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ABM Reporting: What Actually F***ing Matters

No matter how often industry pros sound the alarm for adopting all facets of Account-Based Marketing (and Lord knows I’ve done it at every possible opportunity), there is still pushback, fallout and confusion over pretty much every component. Especially when it comes to reporting. The advent of new technologies and cuts to budgets in recent years means there’s even more pressure on marketing to deliver big-time ROI, and with ABM being a quality-over-quantity revenue-based model, tracking the right metrics is crucial.

I encourage marketers who push for ABM reform within their own organizations. Executives ask a lot of data-driven questions about demand gen performance, but more often than not, these are still not the right questions. Many executives still find leading statistics like leads or campaign attribution, which give credit to just one department, comforting. For the marketer who strives for more, the job becomes interpreting what’s really being asked and digging into operations to come up with the best answers.

Of course, that implies that databases accurately tell the demand generation story that really matters. Remember, ABM isn’t about getting everyone’s attention, and chasing eyeballs can in fact be to an organization’s detriment because it requires a sacrifice of quality in the name of time. The concepts within an ABM framework are not foreign, but the way they’re approached is different. Marketers who know what to look for in these key areas can experience greater customer success and educate up the chain within their own organizations.

So, what metrics really matter?

Coverage:

This should be your first metric, even though it hardly ever gets looked at from a marketing database standpoint. You can’t talk to people if you don’t know who they are and what they want. How many of the people you actually sell to do you have in your database? This, not your total number of general leads, is the number marketing departments should be incentivized to keep incredibly high.

This number can grow large naturally when you remember that within every target account lies a whole slew of individual decision makers that have a say in purchases. Whether you’re selling a $14 piece of software online to one person, or a $4 million piece of software that requires lots of people coming together on a decision, you have to know your product and look at the health of your database on a coverage and cleanliness basis. Every new insight you gain along your targets’ buyer journeys should be accounted for.

Engagement:

We have the notions of scoring and interest, and engagement is a great way to wrap those up. Who is consuming the content you’re putting out, and what is it causing them to do as a result? You shouldn’t be holding separate conversations to figure out how a customer heard about you, what made them move into the final round, what made them buy more, etc. All of that information needs to be captured in the moment.

Offline channels matter, too. If you’re relying on anecdotes to fill in measurement gaps, you’re doing it wrong. You can’t say, “looking at the data they filled out a contract form, but what really drove them to purchase was that dinner they went to.” You don’t have the time to spitball about true action drivers after the fact.

Penetration:

Along the same lines as engagement, but at the next level. Your qualified leads came to your dinner, then viewed your webinar…but how many are willing to have a conversation as a follow-up? How many first meetings are resulting in second meetings?

Money measures:

How much pipeline marketing is driving and influencing is extremely important to track. This tells you how much value you’re increasing over time and speaks to just how in sync your marketing and sales teams are. Marketers that are only concerned with cosmetic measurements don’t report much on what happens after the initial purchase, but since you care about growing relationships (you do, right?), you’ll track how many customers you’re able to retain and get two dollars out of when you used to only get one.

Revenue Attribution:

Just as important as knowing what makes for quality reporting in ABM is knowing what’s fluffy or useless. There’s a right way and a wrong way to use certain measurements, and the biggest one that gets abused is revenue attribution. Too many organizations use attribution as a credit-based measurement—who drove the purchase: marketing or sales? In ABM, that just doesn’t matter.

Attribution is an insight into target account pipeline, acknowledging there are a lot of touch-points that happen between marketing, sales and other departments along the buyer journey. Measuring impact should be broken down along the journey – what was most effective as a first touch (acquisition), attributive touch (pushing along the journey) and compelling touch (the close). That’s how attribution should be viewed, not as marketing vs. sales “claiming the win” but instead by campaign effectiveness inside the Target Account List vs everyone else.

All of this data is important in an ABM system, and all of it should be reflected in your CRM from the moment it’s known. Start by shoring up your categories of big measurement before you move on to the more nuanced ones to build your intelligence. If you’re doing things right, you’ll have the answers that executives are looking for – even if the questions aren’t quite right. Questions like “how are our online ads doing?” are impossible to answer independent of the entire buyer journey snapshot – something you’ll have a crystal clear picture of if your database is capturing the right stuff.

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