How this SaaS company used account-based marketing to go upmarket

FullStory CMO details the operational challenges, plus technology, organisational and strategy requirements of adopting ABM as a B2B marketer

Investment in an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy and tech is enabling digital intelligence platform vendor, FullStory, to attract and boost new enterprise-grade client engagement by upwards of 75 per cent.

FullStory is a US-based digital intelligence platform provider. In the early days, the company grew up off the back of a product-led growth strategy. But over the past 18 months, it’s been building out an ABM approach to expand into fresh vertical and enterprise customer segments.

As FullStory CMO, Peter Herbert, told CMO, the early days saw the SaaS company working predominantly with startups and via online self-service purchasing.

“We built up a loyal following, which fuelled growth,” he said. However, by the time Herbert joined in 2018, it was clear the high-performing business had more opportunity than was being realised upmarket. What’s more, the emergence of digital intelligence as a technology category in its own right raised fresh opportunity to target accounts larger and in different segments to where FullStory traditionally played.

One step forward was building out a sales team. But arguably, the more culturally challenging shift has been adopting an ABM approach in addition to the demand gen prospecting and online self-service.

FullStory is the third company Herbert has established an ABM strategy in. He cited the emergence of new technology platforms as key to helping B2B marketers not only do ABM at scale and in more channels, but also targeting more intelligently. FullStory has invested in Engagio’s ABM offering, alongside Marketo’s marketing automation, as its foundation marketing platforms.

“Many marketers have done account-based marketing for many years; it’s the emergence of new technology that has helped us to do it at scale and across more channels than we previously could, as well as target more intelligently,” Herbert said. “FullStory seemed the perfect scenario for layering in an account-based approach on top of a demand gen and online experience already working well.”

One of the most important things about ABM is it just makes sense, Herbert said. “Sales have always been account-focused, but marketing has given them leads of individual people, and that’s how people operated for a long time. We learnt that system,” he said.  

“To evolve from lead-based approaches, where you’re literally activating your team off inbound and form filling, to having a data-driven approach to targeting accounts and triggering the right activities for the right people in the right accounts, has become easier and easier to do at scale.”

Operationalising ABM

The key to making ABM successful - and often the hardest part once buy-in is achieved across an organisation - is operationalising it, Herbert said. He cited several critical success factors.

The first is technology providing lead-to-account matching. “When a lead comes in, are we able to roll that up to an account in a bionic way?” he asked. Secondly, engagement tracking and scoring at an account level is vital.

“It’s much more valuable and important in the cycle if you can combine all known and anonymous engagement, and all channels. It’s not enough to just look at Web engagement, or leads of anonymous Web activity, we want to combine and get a holistic view of an account,” Herbert continued. “It’s a new way of expressing demand to the sales development organisation more robust than simply sending leads.”

Third, Herbert noted it’s important to not use marketing qualified leads, but instead have marketing qualified account status and a scorecard that is account based. Herbert’s FullStory team uses an ABM scorecard, initially available via spreadsheets, but now more commonly available as a feature within ABM tech platforms.

Another must is account funnels that orchestrate activities within an account reaching a certain stage. This is where automation comes to the fore, Herbert said.

“Automation then frees us up to do the valuable human things along the way, like connecting, speaking and interacting with people, sending them notes, and just thinking about the person-to-person aspects of developing a relationship between two companies,” he said.

Despite this, FullStory’s ABM approach is augmenting rather than replacing the lead demand gen model.  

“I don’t buy into the notion that leads don’t matter. If people are interacting with your content, requesting demos or providing information, that’s a lot of trust and an important event,” Herbert said. “It’s just the ability to layer on other types of data that allow us to have that holistic view of an account.”

Herbert’s ABM approach is focused on target account engagement, pipeline and revenue. Key here is knowing how many target accounts have engaged over a period of time, how many moved into your pipeline, and then closed/won.

“Then you can extend this to factor in measures such as customer satisfaction and renewals into customer experience as well,” Herbert said.

“Try to laser in on accounts that are best fit with your product and organisation and who will get a lot value using your product over time. If you understand that ideal customer profile, how to identify those accounts and can operationalise your approach across the organisation, it all just makes sense.”

Up next: ABM foundational capabilities, plus FullStory's results

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