What’s The Difference Between “Engagement” and Account Based Everything?

From day one, the Engagio team has been focused on finding new, innovative ways to foster engagement at scale for businesses. We’re so convinced of its potential that engagement is literally in our name.

But, we need to talk about what “engagement” really means.

From where I sit, engagement has become a buzzword that organizations are glomming onto in the marketing and sales technology space. Whether you call it Sales Engagement, Account Based Engagement, or Flibbidity Whatever Engagement, the word engagement itself has come to mean so many different things that it has deviated from its original intention and definition.

It’s time to clear this up, because confusion here means misunderstanding the purpose of sales and marketing, particularly within Account Based Everything.

OK, so what is engagement?

While often misused by vendors, the concept of engagement endures because it describes something fundamental about the customer’s connection to your brand.

Higher degrees of engagement mean a deeper commitment. It means more emotion and a more meaningful relationship. It begets activity, such as buying and advocating.

Above all, engagement is about time. Before someone spends money with you, they’ll spend time with you. The more time they spend, the more interest they’re showing in doing business with you. That’s why, at Engagio, we enable customers to measure and score accounts by “Engagement Minutes,” tracking the most meaningful metric to demonstrate interest within a potential account.

Measuring engagement means asking are the right people at the right accounts spending time with the right people in your organization?

By the way, this is why it doesn’t make sense to talk about “sales engagement.” The engagement comes from your customers and prospects, not your sales team.

Engagement is the goal, not the tactic

Engagement is like electricity. It generates heat. It’s what turns the lights on. Engagement with the right people at the right accounts is what drives deals. Engagement is, ultimately, what we are all after.

But, like electricity, engagement is the output of what we do.

Electric currents need a power plant, a generator, or an engine to bring them into existence. Account Based Everything (ABE), powered by a Marketing Orchestration Platform, is that generator. ABE orchestrates marketing, sales, and customer success to operate in harmony to generate an output: engagement at your target accounts.

Account Based Everything is the input (the thing you do), to generate the output you want (which is engagement).

Why does this distinction matter?

The reason this clarification matters is that along with the rise of engagement as a buzzword du jour, we’ve also seen a swath of new sales email tools that make false promises to deliver engagement.

The problem with these sales email tools is that they conflate engagement with automation. The technologies I’m referring to fundamentally deliver automation in the most traditional sense of the word; we know it to mean a series of touches that follow a pattern of “do this, then this, then this.” These tools fail, however, to automate beyond an individual person — or to automate what matters. A sequence of automated interactions is not engagement.

Put simply, you cannot automate the human touch.

Engagement requires humans to interact with humans, not just bits and bytes. And that’s the core difference between marketing automation and marketing orchestration: a true marketing orchestration platform automates where appropriate, and synchronizes human interactions for everything that requires the personal touch.

Buyers beware: Sales spam is NOT engagement

Any campaign tool that emails individuals the same basic message is not truly orchestration and will not result in true engagement. The worst offenders simply provide tracking, templates and analytics to let sales people send more crappy sales emails. These emails trick very few buyers into thinking they come from a real person — but we all know they’re just sales spam that plagues our inboxes.

Let’s call a spade, a spade. Sales spam is still spam. As much as sales acceleration technology has given us greater efficiency, it’s also lowered the barrier to entry to sending a high volume of low-quality emails, and the result is obvious: our inboxes are filled with junk.

If you can simply change the person and company name in the email and still send it to someone else, then it’s sales spam. Period.

Despite what sales email vendors may say, sending more sales spam does not drive engagement. True engagement involves identifying specific accounts, and sharing with those accounts compelling commercial insight as a trusted advisor. It requires research, a focus on quality, and the human touch.

Here’s what true engagement looks like

Although automation is a core component of marketing orchestration and driving engagement at scale, the difference is in what we choose to automate.

True Account Based Engagement delivers content and messaging in a coordinated and interactive fashion that allows for human interaction. It combines interactions across a variety of channels into a coordinated series of touches that develop and deepen relationships. It is multi-touch, multi-channel and multi-player.

We call these efforts “Plays,” and they generally fall into one of five levels of sophistication (and effectiveness). The more advanced the Play, the more orchestration and coordination are necessary.

Evolution of Account OrchestrationDon’t fall for faux engagement

If you’re a B2B organization with a complex sale, the only true way to create a cohesive customer experience and drive target account engagement is by adopting an Account Based Everything strategy.

At the helm of the account-based evolution are Marketing leaders who realize we no longer live in a lead-based world. They are successfully orchestrating interactions between their own team (including sales, marketing, customer success, and executives) and the right people at target accounts. They’re mindful of the journey a customer account undergoes, and create powerful Plays that drive engagement at every stage of the customer experience. And they understand that engagement is the thing they’re trying to achieve, not the tool they need to buy.

What do you think? How would you articulate the different between Engagement and Account Based Everything?



Jon Miller
Jon Miller
Jon Miller is CEO and founder of Engagio. Previously, Jon was the VP Marketing and Co-Founder of Marketo. He is a speaker and writer about marketing best practices, and is the author of multiple Definitive Guides including Marketing Automation, Engaging Email Marketing, and Marketing Metrics & Analytics. Jon has a passion for helping marketers everywhere, and is on the Board of Scripted and is an advisor to Optimizely and Newscred. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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