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Henkel explains its award-winning account-based transformation


By The Drum, Editorial

December 6, 2023 | 8 min read

Henkel Adhesives Technologies and Transmission have won the B2B category at The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising. Here is the award-winning case study.

Example of the award-winning work

Henkel is undergoing significant digital transformation to “innovate the way [it] serves customers, putting them at the centre of everything [it] does” across all areas of its business, including Marketing.

However, as an organization that had always relied on Sales to generate leads, its marketing teams lacked the tech stack and experience to make this a reality. So, as part of pilots run to support its transformation, we had to demonstrate that ABM could “increase footprint and relevance at large accounts” through an end-to-end 1:1 program targeting one of Henkel’s existing customers, Cisco.

After interrogating the brief, we learned that Henkel wanted to eventually scale the ABM programs to 300+ accounts globally – highlighting the need for efficiency from day one. Here, we introduced the concept of vertical-focused 1:Many/1:Few alongside the 1:1 motion – allowing Henkel to target and market to a wider set of accounts, while also repurposing vertical-focused content and messaging for direct 1:1 ABM programs.

As such, our objectives were to:

Prove ABM was the most effective way of marketing into large accounts

Support the digital transformation of how Henkel goes to market in large accounts

Demonstrate the above through a seamless, blended ABM pyramid of pilot programs targeting Cisco (1:1) and the wider Data & Telecom vertical (1:Many)

We measured performance through the lens of the three Rs:

Reputation: awareness and engagement

Relationship: are leads going from MQL to SQL and contacting Henkel?

Revenue: active opportunities created/influenced in the Henkel pipeline

Our KPIs were:

Cisco 1:1: 110 leads, 6 MQLs, and 3 SQLs

Vertical 1:Many: 1,400 leads, 25 MQLs, and 18 SQLs


Putting Henkel’s audiences at the heart of everything we did was key to the success of both programs.

Deep audience insights

We kicked things off by running ABM discovery workshops for both customer journeys. For Data & Telecom, this included:

Pulling together a global target account list of key decision-makers at organizations where Henkel could grow its total addressable market (TAM)

Interviews with Henkel subject matter experts, Sales, and Leadership

The creation of a single-minded proposition

Identification of five key personas, their responsibilities, and key challenges – including messaging and tailored value propositions

For Cisco, our workshops included the incredibly unique opportunity to interview Cisco stakeholders for 1:1 account deep dives, as well as:

Deep stakeholder mapping to create a Cisco-specific value proposition

The identification of 148 key decision-makers in Senior Management, Engineering, Product Innovation, Sourcing, Technical Leaders, Fellows, and Engineering across the US, Europe, China, and India

Our research phase surfaced the insight that Henkel’s innovation story complemented existing tech sector narratives. Consistently rising demand for data and internet access, and as a result, thermal management and interface materials, meant that Henkel had a huge opportunity for growth.

And with Cisco’s ‘Internet for the Future’ strategy addressing the broad adoption of multi-cloud and application environments reliant on these materials, Henkel could be positioned as their perfect innovation partner.

Highly personalized, world-class content experiences

Our insights phase revealed that too much of Henkel’s existing content felt bottom-of-funnel, with an overwhelming focus on its products/solutions. It was clear we needed to add a blockbuster awareness layer to get our audiences’ attention. So, we created content strategies that mapped to both our 1:Many vertical and 1:1 Cisco journeys based on the key personas, messaging, and tailored value propositions identified in our insights phase.

We built a library of world-class foundational whitepapers, infographics, and blogs initially tailored to the Data & Telecom vertical. These assets explored topics at the top of decision-makers’ minds, detailing how Henkel’s component materials expertise could help performance and support future innovation – with one asset winning ‘Best Use of a Whitepaper’ at the Content Marketing Awards 2022.

We then leveraged those assets and our Cisco stakeholder insights to create content custom-made for Cisco accounts, showcasing how Henkel is uniquely positioned to be their perfect innovation partner. Each piece of content and creative used red and blue designs to represent the cooling and heating topics in our assets while also playing on Henkel and Cisco’s brand colors to build up the theme of collaboration.

Moreover, to provide more non-traditional breakthrough experiences, we created bespoke web platforms for both audiences. This allowed us to add functionality like product and solution catalogues relevant to both sets of accounts, enabling visitors to order samples and reach out to Global Key Account Managers (GKAMs) directly.

It also facilitated the reporting, measurement, and optimization of our activity across channels as HubSpot acted as our email automation system, CRM, and CMS platform for our 1:Many audiences.

For Cisco’s gated site specifically, we built collaboration and solution areas on Notion where Cisco and Henkel employees could work together on active projects – building and nurturing relationships to establish Henkel as a thought leader in the space.

The platform was designed to feel like a platform bespoke to Henkel and Cisco audiences and thanks to site gating, we could track and monitor every touchpoint on the site. Visitors could find detailed product specs and order samples directly through the site, bypassing Henkel’s legacy systems to address another challenge Cisco had flagged to Henkel: the time taken for samples to arrive.

Targeted activation across audience and funnel

We ensured our 1:Many and 1:1 ABM programs spanned brand through to demand using a mix of digital, offline, and sales activation tactics. Each campaign had its own activation strategy and plan that played to the strengths of the content and messaging, as well as the nuance of the audience size and targeting, thanks to tools like 6sense and Demandbase.

Paid social and programmatic display were used to drive site traffic, while content syndication and Lead Gen Forms were then used to capture leads and build our database – informing who we’d reach out to through email nurture tracks. We also leveraged social selling and highly targeted, consultative sales outreach to build relationships with MQLs and leads by sharing content to set meetings with GKAMs.

We went a step further in our Cisco campaign, creating artwork-turned-NFTs representing both Cisco’s future business strategy and the support Henkel could provide. This was integrated into a physical direct mailer using to act as an additional opportunity for outreach to Cisco prospects via social selling and email.


To date, we’ve had some extraordinary results.

Cisco 1:1:

800 leads, 86 MQLs, 15 SQLs, 4 opportunities – 2 with senior Cisco Silicon One stakeholders, both of whom Henkel had little/no previous engagement with

Over 500 visitors/month out of a targeted ~15K Cisco TAL

Vertical 1:Many:

3,370 leads, 50 MQLs, 32 SQLs, and 3 opportunities


Lead Gen Forms: 61.63% (Cisco) and 59.81% (Vertical) CTR vs. 41.38% industry benchmark (IB)


“When we talked about piloting ABM at Henkel ~2 years ago, lots of people had a pre-conceived idea of what we were going to try to accomplish – including ourselves. We realized through an experimental journey that it was much more than delivering hyper-personalized targeted ads to top opportunity accounts.

While the profile of our target audience is ever evolving, this became about re-aligning the entire organization (starting with Marketing and Sales) around the top opportunities and accounts we have now and for the future while digitalizing what is at the core of what our business is about: knowledge and expertise.” Pierre Tannoux, VP Customer Experience & Digital Marketing Transformation, Henkel

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