Most Account Based Marketers Are Not Measured Fairly

Published on November 24, 2023 by Sawyer Middeleer

Most Account Based Marketers Are Not Measured Fairly

Account-based marketing (ABM) has become a buzzword in B2B marketing circles. Its personalized approach, tailored to fit the unique needs of specific accounts, promises higher returns and better customer relationships. Yet, despite its growing popularity and potential yield, a disquieting trend has emerged: many account-based marketers find that the metrics and KPIs by which they are assessed fail to capture the essence and full value of their efforts. This raises a serious question: Are account-based marketers being measured fairly?

The Challenge of Measuring Account-Based Marketing

The core of the problem lies in traditional marketing analytics. Most are designed to evaluate broad-reaching digital campaigns focused on lead generation volume, traffic growth, and conversion rates. These metrics are poor fits for ABM, which emphasizes quality over quantity and long-term engagement over immediate conversion.

In the pursuit of this strategy, account-based marketers invest significant time and resources into nurturing a relatively small pool of targeted high-value accounts with tailored, multi-touch campaigns. Comparing the performance of ABM to more conventional marketing efforts using the same yardsticks not only falls short of an accurate review but also fails to appreciate the intricacies involved in ABM strategies.

Understanding the ABM Measurement Gap

ABM demands a nuanced understanding of both the sales cycle and customer relationships. The strategy commonly revolves around a few key tenets:

  • Personalization: Activities are tailored to specific accounts, reflecting a profound understanding of the client's business and industry. This granularity is not easily quantifiable.
  • Engagement Over Transactions: ABM focuses on building relationships and engagement rather than pushing for a sale at the first opportunity. Sales take time, and the true influence of ABM might not be immediately apparent.
  • Sales and Marketing Alignment: ABM's success relies on close coordination between sales and marketing departments—a dynamic that traditional metrics often ignore.

Integrating Qualitative Measurement

Without incorporating qualitative assessment, organizations risk undermining their account-based marketers' achievements. Nonetheless, capturing the subtleties of high-level engagement is complex. It's no surprise then that, whereas digital marketing can proudly parade numbers, ABM effectiveness often manifests in less tangible—yet equally critical—business outcomes such as stronger relationships and market influence.

Rethinking KPIs for ABM

To fairly measure account-based marketers, businesses need to evolve their KPIs to reflect the ABM philosophy. This might include:

  • Account Engagement: Time spent by key account stakeholders with your content or team, indicating the depth of relationship and potential influence over purchasing decisions.

  • Influence on Pipeline Growth: Contribution to sales pipeline, taking into account not only direct sales but also influence on decision-makers and deal velocity.

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Measuring the value of accounts over time, rather than just the value of individual sales, can highlight the success of nurturing long-term client relationships.

  • Account Retention and Expansion: Successful ABM often leads to increased account retention and opportunities for upselling or cross-selling, which traditional lead-focused metrics often overlook.

  • Brand Advocacy: The ability of marketers to turn accounts into brand advocates who actively refer and support the business.

Real-world Challenges Encountered by ABM Practitioners

Let’s take an example—consider Jane, an experienced ABM practitioner. She has been diligently working on a campaign tailored for a key account in the tech industry. Despite her efforts leading to deeper engagement with the account and positive feedback indicating an inclination toward a long-term commitment, her performance evaluation is disheartening. The reason? Traditional metrics that focus on lead count and immediate revenue, factors that her nuanced and long-term strategy doesn't maximize quickly.

Jane's case is not isolated. Many account-based marketers face similar challenges, where their success is masked by the inadequate, somewhat myopic, metrics that fail to account for the long-term value and strategic insights they bring to the table.

Instituting New Metrics for ABM Assessment

In recognizing the impact of account-based marketing strategies, companies need to implement a repertoire of ABM-specific metrics. These might include:

  • Account Penetration: Percentage of individuals reached within a target account.

  • Deal Influence Score: A composite score considering ABM's impact on various stages of the sales process.

  • Strategic Account Growth: Growth in account size, considering both financial and strategic dimensions.

  • Quality of Interactions: Sentiment analysis derived from interactions with targeted accounts, often involving advanced analytics and AI tools.

Embracing a Culture That Values ABM

It's about creating a culture wherein these nuanced metrics are not only measured but also valued. Training sessions for both marketers and their supervisors that emphasize the long-term benefits of ABM, along with an organizational realignment that supports ABM practices at every level, can reinforce this culture.

Moreover, account-based marketers should be empowered to advocate for recognition of the unique contributions of their strategies. By clearly communicating the objectives of ABM and the milestones to be achieved, marketers can also set benchmarks that are aligned with both their tactics and the company's long-term goals.

Conclusion

If businesses want to reap the full benefits of ABM, they need to refine their performance evaluation frameworks to account for the strategy's unique characteristics. Only by adopting metrics that measure deep engagement and long-term relationships can organizations begin to fairly and accurately assess the contributions of their account-based marketers. In an environment where quality often trumps quantity, a fair assessment could make all the difference in nurturing a successful ABM strategy.

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