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If you’re like most marketers, you love to count impressions, clicks, and web traffic from your digital campaigns. We live for it. Throw creative content and a healthy budget into the all-important soup that is the internet, and life emerges. It’s like playing blackjack – you can break a few hands, but eventually you will hit a streak.
I’ll never forget when I was counseling a company, who were so excited about all the advertising experiences they had, each with their own set of stats: impressions, cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM), click-through rate ( CTR), cost per click (CPC), views, shares, likes, share of voice (SOV), content engagement scores, etc. They then asked me what to do. Which program was the best?
The honest answer was that I had no hint, so I asked a few basic questions: what were they trying to do? What accounts did they want to reach? Did they get these accounts to interact with their brand? And the pipeline?
It wasn’t the marketing team’s fault. Each platform has specific metrics designed to make us believe we’re about to win – and win big. And there is no shortage of “case studies” where you read information about other teams crashing it on a platform and think, “We better do that too.
I encouraged the company I was advising – and now I encourage you – to check your FOMO at the door and take a few steps back because the reality is that impressions, clicks, and SOV only count if you hit the good audience and are able to generate engagement with your brand. Here’s what worked for us at 6sense:
Define your ideal customer profile
First, you need to identify the accounts you want to reach by answering a few key questions. Why are these great accounts for you? How successful have you been with similar accounts? Are these accounts in an industry where you can be successful? Are they the right size? Good geography?
Without a defined ideal customer profile or, at a minimum, an account segmentation strategy to focus your ad budget, you might as well shift your ad spend to Vegas and put it all in red. At least there you get free drinks.
Get information on engagement
Early in the buyer’s journey, accounts anonymously search what we at 6sense call the ‘dark funnel’.
There are many digital marketing approaches and platforms that will make you think this is a volume game. Get enough impressions, shares, clicks, and likes in the dark funnel, and you will eventually reach your goal. Before the advent of account-based platforms (ABMs), this was true to some extent. However, today’s ABM platforms take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data to take the guesswork out of targeting your campaign.
AI and predictive analytics do the heavy lifting to determine exactly where each account is in the buyer’s journey, as well as their level of engagement. Armed with information about your target accounts, you can develop your specific messaging, timing, and calls to action.
Determine your engagement goal and the appropriate strategy
Now here’s another question: what is your program goal? To sell more things? Generate more traffic? Educate buyers? Eliminate a competitor? Your goal will likely change based on the information you get in the Dark Funnel. For example:
• Accounts without intention: Unless you are a great gamer, your goal may be not to waste money here because they are under a rock.
• Accounts in early awareness phase: Your goal might be to get those accounts to log into your brand and see you as a solution to their problem. So it would be wise to invest in driving these accounts towards your thought leadership content.
• Accounts that visited your competitor’s website but not yours: In this case, your goal might be to get them to your website so that you establish yourself on an equal footing with your competitor’s solution and get them to make an appointment with you to compare the solutions.
• Accounts with only a few committed people: Here, your goal might be to identify the entire buying team on the account and make sure all stakeholders are involved.
Measure account engagement
This makes sense because, in the words of Kenny Rogers, “You have to know when to hold them, know when to fold them.” Traditionally, we have used CPC, CTR, and impressions to gauge when we were accumulating a bunch of chips. or when we were playing with a short stack.
Unfortunately, these measures do not tell us the whole story. After all, who in B2B clicks on ads anyway? And, based on the Ideal Customer Profile review above, these goals don’t guarantee that clicks and impressions even matter to our business.
A good ABM platform has robust engagement metrics that prevent marketers from hoping to hit the jackpot at a predictable print pipeline.
For example, at 6sense, we track:
• Which accounts were reached and engaged, including the number of new engaging accounts, changing levels of account engagement and hiring new personalities.
• How the campaign influences engagement with other channels, specifically something called the frame rate (VTR). The VCR allows us to track the post-print engagement of an account with our brand on our website, whether or not it clicked on our ad. Engagement is what we want, and VTR allows us to track it without the need for clicks.
• Pipeline influenced. Calculated in pipeline dollars from accounts reached, committed, and affected by a campaign within a given time frame in the sales cycle.
When we don’t focus on CTRs and start measuring how digital awareness campaigns drive global engagement, we start to see a complete picture of how our awareness campaigns are performing.
So go ahead and bet on black – not Vegas black, but the new black that is account pledging.