As the marketing landscape evolves, businesses are increasingly adopting Account Based Marketing (ABM) as a targeted and strategic approach to engage high-value accounts. With its emphasis on personalized and relevant content, ABM has proven to deliver impressive ROI and foster long-term relationships with key customers. However, the effectiveness of an ABM strategy hinges on the proper implementation and execution of the right tactics. How can organizations optimize their ABM efforts to drive success? In this interview series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Thomas.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! To begin, can you share a bit of your backstory and how you got started in your career?
My background includes roles as both an agency consultant and a sales executive. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, I began my career helping F1000 clients grow their marketing contributions to increase retention, optimize their technology stack, and tell the story of their business contribution more effectively. All of this led me to where I am now at Madison Logic in a role where I not only oversee the marketing team’s account-based strategies but also put my experience to work by influencing other marketers to adopt ABM as their own go-to strategy.
What are three strengths, skills, or characteristics that helped you to reach this place in your career? How can others actively build these areas within themselves?
- Adaptability. So much of life—both professional and personal—is about being able to adapt to changing environments. Being too stuck in needing to have something one-way impedes growth. Be flexible to change and success will find you.
- Humility. No man is an island. Success can be a lonely place if you haven’t surrounded yourself with smart and capable people to share it with and attribute it to.
- Curiosity. I will never stop learning, and never stop looking for ways to improve.
What inspired you to focus on account-based marketing, and what results have you seen from this approach?
Account-based marketing (ABM) just makes more sense. In today’s economy, marketers need to be more effective while also becoming more efficient due to tightened budgets by engaged the growing list of buyers who are facing similar constraints to acquire new solutions. As a result, we can’t focus on everyone all at once. Marketers need to be smarter about identifying the right accounts, prioritizing who to engage within them, and the content and messaging needed to move them toward and through a purchase decision.
Today’s most successful marketers are leveraging solutions like intent data to give their teams focus, while actually driving better results in terms of revenue impact by orchestrating multiple channels to deliver a consistent message regardless of where that audience is spending their time or consuming information. We’ve seen it in our clients’ results when executing these types of ABM strategies, which average a 32% lift in account engagement and 28% faster sales cycles. Those metrics are what marketers are being held accountable to, and it’s hard to replicate those types of results without a focused effort.
How do you identify the right accounts to target, and what criteria do you use to determine whether an account is a good fit for your ABM strategy?
Every successful B2B marketing strategy begins with data. According to Gartner, the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to 10 decision-makers. With this many people involved in the purchase decision, data is key to identifying the accounts actively in-market and the people within these trending accounts who are researching and engaging with relevant content and messaging.
We’ve found the best results come from a combination of multiple data sources, including buyer research activity, technographic install base data, and an overall look at historical engagement for related solutions to create a clear picture of the accounts and buying committees demonstrating the highest propensity to purchase.
What is your process for creating personalized content and messaging for each account, and how do you ensure that it resonates with your target audience?
Personalization goes beyond simply addressing a customer by their name. It involves tailoring the entire customer experience to match their unique preferences and interests. This is another place where data plays an important role. Data enables marketers to create highly targeted ABM campaigns that speak directly to their target accounts' needs and pain points. As each decision-maker flows through the buyer's journey differently, it’s important to adjust content and messaging accordingly at their individual pace.
This level of personalization with tailored content and messaging will increase the likelihood of engagement and conversion. By leveraging data to match content to the buyer’s mindset within their customer journey, marketers can balance the brand-building necessary for long-term revenue growth. This level of personalization with tailored content and messaging will increase the likelihood of engagement and conversion.
Ongoing observation and measurement of how your content and messaging performs against defined business and campaign objectives is the greatest indicator of account engagement. Measuring performance continuously throughout the campaign—not just at the end—allows you to quickly identify trends, adjust strategies, and make data-driven decisions that will improve its effectiveness. And with better data-driven insight into account engagement, you learn exactly how they move through the sales cycle to correlate content and messaging with their progression through the buyer’s journey with better precision.
What role does technology play in your ABM strategy, and how do you leverage tools like AI and machine learning to improve targeting and personalization?
From third-party intent and technographic data to CRM opportunity data and the behavioral history that often lives in marketing automation platforms, marketers today have more access to data than ever before. Yet many struggle with integrating and analyzing all this customer data from disparate technology platforms. Marketers must focus on deconstructing these data silos with tools and ABM platforms that safely collect and unify the data to reveal insights into which accounts to engage and how to engage them.
Great systems combine an organization’s first-party customer data with their proprietary historical performance data to better understand the buying centers actively engaging with content and advertising relevant to a solution. The best leverage that account intelligence to activate targeted multi-channel ABM strategies and continuously measure campaign performance for optimization opportunities. This cycle of ongoing identification, activation, and optimization made possible with technology drives higher ROI and pipeline impact.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology has revolutionized marketing and sales, forever altering how we think about the customer experience. The technology's powerful predictive analysis capabilities make it an essential tool for marketers creating personalized content and messaging at scale. By embracing future trends, B2B marketers can stay at the forefront of data-driven ABM and maximize the effectiveness of their campaigns.
But while it’s important to adapt to emerging technologies continually, we must also be aware of its limitations. Teams must view AI as just a tool, not an extension of themselves. The only way that companies can stand out among the competition is with content and messaging unique to their brand and the specific needs of their target audience. You still need access to quality data to effectively apply the ideas and personalization necessary to reach buyers.
How do you measure the success of your ABM campaigns, and what metrics do you track to evaluate their effectiveness?
ABM strategies must be constantly measured, tested, and optimized to see the results. Instead of looking at vanity metrics like impressions, open rates, site visits, and downloads, we focus on data points that help drive improvements over time. This includes pipeline volume, velocity changes, and the measurable value an account provides.
Since ABM is viewed as more of a marathon than a sprint, the focus needs to be on real-time measurement of how the account progresses through the buyer’s journey and the identification of optimization opportunities throughout.
This is an area where an ABM platform is useful in providing a centralized overview of your entire marketing performance data to more easily track and measure your campaigns with greater accuracy and efficiency. This allows you to quickly identify trends, adjust strategies, and make data-driven decisions that will improve your campaigns' effectiveness and increase your media investment's efficiency.
Based on your experience and success, what are the top 5 most effective account based marketing strategies?
1 . Identify which accounts to target. Engaging the right accounts starts with knowing which are most likely to purchase. Madison Logic’s ML Insights combines multiple datasets to create a signal of the accounts most likely to purchase, allowing our clients to accelerate the customer journey and shorten sales cycles to impact ROI positively. Marketers report achieving over 22% higher conversion by leveraging our ML Insights combined dataset to prioritize the right accounts and engage the buying committee across a multi-channel ABM strategy.
2 . Prioritize who within those accounts to engage. Accounts don’t buy solutions; the members of the buying committee make purchase decisions. It’s not just enough to know which accounts are actively in-market; you must also identify who is researching and engaging with relevant content and messaging within those accounts. This is another area where insights brought together by multiple sources of first- and third-party data are key to uncovering opportunities to captivate these individuals and drive conversions.
3 . Reach these audiences across multiple channels. Buyers don’t typically spend all their time researching solutions on one site; to effectively engage accounts, marketers must surround all buying committee members with personalized information in the places they spend the most time online through a multi-channel approach. This provides potential customers with a comprehensive and consistent experience throughout the buying journey, from initial awareness of a problem to post-purchase engagement. When marketers use a full-funnel strategy, they build their organization’s reputation from start to finish and beyond in the customer relationship and keep their brand and content top-of-mind.
4 . Deliver the most relevant experience for their stage in the sales cycle. The most effective marketers engage prospects throughout the entire funnel—from problem identification to vendor selection. By leveraging data to match content to the buyer’s mindset within their customer journey, marketers can balance the brand-building necessary for long-term revenue growth with the lead generation necessary to support sales now and in the future. Marketers who employ a full-funnel, always-on, multi-channel ABM strategy maximize engagement and marketing budgets. Our own clients report seeing a significant increase in accounts reached, including a 53% increase in account engagement and a 507% increase in 3-year ROI on their marketing investment.
5 . Continuously measure and optimize your strategy. Measuring the success of your ABM campaign must align with company goals, which typically include increased account engagement and clear pipeline impact. Alignment on shared goals across sales and marketing is critical for the revenue organization, especially when broken down into success metrics in terms of increasing sales opportunity volume, growing average deal value, or accelerating pipeline velocity. By taking a data-driven approach to campaign optimization generate more revenue from target accounts, marketers improve the ROI of their marketing efforts and increase win rates through more relevant and personalized marketing content for their target accounts.
How do you see the future of ABM evolving, and what new strategies or technologies do you think will be most impactful in the years to come?
We’re seeing a deliberate shift toward ABM strategies becoming the norm. Customers no longer just want a more personalized sales experience—they demand it. Marketers still using traditional methods and spray-and-pray tactics to reach buyers will soon need to adjust their strategies towards more account-based and personalized approaches. In the very near future, I don’t think we’ll be talking about ABM as a possible strategy because it will be the only strategy used for B2B marketing.
Technology will continue to adapt and advance to meet these evolving buyer behaviors and expectations. Most marketers today are plugged into different software-based elements of a well-rounded marketing strategy and mostly see good results. But there are still a lot of disparate tech and disconnected efforts going on, which can drag even the most data-focused, strategic efforts down. In the future, marketers must shift towards solutions that integrate all these segmented pieces and parts of ABM into a single platform. The technology already exists—it just needs marketers to catch up.
What would you say is the most valuable marketing software in your tech stack?
I might be biased here, but Madison Logic leads the way in helping enterprise B2B marketers prioritize accounts, drive higher account engagement across multiple channels, and accelerate conversion across the sales cycle. No other ABM media activation and measurement solution offers its level of account intelligence and full-service campaign executive services. We believe it’s an essential application that empowers marketers to make smarter data-driven decisions that drive better results.
Lastly, if you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good to the most people, what would that be?
Bringing reliable, high-speed internet to everyone on Earth. The internet has leveled the playing field for all individuals to learn something new, express their thoughts and expertise, and connect with others they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet. We need to ensure more people have access to the technology to educate and grow future generations.
How can our readers continue to follow your work online?
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