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Account-based Marketing

The New Metrics For ABM: Finding Your Best Buyers Among Your Target Accounts

At the heart of any good account-based marketing program is laser-focused account targeting. However, we often overlook the fact that we are still marketing to people. We work hard to win the hearts and minds of individual buyers with our marketing efforts. But marketing’s real goal – ABM or otherwise – is to educate and influence those buyers so they’re more qualified to have a conversation with sales.

So, if the goal of marketing is to educate buyers, why do we often fall short? Less than 1% of MQLs actually close. Clearly, something has to change.

Traditional metrics that determine sales-readiness at the contact or the account level, are clicks or downloads. But what these data points fail to highlight is which companies are really in the throes of researching a purchase and which have accidentally clicked on your ad or landed on your website. Plus, a lot of this data is skewed thanks to bots that mimic the same actions and trick the tools in our martech stack.

Today, we tend to treat all accounts that show any sign of life the same. But the true indicator of sales-readiness lies in how educated a buyer is. If all of your amazing ABM targeting gets people at your target accounts to click on your ads or visit your website, but none of those people stick around and actually consume any content, can you really call that campaign successful? And, even more importantly, would that account really be worthy of sales’ attention? By looking at the volume of actions and not the quality of them, we fail to truly understand which accounts are demonstrating buying behavior and which are simply getting caught in our ABM net

So what metrics really matter when it comes to sales-readiness? Ask yourself these key questions to identify when prospects are ready to be passed to sales and watch your ABM content delivery strategy take off.

1. How much time are prospects spending with the content?

To really gauge the interest and intent of the people at your target accounts, the leading indicator is content consumption. Simply put, real buyers don’t spend significant time with content about products or services they have no intention of purchasing. Now and then, you might click on an ad, end up on a website, or download a piece of content even though you have zero intention of buying the product that company sells. But you would probably never spend three hours reading Consumer Reports about cars you don’t plan to buy, for example.

The amount of time your prospects spend with your content is a direct indication of their level of interest in becoming more educated and, ultimately, buying. Meet Bob the buyer–he’s engaged with several content assets for more than 13 minutes. That’s a meaningful amount of time and a clear indication of sales-readiness! So to really understand the intent of your prospects, shift your focus from the click to what happens after the click.

Cartoon man sitting at a desk looking at a computer with icons indicating content assets floating in the space beside indicating he spent 7 seconds reading a third-party report, 6 minutes reading an eBook, 2 minutes reading a blog post, 24 seconds watching a video, 32 seconds viewing a web page and 4 minutes viewing a PDF

2. How many assets did the prospect consume?

Another key component of content consumption is the number of content assets a prospect views in a single session. The larger the number of content assets consumed, the more educated a prospect becomes. Sally here only viewed 3 assets compared to our friend Bob who engaged with 6. A sales call with a more educated buyer, like Bob who’s clearly interested to learn more, would be a much more effective call.

A cartoon woman sitting at a desk looking at a computer with icons floating in the space next to her indicating she spent 1 minute reading a blog post, 7 seconds viewing a website, and 4 seconds viewing a PDF.

The job of your content isn’t to convince people they have a problem that needs solving, it’s to help solve a problem they already have. It makes sense, then, that someone spending time on multiple pieces of content is searching for something and deriving value from your content–and those are the buyers that have ‘sales-ready’ written all over them.

3. Who is consuming which content?

There are typically several stakeholders within each account, but not all of them have the same decision-making power. Do you pay attention to who is consuming which pieces of content, and why?

Let’s say, for example, that a mid-level manager from one account spends time with some high-funnel blog posts and a whitepaper, but a VP at another account consumes a handful of low-funnel content like case studies and product spec sheets. Those two accounts are clearly in different stages of the buyer journey. Prioritizing accounts that have more senior stakeholders consuming the right content at the right time is a huge step toward better sales and marketing alignment.

Digging into who consumes which content before they buy also helps ensure there are no gaps in your buyer’s journey. Encouraging buyers to consume the right content in the right order (and making it easy and intuitive for them to do so) is a surefire way to speed up sales cycles and improve win rates at target accounts.

In this ABM world, we do such a great job of targeting our ideal accounts we shouldn’t be surprised when they get caught in our net – they click on our ad, arrive on our website, or engage with our social media post. But this means we need to do a better job of uncovering the signals of account interest and intent. Identifying the natural behavior of a qualified buyer and alerting sales when an account is showing real signs of readiness is key to creating valuable customers from target accounts.

Written By
Elle Woulfe
I'm a revenue focused marketer with expertise in digital marketing and demand generation, brand management and go-to-market strategy. Equal parts creative wonk and marketing nerd, I love the art and science of integrated demand gen and marketing operations. I enjoy bringing sales and marketing teams together through shared process, goals and KPIs. I've made it my mission to make sure B2B marketing isn't boring.

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