Growth Frameworks

The UPSYD of ABM: Four Critical Focus Areas

Account-based marketing (ABM) programs can be critical for growth in B2B organizations. By tailoring marketing toward a prioritized list of accounts or segments, marketing teams can create more relevant experiences, develop better relationships and convert more business from prospects and existing customers.

Sometimes, however, issues can arise in ABM execution: the list of account targets may be too broad to generate impact; campaigns can fall flat if the content doesn’t match the needs of target accounts; teams can be spread thin across so many initiatives; and the sheer volume of data can overwhelm marketers.

To address these challenges, we recommend that teams consider focusing their efforts by applying the UPSYD framework to ABM execution. Though the benefits of this approach can span many different types of marketing initiatives, we’ve observed its positive impact on ABM in four critical focus areas: segmentation, content, bandwidth allocation and measurement.

Take a Walk on the UPSYD

The UPSYD framework refers to the five stages of customer awareness: Unaware, Problem aware, Solution aware, You aware, Deeply aware. The UPSYD framework encourages marketing teams to start in the deeply aware category, targeting customer accounts who are already quite familiar with your product or service, and “work outwards” from there.

The framework is even more powerful when you layer in expected lifetime value (LTV) and visualize:

*Adapted from Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz

In our experience, applying the UPSYD to ABM execution helps B2B marketing teams focus on what matters most to help drive growth. Marketing, sales and customer success teams get to know their most loyal customer accounts better; they develop deeper relationships with prospect accounts who are more advanced in their buying journey; they choose quality of content and experience over quantity of touchpoints and interactions; and most importantly, they generate tangible impact from marketing that can help improve overall performance.

Applying the UPSYD to ABM

While the UPSYD has several benefits for ABM programs, we’ve seen its positive impact shine in four critical focus areas: segmentation, content, bandwidth allocation and measurement.

Focus Area 1: Segmentation

Common ABM approaches: Many teams take either a named account or a criteria-based approach to account segmentations, the latter of which might consider customer needs and pain points, revenue amount, ACV or ASP, geography, employee count and other company-specific requirements. Account segmentation can be further refined with persona maps highlighting the needs of each member of a buying committee.

How the UPSYD helps: Applying the UPSYD framework highlights a frequently overlooked group of accounts: those prospects with whom you or your sales team has already engaged. By adopting a philosophy of “It’s never ‘no,’ just ‘not yet’” with prospects, teams can engage accounts who are further along in their buying journey and often have a higher conversion rate with the benefit of follow-up touchpoints, special offers, access to exclusive events, unique tools, offers for industry connections, referrals and much more. The UPSYD also emphasizes the importance of existing customer accounts in your ABM strategy.

Focus Area 2: Content

Common ABM approaches: We often see teams develop content tailored to named accounts, account segments and personas. Creative marketers develop messaging to address persona pain points and responsibilities, and as the number of stakeholders on a buying committee grows, this detailed work can get heavy, fast.

How the UPSYD helps: Layering the UPSYD framework into your content creation process helps prioritize content geared toward deeply aware accounts and personas. Also, it can even serve as an effective framework for mapping content by awareness stage.

For example, if you are targeting the deeply aware customer, consider sharing “last mile” customer stories, testimonials, or proprietary data directly relevant to a prospect as they contemplate the purchase decision. By contrast, the “unaware” or “problem aware” segments might benefit from content centered on market trends and data around desired outcomes.

Focus Area 3: Bandwidth Allocation

Common ABM approaches: There are often multiple funnel stages on the customer journey; companies with long sales cycles sometimes allocate bandwidth evenly across funnel stages to ensure coverage. With this approach, the scope of all individual marketing functions ends up spanning the entire customer lifecycle, and team members’ bandwidth can be spread thin.

How the UPSYD helps: A marketing team can more effectively prioritize its collective bandwidth by applying the UPSYD framework, assigning more bandwidth to the deeply aware category and less bandwidth to the unaware category. We recommend your team keeps two important topics in mind:

  1. Prioritized accounts: Though deeply aware, high-LTV accounts will likely take the most bandwidth of an ABM marketing team, your team can reach lower-priority accounts – and help conserve team bandwidth – through the use of automated programs (e.g., those campaigns executed through the use of paid media, website content, marketing automation and AI).
  2. Specific ABM campaign goals: Some ABM campaigns may not have account conversion as the north star. If the primary goal is account expansion, engagement, awareness or another goal, teams should adjust their bandwidth accordingly to support those goals.

Focus Area 4: Measurement

Common ABM approaches: Metrics are many in ABM, and in an attempt to be comprehensive, teams often try to track every campaign touchpoint using methods like click-based attribution, media mix modeling, multi-touch attribution and more. This can quickly lead to data overload.

How the UPSYD helps: The UPSYD framework emphasizes the importance of tying metrics directly to the goals of an ABM campaign. By identifying “north star metrics” that are true indicators of campaign success and choosing only the most relevant supporting metrics as leading indicators, teams can avoid data overload and remain focused on what matters.

For example, a team deploying ABM for new customer acquisition may choose new customers, deals closed and marketing-influenced revenue as north star metrics. Relevant leading indicators may include campaign email responses, event registrants, event attendees, demo requests, marketing-qualified leads, marketing-influenced opportunities and marketing-influenced pipeline.

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Cae Keys

In our view, focus is paramount for any successful ABM strategy. The UPSYD framework offers teams executing ABM a clear mental model for more focused and impactful segmentation, content, bandwidth allocation and measurement. By starting with the deeply aware, working outward toward the unaware and aligning ABM activities accordingly, marketers can maintain focus on high-value accounts, cultivate relationships with prospects and key stakeholders, and poise their own organizations for future growth.

Related Experience

The content herein reflects the views of Summit Partners and is intended for executives and operators considering partnering with Summit Partners.

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