How to Determine the ROI of Account-Based Marketing

When it comes to marketing and sales, the more precise and specific you can get with every customer, the better. Customers want to feel important and recognized by brands, and it is exactly why strategies like personalization are so effective.

Account-based marketing (ABM) is when you target prospects by identifying a point of contact or persona within an organization which you believe you’ll be able to serve the best, build a lasting relationship with them, and then offer an increasingly wide range of services to the account. As you observe how your customers move from phase to phase in the buyer’s journey, you have the opportunity to create more personalized messaging, and also collect better data for improving their experience and increasing customer lifetime value in future.

All in all, ABM shortens the sales cycle and improves your lead conversion ratio. Research from the Altera Group found that 97% of businesses that use an ABM approach saw higher ROIs than with any other marketing strategy.

The problem that arises here is proving just how much ABM is helping. Measuring and reporting ROI has consistently been a top challenge for marketing teams. Account-based marketing processes are also typically quite effort-intensive to establish and execute, given that it is hyper-personalized and requires a lot of data for segmentation.

So, how can your team ensure that you are getting a precise report on the actual return on your business’s investment for account-based strategies?

Clarify your goals and objectives

The only way to know if any strategy was a success is to first set a goal for it to meet. When it comes to ABM, you need to set realistic goals and objectives that are based on your current results and your team’s abilities.

Start off by taking a look at your current scores from whatever marketing strategies you are using-account-based or otherwise-to identify the metrics that could use improvement. You will also want to know the exact numbers for comparison so you can tell whether or not ABM is proving to be more valuable than strategies that have been used in the past.

An ABM MarTech stack should include tools like a content management system, an analytical reporting program, an email automation tool, and a CRM platform. Each of these tools plays an important role in executing ABM campaigns as well as track progress along the way.

If you have already been using an ABM approach for your marketing for some time, it may be helpful to use a solution that has capabilities for account profiling, account validation, account scoring, and tuning your model. Look for a solution with AI capabilities to build account lists (by analyzing millions of data points) for you and ranks them based on predictive scoring.

Assign fixed costs to each campaign

Once your objectives have been set, you need to set budgeting parameters on your strategies. Again, it is important to be realistic here and find a balance between what you want to do and what is actually possible. Don’t expect million-dollar results on a hundred-dollar budget here.

The next step to assign a fixed cost to every piece of content that will make up part of your strategy. This includes billable hours for content creation (for example, hours it costs your content team to write a blog piece or create an email), as well as the cost of publication (paid advertising costs, PPC, and monthly costs of platforms used).

You need to be clear about the exact cost of each piece of content or marketing campaign so that you are able to determine accurate ROI.

Identify metrics that matter

Most businesses tend to focus on revenue-based metrics like growing conversions or lead generation. These are certainly important objectives, but you should also explore account-specific opportunities like impressions, engagement levels, and brand sentiment. These may be a little bit trickier to measure, but they are important objectives that business should focus on, too.

As you set these objectives, consider how they play into your ROI. Obviously, a conversion is a direct return, but just because you don’t see an immediate monetary reward from a marketing campaign does not make it a total failure. On average, customers need to interact with your brand 7 to 13 times before they can be qualified as leads. Therefore, boosting brand recognition and reaching more audiences can help your bottom line later on down the road.

As you can see, the key metrics to track can generally be broken down into two groups: influence on conversions and actual conversions. Be sure that you keep each separate so that you know the exact return in terms of money at the moment as well as the impact it has on potential sales.

So, which metrics matter the most in terms of ROI? Does the reach or views really matter, or do you just want to know the financial impact in terms of leads generated and conversions?

Track closely and adjust along the way

It is obviously tricky to measure the potential impact that your strategies will have. One way to estimate it best is by tracking your content’s engagement, coverage, and focus. For example, you can easily measure the number of accounts who have downloaded your ebooks or followed your social accounts.

Over time, you can create data-sets based on consumer behavior to see the likelihood of conversions that occur when customers follow these behaviors to help you get a better understanding of the long-term influence that your ABM strategies have.

Once all of your goals are defined and metrics recorded, it is best to utilize software to determine the ROI and monitor it in real-time. It is very important that whatever system you use is able to tag and track each and every piece of content or element you create and connect it to a customer account for an accurate ROI reading.

Be sure to pay close attention to these numbers and look for patterns and falling-off points. If certain content pieces are failing to bring in the numbers, adjust and test the results until you find the strategies that work best.

Ace your ABM

As with any marketing strategy, account-based marketing will require a rinse and repeat approach until your marketing team finds the ideal mix that works best for your target prospects. The ultimate goal is to reach and convert the largest number of accounts using the least resources possible. For this, you need to

  • Amass and analyze data that will help you zero in on and convert the best-fit accounts that you can work with.
  • Know exactly how you will work out the ROI of your ABM initiatives.
  • Define KPIs that are comparable with your previous or alternative marketing strategies.
  • Constantly track metrics and refine your attribution model as you grow.

How do your ABM-related metrics differ from your traditional ones? How long does it take for you to identify accounts and convert them? What’s the quantifiable impact on your bottom line? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.


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