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


ABM foundation capabilities

Before the operational work, however, comes alignment with the sales leadership and executive team.

“This isn’t a project marketing does on the side. We have to agree, based on what we know and a hypothesis today, which identifies what we feel is our ideal customer profile,” Herbert stressed.

These personas within accounts must also be documented at both an account and buyer level, he advised. And they must be supported by organisational alignment to the ABM strategy, aligned to the business strategy.

One organisational buy-in is secured, the next step is ensuring infrastructure and operations to support it, Herbert said. For example, an approach may leverage an existing tech stack, complementing it with ad hoc pieces, or see a company invest into marketing automation and ABM tools to market in an account-based fashion. 

At FullStory, Engagio and Marketo sit at the core of a raft of technologies, with other supporting technologies feeding in. These include Sendoso for sending direct mail, and other technologies for different tactics. Herbert noted the importance of understanding the difference between an operational, analytics and an execution platform.

“The key is that most of the different operational leads you have when you are operating in an ABM way are met within the platform, for lead-to-account matching, track and observe account funnels, measure engagement holistically - these are the operational necessities of an ABM platform. The platform also needs to integrate, bring in data and trigger things,” he explained. 

Meanwhile, alignment with the account or sales development team, depending on where it sits, must also be achieved. As a technical marketing approach with lots of data, ABM does require someone to integrate these platforms. The data piece and how to identify when you’re targeting prospects is another area where there are a lot of tools making ABM easier, Herbert said.

“The best results come when marketing campaigns and the people involved in frontline interactions are aligned to the same messaging, know what the others are doing and are approaching accounts at the same time,” he said. “If marketing is targeting 1000 accounts, but sales development is working on a separate set of accounts, it’s not going to add up.”  

Then it’s about building out accounts in the database with contacts, align with demand gen and campaign programs, account development team and launch, Herbert said. The company has a three-tiered approach to business/vertical opportunities.

The first group of accounts FullStory targeted for ABM were those with virtually no engagement with the business.

“We did that on purpose to have impact,” he said. “We have continued to iterate and developed over time. You have to combine different approaches and strategies – what works for startups is very different for large enterprise accounts. As a CMO, you may want have a portfolio of approaches, tactics and programs across the business.”

For example, initial tactics Herbert used were in its ‘ADR plays’, or with sales dev reps reaching out to accounts.

“We have used digital tactics including LinkedIn sponsored content, content syndication, and a fun thing for us is direct mail – we have specific ways of requesting and triggering direct mail,” he said. “Our design and brand are important, and we want to create a lovable experience. Presenting our brand in a great light is a fun part of doing direct mail for us.”

There are also specific event strategies at trade shows, where the goal is to meet with specific accounts, plus field tactics such as dinners.

“Being person-to-person is really what the goal of all this is for us,” Herbert said. “The word ‘plays’ has been a useful one for us. It’s a set of tactics in certain situations, which you can pull on. Really what we’re trying to do is express and communicate your brand and product clearly, and create a differentiating experience for your customers.

“A lot of marketers spend all their time talking about pipeline and revenue. But really we’re trying to create a great experience for people trying to interact us with our company and our product.”

While guarded on specific results, what is clear is when FullStory targets at an account level, it’s driving up engagement, Herbert said. For example, with the first couple of cohorts not previously engaged with FullStory, it’s now seen over 75 per cent engagement.

“That’s a significant shift, and downstream, we’ve seen other positive results,” he said.

Next steps 

At FullStory, the emphasis now is continually innovating its ABM approach through a combination of data and operations, programs, communications, in the field and online experiences.

“With any kind of marketing, that’s important,” Herbert said. “The launch is just the beginning; then it’s really making it work. The process of coordinating multiple teams is the part you have to get right. It’s a very human thing to operate this way.”  

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