By: Jonathan Herrick
Account-based marketing is the ultimate personalization tool.
Instead of incurring the unnecessary expense of marketing to broad swaths of the population, an account-centric strategy isolates key business accounts and markets directly to these individual units. By appealing to specific leaders and stakeholders who can benefit from what your company has to offer, you can make marketing efforts simultaneously more tailored and more effective.
This strategy is not new by any means, but it’s gained widespread recognition over the past few years as it’s evolved with the progression of technology. Inherently tech-based, a plethora of marketing automation solutions have made ABM more measurable and affordable for businesses of all sizes.
If It’s Broken, Fix It
ABM is an antidote to the conventional lead generation efforts that leave marketers increasingly frustrated. In fact, a report on B2B lead generation presented by the Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn showed that only 16% of marketers believe their current efforts are extremely effective. And while generating the highest-quality leads is the main priority for almost 70% of marketers, it’s also their biggest hurdle. On the other hand, research from Marketo suggests that ABM delivers a better return on investment than various other strategies for an impressive 97% of marketers.
Marketing automation plays a key role in driving such impressive results, as it allows companies to hyper-target their outreach based on interests and actions. Say you’re an agency offering social media, content marketing, and PPC services. A visitor from one of the accounts you’ve been targeting arrives at your website. Through webpage tracking, you can see the pages he is visiting.
In this case, let’s say your visitor is most interested in PPC. You can see the actions he has taken on the page: what he clicks on when he bounces, etc. You can then immediately trigger a PPC-focused campaign (featuring emails with relevant content, tasks for your sales rep to follow up, and lead scoring) so your website isn’t out of sight, out of mind.
Here are four steps you can take to use marketing automation to drive ABM efforts.
1. Tag and Segment Accounts
A good CRM will allow users to automatically filter contacts based on demographics, but you should also be able to manually apply certain tags. Use this feature to differentiate accounts from one another based on the criteria that are most important to you—whether that’s demographics, phase in the purchase cycle, products, etc. Tools such as Zapier will allow you to automate CRM tagging so you can identify the most promising accounts without having to wade through the duds.
2. Set Up Automation Workflows
Draw out your entire customer lifecycle. Typically, the journey will look something like this: subscriber, lead, marketing-qualified lead, sales-qualified lead, and, finally, the customer. To make the most of your ABM strategy, you’ll want to automate certain interactions. To nurture leads, you might set up a system that automatically emails subjects when they click a link in your newsletter. If they interact with that email, it’s time to alert sales reps to give them a call. Your salespeople have limited time, and an ABM approach will help them use it wisely.
3. Tailor Your Content
It should go without saying, but make sure you’re delivering the right message to the right target customer. Creating customized landing pages based on how people have recently interacted with your brand is a great way to do this—just don’t make it feel invasive to your customer. Tools can automatically message target accounts with relevant messages when they engage with you, helping you build the connections that become conversions.
4. A/B Test For Success
Putting an ABM strategy in place is just the beginning. Next, you need to determine whether it’s meeting your goals—and adjust accordingly. Measure success at each stage of the funnel and use B2B-centric metrics. With account-level advertising, you can monitor campaigns in real-time and make rapid changes when messaging doesn’t appeal to your audience. Remember to change just one variable in each piece of content and keep your prior iteration as a control.
ABM is an approach driven by results: ITSMA reports that 87% of marketers cite it as delivering the greatest returns. But without automation, ABM becomes a scattered process of spray and pray. Marketing automation allows your team to provide personalized, immediate outreach with valuable content that’s more likely to push visitors down the sales funnel. With the right execution, cold leads will soon convert into valuable customers.
Have you used marketing automation to improve your ABM strategy?