Demandbase is developing an ecosystem around its account-based marketing (ABM) platform that will help bring ABM in the foundation of the martech stack.
I spoke with Kent Ragen, Demandbase Vice President of Channel Sales & Alliance, about the development of the Demandbase ecosystem, including key partnerships and technology integrations.
Delivering consistent data across the marketing stack
Ragen told me Demandbase’s goal is to enhance the customer experience with its platform and to do that, it needs to leverage data across systems and ensure that data is consistent. That data comes from Demandbase, but it also comes from other marketing and sales systems, including CRM, marketing automation, CMS, and more.
For example, Demandbase offers an Audience API that enables marketers to build and manage audiences and push those lists out to marketing automation systems or other engagement systems to use to personalize experiences. An audience could be a target account list, or it might be intent or firmographic data. At the same time, Demandbase can pull data back into its platform to give marketers a 360-degree view of the account.
Demandbase technology partnerships span a range of types of technology across the marketing tech stack include those that provide analytics, web experience, content marketing, sales enablement, and so on. When you look at the partners they have in their program today, many support the “engage” portion of the stack, such as CMS providers Sitecore, Drupal, and Adobe, as well as Drift, Uberflip, and Pathfactory.
Adding service provider certification to the mix
The Demandbase ecosystem extends beyond technology partnerships to also service provider partnerships. Ragen said the fundamental idea is the same, offer a list of certified service providers who can help Demandbase customers deliver on that customer experience.
Service providers who want to offer ABM strategy and implementation services can now become certified with Demandbase. There are two levels of certification: essential and premier. Ragen said the difference between the two levels comes down to two things:
- The scale of the organization in the market (so the service provider’s market presence)
- The depth of the partnership with Demandbase (the number of joint accounts)
All partners, regardless of level, are both ABM certified through Demandbase’s ABM certification program, and certified in Demandbase’s platform. The ABM certification is technology agnostic, and there are three levels, the first two online and the third in-person: Foundations, Advanced and Expert. I took the Foundations course and found it provided a lot of very good information on how to get started with account-based marketing. All partners must complete all three courses, with a certain number of staff getting certified, depending on the level of the partnership. There is also a certification that goes with Demandbase product training.
I was curious to know if the service providers could be individual consultants or only larger companies. Ragen said individuals or smaller agencies can do the training, but Demandbase does not bring them on as partners due to the overhead of managing the relationship. Demandbase assigns someone from the company to help develop the partnership, and it wouldn’t scale with smaller organizations. Demandbase does, however, accept referrals and will compensate individuals.
Not all partners accept referral fees (even though they are part of the program), and Ragen noted that the compensation isn’t key to the program. While Demandbase recognizes that inbound referrals do happen, it’s a small part of the partnership project. In most cases, the goal is to identify joint clients and then work together to deliver a unified solution to that end customer. For joint prospects, it is a co-selling environment where both Demandbase and the partner get a joint understanding of the client’s needs and work together to identify and propose a solution.
Ragen said that they are working hard to identify those technologies that they often see in their client technology stacks and see which service providers also partner with those technology providers.
The core components of a B2B marketing stack
Ragen said there are critical parts of the platform that Demandbase needs to build and optimize, but there are other areas of innovation, and no single company can be on top of it all. The quickest path to value for customers is to build relationships with those technology companies who are doing innovative things.
We talked about where ABM fits in the B2B organization’s marketing/sales stack. He told me that he sees three core components:
- CRM - a lynchpin
- Marketing automation - critical capabilities such as email, creating landing pages and capturing leads
For marketers who feel that ABM is a more effective way to go to market (and Ragen said that many marketers now believe that ABM is superior to traditional demand generation), you need an account-centric view, and your data needs to roll up to an account level. That’s where the ABM platform comes in and becomes the third foundational component providing:
- Account-based database of record
- Manage and prioritize target account lists
- Optimize your ABM from one central place.
Account-based marketing has moved from a nice to have, to a must-have for B2B marketing. But it’s still not a program that every company has in place. In the latest Ascend2 ABM report, 45% of companies either have a program in place, or are working on a pilot program. And while you don’t need ABM technology to run an ABM program, the right ABM technology can make a difference.
What I like about Demandbase’s ABM partnership program (both technology and service provider) is that the company not only recognizes how important it is to have tight integrations with many different types of technology to create consistent data-driven customer experiences but also that partners who help deliver Demandbase solutions understand those integrations and ABM strategy overall. Demandbase isn’t the first to have a technology or service provider partner program, but ABM has until recently been more of an outlier technology, not a foundational technology. This program is a step forward to change that.