GROW: Making ABM a Reality
Aligning Growth Goals with Growth Strategies
“The attribute that differentiates ABM from “just good marketing” is the depth of research and insight about an account or group of accounts that’s required to be effective. Technology use and marketing and sales alignment will fall short if the homework isn’t done.”
~ Kathy Macchi, VP of Consulting, Inverta
Goal: Making ABM a Reality
Whispers of the wonders of account based marketing (ABM) first emerged on the scene a few years ago as marketing’s next big trend. Truth be told, despite its official acronym, ABM is not really new and it’s not a trend. It is simply a matter of marketing to your very best prospects and customers as if they were your only customer or prospect. Many researchers maintain that ABM is a direct descendant of the 80/20 Rule, which was first established by management consultant, Joseph M. Juran and based on the work of Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto in 1896. The 80/20 Rule is a law of distribution that states that 80 percent of sales come from 20 percent of customers. If you were to follow this rule and spend the bulk of your budget on creating personalized marketing pieces for the 20 percent of your clients that regularly spend the most with your company, you would be practicing ABM. To be clear, there is one aspect of ABM that is new — scalability. In the past, creating personalized pieces that speak to the individual needs of customers was not possible, but thanks to martech, creating personalized pieces is not only possible, it can be done with speed and efficiency.
“Account based marketing is focused B2B Smarketing. I say ‘Smarketing’ because ABM is all about focusing on the right accounts in collaboration with sales. ABM is not a solo activity. It's the combination and range of activities from advertising, direct mail, calls, emails, content — all centered around the ideal set of accounts that you believe has the need for your solution. It's quality over quantity in its most basic form.”
~ Sangram Vajre, the Co-Founder and CMO of Terminus
Three Steps to Leveraging ABM
1.Identify Your Top Customers
The word “account” in ABM can be a tad misleading because you really aren’t marketing to an account per se; you are marketing to the individual people who represent that account. Harvard researchers have found that the average number of people involved in a B2B purchase is around or seven folks. Adding to the complexity of multiple decision-makers is the fact that “these stakeholders come from a lengthening roster of roles, functions, and geographies.” Fortunately, your data should be able to simplify much of the complexity inherent in this step. Although it’s been said already, it bears repeating: clean, complete and enriched data is critical to your ability to identify and market to the targets of your ABM strategy. To ensure you choose wisely, look at the historical performance of each account and compare it to your ICP to determine who will make the list of accounts upon which your teams will focus their time, energy and resources. A few questions to consider include:
• Which accounts are most profitable now?
• Which accounts have dropped in profitability?
• What data characteristics are good indicators of sales success?
• What attributes are ideal for our products/services?
• What characteristics are best for exempting an account from ABM?
Martech: Tools you will need in order to identify your best customers and prospects include a CRM, a data management tool, and a marketing/data dashboard.
2. Rank Customer Needs for Content Clarity
Once you have created your short list of accounts, it’s time to dig deeper and identify all of the people involved in making the decision to purchase. Next, you will begin mining your data for insights. Your goal is to identify the primary need, want or issue each person has that would make them choose your solution. If your data is short on inside information, you may have to form a team to do some legwork that includes:
- Talking to customers or sending brief surveys
- Tracking customers on social media like LinkedIn and Twitter
- Following their company blog and reading other company publications, i.e. annual reports, investor newsletters, etc.
- Purchasing insights from a vendor
When comprising the ‘needs’ list, you should have several different needs that emerge. For example, if two of the decision-makers in an account are the CEO and CFO, they are going to have different reasons for considering your solution. Upon finalizing your needs list, rank each need according to its importance. The simplest way to do this is to go Hollywood with your list, and use titles and perceived influence levels to create a ranking system for whose needs get addressed first. Completing this exercise equips your marketing team with the insights and information necessary to develop compelling campaigns that provide your most desired accounts with valuable content that speaks directly to their needs.
Martech: Tools that aid your development of a high-quality customer needs list include a CRM, a MAP, a data management platform, a marketing/data dashboard, a social insights tool, and a survey tool.
3. Scale Personalization Across All Channels
Marketing to every customer in a way that resonates with each deeply, without overwhelming your budget and resources is a matter of automating as much of the process as possible. Of course, there are a variety of levels of personalization, from broad approaches that are industry and or job-title specific, to highly customized content created for a specific segment of accounts or a single account. A few of the simpler ways to personalize content include:
- Addressing the recipient by name and noting their title and role
- Using images that reflect the customer’s industry and experience
- Sending case studies specific to the customer’s industry or market
- Adding a personal note to pieces through a sales enablement tool
As you create and send campaigns to a variety of segments based on customer preferences, remember to pay careful attention to how they prefer to hear from you and develop your campaigns accordingly to ensure they enjoy a seamless experience.
Martech: Naturally, your MAP is the heavy-lifter in this scenario, as it is the center for segmenting lists and coordinating and automating all of your omni-channel campaigns. Another tool that simplifies the process of personalizing content is a content management tool. When integrated with your MAP, it automates the process of sending personalized pieces by pulling content and attribute data from your marketing and sales systems. This also cuts down on content development costs, since information can be repurposed for a variety of campaigns such as SMS, RSS, chat, email, etc. Your content management tool should also enable you to establish a searchable library of content that both marketing operations team members and sales team members can access and use on-demand.
The Benefits of Pursuing ABM
- of B2B marketers consider ABM an important strategy in their marketing efforts
- of B2B marketers give ABM credit for retaining customers and growing those relationships
- of B2B marketers report that ABM delivers a higher ROI than other marketing initiatives
- moore revenue is generated by the marketing efforts of companies with ABM in place
Goal: Accelerating Growth
Strategy: Make ABM a Reality by Leveraging Data to Identify Customers; Rank Customer Needs; and Developing Personalized Content for Omni-Channel Campaigns
Martech: CRM; MAP; Content Management Tool; Data Management Tool; Martech Integrations Platform; Marketing/Data Dashboard
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