Measurement. The necessary evil that ensures marketing is driving the right results and, crucially, ensures marketing gets the budget it wants to drive future activity. But despite its importance, it’s a word that strikes fear and loathing into the hearts of many marketers. And it’s not hard to see why.
So was it worth it? Did you get the return on your marketing investment you were looking for? Do you know what outcomes you were looking for? And was success measured using cold, hard data, or a gut feel based on anecdotal feedback?
Measuring marketing effectiveness is hard work. It’s laborious. And it’s becoming increasingly complex as the old rules of marketing are gradually being replaced by new methods of engagement driven by an explosion in data and a proliferation of technology channels. But for those of us in marketing who are instigating and deploying Account Based Marketing (ABM) campaigns, it’s essential to get it right if we want to continue to expand the reach, and impact, of ABM.
To help ease the pain of measurement we at Agent3, alongside ITSMA, have created a best practise guide – ‘Measuring what matters in ABM’ – to provide practical solutions and insights to both ABM-ers and executives looking to take the measurement of their ABM strategy to the next level.
We’re going to be exploring some of the themes from that guide in a 3-part series of blogposts that will begin by exploring the drivers for measurement as well as some of the necessary challenges and considerations. Then, in the next instalment, we’ll look at measurement advice for those who are conducting ABM before our final blog in the series which will turn to what measurement means for the C-suite.
Let’s begin with the challenges.
Measuring ABM results has long been a top challenge facing ABMers. The ITSMA & ABM Leadership Alliance 2018 ABM Benchmark Study, Raising the Game with ABM, revealed measurement as being the toughest challenge and a year later, the 2019 study had it tied for first place with personalization.
But given that ITSMA, and other benchmark research, repeatedly demonstrates that ABM brings greater ROI than other types of B2B marketing, measurement is a must if budgets for ABM are to be secured and then subsequently justified. The difficult reality though is that a great many ABM-ers don’t measure return on ABM investments (ROI). According to the ITSMA & ABM Leadership Alliance 2019 ABM Benchmark Study, Moving to ABM Maturity, only 55% of programs measured ABM ROI. This is recognition that ABM measurement is a challenge to get right.
Why is ABM measurement so hard?
There is no simple answer to this. Typically, we see the following challenges within most organizations:
- Aligning ABM metrics and objectives
- Knowing exactly what to measure to demonstrate impact at the right level of ABM maturity
- Interpreting the right data sources at the right time
- Having the right technology, people, processes, and skills for ABM measurement
- ABM being seen as an isolated tactic instead of a strategic growth strategy
- ABM program not given time to mature to deliver business impact
- ABM-ers often try to solve all measurement problems in one go instead of aligning to a roadmap
- Developing the right metrics as part of a developmental journey
- Impatience—sales and marketing teams must be in for the long term. Revenue growth through ABM takes time; therefore, senior leadership expectations must be aligned with reality
If we’re to simplify the above challenges, we can group them into three main categories:
- Organizational alignment: Agreeing on what to measure
- Data and analytics: Collecting and analyzing the right data to improve performance and demonstrate impact
- Systems and tools: Building and evolving the right systems to enable continuous improvement and effective communication
A broad approach to solve the measurement challenge
Now, before you run screaming to the hills at the apparent enormity of the ABM measurement challenge, please don’t despair just yet! Firstly, do recognise that ABM measurement is a journey that will take patience and time; you won’t crack it overnight.
Accepting this, think of the strategic “three R’s” of marketing—Reputation, Relationship, and Revenue, because these truly do provide the best framework to accurately report on an ABM program’s impact and uncover key insights. Using the framework of the 3Rs can be applied to all ABM programs and at any stage of the ABM journey. The approach aligns programs to the strategic business outcomes that corporate leadership typically prioritize:
- Strengthening the firm’s reputation in the marketplace
- Broadening and deepening critical relationships with customers and influencers
- Accelerating revenue growth
Agent3 and ITSMA recommend the “three R’s” for all clients, not just because it moves ABM from revenue contributor to strategic growth driver, but because it’s incredibly scalable.
ABMers don’t necessarily need complex dashboards or real-time data collection to start leveraging this approach. Instead, this framework focuses on what matters most: reporting business outcomes and demonstrating ROI across an entire ABM program.
- Drives preference with named accounts
- Builds reputation in new markets
- Improves internal credibility
- Identifies and engages with key stakeholders
- Deepens relationships for insight and innovation
- Develops references, referrals, and advocates
- Grows and accelerates pipeline
- Sells new offerings and enters new markets
- Increases win rate and deal size
And it works. When a long-term approach is applied, marketers have seen improvement in their ABM strategy from focusing their measurements on these three categories.
In the following two blogs, we’re going to dive down into the ‘how’ to actually make measurement work, using the 3Rs approach, using practical advice and ideas that will be applicable to one to one, one to few and one to many ABM programs. We hope you find our thinking useful and, in turn, are then able to turn measuring ABM effectiveness from a headache to a strategic weapon that aids your marketing efforts.
In the meantime, if you’d like to talk to us about how Agent3 can support you with measurement challenges, please do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to register for our webinar on 15th July. Joined by special guests from ITSMA and Fujitsu, we’ll be discussing all the concepts in the measurement paper and more!