5 must-haves to achieve account-based marketing success
Admittedly, it’s been a while since I did my first blog on account-based marketing (ABM).
In my defense, great sequels take time to perfect. After all, no one wants to end up with a Transformers 2 on their hands!
During this time a lot has happened, most notably, Marketo has officially launched ABM! It was quite the event with dancing, fireworks, parades and, for some bizarre reason, white tigers.
Of course, I didn’t witness any of this because I was on holiday at the time in Abu Dhabi, where it was hotter than a Galaxy Note 7! (ha!).
I did, however, get to enjoy a recording of the launch day events, so some of the above details might not be totally accurate (I blame jet-lag).
But enough about the festivities. You’re here to learn more about ABM. If you still don’t know what ABM is, then check out my previous post. For the converted among you, here are the five must-have items for ABM success this season:
1. Get your ducks in a row
The first stop on the ABM success path are MAP and CRM solutions. Consider these your personal data warehouse.
They can help you identify the key accounts you should (or possibly would want to) be targeting, along with insights into their decision-making journey, interactions and key contacts. Sounds similar to Buyer Journey or Persona Analysis research, right? You’re not far off the mark.
When identifying target accounts you need to understand the strategies, processes, and roles companies employ in their buying decisions. If you understand the goals and mechanisms companies and industries contend with, then you’re in stronger position to help your targeted accounts succeed. But don’t throw away all that other research (e.g. buyer journey) you’ve spent so much time and money putting together.
Then, when it comes time to communicate with your target accounts, you can maximize your messaging and engagement efforts towards ABM success.
2. Content marketing is not a one hit wonder
Think back to Vanilla Ice. No, wait.
Think back to all of the evocative copy and staggeringly beautiful infographics you’ve crafted over the years to impress your leads.
This kind of content (not the animated gif at right) is crucial to engaging your selected target accounts.
In fact, Demand Gen Report found that more than half of all B2B buyers engage with at least three pieces of content before picking up the phone to listen to the sales pitch.
I know what you’re thinking. This means you need to create new pieces of content.
Well, here’s more good news! You can reuse and refresh content you already have as part of your ABM strategy.
Ice, ice, baby.
3. Hello, can you hear me?
Is this thing plugged in?
Under ABM, it’s important to use the correct communication channel to engage key individuals within a targeted account.
Whether individuals within your targeted accounts prefer mobile, social, handwritten letters or carrier pigeons, it is up to you to honor their choices.
You might already have access to this information through MAP and CRM, but watch and learn from the channels your targeted accounts frequent to gather information.
This has the added benefit of showing exactly the type of content they are interested in and the sources they trust. Alternatively, use a subscription-based approach tied to your MAP, where your targeted account can select their communication channel and frequency.
4. Real time persuasions
By now you’re probably convinced at how pivotal the data in your MAP and CRM systems is when it comes to putting together a successful ABM strategy.
Go on, give your Marketo instance a hug and then put a padlock around it. Done? Good.
Now that we know communication with your target accounts is critical to ABM, you can take all that juicy firmographic and behavioral data you’ve accrued and create rich and tailored experiences around them, such as your website or social media.
From there, you can use the power of RTP to lead them down a specific path beyond the homepage, feeding them content specific to their interests.
Think of it as an all you can eat content buffet!
Similarly, you can create entire campaigns within your MAP around this principle. Since this is a more substantive undertaking, one caveat would be to start with a small pilot program to test on a subset of your target accounts. This will give you the opportunity to check the resonance of your messaging and improve the processes surrounding your efforts.
Not only does it mean you send the right message at the right time, but contacts at your target accounts are likely to linger around your website longer consuming more content.
The “when and what” of the content you entice them with depends on your target accounts, their industries, pain points, buying cycle and the journey you want them to take until they get in touch with you. Just remember to keep it all relevant.
5. How deep is this funnel?
All that hard work that you’ve put into building an ABM juggernaut would be useless if you couldn’t measure, refine and improve your marketing efforts.
When it comes to ABM, information is power (it feels so good to say that!), and this is one of the first things you can track and improve because it informs all of your other ABM actions.
In fact, strong data will help you build a repository of account knowledge and contacts which sales and marketing can, in turn, can use to make, or even improve, their efforts.
Make sure to track the creation of this knowledge base because it will also help you bring sales and marketing together more closely, which is a key requisite for ABM.
If Sales and Marketing are not on the same page, then running an ABM strategy is like tying shoelaces with your teeth.
With so much of ABM built around engagement, it makes sense to monitor how well the programs you create are performing with selected accounts, in conjunction with feedback from the sales team. One thing to note however is that targeted accounts will not yield as many net new leads as you would normally expect to garner.
But when it comes to ABM, think of yourself as Captain Ahab — so you should consider the net new leads from targeted accounts as your “whale deals”. Hopefully without the disastrous consequences.
ABM is similar to marketing efforts you might have undertaken in the past, but it requires a whole new level of focus and diligence in execution. In that sense, the blood, sweat and tears are worth the pay-off.
Paying greater attention to a few key accounts doesn’t mean you lose traction or sight of all your other marketing efforts and potential business. But the time and patience you place into these target accounts will not only be rewarding, but it will be invaluable to your future marketing efforts.
That’s a pretty good deal.