ABM is already the mainstream – and with good reason.
But the ABM environment is intensely competitive. Over 94% of today’s revenue teams have active ABM campaigns – or are planning to implement one. With countless players, capturing the attention of priority accounts is anything but straightforward – and measuring the influence of campaigns is no easier.
With the sharp rise of account-based marketing, B2B marketers can no longer rely on their traditional analytics to tell the full story. In this article, we break down five key ABM metric categories that create visibility into strategy, execution and ROI.
Why do ABM metrics matter?
Account-based marketing is an entirely different initiative to traditional demand generation programs, and therefore requires its own set of analytics.
ABM metrics are tailored to the unique characteristics and objectives of 1:1, 1:few and 1:many programs, which seek to create personalized, long-term relationships with a select group of high-value accounts. Traditional sales and marketing metrics, on the other hand, are often broader in scope and more focused on a wider audience and immediate results – such as opportunities and pipeline.
While leads and conversions remain critical, ABM relies on a more expansive, overarching focus – here’s why:
How to measure account-based marketing
Identifying the right metrics for account-based marketing is a significant challenge because the goalposts have moved. ABM teams need to focus on business impact across the funnel, rather than exclusively measuring activity and output.
ITSMA, one of the originators of the ABM approach, groups metrics into three umbrella categories for practitioners looking to continuously deliver results. These are known as the “Three R’s”: Reputation, Relationships and Revenue.
Strengthening brand reputation for accounts and the impressions of the experiences your business offers. Built on improving credibility in the account’s eyes.
Building stronger connections and bonds with key influencers and decision-makers. Understanding brand champions and blockers that can influence the sales cycle.
Quantitative, conversion-focused metrics that measure the strategic outcomes of ABM programs: lead generation, return on investment (ROI) and return on effort (ROE).
Businesses looking to excel in ABM need to become increasingly mature in at least these three categories. Our process is expanded to include a further two critical additions: readiness and reach.
ABM execution can be slow, complex and unwieldy. If poorly coordinated, businesses can invest heavily into single accounts that never convert, despite their best efforts. Conducting a readiness assessment is therefore foundational to ABM success.
Readiness refers to your ability to enable and scale ABM initiatives, considering the capabilities and resources that contribute: budget, capacity, data, headcount, leadership and alignment. It includes metrics that can directly influence (or interfere with) your ability to implement, deliver and scale ABM beyond current achievements: retention rates, employee churn, onboarding and ramp rates, performance analytics and more.
Forrester break down readiness into six key areas of assessment:
Reach assesses your business’ ability to target and initiate conversations with specific accounts. It considers the depth of account intelligence and contact data, the number of target accounts marketers can reach, and the contacts they can reach within those key accounts.
Measuring reach should be second nature to most digital marketers – though it can vary in sophistication. Newcomers to ABM may start benchmarking reach by the volume of contact data and opt-in rates. More seasoned strategies would consider the reach into the entirety of the buying unit at an account, tiering and segmenting based on each contact’s ability to influence a deal.
Forrester estimates that there are between two and thirty people that influence purchasing decisions – and at least 10% are external influencers. More mature ABM teams have succeeded by benchmarking reach into the outside influences that can move the needle on brand perception – like acquaintances, competitors and business advisors.
Example ABM reach metrics include:
- Identified decision-makers
- Opt-in rate
- Contact addresses per account
- Number of known external influencers
- Volume of contact data
Reputation paves the way and eases the buying decision for high-profile accounts. It’s essential both for near-term sales and longer-term growth potential. As countless brands move into new markets, introduce innovative products and dethrone competitors, ABM leaders desperately need to strengthen their reputation to rise above the noise.
Measuring what key stakeholders see, hear and know about your offering is not as black and white as understanding brand equity, awareness or market ownership. In the context of ABM, it is extremely narrow-focused. It means building the right reputation among a concentrated group of decision-makers who need a very specific perception to endorse spending. That perception may be worlds apart from the way a business has gone to market previously.
Reputation is built on three core considerations from target accounts: priority, awareness and knowledge – and this can be quantified. Many ABM teams choose to run targeted surveys and interviews with key account stakeholders in existing clientele to assess their stature and begin benchmarking metrics such as CSAT and NPS. By moving the needle on the satisfaction of existing customers, businesses are able to boost their chances of client advocacy and quality referrals and sway brand influence in very targeted directions.
Example ABM reputation metrics include:
- Engagement rate
- CSAT scores
- NPS scores
Accelerating high-value business requires a strong rapport with key executives – something that doesn’t happen overnight. The shift to ABM and its inherently longer sales cycle has resulted in a greater marketing spotlight on relationship building. In fact, 92% of B2B marketing leaders state that building relationships in the C-suite is more important than it was two years ago according to ITSMA.
Conversely, measuring relationships has typically been beyond the marketing scope, traditionally sitting within the remit of sales teams. Now, working ABM relies on sales and marketing working in tandem to create and enhance those important relationships within key accounts – and this can be measured beyond just simple response rates. At a more sophisticated level, ABM leaders can attempt to score based on the depth, breadth and quality of key account relationships: Are contacts engaged in marketing efforts? Are they accepting invitations to events? Are they participating in active discussions around your product or brand? Do you have 1:1 relationships with key executives or influencers?
It’s equally important to understand the value of a single relationship, as B2B purchasing decisions rarely fall on the shoulders of a lone decision-maker. Decades of research by Forrester have pioneered the concept of a “demand waterfall,” which argues that marketers should measure relationships in the context of “demand units” – not just individual leads. Multiple demand units may exist within a single account, so ABM teams need to understand, map and benchmark the strengths of relationships across numerous stakeholders and external influencers to measure the true impact of their programs.
Example ABM relationship metrics include:
- New executive introductions
- Executive meetings
- Event interactions
- Sales team satisfaction
- NPS scores
Revenue is the key outcome that all ABM marketers are inevitably focused on, quantifying every ABM-focused activity until the program’s end. Measuring ABM contribution to revenue is not always simple. It can be complicated to understand the influence of the reputation and relationship stages uniquely. Attributing impact and revenue gains to sales or marketing efforts can be equally challenging, given the complexity and length associated with this sales cycle.
Measuring revenue should be considered in the context of success and alignment: Did your combined targeting, marketing and sales efforts deliver the desired outcome? That doesn’t always equate to direct bottom-line earnings. ABM outcome can be broader, including strengthened account ties and greater credibility that potentially influence future deals – if not achieved in the present.
What is equally valuable are the learnings gained. Assuming a campaign is successful, you can assess where a deal is signed, understand how prospects interact through content and cadences and attribute buying decisions to touch points across the customer journey, and then focus or optimize accordingly. Benchmarking pace or velocity of revenue is a practical way to drive faster gains and enhance process improvement in this regard.
Example ABM revenue metrics include:
- Revenue generated
- Revenue retained
- Customer lifetime value
- Contract size/value
- Velocity of revenue
Measuring ABM: Key considerations
Looking to outsource?
At Harte Hanks, we’ve been innovating and executing ABM for over 10 years. Our intelligence-based ABM enables businesses to keep momentum with an optimal blend of insights and talent. We drive more intelligent, personalized and scaled ABM initiatives to deliver key account-based goals, including:
- Improving account penetration & uncovering opportunities
- Changing perceptions and developing new positioning
- Pursuing major opportunities
- Targeting new high-potential accounts, or new business areas within existing accounts
- Helping and enabling sales and account teams to be more effective
Our ABM strategy adopts a three-step process:
Enabling companies to start or revamp their ABM with solid foundations. Creating base campaigns, plays and content.
Delivering day-to-day ABM activities, designed to build reputation and expertly scale relationships at target accounts.
Enabling businesses to quickly scale up. Complete engines/programs with strategy, playbooks and resources.
Contact us today
Client-facing, results-orientated, strategic leader – specialising in B2B services, products, marketing and revenue generation with a track record of commercial and operational success at VP/Senior Director level.