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

ABM

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.

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

ABM

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. ” 

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Are MQLs Relevant Anymore?

addressable market

This article was first published on marketorium.com

The concept of relying only on marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to measure effectiveness might be going the way of platform shoes and disco balls.

MQLs are losing favor as a one-size-fits-all measure of marketing’s ability to push sales leads down the pipeline, say B2B industry leaders.

Although marketing automation gave rise to the prospect of MQLs becoming the standard marketing metric for organisations, many believe they are too open to misinterpretation and deception. Some see them as nothing more than a marketing vanity metric.

The MQL measure is certainly unable to take into account the circuitous journey B2B customers make on their way to making a buying decision. Businesses that bombard poorly targeted MQLs with sales and marketing collateral are unlikely to deliver exceptional experiences to potential customers, either. Then there’s the common complaint that so few MQLs convert into actual sales leads.

Joe Hyland, CMO of webinar software company ON24, says MQLs are misleading and not a useful gauge of marketing effectiveness within many B2B businesses.

“You can manipulate MQLs very easily,” Hyland says. “If my boss said ‘Joe, I need to see a 50 per cent increase in MQLs over the next quarter’ I can go into Marketo and change what qualifies as an MQL and immediately double the number.”

Hyland says because marketers can move the threshold of what qualifies as an MQL, it’s open for abuse … especially when incentives are attached to its importance. He thinks marketers should concentrate on what is right for the business and their customers.

“I’m less interested in having 10,000 MQLs a quarter than I am in having 2000 meaningful interactions where I’m helping persuade someone,” Hyland says.

ON24 has now changed its approach to lead generation. In the past, the ON24 marketing team had such a low MQL threshold that its sales team complained about receiving too many leads. The sales team was so awash with opportunities, it could only make one follow-up contact on each lead.

“We redefined our addressable market – what we call our ‘ideal customer profile,’” Hyland says. “Unless a company asked to be contacted by sales, it wouldn’t qualify [as an MQL] if it didn’t match those qualifications.” Hyland says ON24 also decreased its overall level of marketing activity, concentrating instead on making quality connections with prospects.

“We actually saw a massive decrease in MQLs … but we also saw pipeline [activity] go up 75 per cent,” he says. “A sales rep may only get two leads in a week but they are high-quality leads. We’ve decreased the noise and allowed salespeople to really focus.”

The Mercer Experience

MQLs certainly have their limitations in B2B companies with relatively low lead volumes.

Mercer, for instance, is a global consultancy in superannuation, HR and financial services. Its Australian operation gets 30 to 40 leads a month, sales contracts range from $25,000 to $5 million, and sales cycles can be from one week to two years.

Natalie Truong, who is Mercer’s Head of B2B Marketing, Pacific, spoke at the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum about how she has thrown away the traditional lead-scoring model.

“In 2016, when I started at Mercer, we had an MQL target of 1060,” Truong said. “The business wasn’t fussed about what was going through the pipeline, or conversions or why leads were rejected, just as long as we were getting MQLs into the pipeline.”

Truong said that despite only achieving an MQL score of 270 that year, the team generated $1 million in marketing-related revenue with a 7 per cent conversion rate.

“So, what would be the logical thing to do in 2017?” Truong asked. “Up the MQL target.” The business set her team a new MQL target of 1364.

Truong decided she wanted to find another way to measure marketing effectiveness. “I said to the global team: ‘How about instead of worrying about the MQLs in the pipeline, I take a slightly different approach and I’ll guarantee you double conversion and double revenue?’ I wasn’t sure if we could do it, but what we were doing wasn’t working anyway so I had nothing to lose.”

Mercer began to filter its 30-40 leads per month manually and stopped its spam engine, which had sent 180,000 emails to about 5000 contacts in the previous 12 months.

“In 2017, we achieved 343 MQLs – nowhere near the 1364 we were set anyway,” Truong said. “But our conversion was 37 per cent and we generated $2.5 million in revenue.”

Truong said Mercer’s change in direction was unlikely to work for every business, especially those with high lead volumes.

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Q&A with Cheri Keith, SiriusDecisions Senior Research Analyst

B2B Marketing

ON24 held Webinar World, its annual event, in early March of this year. It’s now early May and we’re gearing up for yet another conference. Two, in fact. The first conference the SiriusDecisions Summit in sunny Las Vegas. The second is our APAC variation of Webinar World 2018. (It’s taking place on May 31 in Sydney’s Hyde Park — you can find more details here .)

Seeing as the SiriusDecisions Summit is less than a week away, we thought it’d be a great time to resurface one of Webinar World’s keynote discussions — articulated by SiriusDecisions’ own Senior Research Analyst, Cheri Keith.

As with Alex Blumberg , Laura Ramos and our ABM panel , I had the good fortune of sitting down to discuss ongoing trends in the B2B marketing space with Keith after her presentation (which you can watch a recording of here ).

What follows is a brief Q&A, lightly edited for clarity, brevity and context.

Q: 

So, the subject of your talk today was engaging modern B2B buyers and creating a marketing mix that resonates. What, in your opinion, is a good marketing mix that resonates?

Cheri Keith: 

So, I think what the data shows us is that it’s still the blend between human and non-human and still a healthy mix between self-service and actively engaged, and I think that’s really the core principle. There’s been a lot of market hype around the fact that people make up their decision about what they’re buying before they even engage you — so, like, you’re out a lot at the end of the day.

That’s not the case. People do want to be engaged with. They’re looking for opportunities for both human and non-human interaction, but human interaction is still ranking is the top way that people want to hear from us. So, I think it’s really about dispelling some of the myths that we’ve heard about the fact that people have made up their decisions before they even contact you so put out a bunch of white papers, and hope people read it. That’s just not the case. And I think that’s also why webinars are so important at the end of the day is because, sure, they can be condensed down made into a video. At the end of the day, people are still looking for it and that’s the top reason that buying processes are being stalled — because we’re not being responsive enough to people are looking to buy. Like, that’s crazy. Suhagra https://valleyofthesunpharmacy.com/suhagra/

So, the main point is not to feel that it’s out of our control by using the construct and being measured and smart as listening to people. We’re still in control of the process. Of course, the buyers are more informed — there’re so many other new delivery mechanisms — but they don’t want to talk to a robot they want to talk to you still.

Q:

So, is there a particular ratio for human versus self-service, automated engagement?

Cheri Keith: 

So, human versus non-human is 50/50 split across the board. Buyers report it’s still 50/50 and then at how involved the vendor is — so, low is self-service, high is a human had to do something — and [with] human non-human — highest is a human being involved. And it’s an active participation — that’s what people said they like. That’s what they want.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the fact that we should feel powerless, but we shouldn’t we should actually feel more empowered. Now, all the technologies, especially webinar technologies, if you think about all the data that you can pull how active someone is throughout the webinar. That’s really important, if you see someone who’s totally locked into the whole thing, how much more information is now at our fingertips to understand? But then also to be able to engage more deeply with that person to say “So you were locked in throughout the whole session. Any questions?”

We can’t always rely on people to put a question to chat — we all know that — but you learned a lot [about the person]. Or, if you can see someone stopped paying attention during a portion of [the webinar], well is that an opportunity for us to acknowledge that life happened, and someone lost into their cube? Or can we go back to them and say “Do you need more information on that? We saw you missed that part of the webinar.”

So, I think it’s opened up so many more doors for us through technology to understand more. We just need to actually be responsive to what we learn at this point.

Q: 

Interesting. I was chatting with Alex [Blumberg] earlier, and he basically said the same exact thing — they can watch where people drop off during the podcast and he’s like, you know, that’s something wrong with the story.

Cheri Keith: 

Yeah, well, it’s interesting because the study is what it was. I can’t make this up. Yeah, and at the end of the day webinars aren’t performing well — the buyers said they don’t consume them during two phases — but the fact that webinars are rated so high everywhere else throughout the data it’s showing us that the webinar is not the problem. It’s a story that we’re telling on the webinar for those two stages of the buyer’s journey. Generic Ativan https://kendallpharmacy.com/ativan.html

We’re doing a great job on the education phases, as SiriusDecisions calls it, but [for] two other phases we’re just not listening to the feedback we’re hearing. I know people have access to the information to show that people might not be consuming all the webinars at the same rate, and you know you can take that and just be like, “A bunch of little perform while so oh well.” But that still leaves us with a waste of money and time that we spend on all these other webinars. Yeah, but [also] gaps in the fact that we’re not deploying webinars for the solution and selection phases that people care about. And they want to care about it, so why don’t we rethink the stories that we’re telling during those two stages to be more effective?

Q: 

In your opinion, you mentioned towards the tail-end there are dangers in engaging outside your buyer’s preferred channels, like social media. So, what kind of dangers? Have you ever seen a situation where a B2B marketer or firm or whatever invests in a particular channel their buyers aren’t engaged in without really realizing it?

Cheri Keith: 

Oh, yeah. We hear that question all the time. I had a call with someone a few weeks ago. And social media isn’t the problem actually, I don’t think. I think it’s the fact that people talk about the trends on social media, and then we, as marketers, because we’re all on social media see it, and we’re like, “Oh my gosh. I need to redo everything I’m doing even though I’m marketing to plant managers in Ohio.” Well is social media the right channel there? Maybe it is. I don’t know; I would have to interview those people to know better.

But, yes people often start to invest in what they hear is popular. Rather than listening to their buyers, they listen to the market hype — and I think that’s the disconnect. We see it all the time — people are spending money on stuff, and they’re like, “Why doesn’t work?” But that’s why we say if you’re not using it today, maybe you should pilot it. Don’t put so much money in it.

It’s like every time you think about your appropriate tactic mix. You have what’s tried-and-true. Let’s put webinars in that category — people are very familiar with how to do that, that’s not a new concept. Maybe doing a more modern type of webinar, where you actually show video of people —  you don’t want to take all the webinars you’ve done in the past, if those have been working well, and shift them all to humans. Maybe that [webinar type] will work for your buyers; maybe it won’t. But you should start to pilot about to one or two and see how people react to it.

So, I think it’s more about smart experimentation rather than just be like, “we need to change because I heard I should change.”

Q: 

Do you develop a hypothesis when you start doing a little smart experimentation first? Is there a process that you put into that?

Cheri Keith: 

Yes, when I was on the other end of the table I always would have my hypothesis that I would share very openly with my co-workers when we would do something because I’m okay being wrong and I also viewed it as a competition, so being able to put something out there on the whiteboard, and we all take a guess every at how we think it will work.

I would always say something like that is always important. It’s not about being right, but it’s about kind of using your brain a little bit more to think about what are the possibilities, and, if things go differently, than what five of me and my four members predicted, then why is that? Is there a learning there? Is it a gap in our knowledge? Is it a gap in our knowledge as marketers or a gap in our knowledge as understanding the buyers?

Q: 

You mentioned earlier about getting sucked up in social trends. And I can imagine, from my own experience, it’s easy to re-engage in those trends when you’re trying to break that habit. Do how do you break that habit? Or do you know of any ways of identifying when you’re getting into that market hype?

Cheri Keith:

I’m a very skeptical person. As a marketer, when I was on the other end of the table, I would see it on social, and then I would get this stuff forwarded to me and would be asked, “Why aren’t we doing this?” I get them today still because everyone will say, “Oh my gosh, SiriusDecisions, why haven’t you thought about this?” Well, it’s not going to be true for everyone. Even email campaigns like didn’t all work right away. There needs to be market adoption and acceptance of the use of that tactic before it’s going to work for other things.

We get it in our home [and] our non-work lives, and we’re starting to understand it in our work lives. I think that’s an important construct to consider as well.

The way I would navigate it is, like, “I just didn’t hear from our buyers yet.” That would be the pushback I would give to my boss. And that’d be the pushback I give today. When I’m on briefings of people and new vendors and new technologies, especially. When it’s a technology that has like a tactic very closely associated with it, and they’re like, “Everything else is dead and marketing this is it.” I’m like, well, pump the brakes because that’s not how it works.

Even if it is the silver bullet, not everyone’s gonna buy the silver bullet tomorrow. And that’s just the reality of the way that the world works more than anything else. I’m always of the mindset to be, “All right, let’s evaluate it think through it, and figure out our buyers showing that behavior yet.” And if they aren’t, maybe we just watch it. But if we’re starting to see an inkling that this tactic is very similar to this other tactic we deployed, maybe we should start to test it. I think that’s what a good approach might be.

Q: 

Last question. Any books you’re reading?

Cheri Keith: 

Any books I’m reading? I’m reading a parenting book. The age of five has been hard for both my children. I think it’s called Parenting Without Screaming, and it’s about being more in touch with your child.

My children aren’t awful or anything, they’re great children, but most people talk about two and three being the hard ages because there’s a lot of it energy behind it. But when they’re at five, they’re so much more cognitively aware of what’s going on. And, sometimes, if they’re acting out, it’s not because they’re a bad child, that they’re spoiled or anything of that nature — they’re struggling to figure out the mechanism to communicate. And they might not understand that you need to like sit still and the teachers talking.

So, I’m reading about that.

Q: 

Wonderful. Thank you for your time.

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