How to Track Account-Based Marketing ROI

Learn the right way to track account-based marketing ROI – and prove your value.

“Two roads diverged in a wood / and I took the one less traveled by / And that has made all the difference.” ~ Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

One may wonder what Robert Frost's line meant in a blog post on account-based marketing, but my question is, hasn't "marketing" always been about finding the road that would make all the difference?

While there are numerous traditional ways of marketing, one which uniquely stands out because of its focused approach to B2B marketing is account-based marketing. In ABM, marketing and sales teams work together to target best-fit accounts and turn them into customers.

87% of marketers say account-based marketing ROI is higher than other types of marketing. The tremendous returns from this approach happen because it doesn't just bring you more leads, but the right leads. According to a DemandBase study, companies using ABM for at least one year have seen a 10% increase in revenue, while 19% reported over 30% of revenue growth. ABM is already one of the fastest-growing B2B marketing industry segments – and it shows no signs of slowing down.

This growth has come with its share of challenges for account-based marketers. One big mistake many make is failing to prove ABM ROI. If they can’t show the value of ABM to upper management, they’re told, “You just sell more stuff, OK?” 

ABM is more than account acquisition; it can drive revenue growth, account expansion and customer loyalty.

Yet ABM can also go horribly wrong if you don’t know how to do it right – either by wasting precious time and resources focusing on the wrong accounts or by setting unrealistic goals that are impossible to reach without a healthy budget behind them. Knowing how to set and track ABM ROI is the key to success.

How Does ABM Increase ROI?

The right ABM strategy helps to increase ROI by concentrating on the highest-value potential accounts and delivering personalized content through the most relevant channels. This approach requires you to leverage more profound customer knowledge than ever before and optimize your content, sales process and lead nurturing tactics for each account. The idea of customer first is why ABM target account deals are 2.3X bigger than deals resulting from other channels.

Modern ABM must be about account expansion, account retention and account loyalty. The goal is to deepen relationships with the accounts your company already has – loyal ones that trust your brand and recognize its value. That’s how you shift from thinking of ABM as a transaction-driven initiative aimed at closing new deals with targeted accounts into a relationship-focused approach designed to win new business, increase revenue from existing customers and drive customer advocacy.

Your ABM strategy should tie directly to company goals and align with sales teams because they are crucial stakeholders. Account-based marketing is often seen as a sales initiative. However, despite knowing all the great things that ABM can do, we are yet to address the elephant in the room. No, not your boss, but how to calculate ABM ROI.

5 Steps to Measure Account-Based Marketing ROI

Strategies can vary widely from company to company, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to calculating ABM ROI. For marketers who want to save their careers (and a lot of heartaches) when pursuing ABM tactics, here’s what to do.

Step 1: Focus Your Energy

ABM is all about focus, so before you can even think about ABM ROI, you need to know who you’re talking to and what you want them to do. 

  1. Know your ideal customer profile (ICP) and back the knowledge with research and analysis on customer and industry trends. To create your ICP, you should study customer profiles to learn about the typical traits of those customers – their size, account age, industry verticals they operate in, average account revenue per account type (P/L), company size, and other firmographic insights. Businesses with a robust Ideal Customer Profile have a 68% higher win rate than those without them. Therefore, choose your customers before they choose you!

  2. Set a clear target account list (TAL), which often means being ruthless about your target account selection. ABM is valuable because it’s a skilled strategy that excludes those who aren't likely to be making decisions on account spend or buying your product category shortly. Thus, make sure your ABM efforts are targeted at the right accounts to maximize ROI for marketing investment. 

  3. Choose your KPIs wisely. KPI alignment can feel like a grind. But launching without proper tracking is uber grind-y. Account-based marketing KPIs are varied, but they all share one goal in common: helping you prove to your C-suite and stakeholders that ABM works for your business. Determine what KPIs will measure customer value, including account expansion, account retention, account loyalty and other important factors and build your ABM strategy around those metrics. 

Focusing your energy in the right direction is half the battle when it comes to tracking ABM ROI – and creating a successful program. 

Step 2: Set Your Budget

Set realistic budgeting parameters. Ask yourself, “What is the value of a contact in account A?” or “What are my leads worth per account type and industry?” The answers will help you better allocate your resources. Then you need to account for that cost in your budget. 

Some ABM tactics and strategies may be more costly than others, such as setting up a data management platform (DMP) or developing account-specific content around specific business pain points. Assign a cost to each piece of content or campaign.

Step 3: Use the Right Tools

ABM is a sweet mix of TALs, Tales, and Tools. Everything else will fall flat if you have not developed a solid relationship with your target accounts. 

Picking the right ABM tools is essential to your strategy and to measuring ROI. You need a platform that can support ABM tactics from keyword research to nurturing. Your tools must be able to collect and compile data for you on your target account list and help you deliver relevant content via personalization methods. 

At a minimum, you need a CRM integrated with marketing automation software. In addition, some highly effective ABM tools are 6Sense, Terminus, Triblio and Engagio. You can also build your own custom analytics tool. 

Step 4: Measure Frequency

You need to follow your campaign closely and measure frequently so you can refine your tactics. Measuring ABM performance helps you determine if you’re moving the goalposts in your account and improve other parts of your ABM strategy. Indeed, marketing is too dynamic to let you feel it's done and dusted.

Step 5: Create Your Report

Ready to impress your C-suite executives? Create and present marketing ROI reports in a way that speaks to their concerns. Apart from showing account growth, expansion and retention, you can also include ABM goals like increasing the number of closed deals per account, creating more pipeline opportunities into top-tier accounts for your sales team, etc. Reporting done right is a sexy beast that makes everyone look good.

AMB Isn't A Strategy You Initiate to Sell More Stuff, But To Earn Your Customer's Trust

ABM is a fluid program made up of many campaigns with different purposes. Some drive awareness, some are full-funnel nurture campaigns, and some induce bottom-of-funnel activity for sales, but what matters is how it makes a difference. Following the steps above, you can set and track account-based marketing ROI for your CEO and feel proud of your efforts.

Remember, the customer is king, and orchestrating sales and marketing to deliver a highly personalized experience is what will add to the bottom line in the long run. There is a lot more to unravel, and we are here to help you understand how to create a successful ABM strategy. 


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*Special contribution to this article provided by Eric Ramos, Director of Analytics.