ABM and Choosing B2B Target Accounts

We talked about B2B Account-based Marketing (ABM) in our last DC Marketing Tech Talk.  For those of you new to ABM, it’s a strategic approach where marketing and sales teams first select B2B target accounts. Up first, Triblio CMO Jason Jue explained ABM basics.  Next, Demandbase ABM Strategist Jessica discussed how to plan for ABM.

B2B Targets

Choosing B2B Target Accounts is the First Important Step in Account-based Marketing

Let’s back up and talk about what’s driving ABM adoption.  Triblio gave us some noteworthy background:

  • According to Sirius Decisions, 2% of leads close and 90% stall – this means a lot of waste- wasted money, sales time, and marketing time
  • CEB research reports that B2B products have, on average, 6.8 decision-makers involved in the buying decision.

To reduce waste, improve reach to multiple decision-makers, and boost prospects with those key targeted accounts, ABM technologies are here to help.

ABM Personalization Serves an Optimized Website Experience

Triblio’s account-based personalization on your website is a boon for demand generation.  It works because it delivers a relevant experience for lead generation or lead nurturing.  Also, it allows a prospect to go from an optimized email experience to a website experience that is equally optimized.  Furthermore, it also allows other prospects THAT you didn’t email to get the same personalized experience.  Taken together, it speeds the sale.

As far as a good rule of thumb, Jason Jue wisely pointed out that ABM tactics vary by potential spend.  Use automated tactics using firmographic profiles for smaller deal sizes.  Use “semi-automated” sales and marketing touchpoints for medium-sized deals.  Lastly, maximize the human touch and 1:1 personalization for large deal sizes.

Shift Marketing Budget to Fund Your ABM Strategy

Lastly, Jessica Fewless of Demandbase talked about getting started.

For those who don’t know about Demandbase, it is a targeting platform that uses a patented technology to identify websites visitors.  By using the network IP address, Demandbase services identify the company a visitor works for in real-time.  Marketers can then target online ads to companies that fit criteria like exact company names, industry, revenue, customer status, or products purchased. This means that ads are never served to irrelevant audiences,  thereby increasing the efficiency of the marketing spend.

Meanwhile, to start with ABM, Jessica advised B2B marketers to:

  1. Define target account list
  2. Understand where you have challenges and where is there under-performance?
  3. Determine when and how to budget for ABM

Jessica emphasized that ABM doesn’t necessarily require additional resources.  Instead, it requires a shift of them.  She suggested that it could be rolled up into a website redesign or marketing automation changes.

Finally, in a case study, Jessica described how content syndication, webinar sponsorships, digital advertising, and regional event marketing expense reductions free up about 45% of the marketing budget for ABM.  In that same  case study, prior to ABM, the company closed 9.6 deals for every 100 MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads).  After implementing Demandbase ABM, they closed 26 deals within the same time frame.  As a result of ABM, they nearly tripled their close rate.

So…both speakers made the point that ABM starts with the targeted account list.

How do we choose our ABM target accounts?

The Number of B2B Target Accounts in the USA is Not as Large as You Think

Before we choose those exact B2B target accounts, let’s start with some fundamental truths about the enterprise market.  Check the US Business Census. There are about 18,000 companies with 500 or more employees in the USA.  It’s probably not as as many as you thought.

Take a look at Forbes Global 2000, a list of publically traded companies based on market capitalization.  Notice that number 2000 is SBA Communications.  Also note its 2015 revenues of $1.64 billion.  The fact is simple; there’s a limited number of very large companies and nearly every B2B technology wants to sell to them.  No matter the technology or service, the top of the market is the top of the market.   Hence, there’s a small number of them.

Do we really need to use a data provider like Lattice Engines or Radius to choose B2B target accounts?  If you have good-sized budgets, using a predictive solution might have an ROI.  If you’re a small company with a new technology or solution, it’s probably not the best place to start.

Choosing Initial B2B Target Accounts is Actually Simple

Start with considering market drivers in different industries.  Also, think about how the speed of decision-making varies within industries and firm sizes.  Nothing can replace actually thinking.  Hence, know who might need your product or service.  Research if compliance requirements might drive sales.  Consider whether certain industries can benefit from its features or functions more than others.

After choosing verticals, next think about how many new customers you can serve.  How much supply do you have to meet created demand? If you’re still very small and rapid growing, be realistic.  Think 18 to 36 months out.  If you aim for about 100 closed deals over the next 3 years, then you probably need to start with a B2B target account list of about 400 to 500 firms.

In order to create that actual B2B target account list, start with understanding the population of companies.   Some useful sources are, DiscoverOrg or Hoovers.  Once you see the population of companies, choose a mix of company sizes within selected verticals.  As a result, you’ll build in different buying cycle durations.  which can be helpful in building out the pipeline.

Once you have some experience marketing to your list — after about 6 months — refresh your ABM B2B target account list.  Use your marketing automation and CRM data to remove closed accounts and to add new B2B account targets.

Armed with a track record, consider using a predictive analytics data provider to refresh your B2B target account list.  They kick start your company to a new growth levels, especially outside the US market.

Want to talk about your B2B target account list? Click here



Account-based Marketing to Develop New Tech Markets

Woo hoo!  Account-based marketing (ABM) is the next DC Marketing Tech Talk next week.  At WaveLength Market Analytics, Account-based Marketing is a favorite topic.  We’ve been preaching it long before it got its trendy name.  Since our founding in 2000, we’ve been telling our clients that markets for new B2B technologies are developed by FIRST choosing our targeted accounts.  In a very real sense,  we are one of the pioneers of this approach.

More than a decade ago, we pioneered market segmentation and account-based marketing strategies.

B2B Account-based Marketing (ABM)

B2B Account-based Marketing (ABM) DC and Northern Virginia

At a high-level, we followed the following process for a large networking equipment company:

  1.  Conducted a large primary research survey in the ten largest enterprise technology markets in the world.
  2. Created a K-Means clustering model to create market segments
  3.  Identified 2 high value segments
  4. Conducted a second phase of primary research on high value segments to better understand their values and their financial positions.
  5. Created an account-based marketing target account list of firms that fit our high value segment profiles
  6. Generated demand with the Account-based marketing list AND the control group of firms randomly selected (as so often happens in demand generation)
  7. Our ABM list outperformed the random list on every marketing metric – Open rates, Response, Sales deal Size, and speed of sales

In every metric, the “quality over quantity” marketing strategy beat “spray and pray.”

Since then, we’ve been big, big believers.

Account-based Marketing: Most Effective to Develop New B2B Markets

Not everybody needs to do a half-million dollar project to come up with a good account-based marketing target list.  There are shortcuts – even if it’s a simply a CHOICE to concentrate marketing efforts on one or two industry verticals.

Of course, Account-based marketing is now more than the list of target accounts.  It’s a whole set of technologies to support this approach.  Next week, we can’t wait to hear from Triblio and Demandbase about their view of the world.

All B2B Companies Can Benefit from ABM

Please join DC Marketing Tech Talks  for what’s certain to be an eye-opening night for B2B marketing departments in Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland.  RSVP here and now!


Technology Shortcuts to Customer Knowledge

The last DC Marketing Tech Talk focused on Tips, Tools, and Data to Improve Customer Engagement (CEM).  Probably my perfect vision of what DC Marketing Tech Talks needs to be, two terrific speakers took the stage.  First, a marketer spoke on the importance of customer knowledge to CEM, and an IT professional showed how his firm gathers customer knowledge.

Customer Knowledge Key to Customer Engagement Strategy

Customer Knowledge is the Starting Point of Customer Engagement

First, Rich Toohey, President from Resolvere Insights, defined customer engagement, and why it’s important.  He imparted his words of wisdom and strategies for effective customer engagement programs.  Second, Graham Kerster, Data Visualization Lead from Excella Consulting put customer engagement into practice.  He showed an actual demo of a custom-developed technology platform to engage their application development customers.

To get started, please check out CHIEF’s  great blog called Customer Engagement: So What Is It? I highly recommend giving it a quick read.  However, in the interests of making sure you’re up to speed, here are 3 key takeaways:

  1. Customer Experience Matters and there’s proof a company can spend.  Engaged customers are worth a 23% average premium in share of wallet, revenue and profitability compared to average customers.
  2. It’s All About Employee Pull-Through all employees need to be involved. As we know from our own consumer experiences, one negative experience can caste a dark shadow on years of positive ones.  So consistency and authenticity are critical to the customer experience.  In addition, don’t forget employee training.  It’s absolutely non-negotiable!
  3. Use Customer Knowledge – it’s the foundation of your customer engagement program.

Let’s talk about this third point – using customer knowledge – to improve customer engagement.

If Customer Engagement Starts with Customer Knowledge, What are the Shortcuts?

The obvious place to look for a shortcut is a technology solution. If you have budget, there are great solutions like Clarabridge or Qualtrics. Both solutions offer comprehensive solutions for managing and analyzing social media data, customer data and surveys.  For more the more budget-conscious, there are many point solutions like CloudCherry or BrightInfo that are invaluable for certain objectives.

But what if you’re just starting out with your customer engagement program?

To get your program off the ground, there are two easy ways to listen to your customers.  First of all, use social data.  Easily obtainable and abundant data source, tap into Twitter or Facebook.  Consider using a text analytics solution like DiscoverText.  It’s fairly easy to learn.  It’s also an affordable point solution.  Further, it can help  develop that initial framework for understanding and measuring customer experience.  Most importantly, it’s a well-defined starting point for customer engagement data analysis.

Next, you can cost-effectively use a research panel like QuickTake or AYTM.  With a little more time or money, you can collect information by using a customer survey using SurveyMonkey. In addition, you can step outside your own customer base and buy sample from a research sample provider for your survey.

Great Analysis is the True Foundation of Customer Knowledge

Regardless of the technologies you use to gather customer knowledge– there’s no short cut to making sense of it all.  To start, you simply have to start. Consequently, as more and more data comes available, change and refine over time.

So, want to talk about how to use your company’s customer knowledge?


5 Steps to Great User Personas for More Agile Marketing

The other night at DC Marketing Tech Talks, we talked about Agile Marketing and Product Ownership.  Admittedly, it was an edgy topic – for even fairly technically inclined marketers.  Now nearly 10 years old, Agile is now the established framework for product development. Designed to keep a laser-focus on customers (a.k.a. user personas) at its most basic level, Agile means:

  • Flexible response to change rather than making and following rigid, detailed plans
  • Rapid, small, and well-defined actions replacing long projects
  • Tight, cross-functional collaboration supplanting hierarchy and silos
  • Valuing individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Striving for continual improvement over time

Data-driven user personasIn recent years, Agile has changed a product manager’s job quite a bit.  It’s also now changing marketing, as some of the “marketing plan” mentality gives way to a “data-driven sprint” one.

During the discussion, although hardly a new idea, it became clear that great marketing and great product development share the same foundation.  Both IT and marketing agree that high quality user stories, detailed user personas and thorough understanding of the customer journey are critical to success.

A DC Marketing Tech Talk panelist specifically said companies needed primary market research.  However, in my experience, it is way too slow and prescriptive. Creating reliable user personas is best done by doing a traditional market segmentation project.  It means collecting survey data, large samples, and K-means clustering that segments the market based on values and beliefs.  So how can this possibly be compatible with Agile development and marketing?

How Can You do Market Research and Be Agile?

Let’s take a look at the typical business that follows Agile- a SaaS app.  There’s usually no shortage of user behavior data, marketing automation data, or user stories.  Why not pull of these valuable sources together?

Great user personas steps

List of steps for great user personas – for SaaS marketers

Instead of segmenting on values first, a SaaS app can start by segmenting based on app usage.  Using app usage data, we can create percentile groups.  Let’s call these percentile groups broad user personas.  There’s going to be a top 5% who use the majority of the service.  There will be next a 15% that uses the app a lot, but it highly different ways, but use lots of the features and functions.  The following 20% – they might use it still less, but tend to stick to a more limited set of certain features. The bottom 60% – this broad user persona group probably don’t use your app nearly as much as you’d like them to rely on it.

Each broad user persona, is certain to be composed of sub-segments.  By merging usage data with marketing automation data you can get a picture of the buyer journey.  By merging in user stories, and doing the content analysis, you can find trends in customer needs.  From time to time, flesh out this picture with customer interviews to understand customer values and beliefs.  Analyze these four data sources over time.  Together, they’ll give a clear picture of your customers – of where they’ve been, where they are, and where they’re going.

Remember that User Personas Research is.. on Users

Keep in mind that this isn’t market research.  It’s customer research, as it does not look at the whole market need.  Only a time-tested a values and beliefs-based market segmentation model can do that.   Until your SaaS app grows large enough for this luxury, usage-based user personas are your best bet.


Multicloud Users, or Cloud Pros, Emerge as the Newest Enterprise Cloud Market Segment

Together with Winn Technology Group, the WaveLength team releases the first of its three-volume series, The Continuing Enterprise Cloud Migration Evolution.  Our series aims to help IT, telecom, and cloud marketers better understand medium and large enterprise cloud prospects and customers.  In our first presentation, we look at the state of the market for cloud solutions and how its changed over the last 18 months.

Image of Enterprise Cloud Study Goals

WaveLength/Winn Enterprise Cloud Study Goals

In 2012, multi-cloud users emerged as a segment called the Cloud Pros.   Accounting for about 19% of the sample, Cloud Pros truly lead the way by using four or more cloud solutions.


Changing marketing influence mix: declining industry analyst impact and rise of social media

Just as the cloud is changing IT, the Internet continues to change how to market it.  In the old days, vendors could advertise, speak with analysts, get some trade press, and enterprises would buy.  Marketing has changed a lot with a seemingly unlimited growth in marketing channels.  Reaching and influencing IT and cloud market segments and buyers has never been more challenging.

In this second volume, about the mix of marketing influences per segment, we see clearly that different marketing tactics reach different segments.  Results reinforce that mass marketing is long gone and that the emerging centerpiece of marketing technology and cloud products is content.  Effectively reaching those different market segments and buyers depends on original content packaged in multiple ways for multiple touch points.



WL Announces our 2012 Report on the Continuing Enterprise Cloud Market Evolution

Together with Winn Technology Group, the WaveLength team releases the first of its three-volume series, The Continuing Enterprise Cloud Market Evolution.   Our series aims to help IT, telecom, and cloud marketers better understand medium and large enterprise cloud prospects and customers.

It’s finally here.. catch the first presentation of our three-volume series where we look at the state of the market for cloud solutions and how its changed over the last 18 months.

 Image of Enterprise Cloud Evolution


Does the Channel Understand the Value of Selling your Cloud Service? Show It with This Simple Tool.

Picture of WL CalculatorCloud services…enterprises, vendors, integrators, and service providers everywhere are developing and deploying them. But…what about the channel?  They actually plan, sell, install, and maintain IT – and know the customer.   So, channel partners need to shift, too and it’s in the best interest of the vendor, distributor, and service provider community to help.    In recent months, we’ve started to see some programs.  In May, Avnet launched Avnet Cloud Solutions.   Just last week, an IBM announcement introduced its new initiative to drive increased SaaS sales through its channel partners.  This week, it’s Cisco coming out with its revised Cisco Partner Program that features a managed services channel program and an outsourcing program.

The channel is and will remain a powerful force.  So to make your IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS service successful, arm your channel to go to battle for your business.  Develop a strong revenue generation strategy, and use the Enterprise Cloud Services Revenue Opportunity Calculator to show that selling your cloud service can affect the bottom line.  Jointly developed by model developer WaveLength Market Analytics and HTML5 programmer and designer Webenertia, use the tool to experiment with multiple cost and revenue scenarios.

Access the Enterprise Cloud Service Revenue Opportunity Calculator here:


WL Study for Brocade: High Enterprise Recognition of Value of Two Layer Data Center Network

Brocade posted their last blog on they study we did for them earlier this spring.  Results show the time has come for the two-layer data center network; enterprises have high awareness of the benefits of a flatter data center network.

Chart of Enterprises Buying Behaviors from Brocade IaaS study

Source: Brocade Communications

About 70% of large enterprises and 41% of medium-sized ones say they prefer to subscribe to IaaS and other cloud providers that use a two-layer data center network.

Learn more from their blog at


WL Research Again Featured on Brocade Service Provider Blog

Check out the latest Brocade blog post based on the research we did for them.  This week is about the many new revenue opportunities and ability to differentiate services based on server load balancers.

Table that shows market demand for server load balancing features

Learn more about Enabling Service Providers to New Revenue Streams: Expect Strong Demand for Server Load Balancing-as-a-Service and go to..