'CMOs must champion the customer,' advises Steve O'Neil Director at Agent3

We had the opportunity to explore the best way to leverage Account-based marketing strategies in the digital era, through this interview with Steve O'Neil, Director at Agent3. Read on to find out new digital marketing trends to look out for in 2022, and how CMOs and enterprises can best leverage them in their initiatives.

The need to build impactful, engaging and differentiated digital experiences that hold attention and convert became an imperative during the pandemic.

MEDIA 7: As an expert developer and a leader in digital ideas, what is your view on how marketers can use ABM as an approach to embrace the digital age?
STEVE O'NEIL:
B2B engagement in the digital age has historically relied on fairly broad, “spray-and-pray” tactics, with huge budgets being wasted on generic, catch-all campaigns, often centered around driving engagement with a particular solution to anyone who will listen. Targeting is often generic, focusing on personas or seniorities, and whilst an acceptable number of leads will usually be generated, it’s pure luck as to whether or not they have the authority to influence, accelerate, or sign-off any deal. The application of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) principles is a more intelligent approach to revenue generation and will eventually become commonplace in B2B engagements as organizations look to deliver outstanding Account-Based eXperiences (ABX) using digital technologies.

By leveraging a combination of intent data sources and signals to prioritize a set of key accounts; organizations can focus purely on these accounts, treating them as a market of one. With key contacts engaged on their terms, via the right channels with hyper-focused positioning and messaging in a creative and impactful way, engagement with the right people will be supercharged, pipeline velocity accelerated and better, more measurable outcomes that can be tied back to key business objectives, will be driven. This demonstration of ROI will then make the case to scale the approach through further investment.

An additional consideration is that B2C marketers have understood for some time that, in order to drive adoption or sales of a product or service, the consumer experience - which starts with digital communication - needs to be highly personalized. So if those same consumers - you and I - are now used to experiencing heavily personalized digital experiences in their personal lives, they will expect the same level of sophistication in their professional lives too. The ABM approach to digital and building out true ABX, therefore, is a fantastic opportunity to bridge this gap.


M7: According to you, what are some of the different ways to build an effective ABM program?
SN:
Every organization will have different expectations for its ABM program. Prior to starting your first ABM program, it’s worth conducting an ‘ABM Maturity assessment, which will provide a baseline from which progress and the evolution of your approach can be demonstrated back to leadership. Once you’re ready to begin, setting meaningful objectives is an important first step that helps focus the mind on what the business expects as a return on the investment in their ABM program. Once this is understood, a basic measurement framework can be deployed as part of the ABM program to demonstrate success, proving the business impact of ABM.

Successful ABM programs tend to comprise the following: strong account segmentation so that the right accounts feature in the program from the outset; solid foundational account-level intelligence and intent data; account-specific positioning & messaging; outstanding creative experiences that differentiate from competitors; a highly optimized RevTech stack that can be used to deploy superb; hyper-personalized account-based experiences that supercharge engagement across the entire lifecycle, and a robust measurement dashboard that makes it quick and easy to attribute and report success to multiple levels of seniority within the organization.

Read More: “There’s a tremendous opportunity and interest in growing renewables”, says Jeff Kirchick, VP of Sales at Colossus.


The application of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) principles is a more intelligent approach to revenue generation.



M7: What are some of the different ways the role of a CMO has changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
SN:
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of organizations globally almost overnight. Campaigns and messaging that had been working, became irrelevant. Marketing budgets were diverted to digital or significantly reduced and face-to-face events, a staple for many organizations in their engagement strategy, stopped. The need to build impactful, engaging, and differentiated digital experiences that hold attention and convert became an imperative. The challenge for the CMO was in galvanizing the organization to achieve this in a creative way, deploying the experience via the right smart technology. After all, if your competitors are attempting the same thing, how do you, as the CMO, ensure your organization stands out amongst the noise?

The CMO has always been responsible for delivering growth, but having navigated an incredibly challenging, volatile, and uncertain time during the pandemic, they are now seen as the guiding lights for digital transformation, tasked with driving sustainable and profitable growth through the delivery of outstanding, engaging and impactful omnichannel customer experiences. CMOs must champion the customer. And those who build resilient, agile, diverse and inclusive marketing organizations, capable of evolving with the times, embracing new technologies and acting as a catalyst for innovation will ultimately succeed in this new world.


M7: What are the different ways Agent3 helps its clients maximize their ROI and revenue?
SN:
Agent3 is a technology and services business. This means that we provide the ABM consultancy and strategy that a client would expect from a global ABM agency, but we back this up with expertise deployed via a specialist model comprising teams with deep expertise in Advisory, Insight, Positioning & Messaging, Content & Creative, DemandGen, RevTech and Measurement. This flexible model helps support clients to deliver globally scalable ABM programs in the most agile way possible, maximizing their ROI, accelerating delivery of revenue from key and named accounts, whilst delivering an unparalleled customer experience.

Read More: Duda’s Anton Shulke says “Make the product you want to use, only then the customers will value it” 


The CMO has always been responsible for delivering growth, but having navigated an incredibly challenging, volatile, and uncertain time during the pandemic, they are now seen as the guiding lights for digital transformation.



M7: At Agent3, how do you track and report on your ABM efforts?
SN:
Agent3 is experienced in supporting organizations to navigate the challenges of measuring ABM, ensuring that clear business objectives are defined for the ABM program at the outset. We then ensure that the correct attribution model is in place, that data flows to the right places from an ever-evolving tech stack and a robust ABM measurement framework exists. Using this framework, an ABM dashboard that clearly demonstrates the success of ABM programs, tying account-specific outcomes back to the pre-defined business objectives, can be deployed.

As approaches to account-based experiences (ABX) evolve and the expectation that the customer experience should transcend marketing becomes more prevalent, the need to measure the entire customer lifecycle has become increasingly important.
Agent3’s pioneering research and development is leading the way in supporting organizations to make this transition, ensuring that the approach to effective measurement in ABM and/or ABX remains best of breed in an ever-changing, digitally transformed world.


M7: According to you, what are some exciting digital marketing trends and developments to look out for in 2022?
SN:
There are a number of areas in tech that I’m excited about in 2022 - areas like AI, machine learning, and the metaverse will be fairly aspirational for most organizations, whilst the following feels more achievable for most:

The rise of hyper-personalization at scale to deliver omnichannel, contextually relevant engagements and a superb, account-based experience to multiple contacts in key accounts who may be on multiple journeys at once, e.g: engaging with a website, ad, or email, whilst exploring a renewal or cross-sell opp with customer success or sales. Those organizations that manage to achieve this type of engagement will generate superior insights and deliver account-level success faster.

The convergence of DemandGen tactics and account-based principles to supercharge engagement within key accounts. This approach provides a blend of laser-focused tactics to engage the right contacts, at the right time, with the most impactful message, whilst surrounding the account with the appropriate level of aircover to land and expand the key messages across influence and decision making groups. Such an approach supercharges engagement, accelerates pipeline, and streamlines the delivery of campaigns through the use of technology across the lifecycle.

Deployment of more sophisticated, blended intent models that help dynamically prioritize accounts for specific account-based tactics, usually as part of a responsive ABM model, whilst providing the foundations to predict future revenue and growth opportunities within the account, setting the right foundations for engagement on the contact’s terms.

ABOUT AGENT3

Founded in 2013, Agent3 is the global leader in the field of true end-to-end ABM and account-centric marketing programs informed by insight and data and driven by audience-focused content. With customers including Salesforce, LinkedIn, Pure Storage, Intel and Sony. Agent3 has offices in London, Cheltenham (UK), Woodbridge (UK), Sydney, Sofia, New York, Seattle, Dubai and San Francisco. Agent3 helps its customers achieve more, and better, opportunities for greater wallet share, engagement and perception change by combining constant innovation across data, technology and creativity for its proven ABM programs.

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