Creating content for account-based marketing (ABM)? What to do about unplanned sales
Account-Based Marketing or ABM and what to do about unplanned sales.
An anonymous marketer at Content Marketing World asked, “How do you measure marketing unplanned sales vs. closed won/closed lost?”
Note: Yes, we answer anonymous questions that rank among the Top 100 Questions on content marketing.
What to do when bluebirds appear
Good things happen even when they’re not planned. Call them “bluebirds.”
Sales and Marketing didn’t expect them, but they happened anyway. How should you react to bluebirds in your marketing results?
First, keep bluebirds separate from your other measures – such as planned won and planned lost sales – so that these results stay pure.
Second, celebrate unexpected successes with your colleagues in Marketing and Sales. Bluebirds are proof that marketing is accomplishing even more than intended or expected – making what’s invisible more visible.
Third, learn what you can from bluebirds by conducting a postmortem to figure out what happened.
For marketers, generally, your list of “expected” sales to pursue came from Sales, especially when you’re conducting account-based marketing (ABM).
The appearance of a bluebird means that Sales did not expect a transaction from a certain customer this year because they weren’t aware of the account’s current:
It’s worth doing the legwork to find out why the bluebird appeared and where it came from. By definition, you didn’t know you had this opportunity until you won it – so count it as an unexpected opportunity and a sale.
In some cases, marketing automation can detect new opportunities that are flying just below Sales’ radar. Bring them to Sales’ attention so someone can make a phone call and find out more. For example:
- Did a program’s timeframe get accelerated because of a customer’s new need or strategy?
- Did organizational changes lead to multiple decision-makers where there used to be only one?
- Was there a year-end budget flush – a need to use or lose funds by the end of the fiscal year? That often motivates customers to buy before year-end.
What you learn from these bluebirds will inform your future marketing strategy, particularly for account-based marketing (ABM), the fastest-growing type of B2B marketing today.
Account-based marketing is rising quickly
B2B marketers are putting more budget and effort into ABM to help Sales win specific accounts, driven in part by the pandemic.
ABM is growing big-time, several studies show:
- In 2021, the 2 marketing strategies that are seeing the biggest budget increases are ABM at 61% and content marketing at 60%, says the DemandGen Benchmark Survey. In third place: sales enablement.
- The Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) study found that the pandemic added emphasis to ABM, making it the #1 B2B marketing strategy in 2021.
- Marketers dedicated 27% of 2021 marketing budgets to ABM, ITSMA found.
- 3 out of 4 B2B respondents to the ITSMA survey said that they will increase their ABM budgets in 2022, on average by 13.5%.
Why is ABM growing so fast? Because it works!
- Almost 3 out of 4 marketers (72%) said that ABM has a higher return on investment (ROI), ITSMA found.
- And 70% of respondents said that ABM principles influence the way they do all their marketing, ITSMA said.
At the same time, demand generation and ABM are converging, more than half of marketers acknowledged in a Forrester study.
Many marketers are using two separate platforms for demand generation and ABM right now. They aspire to combine these two platforms into one over time.
Build relationships and brands as you generate demand
To be clear, ABM goes well beyond conventional demand generation alone.
ABM gets 3 big marketing jobs done:
- 71% of marketers apply ABM to build relationships – measured by account engagement, relationship strength, breadth, and depth of relationships.
- 55% of marketers use ABM to gain revenue – measured by revenue per account, sales pipeline growth, deal size, and portfolio penetration.
- 34% of marketers count on ABM to strengthen their reputation and brand – measured by brand equity, perception, equity, and knowledge.
“How do you measure marketing unplanned sales vs. closed won/closed lost?” is one of the Top 100 Questions on content marketing. Here are the answers.