The benefits of Account Based Marketing (ABM) are well-documented: higher engagement and retention, short sales cycles and higher average contract value, and continuous optimization of messaging to create higher ROI.
So what does it take to bring your ABM marketing to the next level? Let’s take a look at some of the best practices for account based marketing tactics, the importance of measuring and optimizing, and a reminder to build a solid foundation by making sure you’re taking care of ABM basics.
ABM allows you to personalize content at scale to provide a more relevant and engaging marketing strategy. First, however, you have to make sure your ABM tactics are focused. Here are some of the essential ABM marketing tactics that should be part of your strategy.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
If your marketing and sales teams are not aligned, your ABM tactics will likely fall short.
It can also waste a lot of time for B2B marketers. A study by the Content Marketing Institute, for example, shows that as much as 60% to 70% of B2B content is never used by sales, because it isn’t relevant in the sales cycle.
Misalignment can also drive marketing qualified leads (MQLs) into the funnel, but they aren’t necessarily the right type of leads or likely to become the right accounts for sales qualified leads (SQLs).
How important is it to make sure marketing teams and sales reps are on the same page? Organizations with tightly aligned teams report 38% higher win rates. They also achieve 24% faster revenue growth and consistently larger deal sizes.
Build a Targeted Account List
Your ABM strategy revolves around finding target accounts that meet your requirements for prospecting. Whether you are trying to build brand awareness for your B2B company or nurturing prospects to drive them through the sales funnel for conversions, you need the right prospects to target.
Sales and marketing teams should develop strategic lists of companies that would benefit from your products and solutions. They should meet these three criteria to be valid:
- Have a need for your products or services
- Have the means to afford your solution
- Have the ability to make decisions
While you may not know all of these things about every account, you can make an educated guess based on industries, similar businesses, and past sales. The more qualified these accounts, the more success you are likely to have along with a higher ROI.
Segment Accounts by Role, Value, and Intent
You should also segment accounts by roles and value to deliver the most relevant content. High-value accounts should be treated separately with a more personalized approach.
Buyer intent data can be a powerful weapon for marketers to uncover top prospects. Only a quarter of marketers say they use buyer intent data, so it can represent a significant competitive advantage for those that do. When you can identify prospects that indicate intent, you can target them more aggressively.
Each of these tactics helps you prioritize where you will focus your ABM marketing efforts.
Personalized Offers for Specific Accounts
The more you can personalize your content for specific prospects, the better your marketing efforts will perform. At the same time, because your target account list is likely smaller for groups, you need to deliver higher conversion rates.
Your marketing activities should include relevant content that is built specifically for high-value accounts as part of your marketing strategy.
Re-target Potential Customers
Often, it takes multiple approaches to get decision makers to engage. Your marketing plan should include sequences that re-target potential customers based on past behavior. Re-targeting can be part of your account-based marketing strategy for content marketing, as well as paid advertising, email, or direct mail used to target specific customers as they are online.
Your ABM program should include tracking behavior and engagement so that you can also personalize the follow-up and retargeting sequences.
Dynamic Web Content
Another effective tactic in the sales process is to personalize the website content based on your website when your target audience visits. It can be as simple as creating account-specific B2B marketing landing pages that display custom content and offers or dynamic content that changes depending on who is visiting your website and their past behavior.
There’s gold to be mined in your data. Not only can you segment your target accounts by personas and roles, but you can also customize the data you use as part of your inbound marketing strategy.
When creating data, studies, or case studies, think about how you can design them to adapt to different industries or use cases. While your overall content marketing may provide overviews, you can dissect data, separate and repackage statistics and data for specific industries, business sizes, maturity levels, and revenue targets.
This helps your ABM strategy, while also extending the use of your data to maximize your marketing team’s efforts.
Social data is exceptionally valuable in helping to create an ideal customer profile for key stakeholders. As companies and target customers evolve, hit milestones, or make public announcements, the marketing team may want to adjust messaging.
A strategic approach to monitoring social signals might include:
- Monitoring company and key stakeholders’ social media
- Signing up for company newsletters to stay current
- Subscribing to Google Alerts, a free service that flags you when companies are mentioned online in fresh content.
Many of the most successful ABM campaigns focus intensely on high-value accounts, including personalized content for C-level individuals. Rather than relying on customer personas or broad group matching, a marketing campaign is developed for individuals and customized to their specific needs.
By matching relevant prospects with customized content that is role-specific, your ABM efforts are likely to see greater engagement. For example, a SaaS platform might target a key account with a particular product offering. The marketing team might customize content based on individuals, such as talking about the benefits of efficiency and productivity for COOs, cost-savings and efficiency for CFOs, and security for CIOs.
This can be an especially successful marketing tactic for important accounts.
By targeting prospects and tracking their behavior, you can measure engagement at each stage of the buyer’s journey. A/B testing allows you to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and optimize performance.
While most companies measure ABM metrics based on accounts won, revenue per account, and revenue won as a result of efforts, there are plenty of other metrics that help determine the steps that generate conversions. Here are just some of the things you’ll want to evaluate.
If prospects aren’t opening your emails, they aren’t going to be clicking through to your content. Tracking and testing subject lines can help you optimize performance and improve open rates. If you see emails are being opened, but prospects aren’t engaging any further, you may need to revise your content, CTAs, or your marketing strategy.
Engagement rates let you know which content is generating interest with your target account. By measuring your engagement, you can see which content performs best against your goals and which accounts are engaging (and which are not).
How are your target accounts consuming your online content? By tracking metrics such as page views, average time on site, specific content viewed, downloads, etc., you can track behavior. This also helps you determine what content helps move prospects from one stage of the buyer’s journey to another, which is key to success.
If you see, for example, that a particular piece of content or blog post triggers certain actions with segments of your customer profiles, you’ll want to build it into your broader marketing approach.
Measuring the influence of particular pieces of marketing can be challenging. Rarely do B2B sales occur because of a single touchpoint. More likely, there’s a cumulative effect over time as you build trust. That’s why it’s important to measure micro-conversions along the way.
As you develop content for your ABM campaigns, each touchpoint should have an underlying goal. Then, you can measure whether your goals were met. Over time, you will start to notice trends and patterns with these micro-conversions that can help shape your future campaigns.
Most B2B sales have a longer lead time, especially when compared to B2C transactions. Monitoring your pipeline velocity helps you understand how quickly deals are closing, how fast prospects move from the initial contact to sales qualified leads, and how quickly they move from SQLs to sales.
This can help you track against baselines to see when prospects are getting stuck or dropping out of the sales process, along with which tactics help to accelerate velocity.
If you are only measuring sales volume, you could miss an important part of your ABM strategy: customer retention.
Retention should be a key part of your ABM approach. Understanding what leads to churn and taking the appropriate steps before customers leave is key to growing your revenue base.
The best-performing ABM marketers make sure they get the basics right. It sounds fundamental, but many users skip important steps in developing their ABM strategy.
The Basic Building Blocks
The basic building blocks of ABM include:
- Identifying opportunities, including defining program goals and understanding the length of the sales cycle.
- Understanding buyers, including account and buying group data and understanding buyer interactions.
- Tactic selections, including a list of assets, content, and delivery mechanisms
Take the time to evaluate each of these building blocks to build a solid foundation.
Content for Each Stage of the Buyer’s Journey
As prospects move through the various stages of their buyer’s journey, you need to have content ready with defined goals.
- Education: During this phase, your goal is to activate and engage with accounts that are in-market for solutions. Building awareness of challenges and problems in their industry, thought-leadership, and information content can help establish trust.
- Solution: In this stage, you are validating opportunities and presenting relevant content that provides solutions. It might include qualification calls, invitations for appointments or webinars, and providing case studies. Once you have gained trust, you can then present your products and services as valid solutions.
- Selection: In the selection phase, your goal is to accelerate opportunities towards closure. This might include product demos, a formal sales pitch or quotes, and follow-ups with closing assets.
It’s also important to understand what it takes for prospects to move from one stage to the next. You can use lead scoring tools based on past behavior to help monitor activity along with engagement. For example, if you find that prospects typically move after engaging with a certain level of content, or after downloading gated content, this can help you decide when it’s time to activate sales.
As we all know, however, prospects rarely move in a straight line. The buyer’s journey is more like a spider’s web, especially if you look at it across a broad sector of your customers. Each buyer takes a unique journey. This is one of the reasons account-based marketing is so successful, however, because you can customize the journey separately for each buyer. As they engage with content, you can enable different sequences based on their level of engagement.
Want to learn more about the foundational building block of account-based marketing? Watch this on-demand webinar from Folloze and Forrester: Back 2 the Basics: ABM Done Right in a Digital-First Marketplace
As buyer expectations continue to change and evolve, deploying these ABM strategies — best practices, measuring and optimizing, and getting the basics right — you can futureproof your marketing efforts. Because you are customizing your marketing strategy based on prospect behaviors and triggers, you can evolve your messaging and tactics easily as expectations change.
At Folloze, we focus on turning every customer interaction into a meaningful engagement with a buyer-centric approach that delivers results. Our customers report a 4X improvement in account engagement, 10X pipeline growth, and 5X customer lifetime value.
If we can help you deploy a strategic approach to account-based marketing and help grow your business, get in touch with us today to request a demo.