The Business Case for Using 3rd-Party Lead Providers to Power ABM

The rapid shift to account-based-revenue (ABR) creation is shaking up B2B marketing and sales organizations. The concept of an account-based, go-to-market approach isn’t completely new for many sales teams, but it is new for many marketing teams. And, we’re all gradually figuring out what exactly an “account-based” approach means for our business. No surprise, it’s disrupting the way we understand and execute demand generation marketing.

We’ve spent the last decade developing and mastering inbound marketing strategies, relying on our websites and landing pages to drive sales pipeline and marketing-attributed revenue. Marketing automation providers – HubSpot, Eloqua, Marketo and others – promised that their shiny new tools were going to revolutionize our careers and generate unprecedented results by transforming us from “brand” to “revenue” marketers. We’ve made great progress, for sure; however, it’s very difficult (if even possible) to scale inbound marketing efforts to the extent required to hit ABR goals.

With account-based revenue as the prevailing B2B marketing strategy, there’s a new workhorse channel materializing – third-party lead providers and publishers. It seems old school, a throwback to another era. However, upon inspection, trusted brands such as Microsoft, Salesforce, Plex and Iron Mountain are figuring out how to re-deploy this marketing strategy for an ABR approach. They’re using top-of-funnel marketing automation tools to create demand and surgically working with third-party publishers and lead sources to engage and build key contacts at their target accounts.

“In reality, it’s crazy to think all your target accounts are just going to show up to your website. With ABM, you must go where your prospects are. Third-party content syndication is a natural when done right, using automation, data and connecting it to your existing systems.”

- Jennifer Dimas, Plex VP Integrated Marketing and Business Operations


Account-Based Demand Generation: It’s Not Your Mother’s Content Syndication

Third-party providers have been offering forms of content syndication and lead generation services for the past few decades. The difference today, in the digital era, is that with account-based demand gen:

  • you can target so much more precisely, generating responses using your branded content, as opposed to buying lists and email blasting individuals who never asked to be contacted by you;
  • you can use outbound content marketing in combination with social, search and website personalization to optimize reach; and
  • you no longer have to carry such a heavy account-based demand generation load.

In fact, third-party, account-based demand gen is increasingly playing a first-touch role to complement the high-touch communications – such as inbound programs, intimate events and targeted direct mail – being used by sales and marketing in their account-based, pipeline-building efforts.

Some reality. A few things haven’t changed when using third-party content marketing:

  • You’re going to get providers who don’t perform for your account-based programs. Accept it and plan for it. Having in place air-tight provider agreements and closed-loop feedback reporting is essential to efficiently test providers and content, as well as move seamlessly between providers that can deliver results.  
  • Follow-up process and personalized communications must be in place. Many teams route to inside sales/sales development reps (SDRs) and follow-up with the proverbial: “I see you read our white paper on (fill in the blank site).” This is a recipe for disaster. Because it’s a target-account contact, the effort and process should be in place to personalize a follow up/nurture program or route rapidly to a trained SDR for outreach. The outreach should focus on generating a specific conversation around the topic of the content the person interacted with or around what initiatives the account is working on. This shows the new contact that you’re genuinely interested in helping them and their business.

Achieving Scale Using Full-funnel Automation for Efficiency & Effectiveness

Our customers at Integrate have gone a step further to achieve account-based marketing efficiency and effectiveness using third-party content marketing. They’re investing in Demand Orchestration Software to:

  • streamline the process for working with multiple third-party account-based lead providers;
  • govern, validate and de-duplicate the target-account leads they’re investing in; and
  • connect the data and processes to their existing marketing automation and CRM systems.

With top-funnel automation in place to manage their account-based outbound efforts, they can shift their talents, time and budget down-funnel, further into the customer journey to focus on converting leads to account-based opportunities, pipeline and revenue. This is exactly where their CEO, CMO and sales teams need them focused. 

Diversify, Test and Use Multiple Providers for Account-Based Reach & Targeting

An additional approach that savvy B2B marketing teams are taking is using multiple lead providers simultaneously to identify and engage buyers at your target accounts. By sharing your target-account list with/across multiple providers (under NDA, of course), you can efficiently increase engagement with specific decision-makers.

One challenge to be aware of is that it takes time to identify sources, to share your content and account lists, and to validate and de-duplicate the data as it comes in. Some Integrate customers have solved this by using the top-funnel software in conjunction with a network of diverse lead providers and channel types, like Integrate’s Data Marketplace.

The Resulting Numbers Don’t Lie

B2B teams are achieving both efficiency and effectiveness by using automation to put to work a diverse group of third-party lead providers. Here are a few examples of the stellar work being done in the B2B community.

  • 660% increase in pipeline – Trend Micro
  • Marketing-attributed deals scaled by 4.5x – Commvault
  • 65% increase in marketing-contributed pipeline – Plex
  • Effective cost per lead cut in half – Rackspace
  • Hundreds of hours of manual work eliminated each month – Iron Mountain