Case Studies (Non-Marketing)
Account-based marketing (ABM) can be highly effective in targeting key accounts when implemented correctly, and below we have compiled three such cases. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise successfully targeted executives in the retail-connected and financial services industries with a recent ABM campaign; Couchbase recently garnered additional market share and high-value clients in a market in which it was a minor player amongst larger competitors; and Oracle used ABM processes to locate and target high-potential, high-value clients. Each of these cases is detailed below, followed by an explanation of our research strategy.
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise: FSI and retail-connected ABM campaign
- Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE), Hewlett-Packard's B2B division, sought in 2016 to "drive deeper engagement across senior level IT and LOB" in the financial services (FSI) and retail-connected industries.
- To accomplish this goal, HPE worked with McDonald Butler to put forth an ABM campaign with various objectives. Among them were "creating a sector-specific ‘why?’ message to feed into each narrative; "using multiple channels to share valuable content with hard-to-reach targets; "personalizing expert voices through the fluidity of social channels;"providing multiple platforms for engagement and interaction within the target community; and "building pipeline and accelerating closed sales."
- The campaign was executed in three phases.
PHASE 1: "Research and Insight"
- This phase began by collecting "foundation data." This consisted partly of industry insights, such as "industry drivers & pain points (including regulatory issues), the industry's competitive landscape, a validated "sub-segment model for targeting," and a validated list of "top 15 key target accounts (based on revenue opportunity)."
- HPE and MacDonald Butler also created account profiles These included "in-depth company profiles" that featured companies' "business model, financial overview, strategic priorities, SWOT analysis, technology & supplier background."
- Account profiles also included executive profiles featuring executives' "employee structure, educational background & career overview."
- This research was conducted across the "50 top retailers/FSI companies and influencers."
- Then, senior stakeholders attended "messaging workshops...to fine-tune HPE’s sector-specific value propositions.
- HPE's sales team and McDonald Butler worked together to create "ace-up-the sleeve assets including playbooks and presentations" for the sales team to deploy in discussions with relevant executives.
PHASE 2: "Digital and social engagement"
- HPE and Macdonald Butler positioned "select HPE employees...as subject matter experts by optimizing their online profiles to share newly-produced and third-party content."
- The partnership produced "a hit blog series and some weighty thought-leadership," followed by a monthly newsletter to key contacts sharing insights published in the blog.
- HPE reached networks via LinkedIn Pulse, and "created and nurtured [communities] to serve each sector."
- Additionally, individual HPE employees promoted the campaign's blog on their personal LinkedIn profiles, allowing the campaign to reach an entirely new set of networks.
- The campaign's core tenets were transmuted into an "interactive ‘innovation model’ which guided retailers and financial services companies through their digital transformation journey." HPE and Macdonald Butler developed this into a successful microsite.
PHASE 3: "Face-to-face engagement"
- This phase began with so-called 'supper clubs,' which were "a series of exclusive c-level roundtables...hosted in premier London venues, with high-profile HPE experts leading discussions and networking opportunities."
- Discussions at the supper clubs "ranged from the general regulation and compliance to the more technical APIs." Moreover, "insights from the events were used to create bespoke whitepaper summaries and blogs."
- Next, the partnership invited ten retail VIPs to the New York National Retail Federation show, providing airfare and accommodations. The trip featured an itinerary that included "the show along with a bespoke store tour and dinner evenings."
- "A large number of successful initial sales meetings" arose from calls to action seeded within the initiatives in this phase.
- The campaign resulted in $150 million in new pipeline and $33 million in revenue from wins.
- Impressively, the campaign garnered "100% engagement across named accounts."
- HPE was also pleased that the campaign's non-financial goals were met, including "elevating HPE individuals to subject matter experts and raising HPE’s profile with key decision-makers."
Couchbase: Expanding presence in an established market
- Couchbase, a NoSQL database provider, had a problem: it "had a handful of high-value customers, but a long list of customers with lower value," and needed to increase its average order value (AOV). However, it was competing in a market already populated by larger NoSQL players and legacy SQL companies, meaning that expanding its presence was a tall task.
- Couchbase enlisted Pulse, a technology-focused marketing firm, to help it establish an ABM strategy to reach high-value customers in the crowded database market.
- Aside from expanding Couchbase's client base, the campaign had the following objectives: "expand Couchbase’s niche, technical target to also hunt for broader strategic IT and business markets;" "clarify Couchbase’s existing tech-heavy content to appeal to a more strategic, high-value audience;" "build an account hit list with deep data insights, including the right people within them;" "understand the content consumption habits of those targeted and find a suitable voice;" and "devise an activation plan to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time."
- The target audience for this ABM campaign was large enterprise senior decision-makers.
- First, Couchbase's sales team compiled "a list of ideal accounts." Then, Pulse utilized predictive analytics (powered by Infer) combined with "an intent engine (Bombora) to give an extra layer of context which created a new level of insight."
- Using the insights gleaned from this process, Pulse "identified the best-fit accounts to target" by creating "a bespoke account segmentation, ranking all of Couchbase’s identified accounts, while highlighting new accounts."
- Pulse ran workshops with Couchbase's consumer-facing unit to "help Pulse understand the roles, painpoints, buying cycle relevance and content preferences of each function in the decision-making unit (DMU)." Couchbase supplemented this information with its CRM and "manual and automated social listening against target."
- Then, Pulse compiled "intent data on accounts that were highly active around certain keywords, plus social persona data and search-based volume data" to "create a robust content research document" that took the guesswork out of content creation for the campaign.
- After the content creation segment was completed, Couchbase initiated a "persona-led activation plan." Once activations were enacted, Pulse re-evaluated its account selection model to refine for accuracy. "Every body of work was linked, no data point was ignored and everything was questioned."
- As a result of the campaign, Couchbase "has experienced excellent account-level engagement," generating $1.5 million worth of new sales pipeline.
- As a whole, the campaign "generated a ROI of $10:$1" and succeeded impressively in increasing engagement with high-value clients, as Couchbase saw a 1371% increase in AOV.
Oracle: Locating the highest value amidst the noise
- Oracle, the multinational technology company that helped pioneer ABM in its early years, recently sought "to ensure that its sales and marketing efforts were directed towards the prospects with the most potential, not those with the loudest or most persuasive account teams. To do that, Oracle needed even more sophisticated customer behavior signals."
- To accomplish this, Oracle enlisted the help of MomentumABM "to fine tune its account selection — to further understand where there was most interest, who to approach and when to approach them."
- The target audience for the campaign consisted of 100 key accounts and an additional 405 lead accounts. Oracle hoped to "identify likely pre-sales behavior and the most appropriate influencers and decision-makers within those accounts to target."
- With MomentumABM's help, Oracle hoped to establish "a real-time view of its prospects and their online activities" and a list of prospects by priority, allowing it to allocate resources optimally.
- Similarly, Oracle hoped that the complexity of account profiles produced would allow it to "identify multiple areas of interest within a single account that [could] be turned into a single, high-value proposition."
- Oracle and MomentumABM collected extensive intent data on the target accounts, then "identified as opportunities for transformational deals" the accounts that showed "the strongest intent against their breadth of interests."
- This allowed the partnership to identify the 25 top accounts, in terms of intent, plotted across three areas of Oracle's business: digital, cloud, and ERP. This was important because "all key accounts show some intent in [each area, so] this methodology identifies those accounts that are showing the most intent" across one or more areas.
- The results of this campaign included "real-time identification of accounts ‘in market,’" "shortened time to pipeline," "early identification of hundreds of transformational opportunities," significant opportunities "including a single deal worth a nine-figure sum," and increases in "opportunity win rate" and pipeline visibility.
Your research team employed the following strategy:
To find suitable non-marketing ABM case studies, we first utilized preexisting lists of such case studies, such as ones provided by Terminus, DemandBase, and B2BMarketingZone. However, by cross-referencing these case studies in academic databases and industry publications, we could not find details of suitable granularity to provide three robust case studies. As a second approach, we sought additional case studies in academic databases, but could not find suitable cases published in scholarly works. As a third approach, we conducted a broad search of industry publications and organizations. This lead us to a report published by marketing industry organization B2B Marketing enumerating five relevant case studies in considerable detail. After conducting additional research on these case studies, we selected three of the most relevant and notable cases, and compiled the data provided above.