How Blackbaud saw 4x larger sales opportunities with machine learning

Case Study Overview

The customer

Blackbaud is the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good, providing cloud software, services, expertise, and data intelligence that empower and connect people to drive impact.

The challenge

Blackbaud was building their first ABM campaigns — and they needed a partner to help them maximize impact with a three-month pilot program.

The payoff

In three months, Blackbaud saw:

94% of target account engaged*

190% increase in engaged* visitors

10x ROI on pipeline generation

*3+ pages viewed

How Blackbaud saw 4x larger sales opportunities with machine learning

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The customer

‘Turning ‘ABM’ from a buzzword into a reality’ 

After years of discussion, Blackbaud decided it was finally time to launch their first display ABM program.

The marketing and sales teams were excited to test what they could do with an account-based platform. Blackbaud sells more than 40 products to 9 verticals — so everyone was hungry to scale their account-based efforts as quickly as possible. 

“For the past few years ABM has been such a buzzword, that when I said we're going to have a new ABM tool, everyone goes in different directions — because everyone has a different definition of ABM and what that means for their programs,” said Blackbaud digital marketing team lead Sam Kuehnle.

But with only enough resources for three-month pilot, Sam needed to manage expectations.

The challenge

How to show value with a three-month ABM program

Sam knew that for his leadership to approve a bigger ABM budget, his pilot needed to deliver strong results. And to deliver the strongest results, Sam knew he couldn’t dilute his resources testing every ABM tactic.

“We made it clear that for our pilot program, we were just testing display ad ABM,” Sam said. “We weren’t going to start with direct mail. We weren’t setting this up for BDRs. We were just looking at one piece of the overall ABM pie.”

To show maximum ROI in three months, Sam turned to his RollWorks team for help. They agreed to focus the scope of the pilot to one main goal: using display ad ABM to increase the number of engaged target accounts. They defined an engaged account as an account that had visited three or more pages on their website.

“Our sales cycle can be as long as 12 months,” said Sam. “So if we could significantly increase engagement from our target account list in three months, that would be a huge win.”

The solution

Maximizing budget by scoring their target account list

Next, the RollWorks team and Sam decided to build three highly-targeted campaigns: one prospecting, one cross-sell, and one targeting previously lost deals. To maximize results, each campaign focused on boosting interest for only one product from just one vertical.

Sam then connected his Salesforce and RollWorks accounts in order to sync his Salesforce target account lists with RollWorks. This allowed him to automatically reach the accounts and contacts he and his sales teams were after.

“Instead of just targeting based on web behavior, we’re able to get ads in front of the ideal personas from specific verticals — regardless if they had been to our website yet,” Sam said.

In order to maximize his budget, Sam then scored his target account lists. Account scoring determined which target accounts would more likely become new customers.

For example, Blackbaud’s cross-sell campaign targeted their K-12 education vertical. By analyzing the attributes of their 764 best K-12 customers, RollWorks’ machine learning technology was able to build a custom predictive model. 

This model then took the 2,300 accounts on their K-12 target account list, and scored them based on how similar they were to their current customers. Scores in hand, Sam decided to focus his spend to target the 1300 highest-scored accounts.

"With all our verticals, the number of accounts that we could potentially work with is in the hundreds of thousands," Sam said. "And since we don't have the world's biggest budgets, account scoring helps us manage the sheer volume of accounts to target."

The payoff

More engaged accounts — and larger sales opportunities to prove it 

Sam and his RollWorks team then designed campaigns to bring accounts from awareness to consideration. To do this, they built a series of highly-relevant messaging directed to specific personas.

“We wanted to serve messaging that spoke directly to each account’s specific needs,” Sam said. “Thanks to our new targeting abilities — we don’t have to throw out 20 messages and hope that one lands. We can mention the specific pain points we know you're going through and how we can help you.”


And after three months, Sam got the results he was after. With his best campaigns, he was able to engage 94% of target accounts. This led to a 190% increase in engaged visitors and a 10x ROI on pipeline generation.

Now, Sam is continuing to build out his ABM program. He’s scored and created audiences to go after more verticals. Also, in addition to connecting his RollWorks and Marketo accounts, he’s connected his LinkedIn account. This allows RollWorks to be his single platform to serve ads, wherever they might be online. "We first applied the RollWorks' integration with LinkedIn to our showcase page for our Healthcare market, which was originally intended to serve as a top-of-funnel touchpoint to engage with new contacts across target accounts," Sam said. "When the page was first created, it had minimal followers and engagement. Through RollWorks' targeting capabilities with LinkedIn's expansive network, the page gained 1,000 followers from those target accounts in just three months and is showing no signs of slowing down."

“It's not only the RollWorks platform capabilities, but also their teamwork and partnership that I value,” Sam said. “Their willingness to understand our business and what we're trying to accomplish ensures I can focus on the strategy while they help with the nitty gritty of the day-to-day. They're a huge part of our success.”

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