In an age where the functionality of the B2B marketing landscape becomes increasingly volatile, account-based marketing (ABM) and Revenue Attribution rise to the occasion. The adoption of ABM as an alternative to traditional demand generation is becoming progressively prevalent in the B2B space. Despite its increased use in recent times, the conception of several new and complex channels is promoting the need for ABM practitioners to be able to appraise their investments and optimise their ABM strategies. The incorporation of Revenue attribution in account-based marketing deciphers this challenge.
Account-based marketing or ABM is a strategic marketing approach wherein marketing resources and campaign efforts are directed towards targeted/key customer accounts. More specifically, ABM earmarks Ideal Client Profiles (ICPs) that would generate the most revenue.
ABM is known to be collaborative in nature, as most functional ABM efforts work in conjunction with other teams such as sales, operations, customer success, etc. This collaborative work is done during the earlier and final stages of ABM, the former of which involves scrutinizing your target accounts by soliciting the data (i.e. profitability, ACV, retention rates of customers, technographic characteristics etc) in order to build your ideal customer profile. With this data, one can identify target accounts as well as target contacts within those accounts.
While businesses *could* work with this list of prospects, most marketers further compartmentalize these accounts and contacts into tiers that rank prospects based on ratings assigned for revenue potential. This, ultimately, would help distinguish your marketing approaches — one-to-one, one-to-few, and one-to-many etc.
The final stages of ABM involve engaging with your preferred accounts. What’s important here is that you integrate other prominent teams like sales, customer success, and operations to ensure an aligned execution of efforts.
Given the sheer magnitude of money, time, research, and personal campaigns invested into ABM, generating an ROI for your ABM strategy necessitates its investment. The problem is that the efficacy of your marketing efforts will not be the same for all key accounts, but that’s obvious. What’s noteworthy here is that your marketing efforts on key accounts should have the lowest risk and the highest viability. This however only becomes feasible depending on the quantity and mostly the quality of the target market. The higher the number of key accounts available to target, and the better the revenue potential of each key account, the more suitable ABM will become for your targeted accounts. There are a couple of ways in which you can measure this:
While account based-marketing is not a novel strategy, its emergence over the last couple of years has been excellent thanks to its adaptation to technology, automation, and the utilisation of tools by an increasing number of businesses. Enabling better synergy for its collaborative prospects as discussed earlier.
As of 2021, over 70% of marketers reported the use of ABM, 15% of whom grew from the previous year alone.This is owing to an overhaul of your standard marketing approaches partly as a consequence of the global pandemic causing a loss in value for traditional lead generation and volume-oriented targeting. What made ABM stand out is its versatility and its adaptability to its customer needs. This is because ABM focuses more on quality than the quantity of your broader customer base. Prioritising retention and marketing efforts on their targeted accounts instead of a broader miscellaneous customer base that would have a higher chance of disqualification. The businesses that utilised ABM before and during the COVID-19 outbreak, adapted to the changes — relating to industries like tourism and food service that took a hit based on PD — by reconstructing their key accounts and ideal customer profiles based on new factors, showcasing its versatility and popularity in choice in a changing economic climate.
The following are ways in which revenue attribution can help overcome some of the shortcomings of ABM and maximise its utility in practice:
One of the core principles of ABM is that it prioritises and invests in appeasing your best revenue-generating key accounts through personalised engagement programs, this warrants the need to measure the engagement and campaign’s success. A common challenge in ABM and legacy ABM tools is that they fail to provide these insights. That being said, the utilisation of revenue attribution and attribution models accommodates this need as it provides insights into what channels drive revenue and can highlight poor performing channels and campaigns throughout all your key accounts’ pipelines. Tracking your account-based campaign’s ROI, and optimising your customer acquisition cost through those insights are all part of its preliminary functions. Not to mention, identifying a reliable cost per lead (CPL), allowing ABM practitioners to set a more practical CPL limit on their channels for their key accounts.
The steps involved in an ABM strategy are complex, yet straightforward. Your plan of action is to identify your ideal customer profile (ICP) and use that as a blueprint to locate your key accounts. But what about the people or stakeholders within an account? — 75% of ABM practitioners can’t find the right contacts at companies matching target profiles. And along comes the next challenge. How do we identify the stakeholders involved in the buying process? The solution to this problem involves rigorous research into key accounts and organisational structure. Revenue attribution embellishes this process thanks to its sheer detail in the compartmentalisation of the customer journey by analysing several touchpoints mapping out a multi-stakeholder journey. Highlighting all the stakeholders involved in the buying process, which will facilitate better planning by engaging with the right stakeholders and the optimisation of campaigns based on these insights.
The incorporation of data attribution facilitates the ability to measure the impact of account-based activity over the lifecycle of your key accounts or customers and help increase the productivity of these activities. Identifying the right data using a few metrics will make it possible to understand if you have targeted the right accounts. For example, the progression rate and pipeline velocity will illustrate the rate or speed at which your MQL or marketing qualified leads among your key accounts move through the pipeline in their life cycles. But before doing so, it is imperative to associate the right data with your attribution. A lot of the data solicited through various touchpoints are unstructured, identifying intent and buyer interest using metrics such as bounce rate, click-through rate, lead conversion rate, etc., are all essential in data attribution.
The functionality of ABM is highly dependent on the collaborative efforts of various teams involved in the approach, especially the sales team. 42% cannot effectively run their ABM program as they find it difficult to align their sales and marketing teams. Meanwhile 86.7% of marketers that utilize multi-touch attribution state that they have a good relationship with their sales team. Why is this? This is because of the lack of shared data and leads. A majority of MQL or marketing qualified leads that pass-through sales teams get disqualified. Only a small percentage (27%) of those leads turn to SQL or sales qualified leads due to not getting a hold of the right stakeholder or decision-maker in the purchase decision. As mentioned earlier, r attribution streamlines this problem through multi-stakeholder tracking aligning MQLs with SQLs. Revenue attribution also enables better communication between the teams through reporting. Through revenue attribution, marketers can report on revenue numbers instead of other marketing vanity metrics.
The problem with implementing attribution in ABM is starting out. Laying the groundwork for attribution is usually a trial-and-error process if you want to find the most efficient way to utilize attribution. Deriving an attribution strategy, deciding on what models to implement, testing other models, etc., are all common problems faced when implementing attribution into anything. These are inevitable and will cost money and time. In order to stay one step ahead of the game there is a way in which a marketer can anticipate preferred campaigns by targeted accounts and stakeholders. It is through the use of intent data. Regardless of the manner through which it is obtained, it can be very insightful for understanding the channels your targeted account stakeholder is deriving their buyer intent from. This data will prove to be useful in the formation of your attribution models as will be able to premeditate your own channel activity due to the information obtained through the intent data.
Once you have laid the groundwork. It is time to start tracking your engagement. Using multi-channel or multi-touch attribution makes a big difference. Considering the proportion of the investment and the degree of personalisation being used in your account-based engagement, single-touch models will not do an effective job attributing all of your activities — keep in mind that this is dependent on several factors like the number of channels, opportunity cost of channels, the channel intent, etc. In fact, a lot of marketers focus on bottom-of-the-funnel attribution investing in sales enablement to convert customers, while not realising that there are so many other factors to consider. The goal here is to organise your customers into accounts and map out the complete customer journey through the pipeline of said accounts. Pairing this with data obtained from your tech stack will enable you to identify the stakeholders involved in buying decisions within each account.
As mentioned earlier the functionality of ABM is heavily reliant on the collaborative work of other departments, and the same holds true with the use of revenue attribution. While the use of revenue attribution itself facilitates this alignment, that alone should not give you a reason to disregard it. Ensuring that both the marketing and sales teams are working with the same metrics and also the same stakeholders play a vital role in your ABM’s campaign success. Revenue attribution tools also benefit from data across teams, as mentioned earlier, the utilisation of your tech stack which would include things like your sales data and CRM data, etc., are essential in the functionality of your revenue attribution in ABM.
A lot of the challenges that arise from attributing ABM have to do with problems and mistakes marketers face when using attribution. Finding the most efficient model that is applicable for your ideal customer profile is not an easy task and has several hurdles. Identifying stakeholders will also only get more difficult considering the constant increase of the number of stakeholders involved in a B2B buyer decision due to sales cycles becoming increasingly bigger in size. Multi-touch attribution, in general, is a complicated and tedious process with more complex channels arising convoluting the entire journey. To overcome this, advancements in marketing technology have enabled us to accompany the right attribution tool that consolidates complex information into useful insights that will save time and effort in practice. Better yet, an AI-powered attribution tool that will eliminate the skill gap required to effectively utilize an attribution tool. With all the necessary tools and know-how available, you should be well equipped in attributing your account-based marketing.
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