How Okta Converted Opps at a 24x Higher Rate Using Intent-Based ABM Campaigns

Case Study Overview for Okta


Okta, the leading “cloud-first, independent, and platform-scale” identity management vendor.


How to support ambitious pipeline generation targets for all sales go-to-market segments and how to gain insight on prospect intent. 


● 24x in opportunities using intent-based ABM campaigns
● 2.7x reduction in cost per conversion 

How Okta Converted Opps at a 24x Higher Rate Using Intent-Based ABM Campaigns


The Standard Bearer for Identity Management 

With its mission to enable any organization to use any technology, Okta remains the leading independent identity provider. So much so that Gartner has recognized Okta as a leader in access management for seven consecutive years. Okta makes the most advanced access management tool on the market—a market Okta itself helped pioneer.


Evolve ABM Programs by Reprioritizing the Target Account List  

Though the Okta marketing team was no stranger to account-based marketing (ABM), it faced new challenges at the time it engaged RollWorks. For one, the team was tasked with supporting ambitious pipeline generation targets for all sales go-to-market segments. This included three of the company’s most important new growth segments: IT modernization; security; and digital transformation.

Each of these growth segments meant new accounts to reach and target with ABM—segments beyond workforce identity (SSO), Okta’s bread and butter. With this change in positioning came the need to evolve the market perception of Okta to a security company (not just an SSO). 

To capitalize on new segments, the Okta team needed a better understanding of prospect intent so they could start the right conversations within each account. They had to find who was actively searching for Okta solutions so that their campaigns could show up at that time of need. 

At the same time, the digital team needed to evolve account targeting beyond sales-nominated accounts alone. “The TALs [target account lists] were outdated, not centralized,” says Mae Cadao, Digital ABM Program Manager. “We were receiving a high volume of accounts, but needed something more quantitative than ‘a good logo to go after’ as a means for prioritizing our efforts.” 

Here’s why Cadao says better account prioritization was so important. Without a stronger understanding of a prospect’s intent, the team struggled to start the right conversations within each account. And without knowing who is actively searching for Okta solutions, the team spent valuable resources to engage unlikely buyers with generic awareness ads.

“Sure, we want to turn the biggest companies in the world into Okta customers. Practically speaking, how do we do that from a digital marketing and account targeting perspective? That was the work we needed to do with our ABM program.”

- Kadie Murphy, Digital ABM Program Sr. Specialist 


Refine Outdated TALs Based on Intent Data

To align with Okta’s evolving market positioning, Cadao and her team created segments in RollWorks based on the interests and keywords that supported the new go-to-market pillars. Based on these segments, Cadao’s team created content maps to surface the best resources and offers based on a given prospect’s intent (a combination of interest level and stage in the buyer’s journey).

From there, Cadao and her team reviewed both the account list and content maps with both the sales and solutions marketing teams. “The goal here was to create marketing and sales alignment around the intent keywords we were going to use to build the new ABM campaigns,” says Kadie Murphy, Digital ABM Program Sr. Specialist. The teams found that digging into their SFDC targeting was particularly helpful in this early effort to refine the TALs. With this information, they were better suited to designate a playbook for each go-to-market that delivered the most relevant content to interested accounts. 

Central to this effort was aligning the marketing message with the target prospect’s level of intent. Put simply, Cadao, Murphy, and the rest of the Okta digital team put a lot of effort into optimizing and refining their ABM campaigns. They:

●  Moved to dynamic lists to make sure account lists stayed up-to-date
●  Activated scoring using RollWorks Fit Grade
●  Regularly connected with sales and marketing on TAL and intent keyword accuracy
●  Frequently refreshed creative with new content and paused low performing ads
●  Tested new ad types and content (HTML5, customer stories, etc.)


Drive Impressive Business Results with Intent Data

“Looking at the numbers now,” says Cadao, “it’s clear we made the right decision when we decided to focus on intent data. The second we put our effort toward prioritizing and reaching the right accounts, it was like a switch flipped.” Not long after bringing in RollWorks to refresh its ABM program with intent-based playbooks, the Okta digital team saw impressive results:

● 17% improvement in click through rate (CTR) 
● 2.7x reduction in cost per conversion 
● 63% reduction in time from opportunity creation to closed deal 
● 22% increase in influenced revenue 

Finally, the Okta team saw that accounts reached by intent-based playbooks converted to opportunity at a 24x higher rate than accounts without intent. These are the hard metrics that Cadao and her team can not only use to continue improving alignment with the sales team, but map to Okta’s broader corporate go-to-market strategies. 

Moving forward, Cadao and her team plan to further evolve their ABM model toward more stage-based content mapping and personalization using intent data. They’ll explore the capabilities and benefits of journey stages and events. And they plan to bring the successes of intent playbooks to other channels—such as landing pages, where intent data might further improve conversion rates—and additional verticals. Says Cadao, “soon, we’ll expand intent-based ABM into other channels and verticals. It’s working. The new logos are starting to roll in.”

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