The Digital Fast Track: Refining Firm Improves Sales Process With B2B Pilot Campaign

When ABB Chemicals & Refining snares a customer, it is not usually for a one-off sale. 

ABB sells six- and seven-figure products to oil facilities and industrial manufacturers around the world. That can result in a sales process of up to two years — and a relationship lasting a decade or more.

The company had relied heavily on salespeople and events. But sometimes it would launch a product and did not have a sales team to support it. And it felt it could do a better job with customers. 

So late last year, ABB brought in Centerline Digital, a digital marketing agency, to beef up its marketing automation and email nurture, among other things. 

Charged with the task of helping ABB “level up their digital marketing maturity,” Centerline set up a pilot program in six weeks, focusing mostly on LinkedIn sponsored posts, video and 2,000 LinkedIn InMail messages, says Greg Harbinson, group strategy director for Centerline Digital.



This meant leveraging “necessary pieces of content, some already in existence,” Harbinson notes. For example, ABB offered a podcast, titled Climate Change & Downstream Ops.

The message asks: “How will climate change affect downstream operations in oil, gas and chemicals?”  The podcast announcement pulled 50 registrations in two weeks.

And the proof-of-concept campaign proved out in other ways. The sponsored posts did 37.7% better than the benchmark, and the InMail messages pulled at a 24% higher rate than the benchmark for InMail.

In addition, the campaign help brand ABB as an expert in refining.

There was one other benefit. Although this may not have been foreseen, the coronavirus pandemic was just starting to break out as part two of the campaign was launched in March, affecting the U.S. and other countries in which ABB does business.

The effort showed what could be done in digital if there were no in-person events.

But that was just the start. Centerline plans to “scale out additional nurture opportunities” through email and other means and improve automation of “interstitial interactions.”

ABB had an email database that it used to send out product updates or industry news, but this was done on an inconsistent basis and was “not tied to immediate action,” Harbinson continues.

So Centerline is increasing connectivity across email and all other channels. For instance, “the email is sent immediately when they sign up for a webinar,” he says. Captured email addresses go into Salesforce Partdot.

ABB also plans to ”leverage the emails we captured during this campaign for a jump start.”

The total number of emails captured was 83. That doesn’t sound like a large number, but it is considering the huge sales potential. 

Moreover, 97% of the visitors arriving at landing pages were new audience members.

What did ABB and Centerline learn from the campaign?

One lesson was that InMail clicks are above the industry benchmarks when content is delivered by an ABB expert, with a head shot and job title.

And Centerline showed that it could help clients “quickly pivot and be able spin up scalable digital programs,” says Michelle Yancey, group account director, Centerline Digital.

That’s no small thing in a time when live interactions are on hold.



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