In the age of hyper-targeted prospecting and nurturing, your content marketing program might not be sufficiently surgical.
Considering the very nature of B2B marketing, your prospecting list is likely already rather narrow – at least when compared with B2C. Hopefully, you’ve already built your buyer personas, too, having gathered and utilized extensive knowledge about their online behavior patterns, sales cycles, pain points and challenges. Account Based Marketing (ABM) simply takes these concerted efforts one step further by identifying key leads and creating and disseminating customized content for each one.
In this sense, ABM is significantly more sophisticated than traditional content marketing. Instead of aiming for a type of client, the ABM process focuses on identifying your top handful target clients, getting to know each of them intimately, and publishing specific assets for each of them as individuals. Ultimately, the goal is to position your product or service as the ideal solution to your audience’s problem, an effort that’s actually easier when there is zero ambiguity when it comes to whom you’re trying to influence.
Adopting ABM also raises the sophistication level of your marketing efforts, because it demands close alignment between sales and marketing – a relationship that, in more traditional marketing, can be strained or conflicted. ABM, however, requires that both departments share one goal and one process: ferret out as much information as possible on a contact, identify his or her pain points, and generate marketing materials that address these specific concerns.
At its best, Account Based Marketing yields unprecedented collaboration between sales, marketing, delivery and key executives. Further, ABM focuses on building long-term relationships with key decision makers inside target client organizations. Rather than clamoring to fulfill near-term revenue goals, an ABM methodology recognizes and prioritizes reputation and long-term growth.
Even though 65% of B2B marketers agree that ABM provides significant benefits for attracting new clients, only 18% of mid-size companies are utilizing ABM as a leading strategy, leaving money on the table and opportunities untapped. If your team is ready to up their game, there are a few key steps that can make your transition to ABM smoother and more efficient.
Best Practices for Marketing to One
Do Your Homework
Since ABM moves marketing teams away from a massive, wide funnel of leads in favor of a highly targeted funnel of qualified accounts, proper research is essential. Be prepared to dedicate a significant portion of your team’s resources into becoming intimately familiar with each target account individually. Robust knowledge is required to create unique collateral and story lines for each client separately, ultimately constructing a personalized offer for each target.
Perform enough research to define not only your target’s pain points but also his or her emotional triggers. It’s entirely possible that you will need to become familiar with (and court) not only the decision maker, but also the surrounding decision influencers.
Target the Right Crowd
ABM is not a scalable investment. Therefore, it’s imperative to allocate your resources wisely. Clearly, you cannot afford to perform extensive research, invest in a myriad of targeted relationships and create customized collateral for every potential client. Instead, go after the whales – those large, profitable, stable clients which will produce a significant return on this investment.
There may even be some whales who are already interested in you. In order to maximize your investment, use an audience intelligence tool like Leadfeeder. By tracking which companies’ IP addresses are interacting with each of your content pages, Leadfeeder can not only help you identify engagement opportunities with specific sales leads, but it can also tell you which leads are interested in which product features, helping you personalize your offer to each target.
In order to reduce complexity as well as your team’s time investment, you are going to want to automate as much as possible. There are a growing number of out-of-the-box solutions that will automate multichannel ABM initiatives for you, highlighting the link between data and buying behaviors.
Act-On, for example, now manages interactions across touchpoints to deliver personalized experiences based on a prospect’s role and stage in the buying cycle. This past spring, Demandbase launched a next-generation ABM solution that works with the Oracle Marketing Cloud to provide lead scoring schematics that take ABM principles into account and to tailor content for “buyer committee” members. These types of automation technologies help optimize ABM-focused marketing automation by algorithmically tapping into comprehensive behavioral information.
One of the distinct advantages of ABM is the manner in which it demands collaboration between the sales and marketing teams. Make a concerted effort to break out of traditional silos and embrace cooperation. For example, because the sales team is in direct contact with both existing and potential clients, lean on them as a research resource. They might know whether a white paper, a free trial or an ROI study will be most likely to motivate each target.
Bounce drafted collaterals and storylines off your salespeople for constructive feedback. Building customized materials together will greatly enhance the effectiveness of your ABM efforts. No need for fancy tools here – simple solutions like Google Docs and Dropbox Paper can do the trick well enough.
Use Social Intelligence
It’s important to recognize that your key accounts are not static. Companies evolve quickly. There are strategy shifts, personnel changes and often new goals or areas of focus. Since ABM’s core tenet is personalizing communications, it’s important to keep a close eye on trigger events and changes at a company level.
Utilize alerts on social media activity to uncover what’s happening inside your key prospects’ organizations, rather than relying on press releases or company-sponsored publications, which will only paint a picture of achievements. Tools like BrandMentions can send you email alerts when social posts go up with the keywords of your choice, while the recently launched Social.co will alert you when certain Twitter accounts post on specific topics.
The Time Is Now
ABM may be the ultimate answer to B2B prospect demands. With demand for personalized offers going through the roof, B2B marketers must move this direction. Creating intensely relevant content which resonates with each of your target accounts is the right way to stand out and cultivate relationships today.
A powerful strategy when used correctly, ABM does require a great deal of labor and complete commitment. By performing comprehensive research, utilizing effective technology to your advantage and cultivating clear lines of communication between your company’s departments, you will be primed for success.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock