Recently, we chatted with Jon Miller, the Chief Marketing Officer of Demandbase, about ABX - Account-Based Experience. During our conversation, we talked about why B2B and B2C marketers should consider switching from Account-Based Marketing to this new approach.
Since then, both ABM and ABX have come a long way. They have both been popular discussion topics, especially during challenging economic climates.
If you have not been keeping up with the developments in this space, you may be wondering:
- What is Account-Based Experience (ABX)?
- How is it different from Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?
- What are the limitations of ABM that are pushing marketers to move to ABX?
- What are the benefits of ABX?
- How do I start implementing an ABX strategy? (The ABX funnel)
This 10 min read will clear up all your doubts and confusion.
Before we begin, let me address one crucial thing upfront: ABM and ABX are very closely related to each other. They have the common thread of executing an account-based strategy.
So, if you are already practising Account-Based Marketing in some form or another, you can continue to build on it and transition to ABX's more comprehensive approach.
It's possible that your current ABM strategy might already be following the principles from ABX, making this article a stress-free read without the need to start from scratch.
With that out of the way, let us explore ABX and answer the above questions.
Table of Contents
- What is ABX (Account-Based Experience)?
- Why is ABX Important?
- ABX vs ABM: What’s the Difference?
- Benefits of Account-Based Experience
- The Account-Based Experience Funnel
- xGrowth’s Approach to ABX Campaigns
What is ABX (Account-Based Experience)?
Account-Based Experience (ABX) is a strategic approach in business-to-business (B2B) marketing that focuses on creating personalised and seamless interactions with individual target accounts using data and insights. Similar to Account-Based Marketing (ABM), ABX extends beyond marketing to encompass the entire customer journey, aligned sales, marketing and customer success teams to collaborative engage and nurture key accounts.
In the ABX framework, data and insights play a pivotal role. By leveraging data-driven analytics business can gain a deeper insight into account behaviour and preferences, enabling them to optimise engagement strategies and refine their approach. This ensures that interactions are not only targeted but also valuable to the account.
ABM + CX = ABX
Let's expand on this.
Before the adoption of ABM, marketers were often taking a scatter-gun approach. They would cast a wide net through online and offline campaigns and ads.
Anyone and everyone who could be a potential customer was targeted and the number of incoming leads would measure the success of the campaign.
Once ABM gained traction, marketers and sales teams began to narrow their focus to the specific accounts they had agreed upon.
The content was tailored to address the business challenges of key specific accounts.
While ABM proved to be a reliable approach, it did not consider whether the consumer was ready to buy. This is where ABX comes in.
ABX encourages marketers to evaluate the preparedness of the target decision-maker and where they are in the buying journey. It then asks marketers to loop in other relevant departments of the organisation such as customer success, pre-sales, account managers et cetera to approach and engage with the targeted decision-makers.
The critical tenet behind ABX is respecting the customer experience.
Therefore, the equation ABM + CX = ABX.
The other factor to consider is the positioning of ABM programs in a company.
Whenever the words ABM are spoken, a lot of the senior executives assume that it is primarily the marketing team’s responsibility. This is not the case; if you have truly implemented an Account-Based Marketing campaign, you would know that it involves people from sales, pre-sales and sales operations.
Evolving ABM to ABX sets that internal expectation with the leadership that ABX needs to be jointly owned by all the key departments of an organisation.
Why is ABX Important?
In the previous section, I defined ABX. Reading it would have, to a certain extent, answered the question of why this new approach is important.
But let's further explore ABX's relevance through an example.
Consider a scenario of a SaaS company that sells cloud-based CRM software. The sales and marketing teams come together to launch an ABM campaign targeting the top thirty banks in their region. The sales team supplies input while creating the account list and defining the ICP. The first campaign is launched. There is some engagement, and the SDRs call the stakeholders from the right accounts.
But, if you think about it, we completely ignored the target audience's readiness to receive that call in the above scenario. This may lead to wasted effort. Worse, it may close the door to entering those highly valuable accounts forever since your potential customers did not have a positive experience while dealing with your organisation.
In the new world of ABX, sales reps only reach out to members of the buying committee who have left their contact information in a lead capture form, ideally after engaging with some ABM content. This is also where the concept of a marketing-qualified account comes into play.
In an ABX environment, once a salesperson has obtained a buyer's consent to call, they will continue the conversation in a manner that aligns with the content that the buyer from the target account has previously engaged with. This content may include a custom content blog or a brief public demonstration on the website.
As you can see, the customer experience mimics the buying life cycle, and there is consistent messaging.
Are you already mindful of the above in your current ABM campaigns? If yes, congratulations, you are already following one of the principles of ABX. If not, it is an opportunity to level up your ABM program.
Here is another scenario using the above CRM company. The sales and marketing team launch their ABM strategy to expand into an existing account.
While the ABM campaign and account-based advertising deliver some traction, after a few weeks, the teams realise that the key buyers have launched a tender (RFP) for the same expansion opportunity.
Knowing the launch of the tender process, the ABX principle would encourage you to loop in the current Customer Success Manager (CSM) of the account and continue to hone the ABM message that your sales and marketing team produced.
Remember, the CSM is jumping on the ABM wagon in parallel with the sales and marketing team preparing a response for the tender.
It is a consistent experience that is not only targeting the buyer's challenges but also where they are in the purchase life cycle.
ABX becomes essential in the above examples since it enhances the efficacy of ABM and respects where the buyers are in the purchasing cycle.
The final reason for ABX becoming more important is the fact that 80% of a client’s revenue will come after the deal is closed. ABM helped bring the deal home, but ABX ensures that it stays. As customer success and account management teams start to jointly own ABX alongside marketing, the consistency in buyer experience across the account lifecycle drives tremendous results in retention.
ABX vs ABM: What's the Difference?
What is the difference between ABM and ABX? The critical point of distinction between ABM and ABX comes from being deliberate about the customer experience and customer journey. In the earlier sections, we talked about how ABX forces marketers to consider that.
ABX consists of four key pillars: data, insights, orchestration, and measurement.
Marketers and organisations need to focus on these four pillars to level up their ABM to ABX.
While ABM and ABX share significant similarities, the focus on these four key pillars is what sets them apart as distinct strategies.
Data collection and analysis are used to determine the ideal customer profile (ICP) in both ABM and ABX strategies. However, in ABX, ongoing data collection and analysis are crucial even after the sale is made. This ensures that the customer's changing needs are identified and met to maintain a successful long-term relationship.
Insights involve understanding the needs, preferences, pain points, strategies, and goals of your customers, which can be best achieved through customer success and account management teams. These teams liaise with key stakeholders and gather intelligence during their weekly or monthly meetings, ensuring a deep understanding of customer behaviour and preferences.
Orchestration is the process of coordinating and aligning marketing, sales, and customer success teams to deliver relevant and consistent experiences throughout the entire customer journey. This involves ensuring that all teams are working together seamlessly and communicating effectively to create a cohesive customer experience.
Measurement involves evaluating the impact and effectiveness of ABX efforts on key metrics such as revenue, retention, loyalty, advocacy, and overall customer relationships. This enables a clear understanding of the success of your ABX strategy and provides insights into areas for improvement.
Remember, a greater focus on the above key components, along with the entire organisation co-owing ABM with marketing, is where the difference between the ABX approach and ABM lies.
Benefits of Account-Based Experience
In this section, I will talk about the benefits of adopting the ABX strategy. The advantages come in the form of the following four ways.
1. Optimisation of Resources & Efforts
ABX helps you optimise time and resources by focusing on accounts with the highest revenue potential. You want to avoid focusing on too many accounts.
ABX helps cut wasted effort on buyers that are not a good fit or not ready to buy.
2. Growth in the Size of Deals Closed
You close more and bigger deals that generate more revenue.
You can boost your business growth and outshine your competitors by delivering customised and relevant messages to engage your valuable accounts throughout the customer journey.
By aligning your marketing, sales and post-sales teams around the same objectives and metrics, ABX ensures you hit the right note with your customers.
This is where the four pillars of the ABX strategy come into play. The empowerment to close more deals comes from sales actions backed by better insights and relevant data.
3. Higher Net Revenue Retention & Net Dollar Retention
ABX helps you build long-term customer relationships and increase the value of your best accounts.
Since you are keeping the customer at the centre of everything, you can discover cross-sell and up-sell opportunities and create loyal brand advocates by providing them with a smooth, engaging and satisfying customer experience.
4. Collaboration Among Critical Departments
ABX helps you bridge the gap between marketing, sales, customer success and account management teams, fostering teamwork and trust.
By sharing data, insights, strategies, feedback, tools and best practices across these teams, ABX ensures that you work towards the same goals and deliver a unified message to your target companies.
The Account-Based Experience Funnel
The Account-Based Experience (ABX) funnel is a customer-centric go-to-market strategy framework that uses data and insights to provide meaningful interactions throughout the account journey.
It is also a structured way to go about implementing an Account-Based Experience (ABX) campaign.
As I mentioned before, Account-Based Experience builds upon the foundation of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and involves aligning sales, customer success, and other teams towards shared goals and ABM metrics.
ABX includes four stages: attract, engage, close, and grow.
Each stage has its objectives, tactics, and metrics.
The first stage is attraction, which involves identifying and prioritising the accounts most likely to buy your product or service based on their fit, intent data, engagement and relationship. This stage can be measured by account coverage, awareness, and penetration.
The second stage is engagement, which focuses on creating personalised and relevant experiences for your target accounts across various channels such as email, social media, webinars, events, and direct mail. This stage can be measured by account engagement, reach, influence and satisfaction with a particular account.
The third stage is close, which aims to convert your target accounts into customers by aligning your marketing and sales teams. This stage can be measured by pipeline velocity, win rate, deal size, cycle time, and ROI.
The fourth and final stage is growth, which concentrates on retaining and expanding your customer relationships, even with existing accounts. This stage can be measured by retention rate, expansion rate, referral rate, advocacy rate, and NPS.
As I said before if you are looking to upgrade your ABM to an ABX strategy, combining the above with our Account-Based Marketing template would be the fastest and easiest way to go about it.
xGrowth's Approach to ABX Campaigns
I hope this article has helped you understand what is ABX, and the key differences between ABX and ABM.
Many of the ABM programs that we run for our clients here at xGrowth incorporate the ABX pillars and value the privacy of modern buyers and the buyer journey.
If you are interested in Account-Based Experience and need a helping hand in execution, you can contact us here.