Manufacturing marketers are turning their attention to Account-Based Marketing to augment more traditional digital marketing channels. If you’re still learning about what ABM is and why you might need it, have a read of this account-based marketing blog post that our own Floyd Peyton wrote over three years ago. While the technologies may have evolved since then, the description of the methodology is still as sound as ever.
The reasons for this shift are many. The funnel is flawed. For manufacturers with a finite total addressable market, the idea of trying to get more and more traffic to their website just doesn’t make sense. As traffic increases, qualified inbound lead volume often decreases, especially in B2B environments. Many paid media channels are more expensive than ever, driving cost per lead up and effectiveness down. On top of that, many of the manufacturers we speak with on The Kula Ring podcast and within our own manufacturing marketing client base are bringing a significant portion of their sales teams inside. Inside salespeople can only perform with a steady diet of quality, engaged leads. It can be difficult to achieve this volume of leads via inbound means alone, and cold phone and email-based outreach aren’t just poorly perceived by prospects, they can also be illegal, depending on where your markets are.
Account-Based Marketing Software Platforms
Given the surge in interest in account-based marketing, an increasing number of platforms are appearing and existing toolsets are starting to add ABM features. Using intent data tools, we can actually see how much interest there is in ABM as a topic, and there are dozens of intent surges on ABM-related terms every week within the target accounts Kula is monitoring. That’s just within the finite Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) manufacturers that Kula works with. As martech platforms add and promote ABM features, it’s helping to increase awareness of the methodology, while in turn also making the landscape a bit more complicated.
We’re lucky to have some fantastic martech software partners, and Kula works closely with both Terminus and HubSpot, among others. Terminus’ co-founder Sangram Vajre invented the term Account-Based Marketing and as such are deeply associated with the practice. HubSpot, no stranger to coining a term and then owning the category with Inbound Marketing, has recently entered the fray with a set of ABM features built into their suite of CRM and Marketing Automation tools. There is, however, very little crossover in terms of functionality between HubSpot and Terminus. I’ve been hearing from our clients and indeed from contacts within both companies that there’s some confusion about how these tools can support each other and where they shine. Rather than just take you through a list of features of the varying tools, I’ll instead walk you through the execution of an ABM campaign with a focus on where each tool plays in the process, what it excels at, and where you may need some outside help.
What’s the difference between Account-Based Marketing and Account-Based Advertising?
The fundamental difference in many ABM tools is whether they’re designed to deliver custom content and advertising to targeted prospects or help identify and categorize target accounts in the first place. Account-based advertising is just one of the many tactics that you may use to connect with your target accounts. Others include direct mail, traditional advertising, email campaigns, and more (there’s a great list in that blog post I linked up earlier). While there are a few instances where HubSpot can help you with advertising to a target account list, and I’ll get to those in a bit, it generally isn’t considered an account-based advertising platform, as the ability to design a campaign focused on small list of accounts or a single account is not possible. HubSpot’s ABM features are squarely focused on helping you identify the target accounts that most closely fit your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
While Terminus can help you refine your target account list through custom filtering and intent data, it is not about creating a list of target accounts. It is primarily a highly precise display advertising platform for serving ads directly to the people within your target accounts that are most likely to influence a purchase.
Creating Target Account Lists with HubSpot
B2B manufacturers tend to be better than most companies when it comes to understanding who is most likely to be a good candidate for purchasing their products. As noted above, they often have a finite number of possible companies that have the need for their product, and within that total envelope of companies, there are other determining factors that contribute to which companies are an ideal fit. These firmographic details (annual revenue, employee count, markets served, etc) allow manufacturing marketers to refine their Ideal Customer Profile to a list of best fit accounts. HubSpot Marketing and Sales Pro/Enterprise can come into play in this space with their new ABM tools which are designed to help identify and tier these accounts for account-based outreach.
The first step is to activate the ABM tools in your HubSpot Account. To do this, a Super Admin or user with Account access needs to go to the Contacts > Target Accounts area and click Get Started. There are two key areas to understand around how HubSpot helps you identify target accounts and the contacts within them who are most likely to influence a sale.
Identify & Tier Target Accounts at the Company Level
On the Company record side of things, you can set an account’s Target Account status to ‘true’, and then assign an appropriate Ideal Customer Profile Tier. The default tiers are simply labeled Tier 1, 2 and 3, but you can customize this to match your own internal ranking systems.
Of course, the Target Account status can be set manually, but if you want to set this property and rank your tiered accounts more rapidly across all companies currently in your hub, there is a stock Workflow that can be modified to meet your company’s ICP criteria. This allows you to use firmographic information about each account in your CRM to automatically set the Target Account status to true, and assign a tier. Properties such as annual revenue, number of employees and other criteria such as Industry. HubSpot’s Industry categorization can also be helpful in identifying target accounts.
One thing to note about using the Annual Revenue property is that if you’ve ever modified the field type from Number to Single Line Text, or another field type, you will be unable to use operators such as greater than or less than in your workflow. HubSpot support can set this straight for you again, but you risk losing customized data in those fields.
Identify Buying Roles at the Contact Level
In the Contact record, the Buying Role field allows you to choose from a number of properties including Decision Maker, Executive Sponsor, Blocker and more. You can also add your own custom properties to this field. This allows you to get a better handle on the buying team structure within your target accounts. This can help with customized outreach as part of personalized ABM campaigns. HubSpot has also created a series of ABM Lists, so that you can quickly view all Contacts within each role, all contacts with a buying role, or simply all contacts associated with Target Accounts. This could be useful for enrolling a batch of prospects with the same role in a customized outreach sequence.
HubSpot Ads and other features
HubSpot has also added an ABM Playbook and Slack integration as part of the ABM toolset. The playbook will need to be updated with your own company’s ABM process, and may be useful for training new team members on your ABM processes. The Slack integration allows you to trigger the creation of deal- or company-based Slack channels among other features.
The final feature in the ABM suite is the integration of the HubSpot Ads platform. This is honestly where I feel there’s the most uncertainty when it comes to comparing HubSpot’s ABM tools to an account-based advertising platform such as Terminus. Yes, it is true that you can create an audience based on list membership to LinkedIn, but in order for the campaign to be shown, it must have at least 300 contacts in the list. HubSpot Ads can also use a list to define an audience for Facebook or Google Display, but both of those use cases require about 1,000 matched email addresses. Of course, this would also require that the match between the target’s personal email which they’ve most likely linked with their Facebook account is also associated with their work email.
It may be possible to have that many accounts to target with an ABM campaign, it’s unlikely that you would want to use creative generic enough to fit across an audience that large. It defeats the purpose of account-based marketing, which is to tailor your marketing to each group of accounts or even to create one-to-one campaigns to a single account (or to get even more granular, to a single persona within that account—we’ll get into that shortly). In our experience, LinkedIn ads don’t offer great ROI, and the cost per conversion is very high compared to what can be accomplished with account-based advertising. On a standard LinkedIn sponsored post there are numerous interaction locations that will charge you for a click, and only one of these click locations actually leads to your landing page for a potential conversion. You’ll even be charged for a click if someone wants to know who ‘liked’ the post. It’s a decent way to augment an ABM campaign if you already have other tactics in-market, but from a pure performance perspective, it’s very limited, and we don’t often recommend it.
Connecting HubSpot and Terminus
Before I get into the details of how Terminus fits in an ABM program, it’s helpful to understand how to connect the target account lists you’ve created in HubSpot to Terminus. Terminus uses what it calls a ‘webhook’ to import company data to the platform, but in reality, it’s just a DropBox folder that syncs to the platform every seven days, it is not currently an API-driven system that syncs automatically. Terminus currently has more robust connectors for CRMs like Salesforce, and hopefully this level of connectivity will be coming to HubSpot soon.
Exporting Company Data
In order to bring your target account data into Terminus, three separate CSV exports are required: Contacts, Companies, and Deals. Company data is the simplest to grab, and there are three required fields:
- Company Name
- Company ID
- Website URL
The Company ID is obviously essential in all three exports as it allows Contacts, Company, and Deals to be associated in Terminus. You can also add other relevant fields to this export for easier segmentation once on the Terminus platform, such as your target account tiers or other identifying data. We also recommend exporting revenue, employee count, country and industry data as well so that you can further segment target accounts once they have been brought in to HubSpot. More on that soon. To create the CSV, use these steps:
- Navigate to Contacts → Companies
- Click Add Filter and select the criteria you wish to use.
- Click Save and give your view a standardized name such as “Weekly HubSpot Terminus Company Export for ABM Campaigns”
- Click Actions → Edit columns → Select the three required fields outlined above plus any other Company data you wish to include in your Terminus sync
- On the left side of the screen, above the list criteria, click Options → Export → CSV → Include only properties in columns → Export
Exporting Deal Data
Importing Deal data will allow you to better comprehend which companies in your target account lsts are involved in active deals, and this way you can spin up campaigns that provide support for a deal that may be in-flight. These are the fields that are required for Deals in Terminus:
- Deal ID
- Company ID
- Deal Name
- Deal Stage
- Close Date
- Create Date
- Deal Status
The last field in this list is what HubSpot calls a ‘calculated field’ and it is not possible to export this type of field. As a workaround, we create a separate field called Terminus Deal Status with three options: Won, Lost, and Open. This needs to be done manually for each Deal, although you could set up a Workflow to manage the process. To do this across all of the deals you’d like to import, follow these steps:
- Navigate to Sales → Deals → Table and sort by Deal Stage
- Use the check boxes on the left to select the deals that are Open
- With the appropriate deals selected, click Edit → Select a Property → Terminus Deal Status → Open
- Repeat the steps above to categorize the remaining deals as Terminus Deal Status Lost or Won
Exporting Contact Data
Once this process is complete, you can follow a similar procedure for exporting Company data to create an exported CSV of your Contacts. If you’d like to know how to set up a Workflow to manage this process more automatically, please let us know and we’ll be happy to help.
Exporting Contacts also requires a bit of custom HubSpot wizardry. The required data fields for Terminus are as follows:
- Contact ID
- First Name
- Last Name
- Company ID
- Create Date
Unlike with Deals and Companies, you must create a List to export contact data. You cannot simply use a filtered view from the Contacts tab to do so. For whatever reason, Company ID cannot be added as a column in that view.
To create your CSV export, follow these steps:
- Navigate to HubSpot → Contacts → Lists → Create list → Select Active List (default) → Name your list something intuitive like “Weekly HubSpot Terminus Contact Export for ABM Campaigns” so there is no confusion.
- Set the list criteria that you wish to use.
- To export the CSV click Actions → Export → Select Properties → Include the required fields as listed above
Now that you have all of your data exported, it can be uploaded to the Terminus-supplied DropBox folder. The platform usually grabs these files every Friday. It’s important to note that each upload replaces the existing data, it does not simply append it to the target account lists you already have in Terminus, so govern yourself accordingly to ensure that the correct data is always available to create your campaigns.
Setting up Account-Based Advertising Campaigns in Terminus
Now that you have all of your relevant target accounts imported to the Terminus platform, it’s time to segment those accounts into lists and create campaigns that serve targeted advertising to your most important account prospects.
First, let’s cover off how the Terminus platform works. Assuming you’ve made it this far, it should be obvious where HubSpot plays in the ABM space. It’s a tool for identifying and building broad-based target account lists that you can then leverage in advertising campaigns. Despite the fact that there is digital advertising functionality built-in, it’s really not meant to provide the same kind of coverage you can achieve with Terminus. At its core, Terminus is a DSP or Demand Side Platform. Although it has some self-serve capabilities, the actual procurement of digital display advertising is handled by a team of professionals who help target and deliver creative to your prospects.
Terminus targets accounts in two core ways: via IP address and through cookie targeting. IP address targeting allows your ads to be presented to accounts browsing the web from a specific block of IPs known to be associated with a particular company. Terminus can also perform what is known as ‘rooftop targeting’ whereby the platform is able to serve ads to a specific physical location associated with a particular company. This system works best for larger companies with known IP addresses. However, given that this post has been written during the Covid-19 pandemic, IP targeting has limited effectiveness when the majority of your target personas are working from home, unless of course those users are accessing the internet via a corporate VPN.
Cookie targeting, on the other hand, allows Terminus to target ads to specific individuals within an organization via cookies that have been assigned via many of the most popular websites on the internet. These GDPR-compliant cookies follow users around and allow Terminus to place display ads that only these prospects will see, ensuring that there is next to no bleed in ad spend. Buying display advertising with Terminus means that the overall CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is kept low and is a more efficient spend of advertising dollars. Our experience has shown the actual cost per click with Terminus to be 30-40% lower than with LinkedIn or other platforms.
Defining Audiences in Terminus
Terminus has two separate platforms for managing campaigns. The Account Hub allows for the segmentation of audience data based on a number of criteria. The first would be to simply use the tiering of companies based on what was exported from HubSpot. Any data fields that were imported including Industry, Country, etc can be used to segment your data into a usable Terminus list. Remember that you can only import one large list of companies as noted above, so having these fields will be useful to refine smaller campaign account lists.
One of the coolest features in Terminus is the integration of Bombora intent data. Intent data shows when there has been a surge of interest within your target accounts for any of the thousands of topics that Bombora tracks. An intent surge is recorded when one of your target accounts searches for or visits pages and sites associated with that topic. For example, one of the key intent topics Kula tracks is ‘Account-Based Marketing’ (surprise!). Say that we wanted to see which accounts within the Semiconductor Manufacturing vertical were interested in ABM. We’d select Semiconductor from the Industry drop down, and then add the Account-Based Marketing Intent topic to that criteria, and select a date range for that intent surge which ranges from 14-90 days. Further segmentation to that list would be possible via the revenue, country and employee count drop downs. That list could then be saved for a targeted advertising campaign.
Targeting Contacts at Key Accounts
Once a target account list has been defined, we need to select the titles and roles of the people to whom we want to serve the ad creative. Terminus allows us to select a specific Department within a company. By way of example, we know that for many of our manufacturing clients, engineers are a significant influencer when it comes to their product sales. In this case, within the Personas section of the Audience Targeting, we would select General Engineering as a target. It’s then possible to only serve ads to Senior Decision Makers within this persona, or show it to everyone. If that department is very small within a target account group, you can also expand to the entire company if Terminus is unable to match the specific job title and role you’re looking for. Terminus ad buyers can also work closely with your team to attempt to target a specific job title, right down to the individual.
Setting the Budget and Uploading Creative
Once the targeting component of the campaign has been set, it’s now time to set a budget, campaign duration and upload all of the creative assets that will be required to start your ABM campaign. Terminus can help you decide what an appropriate spend looks like given the size of your target audience. Generally speaking, $15-20/day will be a good starting point. You can also set a total budget envelope for the campaign, and an end date should you wish to timebox the campaign, or you can simply let it run indefinitely.
Terminus display ads utilize the most common formats (JPG, GIF, PNG, MP4) and sizes and they can also utilize more complex ads that are built using HTML5, allowing for interaction, video, animation, etc. Once an ad file has been uploaded, you can choose a specific landing page destination for each ad. It’s a good idea to use UTM codes for each of these ad destination URLs so that you will be able to track the effectiveness of each ad format, campaign and audience independently.
Once everything has been uploaded, you can then submit the tactic for publishing. As mentioned earlier in this post, the work of placing ads and targeting your accounts is undertaken by Terminus’ team of pros, who will then bend to the task of getting the ads in market. It may take 24-48 hours for the campaign to start.
Metrics, Analytics and KPIs
Once your Terminus campaigns are in-market, your marketing team will be able to track the number of impressions and clicks each target account has had. Assuming that there is a conversion asset on the other end of the ad creative, you will also be able to see the number of conversions the campaign has brought.
To track the awareness of your campaigns within key accounts, you may need to configure Google Analytics for reporting, rather than relying on HubSpot for this information. The linked post also provides some great information on what to expect to see in terms of bounce rates and other key metrics and how to interpret them.
Based on what you see from your reporting, you will likely want to iterate and adjust your campaign tactics, creative, landing page destinations, offers, audiences, tiers and more. You’ll also want to determine the criteria for when a target account is transitioned to sales for outreach. You may choose to use conversions, impressions or clicks or any combination therein to decide what’s best for your sales team. Marketing and Sales should work closely with one another to refine and tweak this process as target accounts move through their Buyers’ Journey.
Terminus and HubSpot: Powerful ABM Tools with Very Different Capabilities
As you’ve no doubt realized by now, the marketing technology stack for implementing Account-Based Marketing is robust and becoming more and more mature. Although there is some crossover in the capabilities of HubSpot and Terminus, at their core they are very different platforms, but each has a vital role to play in executing an ABM campaign. HubSpot will enable you to determine and craft a robust list of target accounts that meet your Ideal Customer Profile, while Terminus allows you to serve very targeted ads to your chosen audiences. When used cohesively, it’s an exceptionally powerful set of tools that can be leveraged for Account-Based Marketing success.