Ask the Expert: Meaningful ABM Awareness Metrics with Jeff Siegel, Director of Strategy

6sense Insights

This is part of a series of blog posts that tap into our own ABM experts to guide you through the questions you should be asking when considering account-based sales and marketing technology investments.

If you’re evaluating platforms to launch or scale your organization’s ABM initiatives, one of the questions you’re likely pondering is how to measure the success of digital awareness campaigns targeted at priority accounts.

By its very definition, ABM represents a shift away from the traditional lead-centric view of marketing and sales. Instead of just worrying about generating MQLs, ABM is all about uncovering accounts exhibiting buying behavior; prioritizing based on fit and buying stage; and engaging relevant people that might be part of the buying committee within those accounts through personalized, targeted, cross-channel campaigns. The problem is that traditional display metrics don’t actually help you track the resulting account engagement, refine audience targeting, and grow or accelerate your funnel.

In this post I’ll share my perspective on the awareness metrics that matter most to ABM-focused revenue teams – and why I believe they tell a more actionable and complete story than some of the more traditional metrics you may be familiar with.

The Role of Account-Based Display Ads as Part of an ABM Strategy

ABM is about expanding the aperture beyond just leads to help drive engagement with buying committees across a defined audience of accounts with a targeted, multi-channel strategy designed to engage, educate, and convert. 

Digital awareness vehicles (like display, video, and native) have a unique role to play in a multi-channel ABM strategy. They are the digital lighthouses meant to repeatedly deliver a brand’s dynamic message to a target audience out there on the digital high-seas and guide them home to a brand’s solution. These ABM beacons are uniquely designed to effectively find target accounts on the web and generate the necessary awareness, brand to solution associations, and target audience recall that then encourages deeper engagement across other ABM channels.

ABM at its heart is about targeting the right audiences and coordinating all your channels and tactics around that same audience, and digital awareness is just one element in a good ABM strategy. It’s important to understand the role these tactics play and design around it. Like the billboards you see on the highway, digital awareness channels aren’t necessarily geared towards creating immediate engagement or leads — they’re there to deliver the necessary brand and solution messages that lift the entire customer journey. 

However, unlike billboards, these channels can be highly targeted to unique audiences or parts of your audience and can deliver dynamic messages that adapt to a target account’s behavior. To be truly successful, these vehicles cannot stand alone with the expectation of driving all of your account engagement. Instead, they are meant to work in tandem with other tactics as part of a broader account-targeted strategy designed to deliver superior engagement and conversion yields from a target audience. 

Be sure that you are designing your ABM campaigns to deliver the right mix across the customer journey  — and that you’re leveraging an ABM platform that enables you to not only execute dynamic digital awareness efforts, but also build on them by targeting the same audiences across multiple channels at once and responding to their journey. You need a platform that can create dynamic, highly-targeted audiences and push them across all of your “higher-touch” channels like email, web personalization, content syndication, chat bots, direct mail, and field/sales programs alongside digital awareness efforts to drive pipeline and revenue results from a target audience. 

Key questions to ask your ABM tech provider:

  • What digital awareness channels can you support beyond display? Which of these capabilities are natively supported by your platform?
  • Can I orchestrate multiple channels around the same dynamic audiences?
  • What integrations and partnerships does your platform have with other tech providers in my stack?

Measuring Success with ABM Digital Awareness (and the shortcomings of Traditional Display Metrics)

Digital advertising has of course been around for years, and marketers have grown accustomed to metrics like CPC, CTR, and number of impressions. But while those metrics still have relevancy, they don’t tell the whole story when it comes to ABM display campaigns.

Imagine you’re using an ABM platform to identify and advertise to accounts that match your ideal customer profile, are researching your competitors, and haven’t yet visited your website. The goal is to build awareness and generate engagement. When the campaign ends you meet with the VP of sales and report that the campaign served 50,000+ ad impressions at a CPM of $2.34, and that it generated 100 clicks. 

While these are interesting data points for the marketing team to understand how the program performed, they don’t help a company understand how they’ve meaningfully advanced their target accounts’ journeys  — or help a sales rep prioritize their efforts within those targeted accounts. Maybe the impressions primarily hit only a few large accounts that never engaged, leaving the broader market with little awareness. All a traditional approach has to go off of are the 100 clicks and the hope that some percentage of those clicks resulted in leads, which may or may not be valuable to sales at all since they were generated by individuals clicking on a banner while reading the weather. 

The Value of Meaningful ABM Awareness Metrics

Now imagine the same scenario, but in addition to traditional performance metrics you can also report on the accounts (rather than leads) that engaged for the first time, accounts that increased their engagement, and see how successful the campaign was at attracting a percentage of your target audience to your brand’s site (the account view-through rate). It’s suddenly a whole different conversation and a whole new level of understanding and measuring success. 

Awareness metrics that are truly geared towards an ABM strategy give the marketing team a much deeper understanding of how the campaign impacted the target accounts, and they also help the sales team prioritize their next steps. Whether or not an account received 500 impressions or registered a click as a result of the campaign, your sales team almost certainly wants to know if the account is actively engaged (or even better, increasing engagement), especially when they can understand it in the context of an account’s entire engagement across channels and can use those insights to determine if the time is right to reach out. 

It’s important that your ABM platform provides not only these ABM performance insights, but also the tools for marketers to understand how their display campaigns are performing in an ABM context. It’s critical for marketers to be able to assess how well an audience is advancing and answer the question: of the accounts I targeted, which ones have moved down the funnel after becoming more aware of my brand?

A good platform should also show marketers how their programs are executing. Which sites are ads being served on? Which specific accounts are being reached and engaging? How are account engagement levels changing? A platform that helps marketers understand their programs at an account level arms marketers with the insights they need to rapidly refine their awareness programs and understand the impact they have across their other channels to tune the entire campaign.  

Key questions to ask your ABM tech provider:

  • What performance and operational metrics are available for me to see?
  • How do you track unique account-level engagement results?
  • How can you help me connect my awareness activity to my broader ABM results?
  • Where and how often can I view these metrics?

Summary

Here at 6sense, we believe that effective account-based marketing is ultimately all about increasing meaningful awareness and engagement with customers and prospects in order to accelerate deals and positively impact pipeline metrics. And just like pipeline, awareness and engagement metrics can and should be measured to help you stay on track.

As you start your journey towards launching, expanding, or refining your ABM initiatives, decide on the awareness approaches that will be best aligned to your revenue team’s ABM goals, and be sure to measure the programs with the right metrics to help your team understand the progress made and the impact delivered. And if you’re evaluating ABM platforms, be sure to drill into the metrics and reports you get out of the box with the different ABM platform providers to understand the ways they enable your team to measure your impact and refine your program strategy.

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