digital channel white paper webinar consultation

Chances are, you’re wondering where did all these prospects come from? Well, that’s a great question. Any successful ABM effort starts with the prospect list. Whether you use 1st party data or 3rd party data, sales and marketing need to agree on the nominated list of accounts up front. For our client, we used 3rd party data to find our prospect list through location, titles, industry (SIC codes) and size, since they did not have an active nominated list of prospects. Once we gathered a list of 3000+, we narrowed it down to the top 23 accounts. These were the nominated accounts in which sales would call down upon as well as include them in our marketing campaign. To cast a wider net, we also included the 3000+ as part of our three-phased marketing campaign as lead generation, but we also kept a separate list of the nominated accounts.

After we finalized our list, we deployed our channel strategy. We used digital channels such as email, LinkedIn ads, and programmatic display to drive prospects to take an action across these three phases. We hit the same prospects repeatedly, with remails to those who did not open and by including them in all three phases of the campaign. The sales team would call down on the nominated list and continue to follow up, knowing that marketing had some key efforts in driving awareness and engagement.

We also recommended using the direct mail channel but, due to the environment during Covid, many on our list were not going into the office so the client decided to hold on direct mail. This was the first time marketing and sales had collaborated so closely and, in order to continue the collaboration after the campaign’s launch, we held weekly meetings to gather updates from both sides.

What about our results? Our first ABM campaign was a success! We drove qualified leads, we drove engagement, and we drove appointments. But most importantly we drove collaboration. As an organization, learning how to work together to be more successful was really the true benefit of shifting to an ABM mindset. As Henry Ford would say “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

Angela Lee|September 30, 2021

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