Hacking the Secrets of Account-Based Marketing, as seen on Acquia

Lynne Capozzi

The historical divide between marketing, sales and IT teams can no longer exist. Digital experience is a group effort, which is why as the CMO of Acquia, I’ve often adopted developer techniques and strategic workflows in my team’s processes. For years, marketing has held Scrum weeks to optimize our time, and we’ve embraced the low-code/no code movement as a way to put the power to create digital content directly in the hands of everyone, not just technologists. So, when I heard about the chance to participate in a “hackathon for marketers,” it seemed like the perfect opportunity to crack the code of some common marketing challenges by adding a fresh perspective. 

I was invited by 6sense to participate in their Reimagine Account-Based Experience (ABX) Hackathon, where Acquia would serve as the company case study for 50 different marketers to craft a unique account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. This global event was a great display of brainstorming and creativity, as well as an amazing opportunity for me to get inspiration for Acquia’s own ABM efforts.

 The ABM plans were judged by an expert panel, including Latané Conant, CMO of 6sense; Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing; and Bryce Nobles, Growth Leader at MX. Teams had just two hours to create and pitch ABM campaigns that spanned multiple channels, tapped into new opportunities and made it easy to reveal strategic insights and measure success. If you can’t measure your impact and back it up with data, it doesn’t exist. So, how did everyone do?

Winning Strategies for Segmentation and Personalization

Across the board, the campaigns creatively pushed the boundaries of customer experience through solving customer pain points and value-based selling. A few standout ideas included the use of interactive content like a persona-based quiz to group prospects into specific skill sets and marketing functions, a website ROI calculator to show users what they can expect by investing in Acquia’s platform to drive their retail digital transformation and lots of educational content, such as storytelling kits for sales to ensure that marketing is mobilizing a cohesive, powerful brand message in the field. 

Everyone brought something strong to the table, but at the end of the day the Hackathon winner (and my personal favorite) was Team 4: The Credible Hulks, who created a multichannel campaign around the theme “Be the Next Digital Hero.” The campaign’s mission was to convince target accounts that Acquia had the power to supercharge how they create customer experiences. The idea of an “AcquiaMan” mascot was also a nice touch. Team 4’s idea focused on using well-known Acquia customer success stories like lululemon and J.Crew as proof points for other curious retailers. They also designed content tracks for different segments supported by our own Acquia Personalization tool. The segmentation strategy grouped targets into different phases of the journey, such as awareness, consideration and decision, and by role: CMOs, CIOs and lower-level marketing influencers. Team 4 chose content based on these designations. For example, those in the awareness segment were served relevant digital ads and blog posts. Accounts in the decision stage received a lot more high-touch attention, including video demos, personalized case studies and hands-on sandbox activities. 

This proposal hit on a lot of what Acquia has already been delivering in our own messaging. Our recent website relaunch was focused on appealing to different researcher personas and guiding prospects down an information-rich, relevant path paved with content and data. The team’s mix of both online and offline channel tactics, including customer Superhero Bootcamps and celebrity guest appearances at events, spoke to the new hybrid experience model we believe will be many retail brands’ top priority as the world starts to re-open physical stores and adapt to differences in customer preferences in a post-pandemic landscape. 

Other teams also presented campaigns that merged the digital and physical experience across the entire buyer lifecycle. Team 3: Renegades suggested bringing all of these different experiences together by using data and technology to construct a continuous customer data pipeline that tracked customer interactions from awareness to purchase. After selecting 370 accounts to focus on for their ABM efforts, they broke their targeting down further into three specific tiers with different levels of engagement throughout the customer lifecycle based on how far along the opportunity was for each account.

 From here, this team used data to calculate potential revenue growth and then based their levels of personalized engagement with each tier to align with the predicted revenue. So, more valuable accounts would receive a hyper-personalized 1:1 approach, while accounts in an earlier stage would be presented with one-to-few or one-to-many personalizations. At Acquia, we also have recommended a similar approach to personalization as part of our Crawl, Walk, Run methodology. Accounts that are less mature begin with more high-level personalized recommendations that eventually grow to be more complex based on future interactions and additional data points. 

Hacking ABM with a CDP

Understanding the impact of each piece of a campaign and how they form a holistic customer experience requires having clear data and measurable KPIs. And while many teams mentioned creative ways to combine tools and tech within their dream tech stack, no one took the most simple path to activating customer data: a Customer Data Platform (CDP). 

Perhaps adding a CDP to the mix is playing on easy mode or gaming the system, but isn’t that what hackathons are all about? A good ABM strategy always starts with data. You need to research potential accounts and develop target customer personas, so you can narrow down where to spend your advertising dollars. A CDP can make this research and selection process so much quicker by combining behavioral data across multiple platforms and systems, both online and offline, so you don’t need separate data tools for each channel. If each hackathon team had begun by saying they’d start by using a CDP for all of their segmentation efforts, they likely would save time on implementation and gain a more comprehensive view of the types of accounts they should target. 

Similarly, when watching the different presentations, a common issue some teams ran into from the judges was difficulty setting KPIs and measuring their progress toward these goals. Proper data visualization and the ability to tie different efforts to impact are incredibly important when tying ABM efforts to revenue. If one of the critical steps to ABM success is to unite marketing and sales, aligning your goals and setting agreed-upon metrics that can be backed up with hard data is one of the best ways to make sure everyone is on the same page. 

Overall, the hackathon was a great exercise in creativity, collaboration and teamwork — qualities that are also essential to running a successful account-based marketing program. As marketers, we can always learn from developer-inspired events like these to try out new, unexpected ideas without being afraid to fail. I’m so grateful to 6sense for giving me the opportunity to observe how other marketers would tell Acquia’s story, and am excited to apply some of what I learned to our own ABM efforts going forward.

Watch the full Reimagine Account-Based Experience Hackathon yourself here

About the Author - Lynne Capozzi 

As Acquia’s chief marketing officer, Lynne Capozzi oversees all global marketing functions including digital marketing, demand generation, operations, regional and field marketing, customer and partner marketing, events, vertical strategy, analyst relations, content and corporate communications.

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