ABM Strategy Falling Short? Blame Your Data.

Data is king when it comes to making marketing decisions — or at least it should be. We know that data-informed decisions position us for success in a way that gut, intuition, Ouija boards, and Magic 8 Balls just can’t.

In a marketing context, data is key to driving revenue. It’s what makes it possible for us to know all of these key tenets of account-based marketing strategy and execution:

  • Which markets and industries to pursue
  • What our ideal customer profiles are
  • What kinds of campaigns to run (and to which personas)
  • What content to create (and with what kind of messaging)

If you want your efforts to drive revenue (and we all do), then each one of these decisions should be made based on data, not guesswork. In other words: Know everything so you can do anything! 

So why is it that so many B2B marketing teams are still making their decisions based on hunches instead of tried-and-true data? 

According to the Gartner Marketing Data and Analytics Survey 2020, 54% of senior marketers say that marketing analytics don’t have the influence within their organizations that they would have expected. And that’s not because their organizations lack data or analytics capabilities. It’s because CMOs have trouble drawing the line between data and the company’s bottom line. That just might be because they’re looking at the wrong data, or they have the right data but they’re using it the wrong way. 

Choosing metrics that matter 

As much as we love data, we need to acknowledge that it’s not all created equal. If you’re measuring the wrong things, the resulting information won’t get you very far — and it certainly won’t give you any meaningful insights to help your marketing efforts. 

One mistake a lot of marketing organizations are still making is looking at lead-level metrics instead of account-based metrics. In a recent study, we found that nearly 60% of organizations that claim to be “account-based” are still most focused on generating leads like Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), despite the role an ABM strategy plays in their marketing mix. That means they’re arbitrarily assigning value to activities like form fills, downloads, and click-throughs. If a lead checks enough boxes and accrues enough points, they’ll be crowned an MQL and tossed over the wall to sales. 

But in that same study, we learned that 50% of teams don’t believe their lead scoring processes surface the best leads accurately or consistently. That’s because this point system is unscientific, and won’t be very helpful in predicting an individual’s likelihood of actually purchasing. It doesn’t measure a buyer’s readiness to make a decision. So even with the world’s best MQL data collection, reporting, and analytics, at the end of the day, you’re left with lots of information but very little insight. 

Plus, we know that most buying decisions aren’t made by individuals. Instead, they’re made by buying teams. So data on one individual’s behavior simply can’t provide the insights you need to gauge readiness to make an account-based decision.  

On the other hand, tracking account-based metrics like number of accounts engaged, number of accounts in market, and account velocity through buying stages gives you information you can use. By looking at your historical account-based sales and marketing data — and pairing it with real-time intent and engagement data — you can see when an account meets your ideal customer profile and has just moved to the decision or purchase buying stage. And that’s insight that enables you to predictably grow pipeline and revenue.

If you’re ready to start collecting data that will have a measurable impact on your bottom line (and who isn’t?), here’s a handy chart of the metrics you should be using:

By measuring these account-based metrics that tie directly to revenue, you’re able to see what campaigns, processes, and actions are successful for you so you can repeat them. And that’s the key to predictable revenue growth. 

But tracking meaningful account metrics is only the first step in turning data into gold. The next step is using it in the right way. 

Bridging the data divide  

Tracking the right data is without a doubt a key to the promised land — the place where marketers are able to target the best accounts and orchestrate consistent, engaging experiences across channels that meet their ideal buyers where they are on the customer journey. It’s also where sales teams have all the information they need to engage the most-likely-to-succeed accounts at exactly the right time.

But even within organizations using account-based metrics, there’s a disconnect when it comes time to put the data to good use. In fact, half of all marketing and sales leaders lack confidence in their data’s ability to help them make strategic, account-driven decisions — or to meaningfully engage with prospects at all. 

And that’s because although data is a key to the promised land, it’s not the only one. In most organizations, data is siloed, disparate, and too plentiful for any human to wrap their arms around. It’s coming from different systems — your CRM, your MAP, your customer engagement platforms, and on and on. Without a way to bring all the data together and distill it into meaningful insights, it’s impossible to create alignment, let alone action. 

So the second, and equally important, key to data-based decision making is the right reporting capabilities to help you create a single source of truth. Within 6sense, we do this with tools like: 

  • 6QA Sales Dashboards, which enable sales and marketing teams to align on the best time to engage target accounts.
  • Segment Performance capabilities, which make it easy to measure how effective campaigns and activities are at driving account engagement so you can do things like compare segments, make decisions based on performance data from different segments, and find out which campaigns work best with which segments. 
  • Campaign Performance Indicator, which measures effectiveness of advertising campaigns and prompts marketers to take actions to optimize campaign performance in real time.
  • AI-powered predictive models that enable marketers to predict which marketing strategies and tactics will most likely work based on historical data.

Tracking the right metrics brings in the right data. And having the right tools on board lets you use that data to create intelligent, informed, and aligned strategy. 

Where will meaningful insights take you?

Whether you’re already deep into an account-based journey or are just getting started, getting a firm grasp on metrics is fundamental. If your marketing decisions feel like they’re built on shaky ground, our guide The All-in-One Guide to Account-Based Metrics That Matter, will give you the steady footing you need to start making decisions based on reliable, relevant data — not guesswork.

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