How to ABM Like a Boss (Part 6): Measure with ABM Metrics

In the past five to ten years, B2B CMOs around the world have made great strides in improving marketing analytics. But with the rise of Account-Based Marketing, B2B marketers need new metrics—ABM metrics—to guide how they measure and prove their results.

ABM analytics are different than traditional demand generation analytics.

While leads and opportunities are essential for B2B marketing metrics, they are insufficient to measure Account-Based Marketing. ABM requires account-based metrics. Enough said. (OK, but here’s why:)

  • ABM occurs at every stage of the funnel, unlike lead-based metrics, which are overly focused on net-new business creation.
  • ABM takes time to show results, meaning we need metrics that show real progress within big, complex deals throughout the sales cycle.
  • ABM metrics are about quality, not quantity. As the focus shifts to engaging target accounts, quantity-based metrics (such as leads) may go down.

What metrics matter in ABM?

There are three main categories of tracking and measuring your ABM success:

  1. Engagement: Am I creating and deepening relationships with target accounts?
  2. Journeys: How do accounts move through my buying journeys to desired outcomes (e.g., pipeline and revenue)?
  3. Attribution: Which marketing activities work? What’s the return on investment of my marketing programs?

Let’s cover each.

Engagement analytics

Think about what matters to Sales. Reps want relationships with the right people at the right accounts. They want decision-makers to know who your company is when they call.

Hence, engagement analytics is an ABM metric that measures relationship quality, not quantity. They answer one fundamental question: Are we creating and deepening relationships with target accounts?

To measure how you’re creating and deepening relationships, measure where target accounts spend time, as well as how engagement increases over time. Don’t just look at web data; drill into all activities, including attending events and taking sales meetings.

Deeper engagement means deeper commitments.

Journey analytics

In a perfect world, we’d only need to measure revenue. It’s the one ABM metric everyone agrees on. But while revenue is the holy grail, ABM also requires leading indicators to show progress during long sales cycles. For this, B2B marketers define stages of the account journey and measure funnel dynamics using the key metrics of balance, volume/flow, conversion, and velocity. These leading indicators show when, how, and why target accounts become aware, engaged, qualified, closed, and more.

Fundamentally, these kinds of ABM metrics answer one question: How do accounts move through the buying journey to produce outcomes we care about?

Attribution analytics

Perhaps the most common Marketing question is, Did my programs have an impact? ABM practitioners use attribution analytics as an ABM metric to make better decisions about budget allocation. By investing in the highest-performing programs, they maximize overall return by answering one fundamental question: What is the return on my Marketing investment?

So you see, vanity, activity, and cost are not the metrics we should be focusing on. We need to put actionable ABM metrics into place. Marketers who use ABM metrics—like engagement, journey, and ROI analytics—speak the same language as other executives.

By effectively quantifying Marketing’s value, you earn budget, gain credibility, and deliver high performance.

The three elements of a powerful metric

Good rules to follow when choosing metrics should help drive actionable change in your Sales campaigns, moving the needle in the right direction. Before you create the perfect ABM campaign, you need to know your goals and how you’re going to track success. To track its success, you need to understand what makes a good metric in the first place.

Here are the three things that make a good metric:

  1. A good metric is comparative. A comparison across time periods, lead segments and sources, and account owners shows what the numbers actually mean.
  2. A good metric is a ratio. Ratios are easy to act on. They also give insights into the relationship between seemingly opposed factors.
  3. A good metric changes behavior. When a metric is a simple number that causes changes in the bottom line, you can act on insights.

Four ways to measure engagement at your Target Accounts

Are the right people at the account spending time with your company, and is that engagement going up over time?

Engagement describes something fundamental about the customer’s connection to your brand: Higher degrees of engagement means a deeper commitment. More time. More emotion. More of a relationship. More activity, like buying and advocating. In short: Engagement matters.

But, like awareness, it’s not easy to measure engagement completely.

It’s about time.

The number of minutes that someone spends with your brand is a reasonable way to track engagement. These minutes should cover not only when they respond to your marketing programs but also when people interact socially, use your product, and talk with the Sales team. By combining these interactions at the individual and account levels, we get a good proxy for engagement.

Here are four considerations when measuring engagement at target accounts:

1. Track activities

Track all the meaningful activities for each of the contacts at your target accounts.

Typically, the data sources will include:

  • Website: Visits by account using reverse-IP mapping.
  • Marketing automation: Email opens, event attendance, content downloads, interesting moments, and so on.
  • CRM: Activities, tasks, and campaign membership.

More advanced data sources include:

  • Product: Minutes spent using various features of your product.
  • Social: Who follows you, shares and retweets your content, comments on your posts, and so on.
  • Sales interactions: Tracking when Sales spends time with target accounts. (This is the hardest but one of the most valuable sources.)

Many Sales tools track interactions (such as email) as activities in the CRM tool, so those are straightforward to pull in. We can also connect to a Sales rep’s calendar and corporate email to track when they are having meetings and other interactions with target accounts.

Count the meetings. A great ABM metric is to count the number of meetings scheduled and held at target accounts. Just make sure you have in place a good mechanism to track these!

Match activities to accounts.

Take each lead’s activity and identify which account he or she should be part of. You can manually do a simple match on email domain or automate it with technology like Demandbase that uses more sophisticated methods for lead-to-account matching. Getting this right is a critical step in all ABM analytics.

2. Assign minutes to activities

Take each of the various activities and assign a number of minutes to each. You often won’t have the exact number of minutes, so it’s OK to use estimates for each activity type, such as:

  • Email open: 1 minute
  • Content download: 10 minutes
  • Webinar attendance: 30 minutes
  • Dinner attendance: 2 hours

Visualize all the activities into an account timeline.

It’s often useful to map all the key activities for a given account into a visual timeline. This can be especially valuable to have during a Quarterly Business Review to show precisely how Marketing has touched the account. It’s also useful when a deal closes to look back and see the touches that helped influence the account.

3. Create an organizational heatmap

To create an account heatmap, track which parts of the organization are engaging with you. Add up the number of minutes spent in total from each cell of the matrix and color code for their engagement level. You can also do this for a group of accounts to see broader trends. With this data visualization, you can identify which personas are most engaged (darker areas on your heatmap) and where you need to deepen engagement (lighter spots).
Use the heatmap to see which parts of the organization engage with you and where you may have blind spots.

You can also:

  • See where you may need new content to engage different audiences.
  • Identify potential blind spots. Although it’s always important to focus on your top contacts at an account, it’s also important to have the necessary breadth of relationships. By comparing an account’s heatmap with your ideal heatmap, you’ll be able to see where you may be missing engagement from a key persona.

4. Aggregate engagement at the account-level, and identify Marketing-qualified accounts

Combine the minutes for all the contacts at an account to come up with a measure of aggregate account-level engagement. This combination is typically not a simple sum or average. For example, sometimes you’ll want to give more weight to senior or important contacts.

From there, track the aggregate engagement trend over time, similar to an electrocardiogram (EKG) chart for account health.

Imagine being able to go to the head of Sales to show that target accounts spent 4,289 minutes engaging with Marketing activities this quarter, up 122 percent from only 1,932 last quarter. And imagine being able to drill into the data to show the specific sales territories, industry segments, and personas with the biggest growth. This is certainly a sign that things in the middle of the funnel are progressing in the right direction!

One of the best ways to demonstrate marketing’s impact in ABM, especially in the middle of the funnel, is to show increased engagement from target accounts.

With this insight, you can identify Marketing Qualified Accounts (MQAs). You want to determine which are the most engaged accounts and alert sales about any accounts whose engagement is spiking up or down versus their recent trend.

At Demandbase, we think that account-level engagement is a better indicator of potential buying activity than individual lead scores. That’s why we use a new metric, the Marketing Qualifed Account (MQA) instead of the person-based metric, Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL).

Marketing Qualified Account: An account (or discrete buying center within an account) that has reached enough aggregate engagement in a given time period to merit a sales outreach.

When you accurately track the minutes from your Account-Based Marketing activities, you’ll understand how target accounts are engaging. Over time, you’ll gain valuable information about how engagement minutes correlate with your most pro table accounts—so you can refine your strategies and create even more engagement.

Final thoughts

Account-based metrics such as those described here don’t replace traditional metrics like leads, pipeline, and revenue. Those are still important, and you should track them for both new and existing customers.

But, as we’ve seen, traditional metrics are not sufficient for ABM. So Marketing and Sales teams should be adept at additional metrics to show success.

Take the next step!

Congrats! If you made it through all six steps of this series and have applied some of the best practices in your B2B practice, you are well on your way to executing efficient Sales and Marketing strategies that power revenue growth.

So now what? Here are three things that come to mind:

  1. See a demo of Demandbase One (to witness exactly how our SaaS platform can support your account-based programming.
  2. Take an ABM certification course and show the world you mean business as a modern B2B marketer who understands the value of ABM.
  3. Subscribe to our blog to get the latest insights and best practices in B2B.

 

How to ABM Like a Boss Series

If you’re just digging your feet into ABM and looking for pointers on how to build a successful account-based strategy, then How to ABM Like a Boss is the definitive blog series for you. No need to read through a stack of posts from a dozen bloggers. This is it. It’s like reading an eBook but in an easier and more digestible way. The blog series covers how to create a budget, build an ABM team, get your data ready, select your target accounts, personalize your content, and measure and realign. Check out the rest of the articles in the series and own your ABM!

Part 1: Build a Budget

Part 2: Establish an ABM Team

Part 3: Get Your Data Ready

Part 4: Select Your Target Accounts

Part 5: Personalize Your Content

Thought Leader, B2B Marketing & Sales Strategy

I possess extensive experience helping organizations create and orchestrate strategic programs that help to retain customers and power sales execution. I'm passionate about the intersection between tech and psychology, especially as it applies to growing businesses. I enjoy reading, playing hockey, and most outdoor sports. Check me out on twitter @brandon_lee_09 or connect with me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/brandonredlinger/.