Many years ago when I ran, we developed a sales tool that told our customers which companies were visiting their websites, and where those visitors were located.  It was a big hit with marketing and sales leaders who gained insights on which prospects to contact and when.  But we stopped there (and focused on other initiatives).

Around the same time, a startup called Demandbase developed a related product.  But Demandbase didn’t stop there.  Their platform, based on the same kind of IP resolution technology we used at ThomasNet, was repurposed and extended to many other areas, including online advertising and marketing automation.  Their work – and with other companies too – spawned a movement in the B2B marketing world:   account-based marketing.Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 11.46.59 AM

Account based marketing technology helps you create targeted communications to people at specific companies, and provides important intelligence.  The strategy has been around for many years, but technology is now making it more powerful, easier and more mainstream.  Here are some ways to use it, and there are many more:

  • Advertise online to specific companies and target your message accordingly.   You can also group types of companies together into segments, e.g. advertise more heavily to VIP prospects, launch “win-back” campaigns to lapsed/former customers etc.
  • Prioritize sales calls and gain signals on buyer interest.  If you’re selling to buyers at Lockheed-Martin based in Marietta, Georgia and you learn that three people from there went to your website this week, you better call them up…quickly.
  • Personalize your website.  Entire sections of your website can change, with tailored messages that automatically appear when visitors from specific companies – or segments – come to your site.

This week, Demandbase announced that it has developed an account-based marketing for Oracle Marketing Cloud, which includes Eloqua (a leading marketing automation platform), and other technologies.  There are other players in account based marketing besides Demandbase, and more affordable solutions, but they seem to be getting the most traction.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • For your product roadmap, think broadly about your product benefits.  Demandbase’s core technology, IP resolution, helps you market and sell to specific companies – or specific groups of companies.  That’s a broad benefit that has many, many applications.
  • If you say it, and label it, you can own it.  Demandbase coined a term, Account Based Marketing (or at least popularized it).  They built a whole narrative in the industry around that concept, and what it means to marketing people.  They are saying it loudly, and are beginning to own it.
  • Partner to achieve scale, and get into your audience’s workflow.  This is an oldie but a goodie.  Demandbase partnered with ad networks to launch its online advertising solutions, and with marketing automation companies for its other offerings.  Now, when thousands of marketers go about their daily work, Demandbase will be working behind the scenes.

ThomasNet is a $100MM+ company, and has innovated in other ways.  But Demandbase is a rocket that has taken off.