Solving the last-mile problem for ABM

ABM brings marketers one step closer to 1:1 marketing unlike the previous generation of email marketing technologies, which have led to more undifferentiated spam and declining engagement rates. The promise of ABM is that the outreach from marketing and SDR organizations will be contextual and aware of the specific challenges facing target companies. Contextual conversations will lead to higher engagement and ultimately more conversions. Having good account and contact data is critical to having contextual conversations.

The quality of account information has improved by leaps and bounds in the last five years as more and more companies have established a digital presence, making it easy for scrapers to collect public data about them.

Meanwhile the quality of contact data has been slower to improve for a number of interrelated reasons including: 

  1. Industry structure (vendor space is fragmented) 
  2. Diversity of collection methods (there is no silver-bullet method that guarantees quality & quantity) 
  3. Ambiguity on legality of collection methods (e.g. scraping LinkedIn or Yelp is illegal, yet some vendors routinely find workarounds)
  4. Ambiguity on legality of usage and sharing rules (e.g., different countries have different definitions of personally identifiable information)
  5. Lack of standard metrics by which data coverage and quality are communicated (e.g., the standard metrics - accuracy or # of contacts are too broad and not specific to the context of the user)

As ABM goes mainstream, marketers can't afford to use poor quality contact data anymore. Wrong data leads to undelivered emails, missed opportunities, and eventually friction with the sales team. To ensure that ABM programs are successful, marketers should take four actions:

  1. Characterize the contact source: In characterizing a contact source, there are three independent factors that matter: i. Account Coverage - What is the coverage of my target accounts? How many of my target accounts do we have contacts for? ii. Role Coverage - What is the coverage of my target roles? Filtered for my buying persona, how many of my target accounts do we have contacts for? iii. Profile Depth - What is the depth of coverage of each role? For each profile, what do you know beyond email and phone number? (e.g., their interests, qualifications, past employment history, etc.)
  2. Understand how the data was gathered: Every contact source uses one or several of the following data-collection methods: i. Exchanging business cards, ii. Scraping social sites (LinkedIn, Yelp, etc.), iii. Calling the company directly, iv. Using an app to passively collect data, v. Pooling contact data from common customers, vi. Aggregating data from a number of vendors and cleaning it with AI/machine-learning/manually. As you would expect, the three metrics - account coverage/role coverage/profile depth are different for each of these collection methods. For example - calling the company leads to very good results in the enterprise segment but can't scale to mid-market or SMB. Meanwhile scraping social sites leads to greater profile depth but can be light on account coverage in many industries and geographies.
  3. Validate a random sample: There are a number of validation services available that can call your contact or try to deliver email. If you are running a high-ASP campaign, this is a must-have. The cost of validating contact data is far lower than that of your sales rep trying to prospect into a bad contact.
  4. Diversify your contact providers: After you have taken steps 1-3, you will likely find that there are entire segments of your target market that are lacking on role coverage and profile depth. This is especially important at large companies that tend to have multiple products in different geographies and segments. You will have to use different contact providers to make sure you have right coverage and depth across your entire target market.

In "The Martian," Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) lives on a potato-only diet for a few hundred days. A single contact provider strategy is akin to living on a potato diet - it may be fine for a single product business focused on a single segment, but it won't scale for an Enterprise business targeting multiple segments with different products. Getting account coverage, role coverage and profile depth right across every target segment is critical to delivering on the promise of ABM.

*This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Written by

Shashi Upadhyay
March 15, 2017

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