A Guide to Retail Reward Programs

Loyalty programs are like cars: from an outsider’s perspective, there’s not much difference between them. Cars get you from point A to point B, while loyalty programs help you retain customers, right? The truth is, however, that the small details are what make the experience different. While some people prefer a speedy sports car, others need a trusty family car to get the kids to the school. In the same vein, retail reward programs differ greatly from brand-focused loyalty programs.
So if you wish to succeed as a retailer, it’s absolutely pivotal to understand which loyalty features are most effective for driving your company’s KPIs. But first, let’s start with the obvious…
What Is a Retail Reward Program?
A retail reward program is a type of loyalty program that’s built from the ground up to answer the industry-specific challenges that most retailers face. This market has an inherently high purchase frequency since customers have access to a large catalog of products from various brands.
Imagine a customer going into an electronics store. Initially, they intend to purchase a new laptop, but in the process they decided to buy a new headset and a mouse. That’s three products in their basket, from three different brands. But what if that customer had decided to choose a different outlet? Then the retailer would’ve missed out on an opportunity with a large basket value.
The bottom line: retail reward programs are meant to help companies in a high-stakes market where the competition is fierce. After all, retailers are selling the same things as their competitors. Being able to stand out promises a significant increase in revenue – and a loyalty program is one tool that helps you stand out.

For a more detailed breakdown on the best practices for loyalty programs, check this episode of Customer Loyalty Minutes. In it, Zsuzsa Kecsmar, Co-founder and CMO of Antavo, and Jörn Roegler, VP of Strategy & Insight, discuss how brands and retailers use their loyalty programs.
What is in this video?
Brands and retailers’ priorities:

Retailers see higher purchase frequency and face tougher competition. Retail customers are generally working with a larger basket value, which makes the competition between retail companies especially fierce.
Brands seek to engage customers & drive word of mouth. Brands differentiate themselves by nature, but they need to get their name out. Because of this, they tend to focus more on building advocacy.

How brands and retailers approach loyalty:

Retailer loyalty programs are often transaction-focused. Their rewards generally focus on making the buying process easier with free shipping or extended return periods.
Brand loyalty programs build long-term engagement. Brands want customers to consume content and engage with them on social media in order to generate hype and positive word of mouth.

Unique solutions that cater to brands and retailers:

Learning more about customers helps businesses target them directly. Brands started to borrow ideas and strategies from retail businesses to further solidify their position on the market.
Loyalty programs boost the debut of an online store. The best way to advertise the launch of a new store is to pair it with a loyalty program, ensuring new customers stick around.

Innovating in a Cutthroat Industry
According to RetailMeNot, 51% of U.S. retailers planned to offer loyalty programs in 2018 to lift their sales growth. In other words, the competition is so fierce that simply having a loyalty program isn’t a unique selling point anymore. Therefore you must really knock it out of the park with the reward program in order to stay afloat.
Unlike brands, retailers are more likely to focus on transaction-based rewards with their loyalty program. Discount, vouchers, cashback offers, you name it. However, Chain Store Age pointed out that only 22.5% of millennials indicated that price is more important than a loyalty program. So what’s the takeaway? People want to be engaged and have a meaningful relationship with their favorite store instead of just receiving good deals.
Contrary to retailer loyalty programs, brand reward programs have a higher focus on customer experience and long-term engagement.
The Winning Formula for Loyalty
This new trend of customers resisting the price war is something savvy retailers can capitalize on. To give you another perspective, think about customer loyalty as friendship. Buyers who are also brand advocates will stick with you even when the competition is offering a bigger discount.
But what are the factors that play a role in developing friendship? According to the Friendship Formula, there are four aspects: proximity, frequency, duration and intensity. Let’s see these in the context of a loyalty program.

Proximity: In order to be easily reachable by members, a loyalty program should be present on all available channels – on the website, on social media, on their mobile, in the store and even in the customers’ daily life. Moreover, these channels should be seamlessly tied together with a sound omnichannel strategy.
Frequency: One big takeaway from customer lifecycle marketing is that true loyalty cannot be formed if people are only engaged when they buy something. Step beyond transactions and develop touchpoints outside of the buying cycle.
Duration: Design your loyalty program with longevity in mind. Launch with a solid MVP, and add some spice later down the line with gamification, customer profiling and holiday campaigns. This is a strategy proven by Antavo’s client case studies, as all of them started out with a more basic loyalty program, which was then expanded.
Intensity: Make sure that the incentives are memorable. Forget the discounts; people want experiences. These can be experiential rewards, VIP perks, special interest groups, etc.

The four aspects of the Friendship Formula, displayed by Lifehack. Excelling at each of them helps companies develop an emotional bond with customers.
Best Loyalty Features to Stand Out as a Retailer
Another strong trend in retail reward programs is that incentives are geared towards making transactions quicker and easier. Free shipping, extended return periods and vouchers are the staples, and people love them. Still, the competition can easily copy these features, nullifying your advantage.
With a more complex approach — like the concept of Recognition Loyalty — other companies will find it difficult to offer the same rewards without losing money. On the other hand, you receive value from customers as they are repeating useful actions in order to gain access to the benefits. Here are a few examples:

Tiers: A loyalty program based on tiers is often synonymous with status. Customers—especially affluent ones—go crazy for the perks associated with higher levels.
Rewarding hobbies and values: With the help of modern technology, fashion retailers—selling sport and fitness apparel in particular—are able to reward customers who go for a run via Fitbit, or use smart tagging to identify members who actually wear the product. This is one of our strengths and we can help you with that.
Personalization: According to Oracle, 56% of consumers value personalized offers in the retail shopping experience. Book stores and home decor companies can really benefit from enhancing their email communication with loyalty data.
Badges & Challenges: These loyalty features are great for driving small but incremental actions. Just like tiers, badges symbolize status, while challenges prompt members interact more with the loyalty program.

Let your customers challenge themselves constantly. Start by setting up easily completable actions and then set higher and higher goals to achieve. This way you can continually motivate your customers and engage them in the long run.
Uncover a Whole New Layer of Customer Loyalty
It doesn’t matter which part of the retail industry you come from, a well-designed loyalty program will no doubt help strengthen your position on the market.

SaaS Growth: The “Triple A” Sprint Framework that Gets Results

Many SaaS companies launch a product-led growth model—but never update it. When the executive team calls me and asks why they aren’t converting users into customers, I tell them to buy a plant. Seriously.
If they don’t water the plant, it’s going to wither and die. If they water it and give it sunlight, it’ll grow. Everyone knows how the system works. Yet, even though we know what to do, millions of plants still die. Why? Nobody takes ownership.
The first step to SaaS growth is to appoint a person or team to take ownership, then to give them the resources or time it takes to thrive. While this is true for all SaaS companies, it’s especially critical for those that use their product—not traditional marketing or sales—as their growth engine.
Once there’s internal ownership, you can establish and iterate on a process to execute your product-led strategy. How do you optimize that process? Time and again, I’ve seen the “Triple A” sprint framework drive exponential SaaS growth.
What is the “Triple A” sprint framework?
The “Triple A” sprint focuses on rapidly identifying problems, building solutions, and measuring impact. The process follows a one-month sprint cycle to identify and deliver an improvement to your SaaS product.
The Triple A framework consists of three “A’s”:


The Triple A sprint gives you a way to build a sustainable SaaS growth process and can be used by any team in your business.
Still, if you have a bad product, no optimization will deliver rocketship growth. On the other hand, if you have a good product that customers love, you’ll see a monumental shift if you go through a Triple A sprint each month.
I’ve seen companies apply this same framework and go from $500,000 in annual recurring revenue (ARR) to $1 million ARR in less than 12 months. It works. Best of all, it’s not hard to implement. Start by analyzing your business.
The first “A”: Analyze
As Romain Lapeyre, CEO of Gorgias, states, “In order to build a growth machine for your business, you need to analyze your inputs and outputs.”
Until you know the inputs (e.g. trade shows, advertising, email marketing) that drive desired outputs (e.g. ARR, customers, MRR), you won’t build a sustainable business.
If you’re not sure which inputs drive the outputs you want, start analyzing your business.

Create a recurring calendar notification to remind yourself to analyze your previous month’s results on the first workday of each new month. Block off one or two hours so that you’ll have the time to do a thorough job. You’ll get into a rhythm of analysis.
Start by measuring your outputs. Outputs are a reliable indicator of whether you’re doing the right thing—they don’t lie. Let’s dive into the right outputs to track.
Which outputs should you track?
One of the beautiful things about a SaaS business is that you can analyze almost anything. This amount of insight is incredible—until it isn’t. With access to countless metrics, it’s easy to obsess over email opens or bounce rates. Although these metrics can be tracked, they don’t tell you much.
Did your high bounce rate lead customers to churn? Or did it hurt signups? Although a high bounce rate can absolutely contribute to those problems, we still don’t know the root cause.
By looking at outputs, we can quickly analyze the area of our business that most requires our attention. That way, we know which areas to troubleshoot.
In a product-led business, these are the macro outputs you need to track:

Number of signups;
Number of upgrades;
Average Revenue Per User (ARPU);
Customer Churn;
Monthly recurring revenue (MRR).

These outputs don’t lie, and they’re easy to find. If you compare these outputs over the course of the last 12 months, you’ll quickly identify the area of your business that’s hurting the most.
Once we know the outputs, we can ask questions to identify the inputs that get us closer to our dream business.
The second “A”: Ask
To optimize any business, you need to ask three questions:
1. Where do you want to go?
Some businesses use a North Star Metric to symbolize this focus, while others pick a revenue number. How you break down your business goals is not what this post is about.
If you really have no idea what your organization’s goals are, you should read Measure What Matters by John Doerr. It lays the foundation for how to prioritize the metrics that matter in your business and hit them across your entire team.
As an example, let’s say we’re a $10 million ARR SaaS business that has a live-chat solution. Our numeric objective is to hit $15 million ARR in the next 12 months. I’m all for setting ambitious goals, but please do not just “wing it” when it comes to figuring out what to do next. You need to know which levers to pull.
2. Which levers can you pull to get there?
I’m taking a motorbike course. As a newbie, I’m constantly making mistakes. I’ll shift down a gear when going fast, and my bike will screech and hiss in anger. I’ll use the front brake while slowing around a corner, toppling my bike onto me—an anti-climatic end that risks embarrassment more than injury.
Knowing which levers to pull is important for Saas businesses or motorbikes. What’s also true is that there are multiple ways to get the same output. To stop a motorbike, you can use the front, back, or engine brake. Or just drive into the nearest lake. Each of these braking systems achieves the desired output.
It’s the same when it comes to your business. According to Jay Abraham’s multiplier theory, there are three levers you can pull for SaaS growth:

Number of customers.

When I talk to executives at product-led SaaS businesses, most focus almost exclusively on increasing the number of customers; however, when it comes to increasing ARPU or decreasing churn, I hear crickets.
This is a huge missed opportunity, according to Tomasz Tunguz:

(Image source)
Drew Sanocki, former CMO at Teamwork, found that decreasing his churn rate by 30%, increasing ARPU by 30%, and increasing total customers by only 30% increased lifetime value (LTV) by over 100%.
Breaking down your business by these three levers lets you quickly identify which ones will help your business grow fastest. Unless you’re just starting out, reducing churn and increasing ARPU will almost always have the biggest impact. Once you nail your churn and ARPU, you can start multiplying your business with each additional customer.
Want to see how it works? Create a chart like the one below in a spreadsheet to see which lever will have the biggest impact on your business.
MetricScenario AScenario BDifference

Customer Count
Current (e.g. 1,000)


Current (e.g. 100)


Annual Churn Rate
Current (e.g. 20%)


Current (e.g. $80,000)


Once you’ve identified the top lever, it’s time to brainstorm which inputs will kick your business into high gear.
3. Which inputs should you invest in?
Once you’ve identified the lever to focus on for your Triple A sprint, figure out which inputs will affect it. To help you find the right ones, look at the three most common reasons why businesses fail:

You don’t understand your value.
You aren’t communicating your value well enough.
You aren’t delivering on your value fast enough.

Ask yourself: Which part of your business is underperforming? Brainstorm potential inputs to run experiments. This is easier said than done, but don’t overthink it. If you’re struggling with low signups, do customer research to understand the value your buyer perceives. Then, communicate that value to them.
If you’re struggling with low upgrade rates, work on delivering your value. Cut out every piece of onboarding that doesn’t deliver value. As Samuel Hulick cautioned, “People don’t use software simply because they have tons of spare time and find clicking buttons enjoyable.”
One way to find opportunities to improve the buying experience is to buy your product once a month. You’ll quickly spot easy improvements. Too often, we set up our onboarding and assume it works without a hitch. (It doesn’t.)
I’ve done countless user onboarding audits and found embarrassing bugs that were cratering free-to-paid conversion rates. Anyone could’ve spotted these bugs. Compile a list of items that could improve your product experience. Filter these ideas. How you do it doesn’t matter as much as having a defined process.
How to prioritize inputs
As Scott Williamson, VP of Product Management at GitLab, implored, “Have a consistent prioritization system, so you can compare the value of very different projects, force priority decisions out into the light, and pressure test assumptions.”
I use an Input Log as a prioritization system. It helps you track and prioritize every idea that could help your business grow. Then, I use the ICE prioritization method, developed by Sean Ellis, to score each input on three elements:

Impact. How big of an impact could this input have on an output I want to improve?
Confidence. How confident am I that this input will improve my output metrics?
Ease. How easy is it to implement?

Here’s an example of what this could look like:
InputsImpactConfidenceEaseICE Score

Because we noticed quite a few customers having problems upgrading, we expect that adding an “Upgrade Now” button to the header of our in-app experience will make it easier for users to upgrade their account. We’ll measure this by monitoring if the signup-to-paid conversion rate improves.

You can use any framework you want; however, if you don’t have an existing prioritization system, start with the ICE score framework. It’s easy to understand and implement.
Once you’ve run through the ICE method to filter your ideas, find the one or two opportunities to implement that will have the biggest impact on your business. Now, it’s time to act.
The third “A”: Act
Ideas are easy. Execution is everything. As Henry David Thoreau said, “It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, are we busy doing the right things?”
Once you’ve chosen the one or two ideas you’re going to implement this month, launch the idea. Depending on the ease of each project, this could take you and your team a few hours or a few weeks.
If this is your first time going through a Triple A sprint, start small. Get some quick wins under your belt. Typically, this means choosing an input that is easy to implement and has a moderate-to-high estimated impact. Later, you can take bigger swings that require more resources and time.
Kieran Flanagan, VP of Marketing at HubSpot, took a similar approach when helping HubSpot transition from a sales-led to a product-led business:
Here’s the high-level process that worked for our growth team:
Get wins on the board to build trust with leadership and other teams, such as product and engineering.
Prioritize growth experiments you can execute quickly to demonstrate results.
Once you start to see a high-level of test failures or non-results, move on to tackle more complex growth opportunities (take big swings).
Eventually, tell your CEO you want to test pricing 😉 (take even bigger swings)
If you already work in growth, this process of getting quick wins and laddering up should be familiar.
In aggregate, even small wins can become big wins. If initial growth is incremental, the pattern of success can earn buy-in for your more ambitious ideas.
Process beats tactics. Following the Triple A sprint framework puts you on track to grow your SaaS business consistently:

Analyze your business and key metrics.
Ask where you want to go and how you can get there.
Act on those insights, starting with small wins.

In a market where, over the last five years, customer acquisition costs have increased more than 50% while willingness to pay is down 30%, we need to instill a culture of optimization.
If we can, we’ll be able to pull the right levers and put our business in high gear.

What’s the Smartest Hiring Order for Startups?

You’re the founder of your company; that’s one employee down. You might have a co-founder as well, so make that two. Now what?
Early days at a new startup are exciting times, but they also tend to be lean times. You can’t run out and hire the best executive team, salespeople, marketers, customer service reps, product designers, programmers, and human resources employees all at once. If you’re to get there at all, you have to curate your team from day one.
Some founders tend to focus their hires in fields they understand. Technical founders, for example, often first search for programmers. Founders with sales backgrounds might think hiring salespeople matters most. Before you blow your payroll budget, though, think about all the functions your team has to cover. And above all, think about those you can’t do alone.
Not sure where to start? Before you hire an entire coding camp or MBA program’s graduating class, check out this list of the most critical startup hires:
1. Growth expert
You became an entrepreneur because you had an idea for a product or service that a market desperately needed. You and your co-founders might have the skills to build that, but do you know how to generate demand for it?
If not, bring a marketer on board right away. Engineers and salespeople are important, but your first port of call should be someone who can create and guide growth. It doesn’t matter how revolutionary your invention is if nobody can find it.
Fortunately, this is a role you can fill on a part-time or contract basis. Consider bringing in an outsourced CMO. That way, you get expert-level marketing advice without an executive-level price tag.
2. Product master
Lots of startup leaders spend too much time working in their business and too little working on it. No matter how great a product manager you are, you can’t steer the ship while trying to build the rudder. At small technical companies, the chief product engineer might own this role. At larger, service-focused ones, a production manager might be more appropriate.
In either case, pick a good communicator with a curious mind. Particularly before the minimum viable product is ready to ship, your product manager will be fielding lots of questions from staff, investors, and consumers alike.
3. Sales star
Stellar sales representatives cost money, but they more than justify their salaries with the revenue they bring in the door. Just be careful not to make that commission carrot too tempting. You don’t want to bring somebody on board who cares about closing deals more than building the right initial client base.
Oceans of content have been written on what distinguishes strong and weak salespeople, but startups should search for one trait above all: versatility. Not many reps can juggle both inside calls and outside demos, but until you can afford a larger team, you need someone who can wear multiple hats.
Should you take on some sales responsibilities yourself? It depends. Many founders got where they are through their sales skills. If you plan to do your own sweet talking, focus your search on either inside or outside sales — whichever option you don’t want to handle on your own.
4. Administrative mastermind
Finally, your startup needs someone who can keep everything running while you and the rest of your team focus on growth. This person’s role should be somewhere between office manager and administrative assistant. He or she should be able to handle everything from utility bills to calendar support to team lunches.
For this role, look for the human embodiment of reliability. At the startup stage, a single unanswered investor call or forgotten permit application can be the beginning of the end. Ideally, your administrative helper should also be able to tackle basic HR functions like payroll.
Whatever you do, don’t think of this person as a secretary. Transcribing meetings and scheduling coffee might be the least important part of his or her job. Instead, consider your assistant your second set of eyes and hands. He or she probably sees more of what goes wrong — and has more to do with solving it — than anyone else at your company. Far more than established companies do, your startup needs A-level players at the right time and in the right seats. Your needs may vary depending on your size and industry, but at least you’ve got a blueprint for the path ahead.

Turn Your Data Points Into a Data Picture With Account Scorecard

The Need for Account-Centric Measurement
“But how do you know it’s working. Show me a dashboard.”
You’ve been there. I’ve been there. Whether it’s your CMO, your head of sales, your CEO, or just that curious little reporting angel on your shoulder – we all want proof that our marketing is having an impact.
Here’s the problem – you know there are dozens of touch points between your marketing campaigns and every buying center that ultimately closes business with your company. Sometimes hundreds. But between click-through rates, opens, web visits, and a whole mysterious black box of offline stuff, it’s still a struggle for all of us to communicate the value and impact of marketing programs on pipeline and revenue.
And most of the tools we use today – from marketing automation to custom dashboards – are all focused on minute interactions with individual people (inherited from the lead-based attribution that relies on a cookied form-fill and known contacts, and the B2C bias that runs through most digital marketing tools).
But using tactical micro-metrics like CPC, CTR, CPL, and on-page optimizations is like looking at a Seurat up close.

You can count the dots, but it won’t help you see the whole picture.

And too often B2B marketers end up in this scenario: You’ve measured everything. Your UTM hygiene is pristine. You track CTR, CPM, and CPL on every permutation of channel and content or ad creative. And you optimize constantly, culling out underperformers and iterating on your superstar content.
But no matter what you do, your tiny tweaks never quite seem to add up to a more efficient funnel. (And, no one beyond the digital marketing team really thinks they matter.) Somehow you always see-saw between quality and quantity, and those optimizations don’t shake out down-stream as better opportunities, faster sales cycles, or any improvement in opportunity-to-close numbers.
So let’s start by admitting it’s not just you. And actually, it’s very possibly a problem with the way you’re measuring success – by hyper-focusing on the small stuff, you may be inadvertently losing resolution on the bigger picture.
You manage what you measure.
If you’re measuring minutia, you’re going to be focused on minute optimizations. That’s fine if you’re selling high velocity, e-commerce or consumer, but that’s not B2B.
B2B buyers are signing up with you for the long haul. Their livelihoods depend on your product working, so they need to trust you – deeply. Your expertise, your ability to deliver, and your ethics.
Optimizing for forms that get a 3% higher fill rate on a webinar page doesn’t build trust. But if that’s what you measure, and how you report on success, that’s where you’ll spend most of your time. Tiny tweaks work for selling shoes, but to build long-term trust you need to consistently deliver expertise that people care about, when they need it, where they are.
And the opportunity cost is high:

Measuring conversion rates means more focus on creatively barring access to content than conveniently connecting a person with great information.
Measuring MQLs results in an inevitable tug-of-war between quality and quantity (spoiler alert: quality will lose).
Creating ‘conversion-optimized’ experiences doesn’t optimize how your buyers want to research or buy.
Too-soon SDR/BDR outreach builds negative brand associations (those micro-emotions surrounding early brand contact are key, and too many of us kill them with unripe leads and unthoughtful sales touchpoints).

Start fixing it by measuring the right things.
The account-centric measurement mentality is designed to pull you out of the weeds so you can understand the impact of complete, coherent, cross-channel programs, not individual ads and campaigns.
It does this in two ways:
Turning anonymous web traffic into known account traffic so you can quantify overall program impact.
According to Gartner, there are 9.6 people in today’s average buying committee. How many contacts do you typically have on an opportunity? I’m willing to bet it’s not 9.6. That means a lot of the work you as a marketer have to do is get those other people bought in, even when they might not be the ones directly in the sales conversation. If you’re using a lead-based funnel, you’re not measuring that effort. So odds are there are a lot of phantom influencers who aren’t getting enough of your attention (and who can slow your deals down unexpectedly late in the game.
Making it possible to simply track and communicate the revenue impact of higher-level programs across your organization, and for yourself.
By elevating the importance of open and closed pipeline value, sales cycle time, and quantified engagement as the most meaningful leading indicator of true account interest, you’re able to communicate outcomes to everyone in the org, in terms they actually understand and can get behind. So much marketing effort is burned explaining what in-the-weeds marketing metrics mean to people outside of the marketing org. Stakeholders get caught up in terms and definitions and a thousand questions once they start diving in to clickthrough rates and CPM and A/B test results.
It’s our fault. It’s because we’re showing them the dots without connecting them. (Shame on us, we’re marketers and we should know how to tell a better story.)
By putting an account-centric lens on the demand funnel, we deliver metrics in terms anyone in the company can understand – even if they’re not in marketing.
Get to the metrics that matter.
By using newly-available account-level web traffic data in this funnel, you’re able to focus in on exactly the metrics that matter:
Engagement, not leads.
The problem with leads is they can be easily manipulated without actually changing what you’re trying to change – making more good-fit companies legitimately interested in starting a conversation with your team.
A ‘lead’ is supposed to represent the moment at which someone is ready for a sales conversation. But in our current digital reality, it’s just the point at which you’ve gotten someone to trade their contact information for a reward, like a piece of content, discount code, or event invite.
When we manage toward and measure leads, what we’re really trying to measure is how successful we are at causing more people from good-fit companies to be interested in our product to the point that they’re willing to talk to us about it. And not just one person – but whether there is legitimate momentum within the account to find a solution to the problem our product or service solves.
Well, the best (trackable) indication of whether there’s legitimate interest building is that more people are visiting your site or engaging in other ways more frequently than they have in the past. That’s the power of combining web visits from known and anonymous visitors from a company. In Terminus, we call it an ‘Engagement Spike.’ TOPO calls it ‘meaningful engagement.’
If you measure that, you’ll find yourself thinking about how your efforts work very differently. It’ll be more about creating compelling experiences and connecting people with good information, than about bartering emails for content. And it makes sense – you created the content so people could consume it, after all.
Opportunities (also not leads)
We’ve all been in a debate about what a marketing qualified or sales qualified lead is. They suck. They suck because that conversation generates systemic animosity between marketing – the people KPI’ed on XQLs – and sales – the people KPI’ed on dollars in the bank.
So focus on opportunities. Opportunities are clear – we had a conversation that was meaningful enough that I’m willing to commit to working and forecasting it. It’s unambiguous, and it’s a better measure of expected real pipeline.
No more semantic debates.
Revenue (real deals closed)

But easier said than done. Our Account Scorecard is an example of an account-centric reporting view that is designed to make it easier to draw these links without spreadsheet madness.
Deal cycle time
Historically, changing deal cycle time has largely been the responsibility of sales teams, not marketing teams. But it’s more important than you think, as protracted deal cycles can push revenue into later quarters or years, open up space for competitors to enter, or lose momentum altogether and create a forecasting nightmare.
Leads cause the top of the funnel to get all the attention, when often the issue isn’t with net new conversation velocity, but with conversations stalling out between opportunity creation and close.
As you align your metrics and methodology to sales, acceleration plays will become an expanded part of your marketing mix, and a more impactful place to focus for overall funnel conversion and revenue growth.
For this, deal cycle time is a great place to focus.
Average contract value
Similar to deal cycle, marketers often focus too little on helping sales increase contract value by ensuring that target accounts understand all of the value you bring to the table, and surface additional features or services to expand a deal.
Just like deal velocity, as quality leads become ever more difficult to find at a decent price (a problem that only accelerates as you move past your early minority into the early or mid-majority parts of your market), improving opportunity-to-close metrics like deal size, deal time, and unblocking specific dropoff points in your deal cycle will become more impactful places to focus effort.
Revenue measurement drives confidence.
We all know leads can be a little wishy-washy. But one thing that doesn’t lie is cold hard cash – that’s real revenue. But to effectively run your programs as a marketer you need high confidence that the numbers you’re seeing are accurate, and often revenue data in your CRM is the most accurate datapoint available.
Often, leads are the most reliable thing to track because of their traceability back to their source. The farther down the funnel you get, the harder it is to be certain that your numbers are accurate, as more manual data entry and different scenarios and caveats come in.
With the Account Scorecard release, our goal is to boost marketer confidence in their ability to report on revenue by eliminating the manual steps and subjectivity that usually get involved when marketing teams try to track their revenue influence.
Account Scorecard will help you do this by leveraging artificial intelligence to bring your data together, clean it up, find otherwise hard-to-reach influence points, and show you that data in a way that can drive strategic decisions and help you (and your leadership) understand progress by program and at-a-glance.Once you’re confident that you’re measuring the right things, you’ll be able to refocus on what matters – coming up on
Confidence encourages bold moves and big wins.
Confidence in your reporting isn’t just about alleviating your marketing ops pains or reporting up and out successfully – when you’re confident that your reporting represents what’s really going on with your programs, you can commit to bold ideas and big bets.
And ultimately, that’s our vision for B2B marketers – a future where more of us can make bigger bets on memorable experiences, and easily understand the payoff of those bets so we can iterate and make more.

5 Exciting Account-Based Marketing Examples

How many retargeting ads do you encounter in a day? What about semi-personalized emails in your inbox? Probably too many to count.
Now, how many times is your team offered a free lunch delivered to your office in exchange for participating in a webinar? Or how many billboards do you pass by on your drive into work that are personalized with a message specifically to you? I’d guess these numbers are significantly lower.
That makes sense – after all, both of those campaigns would require significantly more time, energy, and resources to execute than a canned email or display ad. But the return on those campaigns likely matches the effort that went into planning them.
Let’s face it: if you’re going after high-value accounts, low-effort marketing campaigns just won’t cut it. They may help you generate a small amount of awareness (and may even help you get your foot in the door), but they won’t “hook the big fish”, if you will.
The below targeting campaigns are examples of account-based marketing at its finest. There is an art (and science) behind developing effective ABM campaigns –– and nailing it will make or break the success of your program.
Learning from Effective Account-Based Marketing Examples
1. Lunch and Learns
Recently, account-based teams have been experimenting with “pizza-nars” which as the name implies, is a webinar accompanied by pizza. The idea is straightforward –– pizza is delivered to target accounts for them to enjoy while they watch your webinar.

Don’t limit yourself to just pizza, though – lunch and learns can be done with anything from coffee to a food item of their choice, so you can wine and dine your prospects from the comfort of their own desks. This helps to boost webinar attendance and is a great way to encourage prospects to pay attention.
Keep in mind, the webinar content has to be compelling, first and foremost, and you have to think about the messaging that will accompany the delivery as well as the follow-up or call to action at the end.
Account lifecycle stage: This approach can be useful across the account lifecycle from initial engagement to upcoming renewals, expansion or even re-engage at-risk accounts. You could even go so far as to build out personalized webinar experiences with customized landing pages so the prospect or customer feels as if the webinar is hosted just for them – which can be a great way to show off product updates or educate people on your platform.
2. Bespoke content experiences
Snowflake, a cloud-based data-warehousing company, leveraged its in-house expertise to develop a robust library of high-quality content, which they use to create individualized experiences for target accounts. At any given time, the Snowflake team is running 500 concurrent individualized account-based campaigns, and each of these 1-to-1 campaigns is developed in tandem with their sales reps (who know their accounts inside and out) to create personalized messaging and content experiences.

These content experiences aren’t intended to drive conversions, either. None of the customized content is gated. Instead, Snowflake strives to build credibility with its audience first, only then using retargeting tactics with those that engage to drive traditional conversions through weekly demos or free trials.
Each campaign can be launched quickly and starts with digital advertising as a means to distribute the experience to the right account depending on where they are in their lifecycle. You can run the same or similar campaigns by leveraging a platform like Uberflip in tandem with your advertising and marketing automation platforms.
Account lifecycle stage: This approach is most useful when trying to gain initial engagement or progressing an account to meaningful engagement. It can also be used in a Land and Expand strategy to penetrate other departments within the organization.
3. Interactive storytelling
When GumGum, an applied computer vision company, wanted to win over the business of T-Mobile, the CMO took to researching the buying committee starting with the executive leadership team.
He discovered that T-Mobile CEO John Legere is a big Batman fan. They used this intel to develop an idea that made the CEO part of the of the GumGum story. The result was a comic book –– T-Man and Gums –– created by their team of editors, writers, illustrators, and letterers. They shipped 100 copies to T-Mobile and its agencies of record, and long story short… they won over the account.
You can download the GumGum comic book here. We included a picture of the cover below!
This particular example is pretty resource intensive, so you may want to reserve campaigns of this scale for your top tier accounts. However, you can achieve a similar effect in your own way by gathering as much intelligence as possible into the contacts at your target accounts. You can run personalized direct mail campaigns to those contacts (maybe you send them merch related to their favorite movie or a bag of their favorite coffee) in order to spark a conversation.
Account lifecycle stage: This approach is ideal for establishing initial engagement with a new account like GumGum did, or it could be used to engage with new buying committees within an existing account.
4. Bold billboarding
Sometimes you have to be bold. And that was the case with Intridea, a web products and services company when they were trying to grab the attention of the folks at the ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. The team purchased a billboard across from Ogilvy’s Manhattan office with a simple, but bold message: Ogle this, Ogilvy. It included a custom URL, which featured funny GIFs and personalized messaging. The bold approach landed them a meeting with the ad agency – in fact, they got a call from Ogilvy New York CEO Lou Aversano and OgilvyOne managing director Dimitri Maex to set up the consultation.

*Note: the URL is now inactive, but it was fairly simple in nature – it included the GIFs mentioned above along with the text, “Made you look. Now hire us. AngularJS, Rails, UX/UI and more.”
Again, this is an extreme example. But this form of experiential marketing (where prospects or customers interact with your brand in a real-world setting) can be quite effective in engaging your prospects on a deeper, emotional level.
On a smaller scale, you can leverage experiential marketing at trade shows, customer appreciation events, and more. In a B2B setting (and specifically when you’re trying to nurture prospects), you can aim to create an experience for those who might not yet be sure how they would use your product or service. If you can come up with a way for them to interact with your brand in a way that clearly outlines how it will benefit them, it will help them understand the product and be more likely to start a dialogue.
You can also partner with another company in your industry (so long as you’re not direct competitors) in a co-branded experience so that you can distribute resources more efficiently and still take advantage of the mutually beneficial promotional opportunity. If you want more experiential marketing examples, check out this article from Hubspot.
Account lifecycle stage: Intridea obviously used this to gain initial engagement with a new target account. But the campaign could also be used to expand within an existing account or progress an opportunity.
5. Interactive product launches
Remember the View-Masters that were all the rage in the 80s? When Rapid7 was preparing for its latest product launch they captured the “unboxing” of it on the click-through picture wheels. It ended up being wildly successful because it masterfully tapped into that feeling of nostalgia among the prospects they sent it to. It proved a fun, interactive way to engage target accounts in the new product.

Interactive product launches don’t necessarily have to include in-person events, either. You can create interactive digital experiences (think custom landing pages, videos, or heavy visuals) to help promote a product launch or educate prospects/customers on new features. For instance, you could create a landing page that features a real-time platform walkthrough or create a gamified experience so users can learn about your product while having fun doing so.
Keep in mind that many online experiences are now dominated by visual content. The essential form of communication is moving away from text-based interactions and shifting towards videos, pictures, or a combination of the above. So when you’re developing these interactive experiences, make sure to incorporate plenty of visual content!
Account lifecycle stage: This approach can be used across various stages of the lifecycle –– to get on the radar of new target accounts, upsell current customers, or even salvage at-risk accounts.
These account-based marketing examples should get your creative wheels spinning, but keep in mind, the boldest (or richest) bird doesn’t always get the worm.
You have to start with a solid target account list and have a methodical, data-driven mindset when building campaigns. There are a few other best practices to keep in mind:

Keep the message positive. Attempting to “scare” an account into action rarely works, and can have the opposite effect.
Be realistic about your resources. How time- and resource-intensive will this campaign be to execute and do you have the time to do it? Can you scale it? In some cases, the goal won’t be achieving scale, but you have to know the goal going in.
Start with your end goal. With the above account-based marketing example from Snowflake, their goal was not conversion but rather to build relationships and establish trust and credibility. Knowing that will influence how you shape your campaigns.
Leverage brand advocates and partners where possible. Social proof can go a long way, and partnering with other industry powerhouses can be mutually beneficial.
Think about the follow-up. The campaign doesn’t end once the package is sent or billboard is up. In fact, that’s just the beginning. Have your messaging and follow-up cadence ready before you launch and ensure that marketing and sales are aligned on the follow-up plan.
Strike the right balance between value and fun. Fun may get their attention, but you also have to deliver some sort of value, whether that’s entertainment value or education.

For more on how to engage with accounts, get The Complete Guide to Account Engagement.

How to Keep Your Marketing Fresh As The Year Wanes On

Labor Day has passed. Summer vacations are over. And a nap sounds really good. That string of thoughts is playing on repeat in the minds of many office workers this time of year, as summer reaches an end, and no one is ready to tackle the busy fall season.
But now is the time to shake things up, try something different, and set yourself up for a successful Q4. If you’re a marketer, it’s the perfect time to up your competitive edge while your competitors or still mourning the end of summer.
Here’s five easy ways to keep yourself and your marketing fresh, effective and on track.
1. Measure (real) engagement
You’ve heard it before – smartphones and tablets are changing everything when it comes to consumer behavior. The average consumer uses two to three devices within the cycle of making a single purchase. If you’re not tracking engagement across all devices and channels (both online and offline), you’re not getting the full picture. Multichannel attribution lets you measure performance, see what’s working and calculate ROI. It helps you spot trends and problems so you can make a change and finally end the cycle. No more bad investments and useless optimizations.
2. Keep an updated content calendar
You’re probably tracking a lot of activities, from deadlines to blog assets to your coworker’s vacation. Organizing your content assets by date will make your life easier. The goal is to create a calendar that is simple, visible to the rest of your team, and flexible. Being able to easily swap topics and due dates is key in an agile marketing atmosphere. My personal piece of advice – don’t use excel spreadsheets, which tend to be hard to scan and even harder to edit. Try cloud a cloud-based solution instead.
3. A/B test everything
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you know what works. You can make your best bet, but the only way to build a truly successful landing page is to test it — whether it’s the ad copy, images, videos, or headlines. Make sure to test small, isolated elements so you know exactly what works best. You never know when that one small change will be the knockout punch.
4. Create a unique strategy for mobile
We all know mobile is changing everything, and Google brought home the message when it announced it favor mobile-enabled sites in search, AKA Mobilegeddon. Having a one-size-fits-all mobile site is not even close to a mobile strategy; you need to really understand your mobile audience, their unique goals and expectations. When building your strategy, always have a picture in the back of your mind of your target customer searching for your product. They need a mobile solution, meaning you do, too.
5. It’s time to get social
If your marketing strategy doesn’t include social media, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity — and I’m not just talking to B2C marketers. Social media is not only a great communication channel between businesses and their audiences, and also proving to be a successful ad platform. According to, 54 percent of B2B marketers say they’ve generated leads from social media. Your customers expect you to be online as much as they are.
I’m not telling you to sacrifice fun to sit under the AC and work on your marketing tactics. But by following these few easy tips, you can maximize your efforts without getting burnt out.