I like to say that relevance is in the eyes of the beholder of your messages. They, not you, define what they’re interested in.
MEDIA 7: You have been active in the B2B space for about three decades and have driven revenue for various organizations. Being a CMO of MRP, how do you look at the transformation of the B2B market?
MARK OGNE: The complexity and speed of B2B marketing continue to accelerate, particularly for the enterprise. Digital is at the center stage, which has forced marketers to reevaluate every aspect of their programs - from data management and intent to channel orchestration, sales hand-off, and close. At the same time, marketers must support go-to-market changes, new product lines and new regions, and prepare for changing economic conditions while making sense of the ripple effects of the massive disruption caused by the COVID pandemic. It’s an incredibly dynamic time - but also an exciting one!
The competition for attention is fierce as marketers must learn to stand out amidst thousands of daily digital messages. Companies must demonstrate an understanding of their audience’s needs on a more granular level than ever before. To make meaningful connections with prospects and customers amidst these changes, ABM initiatives need to shift their focus from trying to define needs, a top/down vision, to instead identifying needs at the account, and now even buying center level, and use those insights to deliver truly personalized experiences. Ones that are defined by the audiences, a bottom/up vision. Demonstrating relevance at this depth, at scale, and globally, is a steep challenge – but the definitive opportunity in the market right now. I like to say that relevance is in the eyes of the beholder of your messages. They, not you, define what they’re interested in. As a marketer, it’s your responsibility to identify those needs and to use them to make it easier for buyers to do what they do best buy.
One major positive trend is that account-based strategies are rapidly maturing as a practice – and not a moment too soon. Primary research from MRP and Demand Metric finds that the percentage of companies who consider their ABM programs to be fully adopted versus experimental has grown to 45% – up a third compared with 2020. Yet revenue impact can remain elusive, 83% of enterprise marketers report the pace of their campaigns has intensified over the past year. And, as the channel mix continues to change and data management intensifies, more than a third (42%) admit they’re still struggling to execute successfully.
M7: How do you target content to your audience, and what challenges do you face while producing effective content?
MO: High-performing ABM is - has always been - about the audience, their needs, and their experiences. High-performing content is content that’s personalized based on the needs of each account, and adapts to fit changing concerns during lengthy buying processes. It’s also tightly orchestrated, personalized across channels and platforms, cutting through siloed data and channels to ensure that all messages work together to create a symphony, not distorted, discordant noise.
When it comes to delivering on this promise, we face many of the same challenges as our enterprise client base. We are a large, global company with several hundred employees in 11 global offices, and 40% of our clients are based outside of North America. So we are very attuned to the needs for sophisticated personalization, advanced orchestration, and multi language support, to name a few. Looking at our content strategy as part of true omnichannel engagement, we’re laser focused on controlling ABM processes across teams and real-time triggered connections. We invest in the creation and versioning of content that specifically addresses the needs of each target account, the languages of their region, and adapting that content across the course of their buying process.
We use our own MRP Prelytix platform to train AI/ML models to prescribe recommended content and channels, as well as prescribe the next best action step and trigger that response. Prelytix also allows us to create dynamic audiences, and segments, and then automatically trigger engagement action in multiple channels, as well as control personalization of the content and messaging across these channels. We’ve been extremely successful with this approach, and espouse it to our client base, yet we aren’t totally alone at using this approach. In fact, high-performing marketers are 3X more likely to use a platform that automatically changes content across channels as target account needs change or the target account advances in their buying journey.
Read More: Intent data can highlight your target accounts' problems and interests, says Marc Laplante, CEO and Co-Founder at Intentsify
Approach ABM as a team sport and ensure a mix of job roles and teams across the organization are involved in program execution.
M7: As an industry professional with extensive experience in Marketing, according to you, what are some of the different ways an Account-Based Marketing platform like MRP Prelytix helps businesses expand their businesses into untapped marketable sectors?
MO: Despite their long history, ABM platforms have largely focused on solving simple top of funnel needs for an SMB organization. Creating a new array of siloes in the tech stack, these technologies lack a solid connection with other platforms, focused on channels, and have a tremendous bias against regions outside of North America. Creating new acronyms, like ABX, hasn’t changed this siloed, top/down vision, especially for the enterprise, where they don’t address their core challenges at all. Large organizations typically hold abundant data sets on their target accounts. Unfortunately, this data, the most important of all data, is disconnected from their ABM efforts and left unused in the process of creating insights necessary to discover target account needs, drive impactful orchestrations, and measure actual target account engagement as it exists across the enterprise.
Next-generation ABM platforms like MRP Prelytix allow enterprise marketers to simplify the enterprise operating environment, take control of data, and leverage every channel at their disposal to connect with target accounts and surface new opportunities. With Prelytix, marketers can harness account intelligence beyond intent data, in multiple languages, with full geographic context, to indicate buyer location and buyer centers, with predictive analytics and account scoring to prioritize accounts and identify and time the next best action across all their channels. Marketers using MRP can act on this intelligence in milliseconds, connecting with newly identified target accounts and buyers almost instantaneously, with the right message to engage their goals and interests. For example, in milliseconds, a B2B marketer can bid, win and personalize display advertising while simultaneously personalizing website content to reflect a buyer’s location, language, stage and interests for a seamless, high-value experience as a buyer progresses along the purchase path.
M7: How has MRP's Channel Enablement been delivering results in the channel for the largest and most complex companies in the world?
MO: Everything I said about increased B2B marketing complexity is amplified in the channel environment. Here, you have what can be called “two-step ABM.” That is, instead of the enterprise marketer having an array of product-level constituents on one side and an audience on the other… they also have another set of constituents between them and their accounts, their partners. An unrestricted stream of intelligence is the only means to make ABM work in the channel environment. This means a single shared data source with open lines of communication between sales and marketing, both at partner and vendor levels.
MRP has been delivering results in the channel for the largest and most sophisticated companies in the world, since our inception 20 years ago. Through the MRP Prelytix platform, innovative omnichannel programs target new partners and support existing ones based on account level intent and predictive scoring, as well as renewal or competitive data. Programs can be executed across 8 channels, performance tracked directly into a CRM system, delivering full control of MDF, conversion, and pipeline objectives.
One great example is our work with a major global technology brand to transform their channel marketing program to a digital-first approach. When COVID-19 pandemic first hit, this company’s channel partners lost their main engine for driving success: in-person interactions with prospects at events. Working with MRP, the company executed a new virtual program, now considered its best-performing National Solution Provider (NSP) campaign to that date, that delivered over $33.9 Million in deal registrations for one category and a 94% increase in year-over-year deal registrations across all partners.
Read More: ABM perfectly complements sales and marketing strategies, says Tim Kopp, CEO at Terminus
To ensure cohesion and control at every stage, marketers need to take a full-funnel approach that extends through post-sale.
M7: What is your go-to approach for personalization in ABM, and according to you, what is the best way to tackle the challenge of controlling multi-channel messaging?
MO: At MRP, we talk about “putting the ‘person’ back in personalization.” This means coordinating content and messages across channels based on their individual needs and buying stage. This is completely different than other platforms, that use limited intelligence, like simple intent data, and fragment the personalization experience by having this knowledge used in one platform, or one channel at a time, rather than the actual customer experience as it exists across all their marketing channels and platforms.
To accomplish this, we aggregate all account-based data into a single source of truth that can be accessed by our teams across the globe on a single, shared platform. The Prelytix platform applies next-generation insights, predictive analytics, and lightning-fast ML to identify signals across the buyer journey and prescribe the next best actions to influence the buyer’s journey. Then robust omnichannel orchestration capabilities allow us to consistently deliver the right message across the right touch points based on target account needs and the appropriate product or solution area.
To ensure cohesion and control at every stage, marketers need to take a full-funnel approach that extends through post-sale. Unlike startups, companies operating at enterprise scale have an existing customer base whose capabilities and needs can be uniquely addressed. Forrester Research recently noted that B2B marketing organizations are now “moving beyond focusing primarily on acquisition” to concentrate on upsell, cross-sell and retention. So, it is imperative to customize and target content according to the stage of the individual customer’s buying journey. MRP Prelytix enables this high degree of personalization by integrating CRM data with incoming data signals and AI-powered predictions to highlight which customers are open to new offers.
Thinking global is another way to keep omnichannel messages on message and operating in perfect sync. Most ABM platforms and solutions fail to reflect the complexity of enterprise companies’ international efforts. Technology is often built on a base of American English, and the AI algorithms that ingest intent and power predictive analytics often fail to account for other languages. To capture every opportunity, enterprise marketers need technology that is multilingual and multitenant at its core. This gives individual marketing teams the autonomy to localize campaigns, strategies, and objectives, while still coordinating insights and data at the account level across the enterprise.
M7: What would be your essential advice for marketers struggling with establishing a substantial ABM strategy in their organizations?
MO: My advice is to focus on research rather than conjecture or best practice that really looks more like a thinly veiled platform user guide. Earlier this year, we partnered with Demand Metric on an in-depth primary research study of more than 1,200 marketers across four continents. This research identified an elite group of companies (23%) that report significant revenue impact from ABM and benchmarked the specific practices that set these leaders apart from their lower-performing peers.
Based on this data, my first piece of advice is to approach ABM as a team sport and ensure a mix of job roles and teams across the organization are involved in program execution. Nine out of 10 ABM top performers report close, cross-functional collaboration between marketing and sales to create ABM strategy and include more roles in ABM initiatives. These roles encompass generalists such as ABM leads and specialists such as product marketers, creative experts, and business intelligence professionals.
The second is to double down on data - and data management. Among ABM leaders whose initiatives deliver significant revenue impact, 80% reported three or more systems contributing data to ABM. Still more, 84%, say their tech stack is very or completely integrated – almost the percentage of those with negative or unmeasured ABM impact. These high performers are twice as likely to use multiple data sources, like intent data and predictive analytics, alongside their CRM and MAP data to create account profiles.
Finally, set your focus on matching messages to needs – at scale. Thanks mainly to sophisticated data management processes, ABM leaders orchestrate their programs to personalize messages to a higher degree across more touchpoints. 84% of ABM leaders use three or more systems to deliver marketing messages, and nearly half (56%) automatically adjust content to match viewers’ engagement stage within the customer lifecycle.