ServiceNow’s Approach to Webinar Program Innovation (Part II)


This is part two in a two-part series on how organizations can extract more results from their webinars. For part one, click here . To learn more about Webinar World London, click here .

The push towards account-based marketing ultimately is about creating the capability to personalize go-to-market strategies and outreach. Webinars – both generic and targeted – play a vital role in ServiceNow’s focus on the Financial Services market.

There are many definitions of Account-Based Marketing going around – it’s a hot topic in Marketing these days. At ServiceNow, ABM is one of three Go-To-Market programs, in addition to Executive Programs and Campaigns.


Figure 1: ServiceNow Go-To-Market Model


Market and Account Segmentations

We segment our markets along a number of axes, and decisions on marketing spend are related to our country tiering model (Tier 1: UK, Germany, France and The Netherlands), the 50 largest accounts for ServiceNow in EMEA, the Executive decision makers (CxO level) within the Top-50, the broader market segment of Large Enterprise organisations, specific industries that historically have proven lucrative for ServiceNow, like Financial Services.

In 2018, we increased our focus on Top-50 accounts. In the first phase of our Account-Based Marketing program, we target 17 Financial Services accounts (banks and insurers) within our EMEA Top-50 account list.

Guided by our London-based ABM agency McDonald Butler Associates, we’re working side by side with Sales leadership and Client Directors to understand how marketing can help accelerate the sales strategy execution within these 17 accounts.

Financial Services: 3 go-to-market modes

To understand the role of the ON24 platform as part of our ABM strategy, I will outline our thinking on a high-level. If we take the triangle from figure 1 and we put it on its side, we see figure 2, where three go-to-market modes in the Financial Services market are identified:

1.    Content Marketing for the largest segment in the database. These are the accounts that are in the Financial Services industry, but they’re not strategic enough yet for ServiceNow to focus investment.

2.    Account-based marketing for the 17 Financial Services Accounts within the EMEA Top-50 of largest accounts, critical to the future growth of the company.

3.    Target Account Marketing for those accounts within Top-17 FS which require even more focus and investments, for instance, because they have been included in a global focus program, or because the sales strategy requires additional marketing investment.

Figure 2: Industry-to-Account-Based Engagement Model 

Content Strategies Per Mode

Now that these three modes have been established, we can start devising the content marketing strategy and resources, systems and data services we require per phase over time. To summarize six months of conversations between our sales teams, agencies, and colleagues around the globe:

Seventeen of the EMEA Top-50 accounts our sales organization is going after, are in Financial Services. If we create a content marketing strategy for our target personas in Financial Services, we can start creating an active database in Financial Services within our Tier 1 markets and track who is engaging with ServiceNow, test new ideas, and generate initial demand.

Part of the mix of assets and tactics we employ for this FS content strategy are industry-based messaging frameworks, demo environments, sales decks, blogs, position papers, storybooks, and FS industry event sponsorships – all developed in close cooperation with industry experts and Client Directors.

The ON24 Pillar

In the case of our Financial Services focus, one of the key content strategy pillars is a series of live webinars, running on ON24, reviewing the various parts of our FS value proposition with large FS customers featuring as panel speakers. The recordings of these webinars are used to populate an ON24 Target landing page, with a branded header visual, targeted introduction and the call-to-action to engage the FS discussion groups within the ServiceNow Community.

For the 17 FS accounts within the EMEA Top-50, we go the extra mile by increasing the level of localization of the content and assets. The messaging framework is reworked based on account insights shared by the account director. Co-branded design templates per account show our commitment to work with them. Our executives proactively reach out to their counterparts.

Not only is this a very scalable model, but it also feeds industry-specific content into the long-tail of accounts in the same segment, which are not yet in our Top-50 focus.

In line with the webinar performance metrics we track internally, some of which we shared in Part 1 of this two-part blog, we have seen a significant increase in target account engagement and pipeline influence. The use of ON24’s Target product for ABM has been key to creating the focused content experience, while enabling our marketing metrics to easily demonstrate the increased consumption and engagement via the real-time sync with our CRM system.

Bid Marketing Menu

Once we get to the RFP/bid stage of the engagement, a special programme of activities kicks into action, our so-called “Bid Marketing Menu”, including a targeted brochure aligned with the value themes outlined in the RFP, a branded ON24 Target landing page with messaging and video assets relevant to the offer, email and social media programs to driver further engagement in the account, and real-time engagement monitoring.

Figure 3: Account-based ON24 Target page – account logo blurred out in header visual

Targeted, Personalized Webinars

ON24 Target has enabled the ServiceNow team to introduce targeting and personalization techniques into our webinar programs. We already had the ON24 platform integrated with our website, our Eloqua marketing automation platform and our CRM system, and Tableau already has the dashboards in place to visualize engagement and business value down the funnel, which basically means that these targeted investments are automatically tracked and reported on in our systems, too. So, without much extra effort in the infrastructure layer, we’re able to create actionable insight and higher value for our sales and account teams.

Baseline for 2019 growth

Today, we can show which contacts from our target accounts are engaging our webinar program, including the stage of their engagement and propensity to pipeline and bookings – which is a great baseline for continued growth in 2019 and beyond.

The post ServiceNow’s Approach to Webinar Program Innovation (Part II) appeared first on ON24 .

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ServiceNow’s Approach to Webinar Program Innovation (Part I)


This is part one in a two-part series on how organizations can extract more results from their webinars from ServiceNow. This story, among others, will be featured at Webinar World 2018 London. To learn more about Webinar World 2018 London, click here .

Digital Transformation of the marketing function is rapidly changing how we invest, measure and manage work. As marketers, we are on a journey towards agile, data-driven, value-based demand generation.

In this 2-part series, I review our webinar program to demonstrate the impact of change and share some of the best practices ServiceNow’s EMEA Marketing team has generated since the program’s inception in 2012.

For starters, here’s the list of KPI’s we track for our webinar program, with YoY trending:

                                                                                                            18H1 vs 17H1            

·      Number of webinars                                                              +22%

·      Number of registrations:                                                        +66%

·     Number of attendees:                                                            +52%

·     Number of on-demand attendees:                                        +62%

·     Pipeline influenced                                                                 +144%

As a result of ServiceNow’s focus on webinar excellence, the webinar program’s pipeline influence in 18H1 was 538 percent higher than the next most effective campaign type.

A well-run webinar program does a number of things for enterprise marketing teams. It will:

1. Drive quality audience engagement at low cost

At ServiceNow in EMEA, we host about 40 webinars per quarter, at an infrastructure cost of $20 – so about $500 per webinar, which is low in comparison to other activity types, like seminars, event sponsorships, and even paid media. CPC leads may be cheaper, but usually produce significantly lower conversation rates. Needless to say, it takes time from well-paid experts to deliver a good webinar – but that’s true for most other activities, too.

Figure 1 –ServiceNow-branded ON24 console

2. Create premium assets for content marketing programs

We run webinars in English, German, French, and from time to time in Spanish, Italian and Dutch. The content of the webinars is tightly aligned to our demand generation programs, including digital display, outbound email, roadshows, telemarketing et cetera. We use our best speakers, often have customers join to share their best practices, and spend ample time on quality presentation slides, technology demonstrations and pre-recorded videos.

By recording all broadcasts, we establish a library of on-demand webinars to go into local websites, online communities, as well as our outbound email and email nurturing programs.

At the end of 2017, we introduced the ON24 Content Gateway to better market on-demand webinars. Within the first 5 months of 2018 alone, on-demand webinar consumption went up 90 percent.

Figure 2 –  Long-tail engagement with our on-demand webinars

3. Support Account-Based Marketing initiatives

As an extension of the previous point, digital marketing and targeted marketing go hand-in-hand. The superior control of data and content that comes with a modern webinar program, allows marketers to tailor an engagement strategy into highly-targeted database segments based on industry, job level, or account grade or name. As part of an offline touch plan consisting of Direct Mail, Industry Events, Seminars and Outbound calling, the webinar program keeps the target audience engaged by offering relevant, highly-personalized content.

ServiceNow recently adopted ON24 Target, a way to populate a landing page with on-demand webinars and other video assets hosted on our content gateway, the digital asset management system at the heart of the ON24 platform. Although still early days, we have started experimenting with co-branded landing pages for target accounts in Financial Services – and first feedback and results are quite positive.

4. Provide strong behavioural analytics of the audience

The unique quality of webinars: they offer an extensive content experience and are digital from start to finish. Therefore, from the minute the target contact opens the email invite or engages a promotional tweet to the moment they download the slides from the follow-up message and all that’s in between; everything is recorded, tracked, scored, reported and followed up.

We integrated our webinar platform with our website – the ON24 content gateway displays in an iFrame, so that both upcoming and on-demand webinars automatically drive engagement online –, with our marketing automation platform (scoring, nurturing), which in turn is connected to our CRM platform, where marketing qualified leads are handed off to sales teams. So, any engagement with the webinar program, be it live or on-demand, via email, the website or forwarded by a colleague, we track in order to continually improve the program, tailor content to the audience’s expectations, and deliver ever better MQL’s to our outbound callers and sales teams.

Figure 3 – ON24 Engagement dashboard

5. Create an online platform for customer and ServiceNow speakers

Although not a primary goal of the webinar program, it did help establish a strong speaker pool for other ServiceNow events large and small. Because of the solid reputation and continuity of the program, our internal speakers are eager to contribute. It’s a high-quality podium on which to showcase their expertise. Customers usually join webinar panels before presenting at large ServiceNow events, like Now Forum or Knowledge.

In 2018, our webinar program is an indispensable part of ServiceNow’s growth engine and the single largest lead generating program in EMEA. In Part II, I will review our first experience adopting ON24’s Target module as part of our Account-Based Marketing Program.


The post ServiceNow’s Approach to Webinar Program Innovation (Part I) appeared first on ON24 .

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Account-based marketing is no fad: How and why CMOs should commit


This article was originally published on MarTech Today .

Less is more. It’s such a simple phrase, and yet it holds so much truth.

In the business world, we’ve all experienced how much things improve if we focus on fewer tasks at a time. It makes us better marketers and salespeople — more focused, effective, thoughtful and empathetic toward those we are selling or marketing to.

A lot of jargon is thrown around in sales and marketing. There are even more fads, so much so that it can be hard to keep up. But Account Based Marketing (ABM) is neither jargon nor a fad. It’s an important trend all marketing and sales teams should take note of. It’s based, after all, on the premise that less truly is more.

Why should you move to an ABM approach?

Part of the problem today is that we often operate in silos in business. We get caught up in numbers, quotas, leads and revenue. These benchmarks can create incentives to hoard individual credit and distinguish ourselves, rather than align strategically with others and make larger gains and get bigger wins together. These benchmarks also encourage a quantity-over-quality mindset, because employees are constantly trying to get more leads and more wins. This is to an organization’s collective detriment and hurts its bottom line.

In the past, many marketing and sales teams took a “spray and pray” approach to generating as many leads as possible. It was a volume play. Some organizations could get away with this, simply because their solution was best in class. But now there are too many startups and too many worthy competitors for any organization to take this antiquated approach — a company can’t distinguish themselves just by spamming potential buyers with generalized content.

Furthermore, buyers have access to unprecedented information. Just as a diner would check out Yelp to see a restaurant’s reviews before booking a reservation, a prospect today will do extensive research on potential solutions — often before they even make contact with a salesperson.

In fact, 78 percent of buyers now spend more time researching purchases in an effort to mitigate risks, with many spending up to three months researching vendors anonymously, according to the 2017 B2B Buyers Survey Report by Demand Gen  Report.  That means they won’t be receptive to vague sales pitches that don’t address their specific pain points.

Source: Demand Gen Report 2017 B2B Buyers Survey

An ABM approach, if executed correctly, solves these issues. It brings together teams and individuals to focus more deeply on what truly matters: your highest value customers and prospects. And it engages these high-value targets in a manner that’s truly meaningful.

What exactly is ABM?

The core premise behind ABM is that you treat each individual account as its own market — that means you tailor your outreach and go-to-market strategy and make it as customer-centric as possible. At the core of ABM is empathy — you have to truly understand your audience — what their goals and fears are — and you have to constantly put yourself in their shoes.

I even like to imagine what my prospective customers’ personal lives look like. What kind of car do they drive; do they have kids and a family; are they liberal or conservative? What do they do outside of work for fun? You have to truly empathize with them to get inside their heads and be able to effectively market and appeal to them.

The results speak for themselves: 87 percent of companies using ABM report it offers higher ROI than other types of marketing: According to the Information Technology Services Marketing Association, 69 percent see improved annual revenue per account.

But why is that? The Pareto Principle (or 80/20 rule) states that 80 percent of a company’s revenue comes from 20 percent of its customers. This is particularly relevant in the context of ABM. Using this principle makes sense because it emphasizes why focusing and nurturing high-yield customers is so vital to marketers.

ABM programs are most effective for targets with complex, long and sometimes political buying processes. In contrast to lead-based programs requiring engagement with thousands of companies, ABM’s effective audience ranges from dozens to hundreds.

How do you move to ABM?

If it’s too difficult to entirely shift from a lead-based model to an ABM model right away, then do it slowly.

Identify the highest value prospects in your pipeline, and make sure your touch points are tailored to them. If there are certain industries you sell to that you know have more extensive buying cycles, prioritize an ABM approach with them. This gradual rollout may even be advantageous: You’ll learn how and where you need to be personalized throughout your sales funnel, and where you can get away with a more systematic method.

Additionally, I think it’s important to avoid limiting your ABM approach to just marketing and sales. Envision the other ways a personalized, customer-centric mindset can benefit your team. For example, when it comes to managing people, I used to take the same approach for all my direct reports: weekly one-on-one meetings, annual reviews, the potential for bonuses at the end of the fiscal year — you get the idea.

It wasn’t until I started incorporating ABM into my marketing approach that I realized it was a smart way to manage employees as well. I started treating each employee as an individual customer who might value more vacation or educational training over a monetary bonus, for example. Some needed more or less feedback than they received during a weekly one-on-one meeting.

After incorporating the ABM mindset into management, I found my marketing team to be more engaged in their work — and our prospective customers to be more engaged with our outreach as well. And that’s a true win-win for any business.

Want to learn more about AMB marketing? Discover the basics — and how webinars can enhance your ABM efforts — in “The Webinerd’s Guide to Account-Based Marketing. ” 

The post Account-based marketing is no fad: How and why CMOs should commit appeared first on ON24 .

To view our Partner blog, click here

CMO Confessions Ep. 3, Megan Heuer of SiriusDecisions


Hi, and welcome once again to CMO Confessions, our bi-weekly podcast at ON24 exploring what it really means to be a leader in today’s business world. I hope you all are enjoying the series and are drawing some inspiration from our guests’ wealth of experiences.

In this episode, we have SirusDecisions’ Vice President of Research, Megan Heuer . Megan was kind enough to shares with us her insights on what goes into a successful customer lifecycle, how organizations ought to approach account-based marketing and her secret cooking Twitter account . Coincidentally — and it is an actual coincidence — we’re “officially” releasing this episode during SiriusDecisions Summit 2018, the organization’s annual B2B marketing bash in the middle of the desert in Las Vegas. If you’re not at SiriusDecisions Summit (which is going on now), I highly recommend giving this episode a listen, as it provides a good deal of insight into why SiriusDecisions is modifying its demand waterfall and its anticipating marketing trends. (I also recommend checking out this Q&A with Sirus’ Senior Research Analyst, Cheri Keith .)

If you’re at SiriusDecisions Summit, be sure to stop by booth #109 and say hi to the ON24 crew. A number of us (including me) will be out and about at the conference, taking in the sights, sounds and lessons.

Finally, if you’d like to our first batch of episodes back-to-back (and why wouldn’t you?) I’d suggest you head on over to our podbean site here. You can also check us out on both iTunes and Google Play as well.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat .


Joe Hyland: 

Hello, and welcome to CMO confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24, and this week joining me is Megan Heuer who leads the SiriusDecisions research and advisory organization. Megan, how you doing today?

Megan Heuer: 

I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me as a guest.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, this is fantastic, thanks for giving us the time. Well, you’re doing some pretty cool things over there — you lead a team of exceptional analysts. I can say, in a truly genuine way, because we work really closely with you guys. And I think your mission is to help clients apply data-driven insights and best practices to the real world priorities, so they can deliver exceptional growth and customer experiences. So that’s the boilerplate and I would love to hear from you [on] what it really means to run this practice and what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis to help your clients.

Megan Heuer: 

Absolutely well, thanks for asking because I’m really excited about what we’re doing. I’ve been doing — and I say that, I’ve been doing this for, going on, 10 years — and the thing that I think is really exciting about where we are now as a company is in the way that we want to help leaders within B2B organizations is to help them understand exactly what “good” looks like. When you really think about it, there’s so many things that you can know about the behaviors of companies that outperform others — the ones that really get to the higher gross, get to the higher profitability.

There are behaviors that you can measure that say, “What do they do? How much do they invest? How do they do things? Who do they hire?” And we really want to get to a place where we have the data underlying every one of our recommendations — and we’re well on our way to it — to be able to say, “When companies outperform here are the things they do. And increasingly, what we’re building are playbooks, that tell organizations what it takes to grow faster and smarter than everybody else.”

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love that. How do you — and this is going to be a weird question, because I think you’re right in what you just said: more and more companies, particularly given the market opportunities, are trying to fine-tune both sales and marketing, really understand the demand waterfall, which we can talk about at some point in the discussion, and really supercharge growth — what do you recommend to your clients in terms of balancing the day-to-day pressures of growth — which I have to tell you we very much feel here at ON24 — with building something, that’s built to last and really working on the brand and bringing value to clients versus just focusing on, you know, how many MQLs and pipelines did you build that day?

Megan Heuer: 

Well, here’s the interesting thing about that, and it’s a really good question because we get that a lot from our clients, like, “Hey, man. I just need to execute, like, don’t tell me to do all the strategy nonsense.” And I get that, but here’s the thing: when we look at the data, at the fastest growing companies, one of the areas that they invest in is planning. They actually have a longer-term technology roadmap than their peers. They actually do more in terms of thinking about where they should invest in why they should invest there. They’re actually thinking earlier about supporting a great post-sale customer experience than their lower-growth peers.

So, all of those things — having a great brand that’s driven by a great customer experience that is supported by employees that are inspired and engaged and have great messaging —all of those things come together in a growth business that’s really successful. It’s actually not either/or, it’s that some of the things we think slow us down are actually, when done right, and not too heavily, are the things that help us get there faster.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love that answer. One of the reasons I went into marketing was [because] I was a psychology minor —  the art of persuasion, which is always fascinating to me — and I think you’re right. While we can use data, while we can harness data, while we can run a lean organization that makes smarter and smarter decisions to drive growth — at the at the end of the day, it’s the story that we’re telling, it’s the value we’re bringing to market that’s going to lead to those results. And I think smart marketers understand that balance.

Megan Heuer: 

Yeah, amen to that. I mean, if it was me running the show in a marketing organization, one of the biggest investments I would make is finding, cultivating, harvesting and amplifying the stories my customers were telling about their experience and the value they were getting. And, really, just the things that whatever it is I sold was helping them to do. That is why people buy. You know, our data set, hands down, 80 percent of the reason B2B buyers — and this is over many years with thousands of buyers — say they make their choice, is based on their own direct experience with the company or the experience they hear about from other people.

80 percent! Price wasn’t even close. Even value of the offering or kind of fit of the offering for their needs — not even close. It’s all about experience, and I think that is a game changer on B2B, we just have to do a much better job of harnessing it.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I think that’s brilliant. I was talking to Jeff Rohrs, who is the CMO over at Yext, recently and he had an interesting comment, which was most people think B2C, it’s more of an emotional decision, right? You’re pulling at someone’s heart string to make a consumer decision or consumer-related decision, because it’s their personal life. But he argued that it’s the opposite. In a B2B purchase it’s more of an emotional decision because someone is ultimately voting with their role, their job. They’re putting their, perhaps, career on the line, and that might sound extreme, but I think it’s a fair point. And you have to have real conviction for a purchase, so whether that’s experience you’ve had with a company, or through a peer — these are not just, you know, transactional decisions — these are decisions that that ultimately deal with someone’s livelihood, their own career.

Megan Heuer: 

You know you’re so right and the minute we forget about that, you know, when somebody chooses to make, particularly a big investment, in a solution for B2B, whether it’s services, whether its technology, they are really putting a lot on the line. You know, they’ve had to go to bat for you and you’ve got to make that so easy for them and so not scary for them to say, “I really trust that this is going to be the solution that does the right thing and I’m not going to end up — six months, nine months from now — really worried about whether or not my boss trust me anymore.” And that’s a big deal. That’s a big responsibility, right? For providers.

Joe Hyland: 

I love that you just said “trust.” I couldn’t agree with you more. There needs to be trust, there needs to be a relationship there. I want to I’d love to hear your thoughts on marketers, whether they’re owning the whole thing, or they’re partnering with the customer service team, on owning the customer life cycle. Because, in a SaaS world — where it’s nice to acquire a customer, but the goal is to retain them over a long period of time, hopefully for their entire lifetime — how do you see marketing shifting from owning acquisition and messaging and brand through the entire life cycle and owning a relationship post-signature?

Megan Heuer: 

Oh, my favorite topic. I actually think this is pretty much the biggest opportunity marketing organizations have right now, especially in SaaS and recurring-revenue companies of any kind. But you could kind of argue any business really needs to make its business to hold on to the customers they have — so that you’ve got this efficient lower cost and all those good things, but that’s the different soap box. Marketing’s role in post-sales — so, I can tell you what it should be and I can tell you what it is based on the data that we’ve seen.=

Joe Hyland: 


Megan Heuer: 

Based on a study that we did of about 600 B2B customers — we interviewed them about “What do you want in the post-sale environment versus what do you get?” Right? So, what are they seeing today? And the really interesting thing about that is those buyers basically pointed to things like online content, events, webcasts, customer stories; many of the same things that marketing produces really, really well for presale were exactly what customers wanted, albeit with different content to help them at different stages after they buy.

But they wanted the things that marketing does really well, right? And what were the things they weren’t getting? All of the things marketing does really well. In particular, content was a big miss, and those online interactions that marketing has been expert at for a really long time — really big miss. And that’s where marketing really needs to become part of the revenue engine both pre and post-sale. And just as our data shows us that, in the pre-sale, it’s basically a 50-50 split at every stage of buying — early, middle and late — in terms of buyers saying whether they want, essentially, marketing-led activities versus sales-led activities. It’s a partnership, according to the buyer, right? Now, what we actually do in sales and marketing is not necessarily that balanced at all stages, but the buyer saying they want that 50/50 split.

Turns out, in terms of sales content — and actually sales content is even in there in the post-sale — but in terms of marketing-led interactions versus access to service environments or relying on the products, they really want that same kind of balance with the things that marketing brings to the table. The trouble is very few B2B marketing organizations have invested appropriately in customer engagement resources, content, people who know how to do that — messaging that supports it. It’s really all about cross-sell and upsell after people buy — it’s not about helping them get value from what they have. And when marketing organizations do say “Hey, I need to team up with my customer success folks. I need to team up with my account managers. I need to make sure that I’m anticipating the things that my service team is going to get before they get them so that people can get self-serve and don’t have to pick up a phone, or go click to chat, whatever.” All of those things marketing can do for an incredible value make the post-sale life-cycle more profitable, but they’re just not doing it now. And it’s a big miss, but also an incredible opportunity.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I am beyond passionate about what you just talked about for a lot of the same reasons that you described. We do — so I will compliment us here, and then, I will eviscerate us at the same time — we do a great job creating content for — I’ll be really honest here — for prospective customers. We create incredibly compelling content on the role of webinars. I can get these great results, we highlight our customers to show the use cases, how they’re using webinars and creative ways make etc., etc. I think we do a phenomenal job there. And we very much care about our customers. We would we would be nowhere without them, but on the marketing side, I think we’ve kind of abused that relationship. And, so, we’ve highlighted our customers really to bring on new customers versus doing what you just said. And we found that out, somewhat the hard way, because we have a whole bunch of customers who come to webcast that we have or road-shows that we have, which are really targeted at prospective customers — and so many of our customers said, “Oh, that was the most amazing content. You guys had such creative ideas you highlighted so many unique use cases examples. You name it. I really wish I had that on a day-to-day basis because I have all these challenges coming up with creative webcasting formats, etc.”

And in that moment, I realized, boy, we’ve done a really shitty job of continuing to tell these powerful stories to our customers. So, we think we’re customer-centric, but are we in marketing? So, we’re creating a whole new division which is going to be on customer life cycle, which is meant purely to make sure our customers are successful because — I mean, you’re right the economics are simple, of course — ultimately, if our customers don’t stick around we won’t have a company. And I think we need to shift the way we’re doing things. So, I’m pretty excited about it, but I think you’re right: a lot of companies aren’t doing that, and neither were we.

Megan Heuer: 

Well, I’m so happy to hear you’re investing there because it’s just the right thing to do, the smart thing to do. And, by the way, it’s really fun. I mean that’s great work to do as a marketer.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, it’s true. So, it’s interesting, even though I said we haven’t invested in it enough, every year at the start of the year I’m asked by our sales team, or my boss, our CEO, “what’s the big focus this year?” And every single year the big focus is highlighting our customers because — you said it before in your research — people buy from peers. So, I think you said 80 percent of decisions were based on a positive experience a purchaser had had either with the company themselves or through heard through a peer. Surprise, surprise: every company has great things to say about themselves. But if you have a customer, or an unbiased person say, “Boy ON24, or SiriusDecisions, boy are they a first-class company!” That’s trust, and that comes with a higher-level recommendation and consideration, right? So, for me, if you have happy customers and you can highlight them in pretty transparent ways, you’re on the road to some great marketing.

Megan Heuer: 

Oh, my goodness, yes. You know, and I think the opportunity there is to also make sure that you’ve got a systematic way to identify who those happy customers are and giving them a way to help them shine. You can tell their story and they can be a little bit famous, too. I think there’s so many good things that come out of that orientation.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, and you’re right. It’s different for different industries, of course, but we’re marketing to marketers. I mean, the vast majority of our customers are in the marketing department and most are in demand generation. It’s easier to highlight marketers. Marketers kind of want the limelight on them and they want to be the stars for a moment. My last company was in the procurement space and I have to say the procurement department was a little more shy to tell those stories. So, depending on your industry, it can be easier or harder.

Megan Heuer: 

No doubt, and you know, I’ll tell you, even in regulated industries we’ve seen luck with this. But one other thing that we found with the post-sale world, and our data has pointed to this, but we’ve also been able to sort of get it down to a science, is think about all that we know about how buyers buy and mapping out the buyer’s journey and knowing exactly what they want to consume. Because we’ve gotten all this great data. Marketing organizations that are really doing well, are, you know, “data’s our friend,” and they’re using it well, and they have it down to a fine science, like you said, it’s really you can know what you need to do. Well guess what? You can do that in the post-sale, too! And we do not see enough people using that same rigor to define, “What are the steps that my customer goes through? What do they at each of those steps?”

And, actually, they miss really even the most important thing, during the buying cycle, we identify buying for personas, right? “Who’s our buyer. What are they need? What’s different about them? What part do they play in the purchase?” Well, we don’t do it after they buy. We don’t start to say, “Who are our customer personas and what do they need after they buy?” That has nothing to do with making a purchase decision, right? “What do they need from us, and where do they like to go to get that?” And as part of that process of defining your customer personas, just like you do buyer personas, and defining their journey, as they work with you, you can at each stage of that journey, identify the ways that they’re probably going to be willing to tell a good story to others.

So, you can create this great virtuous cycle of providing the right resources for those customers, but also making requests of them to help you with your marketing as they go through that journey in just a systematic of a way as we do for the buying cycle today.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, that’s a great point, you’re right. It comes down to having a dedicated focus, post-signature. Because the relationship can change, but it can change in a positive way, and then then you can really embrace that.

Megan Heuer: 

Oh, absolutely.

Joe Hyland: 

All right, let’s turn to your ABM practice because I think ABM is a fascinating topic for a couple reasons. First, I remember, how many years ago is this? Fifteen years ago, when I was in marketing programs, my CMO, I was at a server company not too far from where you where you work, in Maynard, Massachusetts. In the old deck headquarters, a company called Stratus Technologies, and my CMO said to me, “Hey Joe, we’re gonna hire someone to do something brand-new, really exciting. It’s called account-based marketing, and we’re only going to go after, or, only going to focus on five or ten companies and these are very large organizations that we think we can sell a lot of product into.” And that was my first experience with ABM. Now, out here in San Francisco, you can’t walk one block without seeing an advertisement for the hottest trend in in marketing, which is which is ABM — and which has only been around for five years, which of course, is not true. So, one, I’d love to hear about the practice and what you guys are doing — and I’m sure you’re advising clients in some great ways — but I’d also I’d also love to get your perspective on ABM done well, and how a lot of people get ABM wrong.

Megan Heuer: 

Good questions. Well, in terms of how we’ve approached it as a business, like you, both my boss, Tony Jaros — who leads all of our product organizations and he’s been with Sirus from the beginning, so 15 years-plus — he and I worked together many years ago at a company called the Peppers & Rogers Group that was all about identifying customer value and customer needs and really using that to power or have that data-driven strategy underneath your marketing focus areas. And, of course, what does that point you to, but an account-based strategy? So, we’ve been doing this for a very long time — the 15-20 years that it’s been around. So, when he came to Sirius, and then when I came to Sirius, we both agreed that this was an area that we needed to continue to publish and focus on because we’re both big believers in the fact that it really, really works. And in B2B it’s inescapable, so for the last 15 years really, we’ve had content in the SiriusDecisions library. And, for the last ten that I’ve been here, I’ve helped to build that. And, for the last five plus, we’ve had a dedicated practice around it.

And the dedicated practice around it was really designed to say “How do we bring some rigor to how people buy account-based marketing within B2B? How do we encourage them to adopt it?” Because we know how successful it can be, but then also “How are we a little bit more flexible than some of the ways the market had been thinking about it?” I think historically the market really thought about it as, for some people at least, the large account model, right? About these big strategic accounts. Of course, you’re doing custom things to win them, that’s not really it. There’s a lot of different ways you can say “I know the universe of accounts that I need to go after, or the business, and then, therefore, that tells me some different things that I may need to do as a marketer and also in support of the sales organization and their go-to-market strategy.”

And we really approached it from that concept of saying, “It’s not just about your largest strategic accounts. You might have a named count list, you might have a vertical list that’s very defined within a particular area.” So, what you really want to do is go back to your go-to-market model, the B2B company — and this gets that your point about ABM done well versus not so much.

ABM done well begins with simply looking at “Who do we sell to?” And really knowing who’s in your addressable market, and I don’t use that in kind of the general product orientation sense of, “Well, we sell the company’s over, you know? $50 million dollars.” Okay, that’s not an addressable market, that’s the phone book. Does such a thing still exist? That’s not helpful, right? What you need to do is say, “Who is our buyer?” And that may look different depending on different segments of the market — you may have strategic accounts, you may have named accounts, you may have SMB, you may be all over the place in terms of the different accounts — but I would define most companies not to be able to narrow that down to a list of account names.

Once you have that list of account names, and you know how your sellers are organized against pursuing those accounts, you can say, “Okay, this tells me a lot about the kinds of account-based marketing, the kinds of demand I need to create as a marketing organization.” It’s a math problem. “Who do I need to reach?” And once you have that foundation in place, you can then define the appropriate approach to demand. That may be strategic accounts, that may be what we call “named account marketing,” which is really ABM at scale, it may be something a little lighter, what I would call more “marketing to accounts” than “account-based marketing,” because you’re not really you’re saying, “Hey, this is my target list of accounts,” but you’re not necessarily changing your messaging based on actual information about each account. But that’s okay, right? For a bigger segment of the market, that may be the right thing to do.

What we’ve identified is really a range of different demand creation styles that suit all different go-to-market models, all different types of accounts. And the trick for every company is to figure out what the right balance of those approaches is and then that’s what you put in place. That’s what you resource and you up-skill to and you come up with the right tactics to support. And you work in partnership with your sellers in a much more meaningful way — and that’s ABM done well.

Joe Hyland: 

And done horribly?

Megan Heuer: 

Ha-ha! Done horribly is when you call it account-based marketing, but basically you say, “I’ve got a list of accounts. I haven’t really thought about why I want to win those accounts, or even if it’s likely that they have any interest in talking to me, and I’m going to simply send messages to them based on what I want them to know, not based on what I think they need, not based on who they are, not based on anything else, but I’m just going to send stuff because they’re my target accounts, and I’m going to put ads in front of them, and I’m going to do all these other things.” That is not account-based marketing, that’s marketing to accounts, but that’s also kind of foolish in this day and age because there’s an awful lot you can know about your accounts before you ever try to talk to them. And, to me, it’s kind of a shame if you do that and call it account-based marketing. You’re just missing an opportunity.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love this notion of marketing to accounts versus account-based marketing. I don’t know if you’ve if you’ve written any thought leadership pieces or even just a simple perspective on it —I think it’s a great point. I mean there’s there’s a massive difference — a huge chasm — between one and the other.

Megan Heuer: 

I agree and there’s a place for both, but I actually came up with that concept a couple of years ago, basically on a rant, because I was really sick of seeing people call things account-based marketing. I’m like, “Not so much, you’re targeting accounts all right, but there’s a whole lot of things you’re not doing that you could be.” Hence, the marketing to accounts versus account-based marketing. I’m trying not to sound overly judgmental. Even though I am.

Joe Hyland: 

That’s why I ask. No, I think there’s a lot of misinformation in the market, right? There’s a huge difference between everyone you can sell to, what’s your addressable market versus who’s your ideal customer profile. So, for us, we have, I dunno, there’s 250 or 300 thousand companies we can sell to, and I assure you we don’t have that many customers, yet, but we have a much more focused group. And you’re right, it needs to be down to the names where we say, “Boy, these are companies we feel strongly that we should be partnering with or should be using us for as part of their tech stack.” And if you can’t name them, it’s not part of an ABM strategy.

And I’ve spoken with a lot of sales reps who say, “I want to do ABM to these 10,000 accounts.” And I said, “That’s different.” Like, we can’t have customized messaging for 10,000 accounts unless it’s just a little trick that we use with off-site advertising where we put their name in an ad, which I have mixed feelings on, personally.

Megan Heuer: 

Well, you know it’s funny, I agree with you now based on the state of the art, but I’ll be interested to see as AI and Predictive Analytics and other kinds of technology gets better and better and the quality of the data that B2B marketers are creating and maintaining becomes better and better to support those tools. There may be a time when you could say, “You know what? I could use some form of real account-based marketing based on what I know to a pretty large number of accounts.”

Most companies aren’t there yet, but you got at the exact issues. It really can just simply start with saying, “It’s not my theoretically addressable market, it’s my practically addressable market.” Who’s in that? And that’s really the heart of our new demand unit waterfall, right? It begins with, what is your practically addressable market because in a realistic way, who do you consider to be the people that you can sell to? Now, how do you begin to measure how well you’re doing at engaging them and closing them?

Joe Hyland:

Okay, you brought up something — I’m really glad you brought up — it’s kind of — I don’t, do you have any sports or hobbies that you partake in or that are part of your life?

Megan Heuer: 

Well, I’m a big cook. I love cooking.

Joe Hyland: 

Okay, cool.

Megan Heuer: 

I’m actually godawful, of course, but I love cooking.

Joe Hyland: 

I can’t think of a good analogy in the kitchen. It’s really interesting how a lot of brands — and this will not be relevant to a chef —change things year-to-year. It’s like [how] a sneaker changes each year, or there’s a new season and you have to get the latest model. I’m a skier and it’s amazing how little changes year-to-year with skis, but we’re marketed that we need the latest and greatest. And I think there is a misperception on the demand waterfall that every year you guys come out with a new waterfall and nothing’s different, but it’s marketed as the latest and greatest. I’d love to hear some thoughts as to what justifies the change and how you look at each different iteration?

Megan Heuer: 

Yeah, I’ll start with I really wish it were the case that there weren’t all these really cool new things that come out for the kitchen all the time where you’re like, “Really, I need a 23rd different kind of whisk! Because it’s going to make my eggs that much fluffier.” No, it’s crazy, it’s completely crazy. So, you know, happily, some cooking equipment may be less expensive than ski equipment, but it’s still so weird.

Anyhow, that said, we’ve come out with, basically, three different waterfalls in 15 years. We had our original that came out many moons ago — predates me at Sirius. Then we had what we called the “re-architected waterfall.” And that was about five years ago, and then the past year we came out with what we call the “demand unit” waterfall and the thing that I was really excited about with the demand unit waterfall is I think it’s brought together a lot of things that previous versions didn’t. Not because I don’t think we were thinking about it necessarily, but because I don’t think we, or the market, was there yet.

So, for example, when we came out with some of the original constructs in the first two waterfalls, it’s very much of a marketing process model, right? It’s all about “marketing things going in the top and marketing things come out the bottom.” But the truth is we are all about sales and marketing alignment because we know companies grow faster and are more profitable the more aligned their sales and marketing organizations are. That’s a proof-point we’ve had over many years and hundreds of companies. So, we know that works, but here we have this kind of core construct that didn’t quite go there.

The demand unit waterfall does away with all notion of marketing versus sales, or marketing and tele versus sales, is gone. It’s all one view that says we all share the audience that we need to win, our target accounts, and we both share responsibility for engaging those accounts in different ways as they progress from cold to close. So, it’s a shared sales and marketing process model, but it also brings in the thought that, you know, in the old waterfall it really began at the point of somebody raising their hand and saying, “Hey, I’m interested!” But we know, as marketers, we are able to engage those folks right from the point that we can give them a name, right? We know their accounts and then we know them, right? Um, so there’s a whole bunch of stages that the old version didn’t capture that now technology lets us do much more effectively and quantifiably. So, we’re able to start earlier, um, but we also added the concept of “you don’t begin with an infinite universe of accounts.” The previous two versions began with any account that you possibly want to engage, but it only counts that shows up as an inquiry a hand raised.

And in this version, we begin with, “What is that practically addressable market?” The market you want to go after? And then we start to measure from there to say, “How well are we doing at converting from that denominator?” That’s a really key difference. And so, the part about it being shared with sales and the part about it not beginning from, you know, “An increase showed up, a miracle occurred!” Now, you know, let the measuring begin. It’s a much more practical way of looking at the market, and it reflects the reality of the technology that’s available to us to use to do that.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love the hybrid approach with sales as well. I think there’s a lot of ways you can have sales and marketing collaboration and there’s a lot of ways to totally screw it up. Real joint ownership on goals, I think, is setting up both groups for success. So, I’m in alignment with what you guys have just released.

Megan Heuer: 

Well, I’m excited about it. You know, and we’re seeing a lot of companies and a lot of technology providers and services providers who are excited about it, too. Because it gives, I think, a really good construct and an instruction manual for how to take advantage of some of the really cool stuff that’s out there on the market and begin to be able to put it to work in practical ways that — your CFO and your CIO, not to mention your CMO, and your head of sales — are going to be very comfortable making investments in because you can show them, “Hey, here’s how it’s going to help us.”

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love it. All right, well, listen, I think we’ve come to the bottom of the hour. So, Megan, I want to thank you. How active are you on Twitter? I see your Twitter handle here, @megheuer. Are you active, or you like me, and you post every six months when you’re mad at an airline?

Megan Heuer: 

Hahaha, well, I do that. But you know, actually, I have a little bit of a Twitter problem from time to time. I will be in there and quite active. I’m in there most days.

Joe Hyland: 

Oh, that’s cool.

Megan Heuer: 

Yeah, it’s definitely become a little bit of a habit.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I know my wife…

Megan Heuer: 

I get a kick of it. I have a great little, you know, TweetDeck view of the world. I love it.

Joe Hyland: 

Oh, that’s cool. Yeah, my wife’s pretty active on social and makes fun of me and says, “I don’t know how you’re the head of marketing — you don’t even understand anything about social.”

Megan Heuer: 

Well, I’ll tell you, though…

Joe Hyland: 

I won’t comment on.

Megan Heuer: 

I don’t even have a Facebook page. I won’t do it. Nope.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, you know it’s interesting. I do. I’m so inactive. For me, I found two things. One, that it just ate a ton of time. And then, two, I ended up spending that time looking at pictures of my friends-from-20-years-ago’s children. Which was fine, it was great to see what my old friends were up to, but if you’re not really actively friends with someone I’m not sure why you’re spending so much time looking at their lives. So, I don’t know, for me, I’ve pretty much stopped.

Megan Heuer: 

Yeah, I’ve heard, it was Matt Heinz, actually, who the other day said he quit the stuff. And, like, “This is not bringing joy in my life, therefore out it goes.” And I can see that. You know, I use Twitter 90 percent professionally and occasionally, I’ll put in the random tweet for something else. I actually have a separate account where I post recipes, but I’m much less active on that.

Joe Hyland: 

Recipes account? Well what’s that account? That’s the account I want.

Megan Heuer: 

Hahaha. Well, you’ll see how long it’s been since I put anything up there, but it’s @frommegskitchen.

Joe Hyland: 

Okay, that’s cool. That sounds interesting. Anyway, Megan, this was fantastic — thank you so much. I really appreciate the time and I hope you have an awesome day. Thanks for tuning in everyone.

Megan Heuer: 

Thanks. Everybody. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for enjoying our, thanks for inviting me.

The post CMO Confessions Ep. 3, Megan Heuer of SiriusDecisions appeared first on ON24 .

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