What I Learned From A Leading ABM Team in Tech

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) salon dinner. Daniel Day, Senior Director of ABM and Market Planning at Snowflake, led the discussion and provided an overview of the Snowflake team’s approach. I thought I’d pass along a few of the learnings that I picked up at the event.

Before diving in, let’s take a look at ABM from a higher level. The strategic approach of ABM is rooted primarily in account awareness — interacting with individual prospects or customer accounts as if they are their very own markets. Aligning closely with sales teams, a marketing team can create content, events, and entire campaigns dedicated to the people associated with a specific account, rather than the industry as a whole. During our dinner, Daniel laid out the three-stage approach he and his team have deemed necessary for successful ABM: targeting, engaging, and measuring.

Targeting customers is a combination of assessing their engagement and model fit. ABM teams first decipher how users from a specific account are engaging with their product, then determine how closely they relate to other current customers. Daniel and his team use these data groups to feed a proprietary Marketing Account Fit (MAF) Score that not only informs ABM marketing prioritization but territory planning and sales hiring as well. Snowflake’s ABM team has also begun considering intent data (using G2 Crowd, Bombora, and TechTarget) which can be layered on top of third- and first-party data for additional account intelligence. The third-party data includes publicly available information like firm demographics, while the first-party data reflects the accounts’ historical engagement with Snowflake like website, email, events, web forms, etc. (using Segment).

Engaging puts into practice the more “narrow” marketing campaigns tailored toward specific customers and contacts. ABM team managers assist sales account executives (AEs) who have identified top accounts to focus on. AEs should gather information related to the target accounts’ use case, business initiatives, and key contacts to inform their specific strategy. Contact with accounts can move on a trajectory from customized to canned messaging, dovetailed with targeted advertising. Daniel and his team recommend using CMS and engagement tools (such as Uberflip and Conversica) to power customized content and website landing pages and set up user meetings. Daniel also suggests managing a single repository for all structured content (like whitepapers and one-pagers) as they do at Snowflake. This approach enables everyone and the applications they use to source content seamlessly.

Measuring a campaign’s effectiveness can be the most difficult task to tackle in any marketing practice. For ABM, the Snowflake team first centralizes the data in a data warehouse (obviously, Snowflake) that indicates the success of their campaigns. Data scientists on an ABM team should correlate the MAF with bookings and campaign results, and from their results, refine the MAF for future targeting.

A tactical takeaway that seemed critical to the success of Snowflake’s ABM program is to treat ABM as an integrated service to the entire organization by answering questions like:

  • Marketing — Which messaging is generating the most lift? What messages would generate more lift?

As our technology and solutions become more detailed, our marketing tactics need to keep pace. Markets themselves are splintered into sectors and companies with so many specialties; it’s almost absurd to think you can appeal to any of them with a broad, one-size-fits-all marketing strategy. ABM is the nail approach, not the hammer. Each level in the three-stage ABM process increases efficiency by honing in on the customer’s needs and letting those needs drive the approach. Marketing teams save time by employing ABM, instead of working backward and trying to jerry-rig a pre-existing marketing strategy not designed with a specific customer’s needs in mind. Thank you to Daniel and the Snowflake team for a look inside the successful workings of an ABM practice. In working with a diverse group of companies at Vertex US, I’m always eager to understand more specific and efficient ways to approach practices every business needs (like marketing) and hope you found this as helpful as I did.



Investor at Vertex Ventures.

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