How to create and measure paid ABM campaigns with Vin Turk
In this episode, Vin Turk, Co-founder and COO at Madison Logic, will discuss what it takes to run a successful paid ABM campaign.
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Hello, Vin, and welcome to the show.
Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
I’m very happy to host you here today, and again, we have a very, very interesting topic for our listeners. And we’re going to be talking about the ABM strategies measuring ABM campaigns, and I’m excited about this episode because we’re going to focus on the measurement specifically. So, Vin, my first question is: how can data tech and measurement help achieve success with the ABM campaigns?
Well, I think the first thing we should all acknowledge is that data, technology, and measurement are all critical to measuring success with any account-based marketing program and campaign. Let’s also not lose sight of the people, the process, and the training behind all of these different initiatives.
So when we look a little bit more focused on the data technology and the measurement side, let’s start with data. The first thing I wanted to comment on here is both breadth of data and the hygiene of data. Now, when I talk about breadth, I refer to the quantity and areas of data that bring together insights.
So, on the one hand, we have things about companies. How large is a company? How much revenue do they make? Where are their offices located? That’s one aspect of the data side. Another can be technographics or install base. What are the products, the solutions, and the technologies already put in place? Those are great indicators of potentially what they may want to purchase next.
Now, the other thing we have to think about with data is cleanliness or hygiene. If you’re leveraging data that’s a bit outdated or you haven’t refreshed it in a period of years or even quarters, what you’re working with may point you in the wrong direction. So you may assume that a specific target account is ready and prepared to purchase your solution. Still, you might have missed the boat if they’ve already migrated over to another technology. You might have missed the opportunity there.
So continually updating, refreshing, and auditing your own data is critical because it’s like, garbage in, garbage out. And I think data, as it permeates through so many different systems that marketers and sellers use today, it’s extremely important.
So number one, make sure that you have the right type of data based on the types of pursuits you want to go after with your ABM campaigns. And, of course, the hygiene of that data. And that’s a job and a function on its own, making sure that we’re sourcing data from the right places, auditing how that data is captured and how we’re bringing it into our systems and keeping it clean, because I think as everyone knows, as sellers pursue these accounts, often they may not update the information or the data in their own systems as timely as one would like.
That brings us over more to the technology side, and in my mind, when I think about technology, I think about both the tools that teams use internally to track their progress, to plan and ultimately activate programs, but also some of the tools and technologies used to reach these audiences across the B2B web.
So most commonly, we find that our clients use a CRM system, a customer relationship management system, like salesforce.com. It helps them track pipeline, revenue, customers, and when they’re potentially coming up for their contract expiration. It also helps them understand if they’re in a competitive battle. That’s on the sales side.
Now, many other tools from a sales perspective can come into play with account-based marketing, whether it’s automated email outreach tools or data insights for sellers specifically. But as we turn more towards the marketing side, many assume that marketers’ operating system resides within marketing automation. And I’m talking about platforms like Marketo, HubSpot, Oracle’s Eloqua, and Salesforce’s Pardot.
Marketers use these platforms, these technologies, to keep track of all the different activities and engagements they’re witnessing in their key accounts and trigger the next best action. And inherently, email is a huge channel in these marketing automation systems. Still, the question then becomes: what should I be emailing out to my prospects and the accounts I have in my system, and how do I measure that success?
So before we get to measurement, one of the things that I like to do is tie together the data that we first talked about with the technology. And if you’re infused with the right types of data, and it’s high-quality and refreshed continually, that’s your north star. Say, “I’m going to email this next piece of content. I’m going to drive them to this webinar that I’m hosting. I’m going to take them to a blog post or even a podcast because I know and have been informed that the data I’m using shows me where the puck’s heading. It’s showing me signals of how this account is evaluating solutions and how potentially we fit in.”
So there’s marketing automation. There are CRM systems. The two primary go-to-market platforms here. And then, of course, other secondary or tertiary platforms might fit in, whether it’s website personalization, chatbots, or different connectors across the B2B web.
In order to assess if things are going according to plan, lagging, or if we need to make an adjustment, that’s where measurement comes into play. Measurement tells you if your thesis originally is proven out or if you need to recalibrate. And measurement, I see it, encompasses just so many different areas.
On the surface level, when you activate a program, let’s say it’s a paid media-oriented program, you might be looking at things of total reach into your target accounts. Are they responding to advertisements that you’re putting out there? Are they consuming and downloading your content? Are they sharing different things on perhaps social networks? That’s one form of measurement.
But I think more and more importantly, especially these days, measurement really refers to pipeline and revenue. If marketers can clearly show and show that investments they make on certain channels, certain tools, or even certain data sets are driving increased pipeline—it’s speeding up those deals, and it’s driving the growth of the business—that’s the biggest bang for your buck on the measurement side.
Now, when you can tie together both your go-to-market campaign activities with your actual business growth and pipeline activities, that’s when the measurement stuff really comes to life because you can start pinpointing the drivers that are pushing that performance and also the areas that you may need to focus even more on from an execution standpoint.
So taking together data, technology, and measurement, they all work in tandem. Still, as I said, I think, a little bit earlier in the beginning, if you don’t have the right process and you don’t have the right training for the people managing these tools, executing these programs, then you’re going to find gaps along the way.
And I like to think of it like those old game shows where you see people leapfrogging off like lily pads on a pond, and one or two don’t have a pole underneath it. So if you jump on one of them, you might sink right to the bottom. So all of these are, I’d say, equally important there.
All right, perfect. I love this answer and how you mentioned both the breadth and hygiene of data. I think this is very, very important. I agree on the measurement alignment side, so combining the GTM activities with the ROI and pipeline measurements. Definitely with you on these.
So my next question here would be: can you please walk us through the stages of the ABM campaign and talk a bit more about the data marketers need to pay attention to and measure during each and every stage? So you’ve mentioned Salesforce. You’ve mentioned a couple of other tools. But what does it look like if we tie it all together on the measurement side?
Yeah, so if we think the process of initial inception through the review and looking back after a campaign is wrapped up, the first place I like to start on is identification. Which organizations and accounts are we going to pursue?
In many cases, what we hear from our clients are discussions between the sales and the marketing team. Sales always wants to sell to Fortune 1000 companies, the world’s largest enterprises. Now, the marketing team may say, “Okay, we have to assess, are these organizations actually fit for our solution? Do we integrate with the different systems, networks, or environments these companies have? And what’s the likelihood we can crack into those accounts and sell through them?”
So often, when sales and marketing come together, they define that initial target-account list, but that’s really even before they start layering different types of data.
Now, to refine this within an ideal customer profile, many successful organizations look back at their successful clients today and say, “What do these companies look like? Are they in certain verticals or industries? Are they spread out geographically or isolated into just one area? Are there a certain number of employees at that organization, or even within a functional area, that we need to stress and focus on?”
From there, we can whittle down the total universal addressable market into a smaller circle. And then we say, “Okay, this company fits the profile that we believe would be a good candidate to become a client of ours. What’s the next step here?” Well, I mentioned it earlier on the data tech and measurement side. Can we look at what they’ve already purchased and where they’re finding success?
And one of the ways that I like to think about this is exactly what we just described. Sales use CRM. Marketing uses marketing automation. What are the next logical purchases after you put those systems in place? And often, when we talk to clients, we’ll go through that logical sequence with them, and they’ll tell us, “We’ve noticed that our solutions are purchased after X, Y, and Z are initially put in place.”
We’re an intermediary platform, and I think for many cloud solution providers today, that’s the great place to start because if you integrate with just a few of the hyper-scale cloud providers, you’re probably not going to want to target a company that uses someone else.
So if you integrate well with perhaps Amazon Web Services, but you don’t yet have that integration with Google Cloud Platform, why would you spend your time, efforts, and money focusing on the Google Cloud platform there? So, technographic, install-based data is really helpful as well.
The next set of data is to understand the research habits of companies and how those are shifting over time. Now, many people refer to this as intent data, and this category, this type of data, has grown dramatically over the last five to seven years.
Early on, it simply said, “Okay, let’s see who’s researching a certain topic. If they’re doing research, they must be in the market.” The next step was, “Okay, well, let’s measure how that research today differs from what they were doing in the past in the overall volume of research. Maybe that’s a stronger indicator.” And now it’s even evolved to say, “Well, how many employees at the company are doing research? What type of research are they doing? And is the speed of that research accelerating?”
And when you put all those different factors together, you get a much clearer picture: is this company really prepared to move into the market, going into that buying cycle there? So that’s the next data set we often discuss with our clients.
We’ve discussed the total addressable market sales and marketing we want to sell to. We’ve narrowed that down through an ideal customer profile fit attribute. We’ve layered in technographic data. Now we’re bringing in intent data, which, again and again, you’ll make these circles, your addressable accounts, a little bit smaller and smaller. And we found that intent data has been adopted, I think, at this point, by most B2B organizations that are activating account-based marketing.
This next evolution, this next step here, what we’re witnessing is marketers starting to say, “All right, I’ve got my target-account list, but is there an opportunity to refine it even further? Is there another signal out there that would help me understand how to steer my budget?” And we’ve seen that historical engagement on content, messages and social channels is a great next step here.
And what this refers to is observing how often companies are proactively being marketed to, not just in that passive research mindset, which is very valuable. But how often are these companies bombarded with different marketing messages on different channels with different themes or topics, and who’s being targeted within the organization?
Alongside that same targeting frequency and media investment activity, we also want to see how those same companies respond when being marketed. So if everyone wants to go sell to the Fortune 1000, and you’ve applied these different layers of data, and you’re going after them, but they’re not responding, maybe they’re not in the market.
So this engagement data really helps us understand who within these organizations we should be targeting with specific types of messages and content-oriented around certain topics. I think everyone knows that these buying committees continue to grow and grow, and it’s not just one individual making the decision-making process or signing their name on the contract. They’re delegating many responsibilities to folks within their own department and outside of it.
Today, in our company, Madison Logic, it’s not our CTO who signs all the contracts. In many cases, it’s our Head of People, Head of Operations, and Head of Finance. So we have to engage with so many different types of audiences. But the same message, the same content, across different functional areas will likely not work. So you have to build out a strategy using data to say, “When should we pursue these certain accounts? What channels do we need to engage them on? And what is the actual message?”
And of course, we’ll talk a little bit more about measurement and understanding performance there, but I think it’s not just this simple brushstroke that you can say and assume that “We’re going to use the same tactics that we were doing in the past for our ABM campaigns. All we need is a target account list. That’s pretty much it, right?”
The answer, I think, as many organizations have realized, is no. That’s not the answer. You have to meticulously look at each organization, what’s making them tick, and where they’re heading, and then align your strategy around that.
All right. This makes a lot of sense, and I really like how you mentioned different types of data, such as historical engagement data and the intent data, which I think is very important regarding targeting. So let’s talk more about this for a minute.
So when the marketers have their account list, they would ideally like to tailor each message, as you mentioned. The best practice is to tailor each and every message during each stage of the reach-out.
So what metrics and indicators from the sales pipeline should marketers pay attention to craft this right message and then deliver this message through the right channels?
So there are three core pillars we guide clients on in terms of sales metrics and indicators here, which boils down to volume, value, and velocity.
On the volume side, it’s very straightforward. Can we measure the volume of qualified accounts and sales opportunities created through these initiatives, and how does that differ from our traditional approaches? So the volume of activity isn’t just how many accounts we hit and engage, but how is that actually leading to qualified sales opportunities? That’s the first big one.
On the value side, we look at the average order value initiated or created after doing a go-to-market with account-based marketing. Do we see an incremental lift in the overall value of the deals we’re pursuing when we compare them to things we did in a different or traditional approach?
And the velocity one, I think, is one of the most important, and it’s one of my favorites. It simply means: through these different channels and leveraging data, have we been able to increase the sales velocity? Now, I say sales velocity because that’s one area that chief revenue officers and CFOs look at immensely and maniacally. But at the same time, marketers can also measure the speed at which their initial prospects convert and turn into those qualified sales opportunities.
In many cases, they’re looking at that in marketing automation. We bring in a prospect at the top of the funnel. We know we have to engage that prospect further and deeper before the handoff to sales teams. So we trigger these nurture emails. We invite them to webinars. Can we now track that the velocity of those accounts and the prospects associated with those accounts move at an accelerated rate or higher velocity compared to the other approaches?
So I keep mentioning this concept of comparing it to what you were doing in the past, and for many clients that we work with, an iterative approach is how they find success because there are so many different moving pieces. We’re only a few minutes into this discussion, and we’re already talking about technology, measurement, data, and defining accounts. So I like to peel back the layers of that onion one by one. But again, sales velocity is a great indicator.
When it comes to an understanding— do we need to make a change, or do we have to test this against something else? one of the things that we like to do is break apart every different program by all those different key data aspects.
And data is now encompassing the content you’re using, the strategies, the messages, the channels, and the personas. If we can compare one program against another with a very simplified view to see the incremental lift, that’s a great way to see: here’s what we need to recalibrate and change.
Maybe it’s the personas that you went after in a certain set of accounts. Maybe it’s the content that you used to engage those personas. But of course, when you’re activating an ABM program, it’s not just in one area. It’s not just your website. It’s not just on social networking. It’s likely across many different channels.
So again, one by one, looking at these metrics and saying, “Let’s tweak this and see what the performance yields from that.” I think that’s a great approach that marketers really go. And again, it revolves back to: are we increasing the volume of sales opportunities and pipeline? Are we speeding up deals and increasing the velocity there? And, of course: are the size of these orders and the value of these orders increasing as a result also?
That sounds awesome. I like your volume and value velocity framework. I think it helps marketers understand which categories every metric belongs to. So thank you so much for sharing it.
And now, let’s talk about the revenue metrics because earlier in the podcast, you mentioned revenue being a common denominator for different teams to measure their efforts.
Can you please talk me through what revenue metrics are important to measure when it makes sense to measure them, and is there a certain data volume after analyzing which it’s important to get to certain statistically significant results?
Yeah. There’s not one simple answer to this. What are the right revenue metrics? It’s really a function of the goals of the company. Many organizations are in a land-and-expand pursuit. They don’t necessarily need a lot of new logos and a lot of new customers. They want to upsell and cross-sell their existing clients.
So one of the ways that you can measure that from a revenue perspective is: how many business units have we penetrated in these large accounts that we’re pursuing? Suppose our solution can be adopted throughout the organization, but we’re only in a few of the smaller business units. How do we move horizontally or even vertically up and sell more seats there? Revenue metrics include the number of licenses sold, the number of components associated with your solution, and the geographic areas that are buying your solution.
Many of our clients are global. They’re marketing and selling solutions all over the world. But what we see is, often, they’ll land a customer, but that customer won’t adopt their solution globally, at least not initially. So their revenue teams must align and say, “All right, well, we’ve got a cross-sell opportunity here. I can get warm referrals into these other business units. How are we going to track all that? How are we going to track that?”
And in many cases, it’s a similar type of pipeline view to a traditional net new logo pursuit. Where are we in terms of making progress and getting into a new business unit? How far off are we from a contract? How many additional seats can we bring on board? That’s the cross-sell and upsell that we see many marketers are taking.
Clients in net new logo pursuit want to bring in as many new customers as possible. It might be different. One of the metrics could be: how long is it taking to close these deals? And in that case, marketers can reverse-engineer their own waterfall to say, “If we know our sales cycle is six months from inception to closing, meaning the moment I touch these accounts with any of these channels, I engage with them, we close a deal six months later,” they can work their way backward and say, “What is the volume of engagement on a certain channel?
Whether it’s leading social engagement, visitors to your website, or even clicks on your search ads, what is the volume of those different activities that we need to drive to get to the next stage?” Someone was registering and saying, “Yeah, I want to learn more information. I want to download your content. I want to explore your solutions.”
And then, of course, the time it takes for you from getting them into the top of your funnel down to the next stage, where it’s a sales handoff and that very graceful dance as it moves from an automated, machine-driven approach more towards the human side.
As marketers look at each of these metrics and tie together their marketing activities, their sales activities rooted in revenue, I think that’s when they’re able to spot the glaring examples of things that need to be improved upon.
And it’s like you’re building the plane as you’re flying or putting the wheels in the car as it’s going down the road. And for many folks, that’s frightening. But in many successful companies that we’ve worked with, they realize that “We can’t just wait around. We can’t just sit and talk strategy for six months. We actually have to activate it. We have to get in the market.”
So recalibrating, and making fine-tuning adjustments based on those revenue metrics, is extremely important there.
And the last thing that I want to talk about that we’re seeing becoming more and more important is protecting your customers.
If you know that organizations are coming up to the expiration date of their contract, you need to start talking to them well before that date. You must launch your ABM programs to save or even upsell those customers well before the contract expires. And some of the data points we discussed to give you these indicators that they may be looking elsewhere.
Maybe they’re looking at a competitor, or maybe they haven’t found the value of not just your solution but the category itself, and they’re abandoning it. This is a great opportunity for you to deepen that relationship and build that engagement to reinforce the value of why they purchased your solution in the first place and perhaps some of the features or components that they haven’t yet taken advantage of. I think that one, customer-churn mitigation, is just huge, and it’s growing in importance yearly.
All right, then. Awesome. Thank you so much for giving such a detailed answer. So we talked about the revenue metrics, all the other different metrics, the social engagement, and the sales pipeline metrics, but let’s talk about the social element a little bit more.
So I see, and I’m sure many other marketers would agree with me, that LinkedIn is becoming a vital part of almost every company’s ABM strategy. So how can marketers use LinkedIn to increase their pipeline and improve the quality of their deals? And also, another question here would be: what metrics are important to pay attention to when they start using LinkedIn as a tool?
Yeah, great question. So in my perspective and view, LinkedIn is the dominant, and it’s the champion social networking platform for B2B. Hundreds of millions of users are spread all over the world. If you had asked me a few years ago, I might have said, “LinkedIn’s a great place for folks in HR and recruiting and salespeople.” We see that all the time and time again, getting InMail from sellers looking to connect, and of course, for recruiting.
These days, it’s shifted dramatically as hundreds of millions of more people have joined the platform. I see great discussions and research happening, and there’s just a lot of engagement and attention on LinkedIn.
So LinkedIn offers a wide variety of marketing and advertising solutions, whether it’s their sponsored content updates, video, text links, carousel ads, or live-video suite… There are many opportunities and ways to connect with your audiences and your accounts, both from an organic and a paid perspective on LinkedIn.
Many marketers that we know use LinkedIn as a lead generation tool. They want to load up their content, present a registration form, and get someone to consume and register for it. I think LinkedIn is a fantastic channel for that, but if they only focus on purely lead-generational LinkedIn, they’re missing out on a lot more that’s going on there.
So you’ll see when you go to LinkedIn that you can’t only hit the Register button, but you can also like something, comment on it, or share it throughout your network. And I think some marketers that take a somewhat narrower approach just to say, “How many leads do we generate on LinkedIn?” are missing a lot of this story, especially regarding account-based marketing.
With account-based marketing, not only is it important to find the right people, connect with them, get their contact information and pursue them in your own platforms, but you also want to build this consensus and build up an advocate on the channels where you can amplify your own message. And LinkedIn, from my point of view, is really the only channel that’s scalable to do that on a global basis.
So if you’re pursuing an account, one of those Fortune 1000 accounts again, and you’re looking at your metrics and saying, “You know what? We only generated two leads of this account,” why don’t you start looking at some of the other engagement metrics?
Are the folks at the account you’re pursuing resharing your message throughout their personal network? Again, that’s the amplification side. Do they like it? Are they clicking on these, maybe being driven off to your own website? Suppose you’re not capturing those engagement metrics. In that case, you’re missing out on extremely valuable data that you can use not just to fine-tune and optimize your LinkedIn initiatives but also bring back into your own infrastructure, whether it’s in your CRM for sales or your marketing automation, to fine-tune those activities as well.
And so LinkedIn, over the last few years, has built up just a fantastic ecosystem of partners that can really elevate your go-to-market activities on LinkedIn alongside other channels that you may be using. Our company, Madison Logic, is an integration partner with LinkedIn through their LinkedIn marketing solutions. And from what we’ve seen, we’ve been able to help elevate our client’s success and performance and just give them a lot more visibility. And visibility was something that they were yearning to see even more of.
So when I take a step back, and I say, “There’s a direct response result that you’re looking for, but you can’t put the blinders on to all the other insights that you can receive and extract from LinkedIn,” that’s when you really start taking this data and put it into practice in so many different other ways.
So I always recommend LinkedIn as a channel, but again, depending on the goals of the company, you have to decide: what are the products on LinkedIn that we want to use, and how does LinkedIn come into play working in conjunction with these other channels? Especially as it relates to your ABM initiatives and your overall measurements here.
One of the things we’ve looked at is to, say, what does engagement on LinkedIn look like from accounts in the final stages of that sales cycle vs. accounts in the early stage? Are they engaging more because you’re actively talking to them, deeper in the funnel, looking at your solutions, and you’re sending them these messages and ads on LinkedIn, or maybe less?
And surprisingly, what we found is that clients that are pursuing accounts in the late stage on LinkedIn still see great engagement, and that really helps them reinforce to their sales team: these are the ones that are closing very soon. But even the ones not engaging as much still show signs that they’re actively part of this deal cycle, and your message is getting across. And that’s very important to understand: am I reaching these folks, and can they show and exhibit the signs that my activation has been successful there?
So when we contrast that with the top-of-the-funnel opportunities, let’s say, already in the sales cycle, sometimes we see less engagement, but at the same time, those accounts will move faster to the next stage. So it’s not so much that they’ve tuned out
LinkedIn, but I think they’re using it for a different purpose based on where they’re in that buyer’s process.
So it’s incumbent upon marketers to understand: where do we emphasize LinkedIn more on certain parts of the sales cycle, and where do we maybe change a tactic, use a different LinkedIn product, use a different type of brand message or a different type of mechanism within LinkedIn to continue to build up that engagement?
That’s a mouthful of information about LinkedIn, but the short answer really is it’s an integral part of any B2B marketer’s toolkit. If you’re not on LinkedIn, if you’re not pursuing your accounts there, you’re missing out because it’s likely that your competitors are using that channel.
All right, then. Thank you so much for, once again, such an awesome and elaborate answer. And now, if the audience would love to learn more about you and your company, where can they find you?
They can find us at www.madisonlogic.com. We have offices throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, soon landing in Australia and India. So we service our clients on a global basis. We work with some of the best organizations, and our team just loves diving deep into all things account-based marketing with them.
All right, fantastic. Thank you so much for coming to the show today.
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
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