Account Based Marketing – An Interview with Jennifer Pockell-Wilson of Demandbase

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jennifer Pockell-Wilson, Vice President of Marketing & Demand Operation at Demandbase.

Jennifer, leads the demand-focused marketing teams and demand operations at Demandbase.  She is passionate about aligning sales & marketing toward common goals through the coordination of language, systems and process.  Before joining Demandbase, Jen was the Senior Director of Global Marketing Operations at Polycom and has also spent time at Hyperion, PeopleSoft, Ernst & Young LLP and Lotus Development.

It was great to be able to speak with her about account based marketing and have her share her thoughts and expertise.  Here is a copy of the interview below.

AG: Demandbase has been a big proponent on account based marketing.  Can you explain what you mean by account based marketing and why marketers should adopt this kind of strategy?

JPW: Account based marketing is a practice through which B2B marketers can align themselves to their sales counterparts and drive more revenue by focusing their marketing & communications efforts on the ACCOUNTS that are most likely to become customers.

It turns out that your future customers look very much like your existing ones, so when you understand the attributes of your customer accounts, you can create a targeted account list which is far more likely to buy.  This will produce a better return than the traditional B2B approach of using swag industry/revenue identifiers with titles.

AG: What is the impact to sales of an account based marketing strategy?

JPW: The great news is that in addition to driving more revenue through this practice, marketing can also create a more natural alignment with our sales counterparts.  Sales have always sold to accounts, and now the marketing technology and data evolution allows marketers to do the same.

Through account based marketing, and the implementation of account based marketing technologies, the entire revenue chain can begin to look for, and more importantly act on, the account signals that indicate propensity to buy.  Account spikes in web activity are the single best indicator of future revenue.  If you can capitalize on that signal and provide a personalized and targeted web experience and overall engagement, you are that much more likely to drive higher revenue numbers with a faster time to close.

In my experience when sales sees marketing using account based marketing practices to drive their strategies and plans, they can better understand and support marketing’s output to them achieving great alignment!

AG: What impact does an account based marketing approach have on the day-to-day activities of a B2B marketer?

JPW: Thinking about how you target and sell to an account rather than to an individual title or industry changes almost everything that you do on a daily basis.  By laser focusing your time and attention on the accounts most likely to become revenue, you avoid waste.  No more spraying and praying, instead it is more like small net fishing—delivering the right message to the right account at the right time.  It means you have to constantly think of ways to better engage accounts, and constantly provide more value-rich content to speed a buyer’s journey, but that is work we are all accustomed to.

The newness is the outcome—higher conversion rates, reduced waste in spend, increased ROI on each marketing dollar spent. One of the key shifts is keeping in mind that when we market to businesses there are always multiple web visits from the account involved.  Sometimes those visits are from influencers and buyers certainly, but some of those visits are from people you might not expect at the account—purchasing, IT, finance, etc.  Every visitor from your target accounts should be provided with a web experience that is appropriate to what that company means to you at that moment—are they a customer? A prospect? Are they engaged in a sales cycle with you? Are they an investor or a competitor?  Through account-based marketing you can ensure that you engage appropriately with all contacts because of what their ACCOUNT means to you.

AG: What kind of revenue impact can organizations expect by adopting an account based marketing strategy?

JPW: We have seen improvements in conversions at every stage of the demand waterfall as a result of named account marketing.  Initially, as you change your outbound targets, your conversions will increase but your volume may decrease as you build new, more relevant lists.  When you have the lists, your volume and conversions should increase.  This can be seen most obviously at the Inquiry, MQL and SAL levels.

However, when your sales practices are sound and you have great pipeline and close rates, putting more quality AND volume in at the top, you will create revenue increases.

In addition, what will increase will be the percentage of closed businesses that is sourced by marketing—when we market to who is most likely to buy, that will be a natural outcome.

AG: How does marketing automation help enable account based marketing?

JPW: Marketing automation enables account based marketing by allowing us to mine through our databases of record and understand common attributes of our customers, buyers and influencers at those accounts.  Many companies are in the early stages of implementing account based scoring in their automation systems, which enable marketers to understand when a company who meets the right criteria has a threshold of activity that warrants new action.  This is incredibly powerful.

AG: How do account based marketing and content marketing work together? 

JPW: For account based marketing to have maximum impact, you need a powerful content marketing strategy that will result in the content that your marketing and sales teams need to ensure that accounts get the right message at the right time in the buying cycle.  This can mean MORE content, but it can also mean content that is appropriately tagged for customer/sales life cycle stage, for industry, company size. The good news is, even if you do not have a ton of content, using a content management solution and account based attributes in conjunction with your website will allow you to serve content that appears to be targeted to your audience, even if it is generic.  This targeted content increases engagement and speeds time to close. Because of account based marketing, your content creation strategy will change, but another great data point is that the impact of the content will be more dramatically felt when its creation is aligned with demand marketing strategies.

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