[ABM Case Study] VersionOne Drives 2X More Sales Opportunities

As the recognized leader in agile management software, CollabNet VersionOne provides unified agile and devops software solutions for enterprise companies.

The VersionOne marketing team has launched and scaled an innovative account-based marketing (ABM) program with Terminus. Their team has received recognition for how they’ve implemented and found success with ABM, including winning the SiriusDecisions Demand Creation and ABM Program of the Year.

VersionOne was an early adopter of Terminus (they started back in 2015), so we went down to their office to meet with their ABM Superhero squad to learn more about their award-winning ABM program. 

Challenge: When Inbound Marketing Isn't Enough

As an enterprise software provider, VersionOne competes with very large companies that have even larger marketing budgets. Historically, the bulk of their marketing efforts were focused on generating inbound leads, which proved to be ineffective and unscalable.

According to Peter Herbert, VP of marketing at VersionOne, “We knew we couldn’t outspend our competitors, so we had to figure out a way to outsmart them.”

The VersionOne team needed a way to be more efficient with marketing spend by focusing on accounts that fit their ideal customer profile (ICP) and targeting key decision-makers within those accounts. So, they decided to shift from a solely inbound strategy to an account-based marketing strategy.

VersionOne Terminus account-based marketing ABM case study

Solution: Engagement at Scale with ABM

As VersionOne began to build out their ABM tech stack, they wanted to incorporate a targeted digital advertising tool to build awareness and drive engagement within key accounts.

“When we first started experimenting with ABM,” said Peter, “we needed a solution to help us target specific companies and create customized messages for prospects and customers at various stages.”

This is when they decided to partner with Terminus for account-based digital advertising. VersioneOne uses Terminus as an “always on” program for engaging target accounts. Terminus helps with driving accounts through the marketing funnel to generate more high-quality sales opportunities, as well as accelerating their sales cycle to close deals faster. As a leading indicator of success, they look at target account engagement: impressions, ad clicks, and website visits. 

Why Terminus for Account-Based Advertising?

When we asked Peter why they chose to go with Terminus over other providers in the space, he explained:

“We wanted a solution where we could experiment easily, control our campaigns, launch quickly, and measure our results. “Frankly, we’ve tried other display [advertising] solutions, and Terminus outperforms and delivers better results for every dollar we spend.”

In a comparison test, VersionOne found that Terminus campaigns drove more than 2X the web sessions from target companies than other providers. This was the evidence they needed to prove that Terminus' targeting and advertising capabilities are truly best-in-class. Along with the ability to quickly launch, optimize, and measure display advertising campaigns, Kristen Wendel, director of marketing ops, shared additional reasons why Terminus has become such an integral part of their ABM stack.

“The main value of Terminus, for me, was the ability to report on the influence of display campaigns and the seamless integration with Salesforce.”

When they looked at the influence of Terminus on their target accounts, they saw that 17% of the pipeline created from target accounts was directly sourced from display. Another indirect effect of Terminus campaigns was an increase in organic web traffic. The graph below shows their web traffic before and after launching their ABM program.  

VersionOne web traffic results increasing after launch of ABM program

In their first year of implementing an ABM strategy with display as one of their cornerstone tactics, VersionOne saw:

  • 88% of target accounts engaged
  • 45% increase in average opportunity value
  • 40% of new business pipeline generated from ABM target accounts
  • 2X more opportunities created and sales appointment made for accounts targeted by ABM

2 Ways VersionOne Uses Terminus ABM

Jodi Lebow, Director of Demand Generation at VersionOne shared, “For my role in demand gen, the Terminus platform is so easy to use. It allows real-time access to reporting and to manage my budget and my creative.”

Not having to wait until the end of the month or wait for a vendor to update the creative or account list is critical to their ability to constantly iterate, optimize, and launch new campaigns. Jodi and her team can log directly into their account and see which creative is performing best, switch creative out as needed, and add or remove accounts. The ability to see, in real-time, which tactic an account is in and how that tactic is performing for that particular account helps her better understand what messaging is resonating and how to allocate her budget.

Here’s a high-level overview of the way VersionOne tracks their active campaigns. This chart shows:

  • Active campaigns.
  • Budget allocation.
  • Tactics within each campaign.
  • Creative and assets used for each tactic.
  • Spend, impressions, and clicks for each tactic.

Account-based advertising campaign tracking

Check out their use cases below.

1. Full-Funnel Automation: Awareness → MQA Progression → Pipeline Velocity Campaigns

As Kristen mentioned, VersionOne leverages the Terminus integration with Salesforce in their campaigns. They are running three campaigns with multiple tactics. Accounts automatically flow into different tactics and campaigns based on their stage of the buying process. This removes the need to manually add or remove accounts from the campaigns — the Salesforce integration does this automatically. These three campaigns cover the entire journey from awareness to closed-won.

This is what the campaigns look like in their Terminus Dashboard:

Terminus account-based marketing ABM dashboard

Step #1: Awareness

The first of these campaigns is their Awareness campaign, which is divided into three tactics based on audience segments.

  • Tier 1: High-fit, high-intent accounts agreed upon by sales and marketing
  • Tier 2: Broader pool of good-fit accounts agreed upon by sales and marketing
  • Government: Industry is government (since they use different terminology and messaging and creative can be tailored)

The main goal of this campaign is to move accounts from what they call “inactive,” meaning they haven’t engaged with VersionOne, to a marketing qualified account (MQA) by serving them highly targeted, relevant display ads at every step of the journey.

Step #2: MQA Progression

Accounts move from the Awareness campaign to the MQA Progression campaign once their Salesforce status changes to an MQA status. VersionOne has several different MQA stages, so this campaign has a separate tactic for each MQA stage. Each tactic has a specific set of ad creative with content that applies to that stage. The goal of this campaign is to convert MQAs to opportunities, so accounts remain in this campaign until an opportunity is created. This type of campaign allows VersionOne to track account progression from marketing qualified to sales accepted.

Step #3: Pipeline Velocity

Once an opportunity is created, accounts automatically move from the MQA Progression campaign to the Pipeline Velocity campaign. This campaign has two tactics that represent two of their opportunity stages: Discovery and Evaluation. The goal of the campaign is to get accounts to move from the Discovery tactic to the Evaluation tactic, meaning the opportunity is progressing through the funnel and is one step closer to closed-won. Again, the ad creative and messaging for each of these tactics matches where that account is in the buyer’s journey.

The Results

In the first month after launching this series of campaigns, VersionOne saw 31% of target accounts in the Awareness campaign progressing to open MQAs.

2. Intent-Based Campaign

Another highly effective campaign VersionOne is running is their Surging Account Campaign, which targets accounts that are high-fit and have high intent based on data from Bombora. For this campaign, they identified keywords their target accounts were searching for and built ads and landing pages with messaging using those keywords.

Surging accounts campaign for account-based marketing  

This campaign had the highest engagement of any campaign they’ve run in Terminus so far. 55% of the accounts had at least one click on the ads, which shows the impact of delivering a relevant, targeted message. Incorporating Terminus into their demand gen programs by building these targeted and segmented campaigns has really helped VersionOne take their efforts to the next level.

According to Jodi, “Terminus has greatly impacted our demand gen efforts. It’s allowed us to run campaigns to increase awareness, drive engagement, and generate MQAs.”

ABM Lessons Learned Along the Way

It’s clear that VersionOne is on the cutting edge of ABM strategy and best practices, but it didn’t always come easy. When we asked the team to give advice to others getting started with ABM, there were three key learnings they wanted to share.

  1. Account selection is key – When the VersionOne team first started out with Terminus, they didn’t really have a set process for how they would select target accounts. “We had a large target account list of 800 at first,” Jodi shared. “We loaded them into Terminus and said, ‘Let’s see what happens.’” They quickly realized that this wasn’t very effective and it was incredibly difficult to get the reach they needed within each account without drastically increasing their budget. Instead of just throwing more money at the campaign, their team realized, “the more you can micro-segment, the more you’re able to tailor messaging or offer to have a higher impact. You’re also able to better manage the budget, which allows us to be smarter with our spend. It’s really easy to do that with Terminus platform and we don’t have to go to a vendor to make changes to our list, ad creative, or budget.”
  2. Use ABM metrics to measure success, not lead-based metrics – Another important lesson they’ve learned throughout their ABM journey is setting the right expectations and goals. When measuring the impact of Terminus and ABM in general, VersionOne looks at engagement and progression as key indicators of success, not the number of leads.
  3. ABM works best with an multi-channel approach – While Terminus is a main component of VersionOne’s ABM program, they advise to take a multi-channel approach to truly see success. “Use display as part of your ABM playbook,” says Peter. “Not as your ABM program.”

Partnering with the ABM Experts

Terminus approaches each customer as a partner with the goal of driving success with the platform and ABM strategy. All Terminus customers are paired with a dedicated customer success manager and receive support from our advertising operations team, who are there to continually optimize our customers' ads to maximize results.

According to Jodi:

"The Terminus team is clearly focused on the future of ABM and really helping marketers succeed. They partner with us and make my job really easy.”

To learn more about how Terminus can help you reach your revenue goals, chat with one of our ABM specialists now.  

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