Every few months we host a themed round table dinner with a select bunch of our senior customer contacts (VP of Marketing or CMO level executives); it’s a great opportunity to share thinking, listen to ‘war stories’ and come away with ideas on how to deliver better marketing. All over a very nice meal. Now, we’ve just held our latest event and decided to explore one of the most contentious of topics for marketers – Measurement for ABM. So, over the space of three hours, 13 people with more combined years of marketing leadership experience than I dare to try and calculate, kicked around how to crack the marketing measurement conundrum. Here’s the top five takeaways that I heard…
- Accept that marketing ‘success’ comes in many forms and there is not one sure fire way to measure. For sure, revenue closed is the most blunt of metrics (and perhaps the most valued at board level) but there are other important considerations. For some organizations ABM may be about simply engaging new logos or shifting a mix of customer accounts from one vertical sector to another. Some may want to expand their current footprint in existing accounts but have an objective to improve margin in those accounts. Some may want to just defend their current position in a key account and solidify the relationship. The key point is there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach
- Always define what success looks like at the outset of any activity; once you’ve done so, agree how you’ll communicate progress to ensure all stakeholders understand if goals are being reached. Potential solutions for ABM activity focused around dashboards that could be viewed and updated in real time to ensure collective understanding. The message here? You absolutely have to set goals but it’s equally as important to keep people informed as to progress against those goals if you want to drive alignment/satisfaction
- Also, define exactly WHAT marketing is actually going to deliver in terms of activity or collaterals to drive an outcome. Set expectations early, for example, with an account team that you are happy to provide them with account data, messaging and engagement strategies but that closing a deal is their responsibility! While a flippant point, it is an essential one; when driving sales and marketing alignment around success ensure Sales knows what Marketing will (and won’t) do to drive the outcomes
- Measuring marketing outcomes effectively are often determined by the ability to attribute but attribution is tricky to nail (available resource, system issues, individuals not committing to support etc etc). So, if precise attribution is a challenge then moderate the things you want to measure accordingly; there was a strong collective agreement that ‘simple’ trumps ‘complex’ every time, if attribution is a challenge. In short, there’s no sense setting KPIs for things that you’ll fail to effectively measure; nobody ends up happy in that scenario!
- Look for techniques that both sales and marketing teams will agree will drive alignment towards achieving the common goals that have been set for ABM. A great example here was one of our customers employing a monthly NPS (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_Promoter) metric for marketing to measure sales contribution and for sales to measure marketing’s contribution in pursuing individual Account specific goals. The discipline of each side knowing they would be rated by the other as to their commitment and contribution to driving ABM success created real impetus in hitting agreed targets.
To conclude, while our dinner discussion confirmed that it can’t be argued that a simple measurement process has been established for ABM, there were plenty of examples cited that showed ABM is driving significant impact for marketers. And that ABM is, consequently, elevating marketing’s position and influence within organizations, as well as driving ever better alignment with sales. My biggest takeaway from the dinner though? Well, I sensed that the emergence of true ABM (precise, tailored, insight driven marketing activity to small, defined numbers of accounts as opposed to programmatic ‘Marketing to Accounts’ techniques) is regarded as a real opportunity for marketing to better demonstrate its value in terms of ROI than it ever has done before. Even if it does still involve having to create an individual, tailored approach to measurement to do so. And that has to be something for us all in marketing to aspire to!