Jenifer Ho is Head of Business Growth Marketing and Marketing Operations for Lyft Business. This post is part of our Moment Makers series, which takes a deep dive into how marketers use technology to build data-driven customer experiences that feel natural, relevant, and right on time. Lyft is a Salesforce customer. Lyft’s account-based marketing (ABM) strategy helped them pivot their business to support essential workers.


One of the biggest disruptions we’ve experienced during the pandemic has been around mobility. To slow the pandemic’s spread, we’ve all changed where we go and how we get there. These changes are responsible and necessary, but the impact is noticeable.

Americans spent an estimated 60 million fewer hours commuting between mid-March and mid-September of 2020. Restaurants are closing in record numbers because we’re dining out less. And the number of business events and community gatherings that have been delayed, moved online, or canceled altogether remains impossible to count.

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As a ridesharing company, Lyft’s mission is to improve peoples’ lives with the world’s best transportation. I run business growth marketing for our B2B segment, Lyft Business, and needless to say, we’ve had to find new ways to thrive amidst these hard circumstances.

Here’s how we did it, and how the right account-based marketing strategy and technology helped us shift gears.

Pay attention when the world pivots

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Lyft saw new opportunities to support people on the front lines, including doctors, nurses, and essential workers at retail stores and warehouses. These people make it possible for us to stay as healthy and productive as possible.

So we sprang into action. My team worked to understand the unique needs of essential workers to get to and from work. Then we partnered with our internal teams to identify the organizations we could help. Intentional account selection is a core ABM strategy that helps us identify the customers we’re in the best position to support, especially during this time.

We used three key data points from our customer relationship management ( CRM) platform to guide the conversation:

  • Company profile data: This helped us learn more about the makeup of these businesses – industry, size, technologies in place, public versus private, and so on.
  • First-party intent data: This gave us insight into the individual members of each organization’s buying committee and how they’re engaging with us on our channels.
  • Third-party intent data: This helped us fill in knowledge gaps that we didn’t have access to in our own data.

From these insights, we discovered many of our riders were also essential workers, and they were using Lyft to commute to work. This data also gave a clear view into how these organizations operate, what they’re interested in, and how Lyft Business can help support their employees in a time of crisis. And it’s helped us launch timely and relevant solutions into the market.

In times like these, an employer has a responsibility to help solve transportation barriers. And that’s who we’re talking to in ABM.

For instance, we introduced Lyft Pass over the summer to help businesses create customized commuting programs for their employees. With Lyft Pass, organizations can cover the cost of rides for essential workers, employees, customers, and guests while prioritizing safety, convenience, and flexibility. A lot of companies wanted to learn more, especially organizations with essential workers on staff.

From a business perspective, the level of interest confirmed our hunch – and our CRM data – that this service was needed. On a deeper level, this program closely connects to the work we do to unlock transportation as a barrier for people, and we’re grateful it’s been well-received. It’s so important right now to care for those in our communities who are taking care of us. They shouldn’t have to worry about how to get to work. In times like these, an employer has a responsibility to help solve transportation barriers. And that’s who we’re talking to in ABM.

One of my biggest learnings over the last few months has been understanding each company’s reasons for setting up an employee commute program. It’s not a “one size fits all” situation. For example, some companies have strict attendance policies, and they provide commute benefits to new hires to help them get to work in plenty of time so they can keep their jobs.

It’s all about identifying the organizations that can benefit from programs like ours, listening to their needs, and finding the best way to help them meet those needs for their people.

Design your account-based marketing strategy and martech to be “pivot ready”

Our ability to pivot didn’t happen overnight. A lot of it was made possible by building an ABM strategy and having the right technology to execute it.

A big part of our strategy is organizational alignment. You can do all the account-based marketing you want, but if your internal teams aren’t in sync, you won’t be as effective.

We learned this the hard way. Before we adopted ABM, marketing and sales had different views on which accounts to target. Not surprising, right? Sellers are under constant pressure to meet their quotas. So they were urging us to move fast on the organizations they wanted to reach.

We shared our marketing data with sales so they could see why their dream businesses weren’t necessarily the right ones to talk to. It was a big “a-ha” moment for them.

Meanwhile, marketing had the data to show that these leads had no intent to buy. It would have been great to turn all of those sales leads into customers, but there was no signal that they were even considering one of our programs.

Taking a more strategic approach to account selection meant rebuilding our list. We shared our marketing data with sales so they could see why their dream businesses weren’t necessarily the right ones to talk to. It was a big “a-ha” moment for them.

“Wow, this person read this article and is searching for these sorts of terms. That’s why we should go after them first.”

Today, we work closely with sales to find and target businesses that are the best fit for our programs. Many of our sales team members are in customer service and account manager roles, so we all work together to help customers stay engaged.

On the tech side, having a CRM is foundational to your success. It’s the best way to get a full view of your customers and manage all of your interactions with them.

Ours is powered by Salesforce Customer 360, and it’s the single source of truth for our data. Separate teams may use the information differently, but we’re working from the same information, and we stay aligned through shared reporting and insights.

Our CRM data also feeds into the B2B marketing automation platform Pardot to help us personalize content and keep customers engaged.

I hope these “lessons learned” help you create the right account lists for your business and develop stronger ABM programs in the long run.

What’s next

Hear Jenifer’s insights on the future of B2B marketing by tuning in to our Marketing Cloudcast.

Marketing Cloud offers solutions for digital marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, customer journey mapping, marketing analytics, marketing automation, and B2B marketing to help you personalize customer communications across every digital touchpoint – from anywhere.

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