Marketing automation has transformed how B2B companies target buyers, run campaigns and measure marketing outcomes. This evolution has allowed lean teams to drive customized messaging and improved engagement across product lines, personas and the customer lifecycle.

Now it’s predictive intelligence that is revolutionizing the B2B marketing and sales landscape. Using customer behavioral data coupled with predictive modeling, predictive intelligence is helping companies identify in-market accounts and gain visibility into their buying needs and the stage of the buying cycle they’re in.

Paired together, marketing automation and predictive intelligence are enabling the rise of a new generation of account-based marketers. Teams are now able to bring the high-level, white glove treatment normally reserved for a select few strategic accounts to a much broader section of a company’s market.

To understand this revolution in marketing, it’s important to look at the trends driving adoption and implementation of automated, predictive account-based marketing. First, what are the necessities driving companies to invest in new marketing technologies and the competencies necessary to make sense of customer data? Second, how is predictive intelligence powering the data insight needed to create account-based marketing (ABM) frameworks and how is marketing automation driving the workflows that execute on the strategy?

When does an automated, predictive-powered ABM approach make sense?

  1. Companies that are able to make the most of ABM strategies sell products that require a highly considered purchase process. In most cases the buying decision is made by a committee and not by a single economic buyer, and multiple corporate functions are involved in the review and approval process.
  1. The complex nature of the business challenges being solved and the products being implemented has also created a highly educated buyer that does a significant amount of online research. By engaging with content across vendor properties, B2B publisher sites and product review forums, buyers leave a rich data trail of their activity.
  1. To manage a lengthy sales cycle and control the marketing and sales process, companies selling complex products to educated buyers have, in most cases, implemented a technology stack that includes web analytics, marketing automation and customer relationship management tools.

How is predictive breaking down the barriers to implementation?

  1. Create continuously updated target account lists. Building an ABM strategy starts with identifying the companies whose business needs and organization fit best with your offering. However, most target account lists are updated at best on a quarterly basis and, at worse, remain unchanged for multiple years. In today’s fast-moving marketing world, companies’ needs and realities change weekly not yearly. To implement a successful account-based marketing strategy, B2B marketers need to design data flows that allow them to build marketing and sales campaigns based on continuously updated target account lists.
  1. Target and market to buying committees not individuals. Your sales team will tell you in a heartbeat that they sell to accounts, not individual leads. However, today, most marketing activity is still targeted at the contact level. Messaging, targeting and segmentation still looks at an individual’s demographic and behavioral data, ignoring the account-level activity and thus missing opportunities to engage with the entire buying committee. Predictive intelligence allows marketers to aggregate intent indicators around an account to identify, target and convert decision makers and influencers.
  1. Build data-driven campaigns. Automated processes that build target account lists and identify and target buying committees are the “ready and aim” part of the equation. Data-driven campaigns that are able to take advantage of these insights and create feedback loops are the “fire.” Here is where marketing automation tools are indispensable as they launch the workflows that put predictive intelligence into action, from website personalization and media campaigns to email targeting and outbound sales triage. The data these campaigns create should then be used to inform and improve your target account lists and buying committee insight.

Where should you start?

The best place to start when thinking about how to leverage marketing automation and predictive intelligence to launch account-based marketing campaigns for your company is with a self assessment. How well do you understand your target accounts, create targeted content and execute smart campaigns? Are you able to effectively measure and analyze campaign performance to improve future initiatives? What is the appetite for analytics and data-driven decision-making in your organization and what is your access to relevant skill sets?