Cool start-up: Terminus – B2B Account Based Advertising Automation

5/1/2015
Be sure to check out our new Buyer Blog for the latest B2B blog articles & discussions!
I recently met with Sangram Vajre, Co-Founder and CMO at Terminus at the recent Martech conference in San Francisco.  I thought Terminus would be of interest to our readers. Sangram was previously VP of Marketing at marketing automation software vendor Pardot, now owned by Salesforce. The lead investor in Terminus is David Cummings, a co-founder of Pardot.

Terminus positions itself as a platform for B2B advertising automation. Their mission is to address two key B2B marketing challenges:1) The B2B buying cycle is getting longer and more complex. Multiple people have influence so to maximize effectiveness, you need to market at an account versus an individual level. 2) You need to engage buyers on their channels of preference, e.g. mobile, Facebook, different websites. 

Advertising is relatively new for B2B. How does it compare to B2C? 

“The typical spend levels in B2C advertising are huge. In B2B, you’re not spending nearly that much. For every account you’re targeting you can control the number of impressions delivered, and the devices on which you render above fold, and to some degree clicks.”

How do you target?

“We’re advocating an approach call ‘Flip My Funnel’, where you start with your best fit prospective customers. Then you figure out the titles you want to get in front of. You have the choice to target all people in that company, or to do geographic targeting, or to layer on specific roles to target. You can get pretty granular.”

It seems like you’re changing behavior. Does it require a lot of education?

“Everyone intuitively says that want to do account based marketing, especially if they are using marketing automation software already. We focus on reminding marketers that their goal is revenue and not the number of leads they generate. This is the same as for marketing automation, but people sometimes lose sight of that.”

Who uses your software? Does a company need to add staff?

“It’s the same buyer as for marketing automation. With Terminus, you can connect to Salesforce and be up and running account based campaigns in 30 minutes.”

Are companies prioritizing spend on active opportunities? 

“Yes. There are some companies squarely focused on prospective customers in their active pipeline. They want to use account based advertising to increase their close rate and deal velocity. Traditionally marketers stop marketing when someone is in the pipeline. Account based advertising can have a great effect if they are in a competitive deal. Salesloft has seen a 29% increase in a close rate and also seen velocity impact.”

What are other common use cases?

“A lot of B2B marketers are focused on events. They use account based advertising to warm up accounts that are going to come to an event 30-45 days in advance. Then two weeks before, they’ll send over the warm accounts to their sales team. We’re using this approach ourselves”.

How much ad budget are companies allocating? 

“You can control spend on a per account basis. Most spend $10-15 per month to target a small company and $100-150 to target a large company.”

What is your pricing model?

“We have a subscription fee. We don’t charge mark-ups on media spend. Other companies charge a 30-40% mark-up. Our subscription fee is currently $500 per month but it will go up pretty soon. We currently have 27 customers, and plan to raise our fees when we hit 50.”

Who is your competition?

Demandbase. They have done a lot to build awareness of account based marketing. Also, Bizo, who were recently acquired by LinkedIn. All of these companies charge based upon media spend. They are incented to get companies to spend more on media. We have an opposite philosophy. We are the only ones with a fully self-serve product.”

Demandbase base does account based advertising but also offers a solution to engage targeted accounts on your website with personalized content. It uses reverse IP for anonymous visitors. It is a positively rated product on TrustRadius with 10 reviewsBizo is now part of LinkedIn’s marketing solution offering. It too is very positively rated on TrustRadius though with fewer reviews.

Marketo’s messaging increasingly talks about advertising. Are they a competitor?

“I think we’re complimentary.  We’re not relying on our customer’s database. Most Salesforce.com instances don’t have up to date customer data. They are not doing a lot of work to keep up with email addresses. People change jobs. We just need to know the list of companies you want to target. Through our partners like NetProspect (D&B), we identify people with the right information. We’re doing the heavy lifting to identify the right people.” 

Is this a database hygiene strategy? 

“Yes it is in many ways, it is.”

Here are some excerpts from reviews on TrustRadius:

“We have a marketing team of five people and Terminus has been a great solution to help us dive into advertising. We previously dabbled in social advertising and Google Adwords - but turned to Terminus when we were looking to take our advertising strategy to the next level. They have helped us target top of the funnel retargeting campaigns and reactivate leads that are currently in the funnel - so a true full funnel advertising strategy that helps us to accelerate their pipeline velocity. Plus their team is extremely nice and helpful”

“The SalesLoft Marketing team uses Terminus to approach account-based marketing at every stage of the buyer's journey and sales funnel. From customer and lead acquisition to nurturing campaigns, the team is able to scale messaging across a wider audience spectrum, targeted to the specific quarterly priority projects. The platform has also been instrumental in advertising to a targeted audience prior to conferences and seminars.” 

Conclusion

If you have a key account focus, or sell primarily to large enterprises, account based marketing seems like a sensible strategy to follow. I also think it’s inevitable that more B2B marketers will add advertising to their marketing tool set to complement email and social. The ability to tightly control advertising spend by not just focusing on accounts, but by also filtering by title and geography will be an important factor. This will be a very interesting to watch. Former Marketo co-founder, Jon Miller has also started his own new venture in this space, Engagio and recently raised a $10m series A.

Vinay Bhagat – Chief Executive Officer, TrustRadius

Vinay is an entrepreneur passionate about tackling big problems. Vinay conceived TrustRadius after experiencing challenges when buying enterprise solutions at his last company. In 1999, Vinay founded Convio, the leading Software as a Services platform for nonprofits. In April 2010, Convio became a public company, and was acquired in May 2012 for $325 million. Prior to Convio, Vinay was a Director at Trilogy Software and a Consultant at Bain & Company. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School where he graduated as a Baker Scholar, an MS Engineering Economic Systems from Stanford University, and a MA Engineering Information Sciences from Cambridge University with First Class Honors. When he’s not working, Vinay loves spending time with his family, playing squash and racing cars.