In a recent Quora question, ‘What are the most important resources for ABM?’, Sangram Vajre, one of the foremost figures in ABM thought-leadership, listed people, processes and technology as the answer.
Although I agree with him, there is one resource missing. Data.
Yes, people, processes and technology might get you data, but it undoubtedly deserves its own listing.
After people, data is the second most vital resource for ABM. Bar none.
Data defines the business case for ABM; determines the type of ABM strategy to adopt; identifies the accounts to pursue; it informs the content and engagement strategy; it measures reach, engagement and sales.
In short, ABM is data.
Data’s role in developing the ABM business case
Given that ABM is as much a business process as a marketing process, organisations may need to build a business case to warrant a shift to ABM. Data is key. Use Sales and CRM data (as well as financial data) to determine past performance, conversion ratios, typical order value, length of sales cycle, and the potential universe of accounts suitable for ABM. These data points will enable you to define a solid business case. For more on budgeting and ROI calculations on ABM, read this blog.
Data’s role in campaign creation
Use Sales and CRM data to select the accounts and the roles involved in the purchase process (more on account selection here). Analytics will determine what content works/doesn’t work (more on using data to determine content here) and the prospect’s research journey. Social listening identifies what the target audience is talking about and what topics to tap into. Marketing automation data will help define what tactics, formats and channels what works/doesn’t work.
Data’s role in campaign execution
During the campaign, data is what lets you measure performance and adjust the strategy. ABM metrics are different from your traditional marketing KPIs. The focus is on ‘reach’ (how many contacts within an account engage with the programme), ‘engagement’ (how the visitors interact with the content) and ‘impact’ (what actions are taken after engaging with content). Here is a useful blog on how to measure ABM.
Data’s role in campaign evaluation
Ultimately, ABM is judged on one thing: sales. Data from the Sales team and the CRM will inform what incremental revenue was created, whether it accelerated the sales process, and whether it positively impacted conversion from interest to deal. The key to this data is attribution: making sure the Marketing Stack & CRM are tracking Marketing and Sales activity and associating it with the programme. This will help establish the first point of contact with an account or known contact; what content they consumed on their journey; when Sales made first direct contact; how many engagements there were between first contact and deal; and how long the process took. Associating a weighted deal value to the engagement will provide a live potential sales pipeline.
Access to Data
Fact: organisations have more data than they think. Very often the challenge is surfacing the (right) data. This is why ALIAS developed an ABM dashboard for our clients. Drawing on disparate but relevant data sources (CRM, analytics, paid, social, sales solutions) and surfacing them in one place, the dashboard means it’s easy for everyone to see and work with the data.
This organisation-wide access to data increases internal awareness, interest and participation from stakeholders well beyond the marketing team. Including the C-suite. And when a company’s leadership has access to better, deeper information and insights, that means smarter, data-backed decisions and improved confidence in the organisation’s direction of travel.
As adoption of ABM increases and competition for the audience’s attention intensifies, it is becoming harder to stand out in the crowd. Data is the big differentiator.
As the statistician, W. Edward Deming said: “In God we trust. All others must bring data.”