Account-based marketing (ABM) has opened up a new world of opportunity for marketing and sales teams alike to provide a far more focused, targeted and personalized approach to engaging buyers, accelerating pipeline, and closing a lot more deals. In fact it’s becoming the fastest growing discipline in B2B marketing. While both traditional lead-based and account-based approaches have the goal of producing high-quality and high-value sales leads, lead gen focuses primarily on attracting prospects and nurturing them into qualified sales opportunities.
ABM, on the other hand, introduces a more coordinated effort between sales and marketing to focus on specific targets with personalized messaging. And adopting ABM strategies can have a dramatic impact: almost nine in ten B2B companies implementing account based marketing execution strategies report a better ROI from ABM than any other marketing effort. ABM also generates faster results and contributes to longer-term relationships, providing enhanced lifetime customer value and a lift in the average annual contract value of 171 percent.
How successful you are with your ABM programs depends on how you plan and execute. Following are five tips to help you get started with building a dynamic ABM approach.
1. Read Buyer Intent Signals
Marketing has always used buyer behavior and signals to some degree to evaluate prospects, gauge buyer intent and qualify and nurture leads. Today’s ABM frameworks, however, offer more access to rich data sources to make even better-informed choices. A constant and iterative process to monitor and measure intent signals can help provide deeper insights for content activation and adaptation to deliver hyper-relevant buying experiences.
Third-party data sources that include buyer intent and predictive data are particularly useful for creating ideal customer profiles, or ICPs, that form the basis of account targeting. Buyer intent data feeds your ABM program with the right information to tier accounts based on program priorities such as vertical, geo, funnel stage or product preferences.
Developing tiers helps ABM teams to execute various engagement tactics such as 1:1, 1:Few and 1:Many. Intent data also feeds inbound campaigns such as ads, social or organic, and outbound campaigns such as SDR outreach or Folloze marketing and email orchestrated campaigns. Learn more about intent signal sourcing by downloading our guide: Demand and Account-Base Marketing — Planning Assumptions 2021.
2. Build Dynamic (Non-linear) Customer Journeys
Traditional marketing usually follows a fairly linear path through the customer journey, with marketers picking assets and channels to target accounts, then rolling them out through a linear sequence, one after the next. The problem with this approach is that every buyer is addressed in the same basic way and without regard to the appropriate intent signals.
ABM today involves a more dynamic approach to creating customer journeys that are tailored to how each buyer wants to engage us. We create buyer personas based on how each person educates themselves online and provides us with clues as to how they want to be engaged.
Add to the mix the fact that B2B decision makers now use ten or more channels to evaluate a purchase across the entire buyer journey, and you have a less predictable marketing and sales process from start to finish. ABM teams can follow a data-driven approach to prioritize accounts, personalize content and provide a closer bond with accounts no matter where they are in the decision-making process.
3. Get Personal at Scale
ABM solutions are designed to target groups, companies and individuals with highly personalized content. A B2B account-based marketing program can personalize at scale by using intent data, AI-driven insights and algorithms to recommend relevant content for personalization at every stage of the customer journey. B2B buyers are often overwhelmed by the number of marketing messages they receive every day from your marketing team. As a result, they tend to ignore most of it. A deeper understanding of a buyer’s needs, motivations and interest is essential to cutting through the clutter and creating more focused engagement.
Look no further than B2C businesses to see how important data-driven personalization has become. B2C customers choose when (and how) to interact digitally, in person, or both. In each case, every touchpoint moves consumers one step closer to the sale. Personalized recommendation engines use behavioral data, browsing history and purchase history to create dynamic product offerings. More than a third of consumer purchases on Amazon and three-quarters of what people watch on Netflix are direct results of recommendation algorithms.
B2B marketers, and ABM programs in particular, should be applying these same strategies to their priority accounts. Buyer engagement platforms like Folloze make it easy to understand where each buyer gets their content from (such as websites, events, articles and publisher networks), observe the interactions, and understand which channels and content are ideal for more personalized engagement.
4. Follow the Metrics Through the Funnel
The marketing funnel provides an important tactical framework for ABM targeting as buyers look for different forms of information at every stage in the buyer journey, from top of funnel (TOFU), middle of funnel (MOFU) and bottom of funnel (BOFU). Understanding the right metrics and what that data means will help feed your ongoing ABM engagement.
For TOFU, your goal is to establish your reputation and build awareness and authority. Metrics you should be following include:
- Open rates: For email outreach, for example, you’ll want to know how many prospects opened your email and whether they took action.
- Clickthrough rates: If your goal is to drive content to your website, you need to track the clickthrough rate to see how dedicated a prospect is.
- Other metrics: You may also want to track more specific metrics, such as user sessions, time on site, bounce rates and repeat visits.
For MOFU, your goal is to build and nurture the relationship. Metrics include:
- MQL to SQL: A key goal of MOFU is to move prospects from being marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales qualified leads (SQLs) for sales activation.
- Customer contacts: Track if specific content leads to greater customer contacts, such as inbound request for information.
- Demo or sales inquiries: Track what activity triggers a demo or sales requests and whether they convert buyers to take the next step.
- Behavioral insights: With the Folloze platform GTM teams can actually see when and how prospects interact with content to better personalized the next interaction and prioritize which accounts to focus on.
For BOFU, your goal is to convert prospects and grow revenue. Metrics include:
- Content levers: With Folloze content tracking marketers can see which content is most likely to drive conversions at various stages of the funnel not only improving the efficiency of content development teams, but also the quality and effectiveness of content.
- Funnel conversion rates: To determine which activities move people forward in the buying process. Healthy funnel conversion helps justify ABM ROI.
- Sales cycle length: Your goal is to shorten ABM sales cycles with more personalized buyer journeys, making this a key metric.
- Win rates: ABM produces higher win rates because you’re targeting the best-fit accounts for your business.
5. Foster Intelligent Sales Orchestration
Intelligent sales orchestration requires the coordination of sales and marketing activities to improve engagement and drive prospects through the customer journey. With the Folloze B2B Marketing Platform, marketing teams initiate a closed-loop process to deliver micro-targeted campaigns at targeted accounts, and keep sales teams completely in the loop to understand when engagement is required. A good sales orchestration framework helps streamline:
- Targeting: Identify opportunities, recommend actions, and launch campaigns quickly
- Activation: Rule-based campaign orchestration utilizes intelligent content matching and recommendations for the next steps
- Personalization: Auto-personalization of content, messaging, and images deliver optimal content to high-value prospects
- Insights: Measure the impact of all account engagement activities, including inbound and outbound marketing efforts, with actionable recommendations to optimize campaigns.
A key tactic to employ is to create an action plan for sales and marketing that is mapped to buyer personas at each stage of the buyer journey. View the journey as a continuous process, with a goal of keeping motion going, connecting the dots throughout the journey, and curating the experience for each account, with each touchpoint in the process defined as marketing-led or sales-led.
Start Strong with ABM
The ultimate goal of a strong ABM program is to generate meaningful engagement with key target accounts at every stage of the buyer journey. By following these steps, ABM teams can ensure they are putting their best foot forward from day one and steer their organizations to ongoing account-building success.
Read more in our ABM Solution Playbook