Many marketers still only understand the ABM basics: figure out the common characteristics of your most profitable accounts, create a list of similar companies, and then do you your best to engage decision-makers on that account list, usually through sales team efforts.
Today’s most successful ABM programs involve a lot more than this. Below are a few key aspects often lost in account-based marketing programs as well as an overview of new technologies facilitating marketer efforts in these areas.
Harnessing Predictive Data
Predictive modeling drives ABM strategies by identifying the right audiences (accounts and individual personas) based on numerous characteristics from firmographic info to in-market activity, and demographic data to behavioral signs.
The sophistication behind most predictive analytics solutions – such as 6Sense, Mintigo and Infer – is quite impressive. Data is pulled from numerous sources – internal (e.g., marketing automation and CRM systems) as well as external (e.g., government databases and third-party data providers) – which is then processed by proprietary algorithms and data scientists to generate models catering to specific business goals.
Using predictive methods and technology to inform your ABM strategy is great, but it isn’t in itself very actionable. Predictive tells you which companies and decision-makers you should target for your ABM strategy, but it doesn’t help you engage those accounts or the decision-makers within. That’s why marketers also need to have an account engagement infrastructure in place.
Orchestrating Engagement (i.e., Demand Orchestration)
Orchestrating engagement tactics for demand generation isn’t easy. There’s a lot of moving parts circling around both inbound and outbound marketing methodologies. We’ve tackled the subject on this blog before so I won’t go on about it, but there’s a few specific areas of demand gen that play key roles in executing ABM strategies.
A primary facet of ABM-focused demand gen is attracting specific personas from targeted accounts to your website (i.e., inbound marketing). With a good ABM strategy, you’ll want to personalize your website messaging to these individuals once they land on your pages. This is best done with software vendors such as:
Such personalization software tracks visitor sources and actions, and then uses behavioral, demographic and firmographic data to provide personalized experiences according to the visitor’s intent and characteristics. As a result, static websites become persona-driven tools that speak to buyers relevant to their particular interests and buy-cycle stage.
But again, marketers can’t stop here. Relying solely on inbound marketing tactics for your ABM programs is a bad idea; you just won’t get enough contact data to fulfil pipeline requirements.
Thus, you need to look to outbound demand generation tactics such as IP-targeted display ads and third-party content marketing.
Demandbase and Terminus do this very well. These technologies place your ads across leading exchanges and publishers, targeting only the IP addresses of companies on your account list.
The great thing about this technology is that it prevents ad budget from being wasted on impressions or clicks with unwanted companies. These vendors usually allow you to select which ads are shown to targeted accounts across mobile, display, social and video.
However, this too may not be enough to engage the decision-makers at targeted accounts. Unless the decision-makers at these accounts make the move to visit your website, you won’t gain any known ID information (prospect data such as email, job title, etc.) required for further account nurturing. This is where account-targeted content marketing comes in…
Third-Party Content Marketing
Complementing IP-targeted display, third-party content marketing (content syndication) enables you to focus your engagement on individual decision-makers at targeted companies, using your thought leadership and other long-form content.
Demand orchestration software (such as Integrate’s) helps you automate this process to get the known ID data without relying on decision-makers to come to you – instead, your content goes to where decision-makers are having relevant conversations. This allows you to then acquire their info and inject it into your marketing automation nurture tracks and CRM system.
Managing Account Data
Of course, once you have the info on decision-makers at target accounts, you’ll need to properly organize this data by accounts rather than contacts. This is tricky – in fact, it’s rather counterintuitive to what most B2B marketers were trained to do.
Currently in early stages of development, an emerging MarTech category – led by LeanData and Engagio – is helping with this issue. This type of software pulls together all the various data acquired during your ABM programs to form a holistic picture.
It does this by associating leads to accounts and passing account details to your unconverted prospects. It then segments account details like owner, active opportunity, customer, products purchased, sales stage, target account or strategic account, etc. Creating this big picture of all ABM programs, this software ensures the usability of all the data you collect. Moreover, it helps align marketing and sales efforts by providing sales reps with the data they need to assist prospects further down the purchase cycle.
Remember…tech won’t do everything. Setting appropriate goals, KPIs and benchmarks is paramount, as is understanding individual personas and developing content that resonates with them.
Perhaps most importantly, successful ABM strategies depend on proper integration between sales and marketing. Without such integrated processes, data and goals, marketing teams can’t get the info they need to adequately identify and engage targeted-accounts, and the buyer’s journey will suffer from a disjointed transition of accounts from marketing to sales reps.