Proving account-based marketing (ABM) effectiveness is every marketer's challenge. It's the drum that keeps on drumming. And as we kick off the new year, the challenge to meet increasing revenue goals and justify marketing spend will only amplify.
Let's be honest, measuring the impact of account-based marketing is tough when you don't have the right full-funnel account insights, are not reaching out to buyers at the right time, can’t prove revenue to leadership, and are not just owning acquisition—yes, this includes customer retention. As if that wasn’t enough, add in the ever-changing buyer journey and we have our work cut out for us.
Needless to say, building a unified measurement system from reach to revenue that fits your company's unique needs is critical to overcoming these challenges. But the good news is that these problems are solvable.
Why ABM measurement matters
Connecting the dots between marketing activities to revenue may not be at the top of your priority list, but when your sales teams are consistently hitting targets without that correlation, it’s nearly impossible to identify marketing impact from sales impact. Here are a few key points why ABM measurement matters:
Revenue generation: Meeting leadership’s ever-increasing revenue targets means understanding what your revenue impact actually is so you can set goals confidently.
Budget validation: Whether you need to validate the ROI on your current budget or make a good case for a new one, proving what marketing influenced or generated based on $X (in no uncertain terms) will always provide the most compelling defense.
Validating ABM investment: Not only should marketers prove the budget they currently have is working, but they also need to be able to project into the future. Demonstrate how investments will help move the needle in terms leadership understands (i.e. “If we spend this much money, we’ll at least break even or get more out of it”).
Data: Working closely with sales is ideal, but when it comes to reporting, leadership sees marketing and sales as two different things—and they want to see the impact of each of those departments separately.
Overcoming ABM Measurement Challenges
Overcoming ABM measurement challenges isn’t hard to do, but building that unified system to empower marketers can take work. Here is a breakdown of actionable steps that will help in the process:
Create a framework:
Base your framework on what’s unique and important to your organization. Ask yourself, what are you trying to accomplish?
Is this a brand awareness use case (i.e. targeting accounts that don’t know you exist?) OR
Is this an account progression use case (i.e. getting accounts who know you closer to close)?
Set objectives that align with strategic priorities
You wouldn't measure brand awareness programs the same way you’d measure account progression plays, so keep the end goal in mind to set proper expectations against the objectives of the program.
Look at all the data points, all of them
This will vary somewhat based on your organization’s unique needs, but the ultimate goal is to combine all of this data so you can begin to understand 1) which accounts are moving forward and 2) which ABM strategy and sales activities are helping them to move forward.
Tracking account progression across the buying committees
With the economic headwind, only successful businesses will see significant investment increases. This is where efficiency takes the forefront as marketers evolve in 2024.
In the new year, successful companies will focus on:
- Making better capital allocation and investment decisions
Eliminating superfluous costs
Allocating capital to points of leverage
Retaining and expanding existing customers
Scrutinizing acquisition and partnership opportunities
A big trend we are seeing across the industry is more Gen Z and Millennials are entering positions with strong decision-making power and changing the way B2B buying decisions are being made. This generation is taking more time and using different sources to make investment decisions. We must evolve in line with these trends or risk losing out on future business, after all, time is money. Here are a few more trends we can expect to see this year:
Revenue marketing and demand generation will emphasize both preserving revenue and expanding revenue over acquiring net new customers. Marketing will need to have a bigger seat at the table in owning post-sale metrics of retention, upselling, and cross-selling with a customer-centric mindset.
Target Accounts Only
With scrutiny over budgeting, you’ll really need to ‘prove’ who you’re spending marketing dollars and if they are worth the cost to acquire. In other words, you must target the right in-market accounts only — time is up for paying for bad leads. And let's be clear, ‘leads aren’t dead’, they just need to be account-qualified.
Let's Get Visible
Time to kick visibility up a notch. If you cannot see where (and at what stages) target accounts are in the funnel, how on earth can you get them where they need to go? Tracking account progression ( and regression) can turn into actionable insights that help you increase pipeline velocity and prove to leadership the effectiveness of an ABM strategy.