As a B2B marketer, you have probably heard of account-based marketing (ABM), which is sometimes referred to as customer-based marketing. ABM is widely used in B2B marketing because it’s well suited to the long sales cycle, helps build customer relationships with multiple stakeholders, accelerates the sales process, and offers multiple opportunities to close the deal.
In addition, ABM is precise, targeted, personalized, and measurable. It allows you to track every marketing dollar and has the highest ROI among B2B marketing strategies.
With the aid of fast-evolving marketing technologies, more B2B marketers are adopting ABM strategies. What can you do to stand out and stay ahead of your competition?
In this blog, I’ll cover the latest trends in ABM you can’t ignore.
Be Rigorous With Your Data
Since delivering personalized content is a critical component of ABM, the use of customer data is important in aligning your message with the target audiences.
After all, if you’re missing data or having errors in important customer information such as names, key roles, titles, industries, or company size, you won’t be able to target your marketing content effectively.
To start, make sure that your customer data is accurate. You may have to clean up your data, verify existing information, round out customer profiles with additional data, or start your collection process anew.
All your customer information should be stored in a centralized database that allows you to create a 360-degree customer profile that informs real-time, omnichannel interactions.
In addition, adopt a data-driven approach to make sure you’re measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns accurately so you can fine-tune your tactics strategically.
Go Above and Beyond With Your Content
As more B2B buyers are doing their research online before engaging with a brand, you need to catch your prospects at the early stage of their customer lifecycle by sharing content that’s relevant, informative, and educational.
Content marketing has been proven effective for B2B companies to generate and nurture leads, allowing you to cultivate relationships with prospects that are not ready to make a purchasing decision.
However, since more vendors are using similar strategies, your content has to go above and beyond the same old “relevant and informative” to cut through the clutter.
It needs to capture the attention of your audience, share a perspective that establishes your unique positioning, communicate a brand personality that’s relatable, and invite engagements that build trust over time.
In addition, you need to show up in front of your prospects consistently to nurture relationships by planning a series of high-value content that’s distributed over time and through a variety of channels.
Ensure Audience-Message-Channel Match
The premise of ABM is the delivery of a highly personalized customer experience. The efforts you put into crafting buyer personas, analyzing customer data, and creating high-quality content will be for naught if you fail to put the right content in front of the right people in a way that they’ll consume and engage with it.
The need for highly personalized content may mean ramping up content creation. You need to establish a system that allows you to scale your content production without sacrificing quality.
In addition, you have to format, distribute, and position the information according to the needs and preferences of each buy persona. The format should align with how the target audience prefers to consume content. If the audience prefers short actionable content such as a checklist, a long ebook won’t be appealing to them. If they tend to learn visually, an infographic may generate more engagement than a blog post. You also need to distribute the content through the appropriate channels so it will be shown to the audience at the right time.
For instance, a post on a work-related topic shown to a B2B buyer during business hours on LinkedIn will be more relevant than during the weekend when she’s connecting with friends and having relaxing conversations on Facebook. You can often share the same piece of content with different buyer personas by framing the information differently to articulate why it’s relevant to each audience segment. For example, adjust the email copy to speak to the challenges of each subscriber segment when sending out the link to a blog post.
Align Sales and Marketing Teams
While the marketing department is generating high-quality leads and nurturing them with targeted initiatives, it’s important that these prospects are converted into customers effectively by the sales team to optimize ROI.
Your marketing efforts should be in sync with your sales activities so prospects are primed for the sales conversations when they’re ready to make a purchase.
Organizations with highly aligned sales and marketing teams are found to generate more sales and have higher conversion rates.
To increase the effectiveness of ABM, synchronize your sales and marketing efforts.
Each department should plan purpose-driven activities that directly address the needs of each account so it can be seamlessly transitioned from marketing to sales to increase the close rate.
Sales and marketing teams should also be in constant communication and collaboration.
For example, sales reps can get insights from the customer data and analytics compiled by the marketing team to identify key B2B stakeholders so they can shorten the sales cycle and maximize upsell or cross-selling opportunities.
Use the Right Automation Tools Strategically
Marketing automation technologies allow marketers to process the large amount of data required to deliver a personalized experience for individual B2B stakeholders within each account.
To do so cost-effectively, use a marketing automation software application designed specifically for ABM and has the capabilities to support sophisticated functions such as:
- Building aggregated audiences: create and self-maintain audience segments without a dependency on current relationship mappings in your CRM.
- Lead-to-account matching: clean and match individual leads to accounts so you can deliver the most appropriate content and offers.
- Self-updating account and account groups: make single adjustments to a centralized list to save time, accelerate sales process, and reduce errors in reporting.
Though automation can save a lot of time and efforts, keep in mind that ultimately ABM is about cultivating relationships to increase sales.
Use the software to closely monitor prospects’ activities and interactions with your company so your sales team can jump in to offer the kind of 1-on-1 dialogues required to close a sale in a timely manner.
Leverage AI and Predictive Analytics
AI and predictive analytics give you the accurate data insights you need to properly execute ABM strategies.
It helps you understand buyers’ behaviors so you can market to them cost-effectively.
Predictive analytics can be used to identify the accounts most likely to buy so you can allocate resources strategically. It allows you to understand what each contact cares about so you can articulate your value proposition in a way that will create engagement. Predictive analytics also helps align sales and marketing, especially using a technique called lead scoring, so the right leads can be passed from marketing to sales at the right moment to maximize conversion.
In addition, predictive analytics allows you to identify the prospects that are a good fit for your products or services. This often translates into less churn, more cross-sell or upsell opportunities, and higher customer lifetime value.
Account-Based Marketing: a Lucrative Market of One
Even though all the new technologies and strategies available to B2B marketers can sometimes seem overwhelming, the premise of ABM is quite simple: treat each account and stakeholder as a market of one. Successful account-based marketing leverages customer data to provide targeted content and personalized offers that position your brand as the most trusted and relevant resource in providing the solution your customers need. As such, the most effective ABM strategies are the ones that allow you to deliver the best customer experience.
Have you implemented ABM with your company? Tell me about your strategy in the comments.