There’s an old philosophical question that’s so familiar, it’s almost a joke: “if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?” But this thought experiment is more serious than it seems. It is an ontological question, interrogating the very nature of reality. The puzzle can be restated as: “if something is unobserved, can it be said to have happened?”
I’m not going deep into the potential philosophical paradox here, but for the sake of this blog post, let’s reframe the question with account based marketing (ABM) in mind: “If your ABM program is influencing your target accounts and you don’t know about it, are you really influencing your accounts at all?” The question is -of course- yes and no.
Yes, your efforts are moving the needle with your target accounts; but the answer is no if you have no way of validating it. Measurement is essential, to both fuel your marketing programs and to understand your program’s impact.
What should you be measuring for ABM?
The three primary things you should be measuring to drive your account based marketing programs.
1) Surging Topics – Madison Logic defines “surging topics” as the topics that accounts are using to research the solutions they may be considering for purchase. You should know which topics your target accounts are researching to customize your messaging to fit your prospects’ unique needs.
When you understand surging topics, it should influence everything you do for an account. Display, content, nurturing strategy, sales, etc. ought to be fueled by terms that match those surging in your target accounts. These will be more resonant, drive better engagement, and are far more likely to drive revenue than generic messaging.
2) Account Penetration – So you’ve reached an account; targeting an IP address can guarantee this reach, but in the end, IP is a scattershot approach. It’s essentially impossible to understand who is seeing your message. The Marketing Director? The mail room guys? Your CEO’s executive assistant? Smart ABM can identify and target the buying committee (they’re the team using the surging topics in point #1).
Measuring accounts validates your coverage within your target accounts. Measuring account penetration will tell you if your program is working or if you need to tweak your tactics.
3) Engagement/Attribution – Truth be told, this is a wide-ranging category requiring the measurement of many moving parts of your account based marketing program. You should be able to track how exposure to your message can be attributed to your site traffic (from your target accounts). With relevant messaging and a smart ABM solution to reach these accounts, you will see a lift in engagement.
Account based marketing is unique in that it allows you to create relevant messaging for your target accounts, but most program fail in their ability to measure success.
Measurement, when it comes to an account based marketing program, must occur at the account level. Knowing the accounts that are surging and their surging topics allows you to prioritize the accounts and customize the message you’re delivering. The deeper your account penetration into a specific account signifies a greater interest in your company. Messaging or content that might be wrong for one account, may be perfect for another.
Think of account based marketing as a pool of water spread over an irregular surface. The water adapts to fill each nook and cranny, but the surface stays level. Well-measured ABM does something similar, sounding out each account and filling each accounts’ special needs while executing with calm efficiency.
The questions about the tree falling in the forest dates to the eighteenth century, but the idea behind it remains relevant for today’s B2B marketer. Marketing without measurement isn’t marketing at all.
Image Courtesy: Kristoffer Söderlund
Learn more about how data works in Madison Logic’s whitepaper, How to Capture Your ABM Audience.