Better than lead scoring! Mathematical!
One of the most powerful aspects of account-based orchestration is how much it builds on real, actual engagement. It’s a key differentiator between account-based and more traditional demandgen funnels.
We came up with a list of burning questions surrounding engagement and put them to Brandon Redlinger, Director of Growth at Engagio. He came back strong, laying out the deeper insights.
If you’re not sure what engagement means from an account-based perspective, you will be by the end of this one! (And how funny is this superhero guy, right? Our friend Kyle would totally wear that hat on a call…)
Why is this different (& taking so long)?
What is the difference between engagement and scoring? Why is one better than the other?
Most people are probably familiar with lead scoring in traditional digital demand generation, which based on things like demographic and behavioral data, so let’s start by defining engagement. Engagement has clearly become a buzzword with quite a few different meanings, many of which have strayed away from its original intention. At Engagio, the term “engagement” is ultimately the time a prospect or customer spends with you.
It’s pretty simple—before someone spends money with you, they’ll spend time with you. The more time they spend, the more likely they are to do business with you—it’s a signal of intent. And the best measurement of time is minutes, so that’s how we get new metric we call “Engagement Minutes.”
Another important aspect of engagement is that it needs to be measured at the account level. The traditional demand gen model is lead-centric and focused on the top of the funnel. It’s a great model if you have a volume velocity business. However, if you’re truly account-based, you know that one of the core tenets is that you must look at things at the account level through the entire customer journey. Larger buying centers, longer sales cycles, a smaller total addressable market, and bigger deals mean that you must focus on quality.
Measuring engagement means asking are the right people (i.e., your key personas) at the right accounts (i.e., your target accounts) spending time with your organization?
Here’s a quick example to illustrate the point: if I tell you Joe Prospect at ACME Inc. has a lead score of 55, do you know what that means? What if I told you that ACME Inc. has 55 minutes of engagement? It’s pretty clear what that means, right?
To reiterate—there’s a time and a place for lead scoring, like B2C or volume and velocity go-to-market models. But if you’re B2B and selling to accounts, then tracking, measuring and influencing engagement is table stakes.
With so much marketing discussion around engagement, why has it taken this long to be used this way?
Many companies are still lead-based, where scoring is a familiar process. It’s a process that gets the job done. Once a lead reaches a certain score, they become a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). This is another term that everyone is likely familiar with and already using.
However, the smart companies that have moved to account-based strategies are beginning to realize that with this new way of going to market requires two things: new metrics and a refined funnel. Since we’re not looking at individual leads anymore, MQLs are no longer relevant. Instead, we now have Marketing Qualified Accounts (MQAs). This is when a target account or discrete buying center has reached a sufficient level of engagement to indicate possible sales readiness.
How does it work (& how do we get there)?
How can we prepare to shift to an engagement model?
Before you start tracking engagement, you have to start with selecting and tiering your accounts. When you select target accounts, you’re aligning sales and marketing around a list of key accounts and existing customers that are most likely to deliver revenue. You’ll use demographic, firmographic, technographic, behavioral and predictive data to help you determine the leads that you should be going after in the first place.
Then you have to tier those accounts. We recommend taking a three-tier approach. This is done best by looking at how many resources you have to invest, then dividing them properly.
There’s how we think about the 3 account tiers:
Tier 1 – Each account gets deep research, a customized plan, personalized content, bespoke campaigns, and lots of one-to-one attention.
Tier 2 – These accounts also get individual research, but perhaps it’s limited to a few key talking points for each account. These accounts may not get completely personalized plays and custom content, but they should still get highly relevant touches based on their industry and persona.
Tier 3 – This segment covers all the accounts that you want to target but don’t have the resources for personalization and customization. ITSMA calls this Programmatic ABM. It’s basically traditional marketing with account-level targeting.
How do Engagement Minutes work?
Without getting too tactical in and in-the-weeds, I want to introduce one more concept that is at the core of our account-based program. At Engagio, we have 3 different account funnels (again, notice that it’s not a lead funnel, it’s an account funnel). Each funnel has a different threshold of Engagement Minutes to become an MQA. Funnel 1 has the lowest since these are our pre-qualified, high-value target accounts. Funnel 3 has the highest threshold since they have a lower value, thus they have to work harder to deem themselves ready to talk to our sales team.
Here’s a closer look at our 3 account funnels.
We also differentiate between smaller and larger companies because there are simply more people to get engagement minutes at a larger company. So smaller companies get a lower threshold because the buying centers are simply smaller.
This is currently how we set up Engagement Minutes internally at Engagio:
How do people overcome the challenges associated with making this kind of change?
I think the most important thing is aligning sales and marketing on the same page. This is a critical element of your Account Based Everything model.
If marketing embraces account-based strategies without deep alignment with and support from sales, the result is a set of isolated tactics that render themselves useless. Ad retargeting, direct mail pieces, or even field events are only moderately successful without full participation and enthusiasm from Sales.
On the flip side, when sales attempts account-based strategies without deep alignment with and support from marketing, the result is a rogue set of junior reps generating their own account targeting, and writing their own emails. They also likely need to double the volume of their rogue efforts in an attempt to improve productivity, usually at the cost of quality.
Once you have alignment from your sales and marketing leadership, the effects will trickle down, making it easier to work with your counterparts. In fact, you’ll want to and enjoy working with them!
What’s it take (& what’s next)?
What does it take to operationalize around engagement?
At an operations and infrastructure level, there is one more important thing you need in place before you can start to properly track engagement: lead-to-account account matching.
Lead to account matching ties all leads to their respective accounts in your CRM and marketing automation platform. If leads are not tied to accounts, how do you measure engagement at each account? If leads aren’t automatically tied to accounts, they’ll get routed to the wrong account owner, won’t get nurtured properly, and ultimately, the customer has a bad experience.
Lead-to-Account matching also gets both sales and marketing speaking and thinking the sales language—the language of accounts.
What’s next for engagement in this space?
I think the rise of real marketing orchestration is next.
What do I mean by “marketing orchestration?” Marketing orchestration is focused on giving your team full visibility into your target accounts, coordinating interactions across sales, marketing, and customer success, then properly tracking and analyzing results with account-level metrics.
Marketing has always been responsible for owning the customer-facing buyer’s journey. The next level is about supporting and enabling sales. This is about providing them with relevant content, messaging, and insights to help the revenue team land their key accounts.
No more sales automation “robo-spam.” No more spray-and-pray tactics. No more working in silos. It’s time to embrace the Account Based Everything revolution!
What should we be doing now to get ready?
The best advice that I can give you comes from Jon Miller, CEO and Co-founder of Engagio, and previously the Co-founder of Marketo:
“The best and most effective organizations realize that Account Based Marketing (and Account Based Everything) is NOT a technology category, but rather a business strategy. If you want to find big returns on your ABM efforts, you must embrace this mindset. After you have the foundation of sales and marketing alignment and move from lead-focused to account-centric, only then can you layer on the tactics and technologies. I’m not talking about automating emails or robo-spamming people. I’m talking about marketing orchestration that leverages highly personalized and relevant touches and uses multiple channels across multiple departments. That’s how you win with ABM.”
Before anyone buys from you, they’ll spend time with you. Now is the time to identify your target accounts and get them tiered if you’ve not already. Get Sales & Marketing aligned and on the same page. It’s engagement time!