So, you want to try account based marketing? If you’re a B2B marketer, it should already be an integral part of your strategy. And now, with access to more data than ever, reaching your key accounts with content and messaging that is relevant to them is somewhat simple.
At its core, successful ABM revolves around three principles:
- Your Account List
- Your Content/Messaging
- Your Metrics and Measurement
Your Sales Team, Your Account List, and You
An account based marketing program turns on its account list. It’s essential that marketers and sales teams come together to define this list. Sales well knows the companies they want to reach, so it’s important to work together to build this list.
You can begin by identifying the attributes of a key account. What are its business challenges, its size, its industry? Your organization will have a specific set of characteristics that can be used to qualify a prospective account.
With this information in hand, you can begin building a list of target accounts that are likely most receptive to your message. Undoubtedly your sales team has a long list of desired accounts so you’ll have to check them against your criteria. If they fall outside of it, they may not be the best prospect to include in your ABM efforts.
The Role of Data
What I’ve described above is a relatively manual process, two teams coming together to lay out the foundation of account based marketing. This is what we talk about when we talk about sales and marketing alignment. Luckily, data can enhance this hard work.
First, you should identify the topics and terms that surround your products and services. A cloud security company, for example, might build a list of terms that include “cloud security,” “secure cloud computing.” “cryptography,” or “trusted computing.”
Give these terms to Madison Logic and we can take your account list and prioritize it based on the companies on your list that are actually using those terms to conduct online research. What’s more, the same data can help us find companies not on your list that are conducting similar research.
With this information in hand, you can prioritize your account list, creating one message for active accounts (those Madison Logic calls “surging”) and another message for those who are currently quiet.
Your Content is King
For any B2B marketer engaged in demand or lead generation, good content is a given. For one-to-one account based marketing, good content is not enough. Content must not only be great, it must be highly relevant and customized to address an account’s unique pain points. This is not realistic at scale. Unless you have a gigantic team, it’s impossible to create unique content for each account list of 300 target accounts. It makes more sense to take your account based marketing from one-to-one to one-to-few.
Every account is not created equal, but you can bet that groups of accounts will exhibit similar characteristics, have the same needs, face the same challenges. You can use data to enhance your understanding of an accounts research trends and create content accordingly. When your content and messaging matches the terms on which a group of accounts is “surging,” it’s that much more likely to engage their interest.
Sales and Marketing Together Again
In the end, account based marketing both begins and ends with sales and marketing working together. Using ABM as a tool, marketing moves prospects through the funnel, handing over MQLs to sales. Account based marketing doesn’t end here.
Sales should now reach out to these companies using the insights that marketing supplies. Marketing not only knows their interactions, the content they’ve interacted with and the ads to which they’ve been exposed, they know the terms they’re using to conduct research, the very pain points that are the jumping off point for a sales conversation. Account based marketing not only tells you who to call, it tells you what to say.
Track, Measure, Analyze
If you can’t measure something, it may as well not have happened. If you launch an account based marketing program without solid analytics, you may be moving the needle with your target accounts without knowing that your efforts are successful.
For example, Madison Logic recommends running a two-pronged account based marketing program. As you’ve seen above, the first prong of a successful program is highly relevant content, delivered to an account most receptive to its message. The second prong is display advertising, delivered to the same websites where your target accounts are doing their research.
It’s key to watch the metrics surrounding both these channels. However, metrics should not be considered on an individual basis. Instead, you need to know how you’re influencing your key accounts. Consider:
- How Accounts Are Interacting with Your Content: An account with a single download does not necessarily mean that account is ready for a call. When you start to see two or three individuals engaging with your content, your sales team can dial with more confidence.
- How Accounts Are Interacting with Your Display Advertising: While many teams continue to turn to CTRs as evidence that a display campaign is working, these metrics have been deprecated by the savviest marketers. Instead of CTR, you should be tracking how long an account has been exposed to your ads and how often that account has visited your site as a result.
There is more to measuring account based marketing than tracking content and display. Prospects are researching through social networks or search engines. They’re coming to your content from multiple touches. The mistake many B2B marketers make when measuring attribution is to credit conversion to the last touchpoint.
Instead, marketers should look at the entire sequence of touches that preceded conversion and allocate credit across those channels. It’s important to consider those interactions that happen early in the customer journey to recognize those that may have initiated the process.
Optimization is Essential
Ultimately, your measurement allows you to measure your success in real time. If a piece of content isn’t resonating with your key accounts, it’s time to swap it out. If a display ad isn’t gaining any site visits, it might be time to change the messaging behind it. B2B marketers should not adopt an ABM strategy with a “set it and forget it” mindset. Account based marketing is a living, breathing effort. The more attention paid to it the more successful you’ll be.