Crafting a more holistic marketing approach based on better sales and marketing integration is helping Hewlett Packard Enterprise improve account based marketing (ABM) and better engage key target accounts.
In 2014, Hewlett Packard split into two divisions, HP inc., the consumer business, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), the B2B arm of HP. Adam Benaroya, senior manager of global media at HPE, notes that at the start, the new organization felt like a “$50 billion start-up,” because at launch it was building its marketing structure from scratch alongside some legacy systems inherited from the shared infrastructure.
“We needed to rethink the B2B adtech and martech stack and [consider] what we needed, particularly around ABM,” says Benaroya.
Many of the sales and marketing teams in the new organization had account lists they wanted to activate with digital marketing techniques, but because of the size of the company there were decentralized strategies in place which were somewhat limiting.
‘We had too many lists from too many parts of the organization,” says Benaroya. “Sales alignment wasn’t always realized at the start of programs, list quality was questionable and any one account might sit in multiple programs at the same time.”
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Having access to customer data is critical for ABM success, no matter how large an enterprise your marketing team is managing.
“You can’t expect to find customers with a promising lifetime value and [create] an ideal customer profile without accurate data,” wrote Kristina James, director of marketing at MRD, in a recent article for Chief Marketer. “Putting in the time to research and evaluate data with a fine-tooth comb will also improve your demand gen campaigns. Suddenly, all of your outbound marketing will have the potential to be more personalized.”
The issue of siloed data, coupled with questionable list quality, added up to the true promise of ABM being near impossible for HPE to realize, notes Benaroya. “We needed to decide the best mix of campaigns and messaging to accounts but there was no holistic company strategy related to ABM.”
ABM success relies heavily not only on integration between various marketing channels, but on integration between all involved departments within an organization, marketing, operations and analytics teams, says Rene Asis, head of B2B measurement at LiveRamp, which works with HPE.
“The ABM journey has become more advanced,” he says. “The struggle is attaching channels to ROI signals, to see if your efforts are making a difference.”
A recent report from Ascend2 notes that while 65 percent of marketers see their ABM efforts as “somewhat successful,” only 29 percent describe their ABM initiatives as best-in-class. Not surprisingly, the highest percentage of respondents said that their primary objective with ABM was to increase existing account revenue (56 percent). But, not everyone is apparently succeeding in this goal: over a third (39 percent) also cited this as a top challenge for ABM success, topped only by increasing accounts and contacts and improving sales and marketing alignment (43 percent each).
HPE’s marketing team started to work closely with the sales teams, to help prioritize which accounts would be targeted with ABM strategies, in the process trimming down the number of individuals who would be involved in that decision making process.
The company has the luxury of a large data scientist team, notes Benaroya, which gives HPE access to propensity modeling to determine which accounts are currently in market. The goal was to manage the ABM process in a holistic way and create a clear strategy across both the entire portfolio of HP products and the target accounts.
“[Then], account centralization can be applied to the rest of our marketing work [in digital and beyond], whether it is events or any other type of analog marketing program going into market,” he says.
The more holistic marketing approach is helping HPE optimize media investments for new products, and prevent multiple siloed marketing efforts targeting a particular account at any time. The marketing team now had a list of account segments that matched back to the U.S. sales team roster which, when coupled with sales propensity models, would help target the messaging mix across different markets.
It can take time for companies to determine what success looks like for ABM, says James. “Traditional metrics, like the number of leads generated, for example, aren’t as important. KPIs change, and it’s hard to know upfront how many opportunities will be generated or how much pipeline is needed to fill the funnel.”
“In the past we had platforms that allowed us to activate” but these were siloed, says HP’s Benaroya, who spoke at Connect to Convert recently. “We wanted to measure full digital activity and [increase our] measurement capability across all digital channels to see what activity was turning into leads.”
The Ascend2 survey of 293 marketing professionals found that in ABM more isn’t necessarily better. Forty-five percent of respondents said that managing fewer than 50 contacts was the most effective with ABM; 40 percent said they were working with 50 to 500 contacts, and only 15 percent said they worked effectively with over 500 contacts in their ABM program. Sales revenue, cited by 67 percent, was far and away the most effective metric used to measure ABM success, followed by qualified accounts (41 percent) and account engagement (38 percent).