Everywhere you look on the Internet, marketers are busy trying to make the best of their budget by finding the most relevant audience to market to.
The art of narrowing your target down to high-worth accounts and the likeliest to convert, and then sending personalized marketing messages to key decision-makers in these accounts is what is known as account-based marketing, ABM for short.
Unlike the traditional B2B marketing funnel, ABM flips both the funnel and the agenda. Instead of generating leads and nurturing them to conversion, here you identify the leads and nurture them to loyal customers.
What’s involved in account-based marketing?
Simply the following steps:
- Select high-value accounts
- Understand their pain points
- Assess how you can help them achieve their goals
- Map and profile decision-makers
- Create made-to-order content that addresses their problems
- Identify the best channels to reach them
- Deliver personalized, targeted marketing campaigns
- Measure success
The focus of this piece is to show you how content can be used in account-based marketing, and not just page views and traffic.
Why use content for ABM?
It’s best for B2B who use an inbound marketing approach
As a B2B brand, you pay more for content than a B2C brand does.
The paradox, however, is that the B2B industry is characterized by low search volumes and a smaller audience. This even pales in comparison to what you see when you check the conversion rates for the B2B industry.
The best way to guarantee you’ll get value for your money is to use account-based marketing as it lets you focus on deals that are worth pursuing.
Measuring the impact of content on revenue
All these years, content has been used to generate leads, page views, traffic, etc. But every marketer who’s worth his/her weight in gold knows all these are vanity metrics that can be achieved by any basic online marketer.
When a business hires a marketer, they don’t do it for traffic and page views, what they have in mind is revenue, and only the marketer that can bring that will enjoy more patronage.
Using content for account-based marketing helps you keep track of what’s bringing in revenue and put market spendings in perspective before the stakeholders.
This goes beyond just ranking content on Google and seeing leads, not knowing whether they close deals or not.
So, how’s it done?
Here are the steps to create great account-based marketing content
Use analytics to gain insights
When it comes to ABM, the marketing and sales department work together to come up with a strategy, but given the experience of sales in dealing with customers directly, sales often have more say.
This doesn’t mean marketing should fold its arms.
What enables ABM is the ability to identify and target high-worth accounts with not just relevant but personalized marketing messages.
If the sales department contributes from experience, marketing can also make an input through research using cohort analysis under Google Analytics.
What does cohort analysis mean?
Cohort analysis is a behavioral analysis that shows you what a subset of your user base is doing in your app/website.
There are two types of cohort analysis:
Acquisition cohort: this segments your users based on the time they joined your product.
Behavioral cohort: this classifies your users based on what they do while using your product.
It is true that SaaS brands use cohort analysis majorly to arrest churn, but behavioral analysis serves our purpose here because it does show through what channels a cohort was acquired.
What you should do with this data is to identify what has worked for high-value accounts among your existing customers in the past and what aspect of your apps they use the most.
This is going to help in preparing your personalized messages for them.
Speak to your sales team
Marketers can envision and map out user touchpoints while preparing the sales funnel, but no one has more hands-on knowledge of what users really need like the sales team.
Part of what causes problems in generating revenues for most B2B companies is the disconnect between the two departments.
And this occurred to me sometime last year when I was brought into a B2B company to cross-sell some of their customers.
Using email marketing techniques, I wrote to all the contacts given to me, but the responses were as shocking as they were heartbreaking.
It turns out the company had some unresolved issues with these clients, and only the CEO and the sales team were aware of this.
My previous conversation with the sales team only scratched the surface. And this was an error. In fact, it wasn’t everyone on that email list handed over to me that I should have sent a campaign.
In identifying the right account to target, your sales team has useful insights on who they are, what their problems are, and how they are best reached. But most importantly, what kind of content should you create for them.
Since they are the ones that normally have one-on-one discussions with users, ask them what content they need to to do their work better.
Use the information to identify and serve your ideal target accounts
Using cohort analysis and insights from the sales team, now you have answers to the four most important questions of account-based marketing.
- Who are the high-value accounts you can target?
- What are their pain points?
- Who are the decision-makers?
- What’s the best way to reach them?
If you have the right answer to all these questions, you are halfway through creating ABM content that turns to revenue.
Create landing pages matched to this campaign
If you have been paying attention, you know by now that account-based marketing success rests entirely on how well you are able to personalize the targets’ experience, and we have seen all sorts of examples for this.
Of course, it is worthy of notice that most marketing campaigns require landing pages of their own, ABM campaign most of all.
From the extreme to the subtle, businesses have tried to win the race of who is best in building an ABM landing page.
This example from Optimizely strikes me the most:
I get it; it’s neither easy nor cheap to get to this level of personalization, but try and make a different landing page for different ABM content campaigns you execute as this increases your chances of success.
Now compare this to what’s on the homepage of Globex Writing Services which has no specific audience or personalization aside from any person in need of any kind of writing:
If you look throughout the page, you wouldn’t see anything about you, their potential client, but about the company. It would appear like they don’t even know who you are.
Now this is not to say what’s on that page doesn’t work for them, but between the two, which one would have caught your attention the most?
Use the insights to develop a custom content
Custom content, as the name implies, is the kind of content you create for a specific audience.
If you have been paying attention, you know by now that account-based marketing relies heavily on a very simple fundamental: personalization of experience.
All the steps recommended above are therefore tailored towards being able to take this last step successfully.
You know if this was in lead generation or demand generation, we’d say: conduct keyword research. But this is a different marketing strategy.
You can determine how custom you want your content to be by looking at all the insights you have gathered from the steps recommended earlier as well as knowing who the decision-makers are and what content serves them best.
Take a look at this online coding courses piece from BrainStation:
It’s not the number of traffic they get to the page that matters as it is the target audience: people who don’t have enough time to learn how to code full-time but still need to learn to code anyway.
While this is a B2C content, it stands in for a witty example of good personalization — a piece of content that isn’t speaking to anyone but a well-defined set of audience.
Here is another example from Gong targeting female leaders in sales:
Although Gong is in the B2B industry, this personalization isn’t as specific as the first one, but it’s a good example of personalization nonetheless.
Who is the audience here? Women in sales.
The idea is that the pieces here were not created just out of keyword research, they were tailor-made to speak to a certain target market. In account-based marketing, you approach each account as if they were an individual market.
That’s what this is all about.
There is no denying the power of account-based marketing in saving you money and winning more sales, what’s not getting enough attention is the adoption of content marketing as an ABM strategy.
I described how you can do that here by taking from the experience of those who are taking advantage of this simple approach.