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Susan is an independent digital communications and user experience strategist. She helps companies discover their brand voice and grow their business.
Shubharthi is currently part of the strategic marketing team at Regalix. His expertise mainly lies in the account-based marketing and programmatic advertising space.
Priscilla is a content writer who has worked for Infosys Technologies and other technology startups in India and abroad.
Moulishree is a freelance journalist with over 7 years of experience, she writes research-based analytical stories on technology and business.
Avanish is a Bangalore-based journalist who writes on business with a specific focus on technology companies.
Priyanka has covered every aspect of the IT industry as a tech journalist since its early days. She is now an independent writer, working on subjects like digital marketing, enterprise technology and high-performance computing, among others.
A freelance content writer, S. Sahu was the former editor of TCS's house magazine at Tata Consultancy Services. He developed tech marketing collateral for the company and helped compile and edit books and journal articles on TCS's technology innovations. He also ghostwrites print and online publications.
Prajwala is a Bangalore-based freelance journalist who writes on social issues, stories of human interest, and art and culture, among others.
Rajesh Nanarpuzha is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at IIM Udaipur. Previously, he has worked as a brand manager in Dabur, and as a business consultant in the retail and consumer goods domains at Cognizant and Tata Consultancy Services. Rajesh has an MBA from IIM Indore and a doctorate in marketing from IIM Ahmedabad.
Priyokumar Singh Naorem
He is a passionate UI & UX designer who thrives on creating engaging creative solutions.
A freelance illustrator, artist, graphic novelist and designer. She has designed and illustrated several book covers. Her personal illustrations so far have attempted to seize the fleeting absurdity and mood of places, things and people she encounters in a childlike, intuitive and expressive manner with closure, beauty and innocence – the things that she desires.
She is an artist and an educator who has taught and lectured at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Oxford University, the Victoria and Albert Museum among other institutions. Her installations, paintings, thread work and sculptures have been exhibited in Saatchi Gallery - London, C24 Gallery - New York, and Museum of Contemporary Art – Lyon, among other notable galleries and museums from around the world.
A commerce graduate from Delhi University, Parul pursued a masters in fine arts from Nottingham Trent University in the UK. As an artist, she is interested in line as a subject which has led her to follow architectural lines in built environments. She says she is also interested in how we perceive the environment that we inhabit and what happens when a subtle shift is made in things which we have been used to seeing in a certain way. We present six of her artworks here.
Shweta Malhotra is a graphic artist and designer from Mumbai, based in New Delhi.
After working with ad agencies and design studios for close to 8 years, she branched out on her own and currently works independently.s Her overall design aesthetic is minimal, bold and graphic, a response to the maximalist visual language prevalent in India.
Rithika Merchant (b.1986) received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Parsons the New School for Design, New York in 2008. She has exhibited extensively since her graduation. Recent exhibitions include a duo show “Reliquaries: The Remembered Self” at TARQ, Mumbai; “Language of the Birds: Occult and Art” at 80WSE Gallery, New York; and group shows at Summerhall, Edinburgh and Artry Gallery, Kochi. Her work has been included in multiple group shows at Stephen Romano Gallery and The Morbid Anatomy Museum, New York. Born in Mumbai, she now divides her time between Mumbai and Barcelona.
Aniruddh Mehta is an artist based out of Mumbai, India. Trained in graphic design from the London College of Communications, Aniruddh is a self-taught illustrator and currently works as an independent freelance designer. He believes in finding the right balance between art and graphic design. He has worked closely in collaboration with Bhavishyavani Future Soundz, Qilla Records, Taxi Fabric, Adidas, Dell and United Colours of Benetton. He also goes by the moniker, ‘thebigfatminimalist’ and his style ranges from bold minimal forms to more intricate pieces exploring patterns and geometry.
Paramesh is an artist who enjoys working in both the realistic and abstract style of painting. He loves working with water color. Featured in this issue are a set of water color works that he has created exclusively for us on the subject of digital transformation.
Based in Mumbai, Chandrashekhar Thakur is a Senior Art Director and Illustrator at Truebil.com and the Founder of HAPPiNESS For You. He loves working with new styles of art and considers illustration to be his forte. Chandrashekhar has completed his BFA from DY Patil College of Applied Art.
Concept and Direction
Head of marketing at Regalix, Nimish drives research in emerging technologies and customer experience, and takes a keen interest in creative arts.
The idea of ABM has been to reach the right people, engage with extreme relevance and drive business growth. RollWorks, AdRoll Group’s B2B division, provides Growth Platform to B2B marketers looking for precision targeting, account-based marketing, sales-cycle acceleration, and transparent reporting. They have been honored as the winner of the “Best Remarketing Platform” award by MarTech Breakthrough in 2018. As the Vice President of Marketing at RollWorks, Jennifer Toton looks over brand building, demand generation, content marketing and social media. Before joining AdRoll Group, she handled strategy, GTM, customer positioning, messaging and buyer’s journey for Autodesk’s $500M ARR AutoCAD product line. Jennifer has significant expertise in launching and growing cloud/SaaS and mobile offerings, and is experienced in building brands at startups through Fortune 500 companies and accelerating revenue in mature business lines.
Interviewed by Shubharthi Ghosh
/ / How has the ABM function evolved over the past few years?
Not too long ago, ABM was another analyst-used acronym that few knew what it stood for and even fewer understood what it meant. However, over the past few years, knowledge has grown alongside adoption. Justifiably so, as it's allowing ambitious marketers to reach target accounts, focus their budgets on the few that matter most, and engage with prospective customers from the first touch to close. Gartner predicts that by 2019, 75% of B2B technology service providers with more than $10 million in revenue will adopt ABM as their primary market model, up from 25% in 2017. That is a massive shift.
ABM and highly-targeted B2B marketing strategies are not new. Peppers and Rogers wrote ‘The One to One Future’ in 1993, recommending that marketers focus on few high-value customers and use new technologies to build relationships. Over the last few years, these strategies have accelerated, thanks to CRM systems giving sales teams a tremendous insight into their prospects and their readiness to buy. Digital is the norm for B2B marketers now, and new channels, like social media, and new technologies, including digital advertising and marketing automation, have created a robust ecosystem for reaching and engaging target customers. However, these systems have remained disconnected, and measurement from the first touch to close has remained a challenge.
/ / How should companies select their ABM accounts?
Ideal accounts are at the intersection of high fit, high intent and high engagement.
The high fit is those valuable companies that are most likely to see value from your product or service. It's often called your ideal customer profile (ICP) and is associated with such attributes as size, industry, technology and location, that match the customers whom you expect to buy from you. Depending on your depth of resources, determining your ICP could be based on a mix of qualitative input from sales, business insights from closure rate and deal size, and possibly predictive models that analyze many variables to determine the attributes that matter most.
The high intent is determined by marketplace signals that indicate that the company is in the market looking for a solution like yours. Obvious intent signals include looking at a product comparison website, searching for keywords, or visiting a competitor's site. When you combine high fit with high intent, you are able to identify high-value target accounts with a readiness to buy.
High engagement is determined by the number of engagements a customer has with you across your marketing, sales, customer success or support activities. Visiting your website, attending a webinar or stopping by your conference booth are key indicators of engagement and interest. Certainly, a willingness to talk with sales or a spike in interest for new offerings while speaking with a customer success representative are also strong engagement signals. Analyzing which engagements convert and lead to closed deals is another useful tool in determining your target account list.
/ / What are the technologies/trends driving ABM today?
The growing consumer need for personalized experiences and engagement means that ABM needs to use more customer and account data to paint an accurate picture of the target accounts and figure out how to effectively reach them. An abundance of data provides better and more precise insights into target accounts.
Within the last two years, AI technology has transformed ABM. AI connects companies to digital profiles across the web, social and mobile channels, leveraging millions of signals and predictions to help companies place the best ad at the best value. The introduction of precise targeting helps provide a level of transparency for companies to see their marketing efforts tracked through long sale cycles and multiple touchpoints. In the past, it was nearly impossible for marketing teams to scale their efforts; now, scaling is entirely manageable.
The adoption and success of ABM strategies are helping spur the integration of sales and marketing teams and vice versa. To convert targets to loyal customers, sales and marketing teams must work together to reach their goals. AI and MarTech platform integrations are advancing at the same time, giving marketing and sales teams the visibility they need to make well-informed decisions.
/ / What are the common challenges that companies face in implementing ABM?
Like most strategies, it is important, and it’s what success looks like for all stakeholders involved. Companies running advanced ABM strategies have close alignment and collaboration across the organization, particularly with sales and operations, to ensure they have the data necessary to run the programs.
Getting to this point is a journey. Here are five common mistakes we see when marketers begin to implement ABM:
Selecting target accounts: One of the more significant challenges with ABM is getting to an agreed target account list. Agreement on the purpose and goals for the account list are at the start of the process. Toward the end of the process, teams should align to ensure that the data is of high quality; this will allow you to score a list and act on it as planned.
Underestimating the importance of sales and marketing alignment: Closing deals with key accounts is difficult; it is an initiative that should be company-wide. Everyone needs to buy into the strategy, from sales to marketing, finance and even upper management. From determining the right accounts to focusing on executing coordinated sales plays, sales and marketing alignment is central to successful ABM execution.
Forgetting to revise measurement and reporting: Success with ABM looks different from demand-gen programs. Quality beats quantity. Engagement beats form fills. Teams often need to rework standard reports to provide insights into demand gen and ABM campaigns.
Not planning for a dip in lead volume and a rise in quality : With ABM, the quality of leads will increase, and lead volume will decrease as the focus is on the opportunities that matter.
The best way to avoid panic in the system is to plan for this by keeping executive leadership, sales and marketing informed of the strategy shift and its impact on KPIs, especially lead volume.
Not having content that is aligned to the customer journey: If you do not have content that speaks to the contacts you are engaging with based on what stage they are in the buyer’s journey, then you’re going to miss out on the biggest strength of running account-based marketing.
/ / Do you think companies are investing enough in ABM?
If we get back to the premise of ABM, which is, at its core, about highly-targeted B2B marketing, then every step companies take to focus their marketing is on the right path. However, as discussed earlier, developing a target account list is tough. Coordinating cross-functionally on your account-based strategy and execution is also hard in practice. Adjusting your resources and measurement systems takes an organizational change that is often outside the direct influence of the marketing manager.
Even so, businesses are realizing the benefits that an account-based strategy can have on their marketing efficacy. According to a Demand-Gen Report, 97% of practice leaders, marketers and business development executives said that ABM offered a higher ROI than other marketing methods, with 38% calling it ‘much higher.’ These results show that ABM is not just yielding better results, but is also more cost-effective than traditional marketing.
/ / How is AI changing the ABM function? How well, in your opinion, are businesses coping with this change?
Machine learning and AI are powerful tools that can help automate and continuously improve your account-based marketing results. We are one of a few companies worldwide that have developed a proprietary, real-time optimization engine that can control numerous aspects of user engagement, including user-level targeting; act-alike modeling to grow your target account list at scale; bidding and message personalization; optimization of budget; and delivery across channels, inventory sources, and devices. Our AI and machine learning can understand how to optimize user engagements to drive toward defined KPIs, including budget optimizations, driving new opportunities for target accounts, pipeline progression or growing existing customer revenue. The data we capture is continuously scored to understand how and when customers should be engaged. Furthermore, it automatically controls most aspects of user engagement, delivering highly-relevant, personalized ads.
While this technology is robust and yields great results for marketers, the challenge is in understanding what is driving the success of your campaigns. Which message performed best against which audiences? Which target accounts are most likely to respond to your advertisement, indicating an interest in marketing at this time? What sequence of ads, emails, calls and web page visits is driving closed deals? Marketers need these insights to repeat and scale the results into other aspects of the business. For this reason, ABM strategies should not just focus on reporting campaign results, but also on reporting insights that help to decode the success they see in their AI-driven campaigns.
/ / What are the trends/technologies that you think will drive ABM in the future? How should businesses gear up for this?
The future of account-based marketing is bright and promising. Companies are learning how to successfully and quickly implement ABM strategies as they learn more about the benefits of targeting specific accounts and working together with sales to affect revenue.
Artificial intelligence is the key technology to the transition to ABM and will continue to influence ABM in the future. AI's success hinges on quality data to power the algorithms that drive them. Data is a complex topic and one that often brings up privacy rules and regulations. There are also issues around data living in silos across marketing automation, CRM, product and customer support systems. Working to bring that data together, manage it, cleanse it, protect it and enrich it is a daunting task. Marketers need to understand how data will power the AI that will automate and optimize the cross-channel marketing touches of the future. Marketers will need to lead the way, raise the importance of quality data to the organization, set a vision for the future, and organize work streams to turn data into the asset it can be for B2B companies. Only then can they fully take advantage of the power of ABM of tomorrow.
Transitioning to an ABM organization
Marketing, at its core, is a process of understanding consumer needs, to design goods and services that satisfy these needs better than existing competition.
AI has huge potential to transform ABM meaningfully
Apurv Bhatnagar, Associate Vice President, Kore.ai
ABM will help you deliver a real-world experience in the digital space
Abraham Alapatt, President & Group Head, Marketing, Service Quality, VAS & Innovation, Thomas Cook (India)
In ABM, personalization is not an afterthought – it is part of the strategy
Yashdeep Vaishnav, Director, Marketing Cloud, Salesforce
ABM is akin to fishing with a spear instead of casting a wide net
Sumit Srivastava, Head, Corporate Marketing Analytics & Operations, LexisNexis Risk Solutions
The return on investment of ABM is far more than a generic broad-based marketing approach
Samik Roy, Country Head (Dynamics), Microsoft India
I would say ABM is a big cultural shift for companies, and AI is only a small part of that
Todd Berkowitz, Managing Vice President, Tech GTM Marketing, Product & Sales, Gartner Inc.
ABM can seem thankless before it turns to gold
VC John, Regional VP, Marketing & Communications (BFSI), Accenture