Last December, I was working with a 200-person fintech company that was just starting to scale out its account-based marketing strategy (ABM) and was primed to run its first campaign. And while COVID-19 has changed the marketing plans of many organizations, the value of ABM has only gone up in the increasingly digital-first world we live in today.
Originally focused on mid-market accounts (companies between 250-1,000 employees and $50M+ annual revenue) this company’s leadership decided to move upmarket to target companies with 1,000 employees and $200M or more in revenue.
During the beginning of a strategy session with the customer he asked me a simple question:
“What steps should we take to make sure we’re setting ourselves up for success with this new ABM program?”
My answer started out with an unsatisfying, “It depends.”
There are so many ways to address this question; the fact is, there is no one size fits all answer because every company that decides to adopt an account-based strategy is at a different point in their ABM journey.
But if I needed to cut through the noise and provide three key tactics that I’ve seen companies large and small adopt that have played an instrumental role in their ability to create new opportunities with prospects and ultimately close deals it would be:
1. Prioritize your account list so you’re targeting companies that are showing interest or buying signals
This all depends on how large your account list is; if you’d like to create conversations with fewer than 500 accounts, then you have an opportunity to personalize and curate content without a multi-layered, prioritized approach. However if the target company has a dozen or more decision-makers, the company size matters less and you may still have a need for prioritization and personalization.
If your target account list is 500+ and the organizations are fairly large then there’s probably an opportunity to refine your efforts and show some extra love to the prospects that are visiting your site, attending your webinars and increasing their overall consumption of content related to your solutions (or a given topic.)
The best way to identify if specific accounts are showing these intent signals (or interest) is through your site analytics, marketing automation platform and/or leveraging a B2B intent-based platform that can show you which companies on your list are downloading content and researching topics related to your solutions. Using a mix of first- and third-party signals like we have at Madison Logic really helps to bring in a granular view of the accounts that are showing multiple intent signals and are ready to buy in a firmographic, technographic and demographic sense as well.
2. Use a multichannel approach to engage your target accounts
Establishing strong brand awareness, making sure your prospects remember who you are and what problems your company solves can be tough unless you’re a Google, Microsoft or Coca-Cola. One way to give a boost to your programs is to run digital advertising to the accounts that you’re targeting while content syndication or email nurture sequences are going on at the same time. A recent cyber security company found that by implementing this tactic they were able to speed up deal velocity by 18 days and improve inquiry to conversion rates by more than 22%.
3. Always be nurturing
In a recent article I discussed at length some of the pitfalls of sending early-stage leads (not demo or request to speak to sales requests) directly to salespeople. Many organizations are eager to feed engaged leads over to the sales team early. The reality is that it can take up to 8-12 touches before a qualified lead is warm enough for sales outreach. Placing upper funnel engaged accounts into a nurture sequence will give your sellers a greater chance for successful connections because the target has been further educated and a value has been built in the product. Always-on ABM is the key factor in nurturing leads effectively and accelerating them through the entire funnel.
Once the target account does enter the sales funnel, it’s a great opportunity to shift your messaging strategy and refresh your channels with content that will support the next stages of engagement in the buying process.
What success will look like
By the end of the 6-month program, the fintech company had created a dozen opportunities with their target accounts and the pipeline was worth more than $1.2M.
There is no hard and fast rule on how to set up ABM campaigns and these tactics won’t necessarily guarantee you’re able to close all the accounts on your target account list. But building a strong strategy on identification and always on engagement to your target accounts works time and again across a variety of B2B companies. It’s a framework to start and build off of. From there you can adjust according to your business objective and needs. And just remember: the results all depend on you and how committed you are to the process.