In the first of this three-part blog post series derived from the conversations at our annual “Marketing Madness” event in March, we’ll discuss the rising popularity of account-based marketing (ABM) and how B2B marketers can utilize personalized, targeted content to increase ROI.
Account-based marketing starts with highly relevant content for a select few prospects
Unlike inbound B2B marketing, ABM addresses the specific pain points of individual business accounts. “Rather than deploying a spray-and-pray kind of marketing, you say ‘here are the people I want to touch’ and figure out how to talk to them specifically,” says Will Wiegler, SVP & CMO of SpringCM. ABM can also be considered a ‘zero-waste’ approach to marketing — you only target prospects who are most likely to buy your product in the near future.
Lisa Agona, CMO of Ensono, suggests prospects are more receptive to ABM content because they only receive a handful of marketing materials and each content asset is personalized. But personalization also poses a unique challenge to marketers tasked with developing customized content for highly segmented audiences. Customers don’t want to hear how your solution is great or why it works for someone else — they want to know how you’re going to solve their problems. As Communications Director Adam Beeson from G2 Crowd puts it: “It’s not about us. It’s about them.”
Prospects want marketing content that speaks directly to their challenges and shows how your solution or service will bring added value to their lives. Showpad, for example, splits its target accounts into 10 key stakeholders to deepen its understanding of the types of content that will appeal to different buyers. G2 Crowd tailors content to the unique needs of a specific decision maker, e.g., the CEO or CMO of a company. While a CEO might prefer shorter content because her time is scarce, a CMO in the learning phase of the process might prefer long-form content with plenty of examples.
5 steps to develop and implement an effective ABM campaign
Once you’ve decided to go all-in on ABM, you need to develop a roadmap for converting ABM into real-world outcomes. From segmenting your target audience to tailoring content based on personas, here are five steps to help you get started on your ABM campaign:
- Identify high-value prospects. “The first step,” according to Agona, “is to identify prospects with the highest propensity to buy.” Working closely with your sales team, you will need to narrow down your list of prospects based on attributes like market dynamics, trends and upsell opportunities. By segmenting customers into key stakeholders, you can develop content that speaks to the needs of a particular decision maker.
- Develop customer personas. After you have your targeted prospects, build out personas to understand the types of challenges those companies face and how decisions are made. At Showpad, for example, marketers treat various divisions of targeted companies as individual buyers. Each persona should include things like the prospect’s buying priorities, preferences, style, tactics and prejudices.
- Map out content assets. For ABM to work, you need to give your full attention to building out custom content for the selected audience. “You need to use your content to say ‘Hey you, come here. I can help,’” says Beeson. From emails to e-books to landing pages, ABM content should engage prospects and focus on the single deal you want to make with that organization.
- Determine optimal marketing channels. Killer content can’t be effective if customers don’t see it. To improve visibility, you have to understand where your target audience lives online and how they access content. Personas can illuminate where each prospect spends the majority of their time online, helping you determine whether you should market content via social media or snail mail. Hypertargeted paid programs through various ads and social networks are also available to hit key targets outside of their email inboxes.
- Execute your campaign with measurable KPIs. After selecting a target audience, developing the appropriate content and determining the appropriate promotional channels, it’s time to launch your campaign. But simply deploying an ABM campaign isn’t enough — you need to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts so you can make adjustments along the way. Leveraging your marketing stack, like CRM and marketing automation tools, can help you get started. You may also want to consider solutions like Demandbase and Terminus for greater insight and organization, especially when it comes to scaling your ABM campaign.
Personalized content fuels ABM campaigns, but your ABM strategy shouldn’t end there. Instead of publishing low-quality, high-quantity blog posts, focus on developing strategic content that connects with specific people and companies. With highly relevant content targeting the right prospects at the right time during their buyer journey, you can capitalize on ABM campaigns and significantly improve the quality of leads in your pipeline.