ABM Expert Guide to Measuring, Testing and Reporting Engagement Data

“Engagement” is a term in ABM that’s being thrown around loosely these days. What does engagement actually mean? What does engagement actually look like? Most importantly, what can we actually do with this engagement data?

Measuring engagement means asking, “Are the right people at the right accounts spending time with the right people in your organization?” After all, engagement is one of the best leading indicators that an account will buy.

But it’s not that easy.

You can’t just send more emails, expect more clicks, then expect someone to buy. You must look at the quality of your engagement and determine if it’s increasing over time.

In this post, we’re going to look at engagement at the account level, and how the people who are engaged influence your deal.

The Road to Engagement

The touchpoints in ABM are essentially the same as they are in lead-based marketing, but with one major difference: touchpoints should be account-centric, and everything should be taken into consideration when looking at an account.

Take the example below. Notice that there are no people associated with this chart, so we’re looking at the account as a whole. This is critical because according to the CEB, there are now 6.8 decision-makers in the average B2B deal. If you’re using a lead-based approach, you’ll look at leads independently. That means that it will be very hard to piece together all the different touchpoints into a cohesive sale.

engagement at the account over timePeople matter in a deal. This is the core of ABM, and it’s why we care when the touchpoints happen and with whom. Departmental engagement is critical, because not only do we want to be in touch with people in positions of authority (CXO, VP, etc.), but we also want to be talking to the people in the right departments. For example, if you’re selling primarily to marketing, sales engagement doesn’t hurt, but it shouldn’t be viewed equally to engagement from the marketing team.

The chart below illustrates an example of how engagement can flow in an account. It’s important to see when the spikes in engagement are happening because those are correlated with important account milestones, like MQA, Opp Created, and Opp Won.account engagement flowThe Role of Influencers in a Deal

There are usually two main types of personas in a buying cycle: decision-makers and influencers. Most direct marketing campaigns target the primary decision-maker, but what often gets overlooked is the important role of influencers.

Think of the last product your group purchased. Were decisions made in a vacuum? Or was there a group discussion? Chances are, there were meetings, and the product was compared and contrasted with similar products before the group reached a buying decision. It’s important to engage your influencers early in the sales cycle because they often have a lot of sway in that group decision-making process.

This is a critical mistake even the best organizations will sometimes make—be sure to treat your prospects like an account and not a party of one.

How to Influence the Influencers

The best way to engage influencers is to actively run dedicated campaigns around them. The objective of an influencer campaign should be to portray thought leadership and establish brand awareness in their minds early on.

B2B deal cycles are notoriously long, so it’s important to understand which way those influencers are leaning as the ABM campaign progresses. This can be done by measuring whether engagement is increasing or decreasing. If it’s increasing, your ABM campaign is running correctly. If it’s decreasing, then you want to attempt to sway them back to your camp. Using relevant content and personalized messaging in your ads is critical to establishing a positive sentiment among those influencers about your product, well before you attempt to make a sale.

If influencer engagement is decreasing, you want to adjust your content and messaging to deliver a more personal and relevant experience.

Your influencer campaigns should be reviewed against your decision-maker campaigns to understand the effectiveness of each. You may want to tag each campaign differently to isolate them as you review marketing metrics.

influencer campaign
Adjusting ABM Campaign Budgets Across Content and Channels

Programmatic spend should be measured against its own channel and also against other channels. You should be reviewing these metrics weekly.

Individual channels need to be optimized to perform at their best. You should understand how well offers are performing within their own peer groups, as well as micro-optimizing campaigns and testing for impressions, clicks, and acquisitions or downloads.

Generally, when looking at the performance of different content in the same channel, you’re optimizing them at a micro level. You usually don’t want assets to be out there for longer than three months, and it’s best to refresh graphics every month or two (if you have the resources to do so). There are diminishing returns on every graphic and offer, so keep your content fresh. People, especially marketers, become banner-blind.

A/B testing is always a good idea, especially when a 10% or 20% uplift can make a big difference. There are many elements of your campaign that are worth testing, including CTA, copy, length, graphics, etc.

Measuring content across different channels is a bit tougher in the sense that the metrics across channels vary. For example, you may measure the impact of executive dinners differently than you would social media ads and personalized outreach.

The key to measurement across channels is to find common metrics that all campaigns can be held accountable to.

Engagio has published an entire ebook around this, but for a quick refresher, here are the top four metrics for ABM success:

Coverage: Do you have sufficient data, contacts, and account plans for each target account?
Awareness: Are the target accounts aware of your company and its solutions?
Engagement: Are the right people at the account spending time with your company, and is that engagement going up over time?
Reach: Are you reaching specific target accounts? Where are you wasting your efforts?
Influence: How are the ABM activities improving sales outcomes such as deal velocity, win rates, average contract values, retention, and net promoter scores?

Also, since ABM is, by definition, account-centric, all the metrics change. All person-level metrics should be assessed at the account level:

lead centric to account centric
How to Interpret the Data

Interpreting data is perhaps the most challenging part of successful ABM measurement. For optimal results, it’s best to look at the data without any bias, rather than trying to find data that supports a preconceived conclusion.

This is an example of a scorecard you’d want to keep at key accounts. The numbers correspond with the total number of people you have in the database for a given company (both leads and contacts) and how they’ve progressed through milestones for this given campaign.

example scorecard

With these visuals, you’ll be able to easily spot where to double-down on your efforts in terms of getting accounts to engage.

Here are some more tips for interpreting the data:

Do it in a group. People draw different conclusions, so ask a colleague to go through the data with you to make sure nothing has been missed.
You don’t need a stats degree. It’s important to know the general concepts, like statistical significance. However, B2B sample sizes are generally smaller, so directional significance works much of the time.
Identify actionable takeaways. Data is just data if you don’t use it in a meaningful way.
Use visual charts like the ones above. Most people fare better if you display the data in an easy-to-read manner. Try color-coding things.
Avoid jargon and keep it simple. Especially when dealing with executives.

What and How to Report ABM to Executives

These days, marketing leaders are fluent in metrics, analytics, and reporting. Marketing technology has enabled marketers to measure every single action a prospect can take, turning conversion into a science. However, with the transition to account-based efforts, we need to reconsider how to think about reporting metrics to the executive team and the board. Since there’s a greater focus on quality than quantity in ABM, you must balance the art with the science.

Reporting the effectiveness of your ABM efforts to your board is essential. Here is the ABM scorecard with metrics that we use to report on our ABM programs.

abm scorecard

At its core, engagement describes something fundamental about the customer’s connection to your brand. Higher degrees of engagement mean a deeper connection and, potentially, greater commitment. Said another way, more engagement is a sign of a more meaningful relationship, and that’s what ABM is all about.

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