B2B has existed for ages – it’s a space that constantly evolves by the influence of people and technology. When we look back, we can see certain patterns emerge. Every few years, we see a new tide that lifts all boats in the B2B market. When taken advantage of, organizations can ride these waves to new heights. We’ve seen everything from social selling to consultative selling, and from mobile to content marketing. In 2016, the trend du jour was Account Based Marketing.
What if rather than waiting for the next hot thing to come along (ABM isn’t going away), we instead combine two waves? After all, like in surfing and in math, when you combine two waves in the right way (i.e., sine waves in applied trigonometry), rather than canceling each other out, you get a super wave.
In this post, we’re going to explore how you can combine two waves to take your sales to the next level: content marketing and ABM.
If you’re not already caught up to speed on either of these topics, read QuickSprout’s Advanced Guide to Content Marketing and Engagio’s Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing.
4 Content Hacks for ABM
Every sales process is the sum of its engagements, from ads and blog posts to emails and demos. When you dial up the relevance of your content, you’ll increase the quality of your engagements. This is where you must align not only sales and marketing but your entire organization. If you’ve been following us, you know that’s why we call it Account Based Everything (ABE).
All content you’d use in a normal marketing plan will be effective in your ABE program including, cold emails, white papers, eBooks, webinars, videos, landing pages, blog articles, slideshares, infographics, podcasts, social media posts, surveys… you get the idea.
But, as you know, one of the key tenants of ABE is personalization. Content in ABE is not one-size-fits all. However, not every piece of content has to be specifically created for each target account or key persona – that approach wouldn’t scale. Instead, it takes a balanced mix of content, with each piece falling somewhere on the content personalization spectrum, with simple customization on one end and super-personalization on the other:
1. Leverage Existing Content for Simple Customization Quick Wins
Start off with a content audit to determine what’s in your current inventory and what you can update for a quick win. Determine the following for all of your content:
- What stage of the funnel/buying cycle is this content written for?
- Who was this piece written for (persona and audience)?
- What industry was this piece written for?
- When was this content written and is this content still up to date?
- How can I tag and categorize this content (i.e., keywords and topics)?
- What pain does this help solve?
- What is missing from this content?
Next, map the content you have to the industries, accounts and personas you’re selling to. Lastly, customize! The rule is pretty simple – high value targets get high customization, medium value get medium customization, and lower value get lower customization.
Start small by taking your target accounts and tweaking your broader pieces of content, such as:
- Targeted title or subtitle
- Images (such as people or logos) that reflects the target industry
- Case studies from the target market
- Re-write introduction and conclusion, or add a custom chapter
This allows you to scale up your content personalization efforts without breaking the bank. This approach works great for Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 accounts.
2. Creating Micro-Sites and Content Hubs for High-Value Target Accounts
Now that you have your content mapped to your sales process, you can create micro-sites or custom hubs with content curated specifically for your top tier accounts. There are a few ways you can do this depending on the experience you want to deliver. You can create a landing page, or better yet, a micro-site that houses your tailored content.
For example, if we’re in an active sales cycle with Dell, our marketing team could create a site with all of our content most relevant to and/or created specifically for Dell. We can even use an account-specific custom sub-domain, like Dell.Engagio.com. This becomes a resource specifically for your target account. This undoubtedly will be noticed by your prospects – they will see how much you care about them by delivering them a high-quality experience.
When you create your micro-site, make sure you have analytics on to assess which content and resources your prospects are engaging with, then pass that information along to the sales reps working those accounts. When taking this approach, be sure to use “no index” and “no-follow” tags to exclude search engines from crawling those pages.
Taking it one step further, put a tracking pixel on that page so you can serve awareness and retargeting ads to your prospects so you can stay on their mind wherever they go on the web. AdRoll is the most well-known provider for retargeting ads, and it’s the one that we use.
If you don’t want to or don’t have the resources to create entirely separate micro-sites, you can create content hubs through vendors like Uberflip. Uberflip is a content marketing platform that helps teams create, manage and optimize content experiences so they can leverage content throughout the buyer journey. If you’ve done your content audit and indexed it correctly in your hub, using tags, you can select specific pieces of content for each hub, saving you time and resources.
3. Using Web Personalization and Dynamic Content to Capture Prospect’s Attention
You only have 7-12 seconds to capture a prospect’s attention when they land on your site. If you don’t give them what they’re looking for, they’ll bounce. Imagine spotting your company’s logo on a site you’ve just visited. Would you be intrigued to take a closer took? The latest technology allows you to create highly personalized sites with relevant content based on factors like industry, behavior, location, and account. Using web personalization lets you grab your prospect’s attention long enough to deliver a powerful value proposition and a good experience right away. Individual visitors get different creative copy, and even a different site experience all together, all the way down to CTA’s and messaging. Now you can deliver consistent messaging across your entire site to key personas.
4. Using Hyper Personalization for a Real Human-to-Human Interaction
Content prepared ‘just for you’ can be the most compelling of all. Imagine clicking play on a video and the person opens by greeting you by name. It’s different, so you’ll at the very least keep watching to see if it was really made just for you, and what this personal message is all about. To execute on this, use a platform like Vidyard. They also allow you to sync with your marketing automation platform and CRM system, allowing you to keep tabs of who is watching.
There are many different ways to use super-personalized content. Consider using your company’s unique expertise, resources or assets to produce a special report specifically on the target account and its key challenges.
For your top Tier 1 target accounts that are later in a sales cycle, you can go even further by producing a webinar just for one single account. Make this content unique around a challenge specific to the target account simultaneously positioning your company as the experts.
While these may be labor-intensive exercises, you might also find a streamlined approach. For example, a simple, handwritten, personal note also has a huge impact as a direct mail piece. But writing, addressing and sending tens or hundreds of letter could take hours. This is where services like Bond.co come in, which generates and delivers handwritten notes for you – all you have to do is submit a form, and they’ll take care of the rest.
Exercise Channel Diversity for a Bigger Impact
We’ve talked about it before, but it’s worth mentioning again – use more than one channel! Channel diversification is a critical factor for Account Based Everything success. One single piece of relevant content isn’t enough. One customized ebook or one personal video isn’t enough. When you begin to mix and match channels, that’s when the real magic happens.
One simple example is printing a physical copy of a customized ebook using services like PFL, include a handwritten letter, then launch targeted ABM ads at the account using services like Terminus that point to a micro-site.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some other ideas to help you diversify your channels. They don’t all have to be highly personalized and customized, but they all have to be relevant and valuable:
- Micro-ad targeting: Using a platform that allows you to pull in segments from your CRM or marketing automation and launch campaigns against those specific segments. You can also use ad targeting on social media to accomplish the same thing. Twitter and Facebook make this really easy, however LinkedIn is more restrictive.
- Earned media: Hire a research firm or pull together a research report on an important matter to your target account. Better yet, include them in your research. You can even reach out to them while you’re doing the research. These reports are a great way to get press, and now you’ve gained free press for your target accounts (as long as you show them in a positive light).
- Owned media: If you have an on-going podcast or interview series, invite a key influencer from the account to be an expert guest. This is a great tactic for initially breaking into an account and building rapport quickly. Another approach to the owned media is to create specific landing pages that talk their language, as discussed above.
- Social media: Follow them on Twitter, comment in their blog posts, sign up for their newsletter, join LinkedIn communities that their influencers are a part of, etc. You can even set up a social monitoring tool like Mention.com to keep a close eye on all of their activity on the web (of course, don’t tell them because it’s a little creepy).
- Email: Don’t forget this channel, as it plays a major supporting role in your ABE program. Sales must learn to write good cold emails. Marketing must leverage their ABM/ABE platform and follow much of the same advice dispensed above.
Use content as a core part of your Account Based Everything strategy. It’s an untapped source for value creation and delivery for your target accounts that most companies aren’t using or don’t know how to use. It can be a real game-changer.
When it comes to creating content for your ABE, it’s an ongoing and ever-evolving process. While leveraging your existing content, continue to evolve your existing strategy. You must continuously test, refine and optimize if you want to become an ABE pro.