Article | May 28, 2021
The disruption from 2020 has forced many companies across different industries and verticals to improve their digital potential, including technology adoption. Among the industries, account-based marketing practitioners had to adapt to change in 2020 – and fast because it created a host of challenges in B2B. Industries and businesses had to find the right technologies that allow growth, as companies now have to operate in the only digital world.
But, even in the time of uncertainty, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has gained traction. This is good news for enterprise tech vendors. Gartner estimates that expenditure on technology will rebound in 2021, with the enterprise software market predicted to surge by 7.2%. This seems to be a year of growth, improvement, and success for those organizations deploying account-based marketing as part of their B2B strategy.
In addition, one of the global data leaders, Acxiom, has experienced rapid sales growth from its technologically blended ABM program. Before considering a fully technology-based ABM strategy for 2021, it is crucial to understand how technologies fuel ABM growth.
Technologies are Fueling ABM Growth
Well, it's easy to understand and see how and why the technology-fuelled revival of ABM is taking hold. Let's see where B2B marketers are gaining profits. They are :
Driving improved deals, higher close rates, and earning more revenue
Winning strategic accounts in their industries
Getting higher ROI
Reaping benefits from additional marketing strategies
The 2019 State of ABM study by SiriusDecisions validates this trend in ABM results in:
91% of the B2B companies realizing larger deals by adopting technology in ABM.
92% seeing a higher percentage of qualified opportunities in ABM accounts than in non-ABM accounts.
More B2B marketers are moving towards tech-enabled ABM programs, where it was 62% in 2020 compared to 40% in 2018.
ABM in the overall marketing budget of companies surging rapidly.
With the rise in internet usage, which accelerated digital marketing, it was challenging to understand individual behavior. Now, marketers are empowered with account-centric targeting, measurement, and personalization across all their digital channels. Because marketers dedicate more budget to their ABM programs by upgrading technology stacks. It plays a significant role in making ABM scalable.
So, explore the critical technology trends propelling ABM today and shaping its future for marketing purposes in this blog.
How much does your tech stack matter?
The most influential tech marketing programs invest more in data, insight, and analytics. And that's because you have no hope of successfully engaging with your target accounts.
Despite the rapid acceleration of digital transformation in 2020, few organizations already have a mature tech stack. 25-39% of them used it for content syndication, sales automation, evaluation as third-party data, and reporting software.
By this, you must have understood that investing in technologies or technology that is attributing results supporting your ABM efforts is essential. But this doesn't mean the more tech you have, the more successful you will be. It's more a case of having the proper fundamentals (tech-wise) in place that deliver value.
Likewise, other tech fundamentals like intent data fully functioning (and ABM-ready) CRM are perhaps the most important tech pieces to have in place. They are listed under the top planned investments for 2021.
Here are five tech trends for ABM that will make a tangible difference in your business.
Automation Reduces Risks
To execute account-based marketing, marketers need to introduce automation to engage accounts through a handful of channels. Marketers can engage all the named accounts of the sales team and their long tail of target accounts through automation. This allows the marketing team to create demand in the accounts they're pursuing and alleviate the risk of putting all sales requirements in one place. This is possible by continuous demand generation through different channels, probably the less expensive ones (and alerting accounts from time to time to decrease the risk of missing out).
This way, your business will witness a more consistent and coordinated engagement of accounts between sales and marketing. So, ABM automation is a crucial aspect in reducing risks.
AI Introduces Personalized Customer Understanding
Businesses are witnessing the transformational impact of AI throughout the process, particularly in marketing. While marketers can easily get started with ABM by targeting a list of accounts, AI puts more power enabling them to confidently and precisely identify the accounts to pursue.
With AI, marketers can get their ideal customer profile (ICP) at a granular level. Tech-savvy marketers are using AI to analyze their historical sales and implement new strategies to achieve more in the coming years. In other words, AI helps marketers to leverage more information significantly from both internal and external sources to draw more precise models for their ideal customers.
AI is also enhancing engagement. According to The State of Engagement, 72% of marketers are expected to prioritize personalized messages and content to engage with customers. Nearly 40% of marketers plan to leverage AI and machine learning to enhance content used throughout the customer journey. So, through AI, marketers can personalize communications in a one-to-one way. This way, they can predict the content that most likely to convert readers across multiple channels.
As marketers continue to realize the potential of AI, you will see more rules-based ABM activities that AI enhances. This way, your marketers can efficiently target the proper accounts, engage accounts across channels to get insights to optimize programs.
Advanced Analytics Provide Attribution
Is your ABM strategy working? One way to find out this is by measuring its impact on the business through advanced analytics. With automated attribution reporting, marketers can find more opportunities, a longer pipeline of accounts, and higher revenue generation in the ABM context.
But why? Here are three reasons:
Marketers need to show that their partnership with sales to the target audience is working efficiently.
Advanced analytics will allow you to compare the efforts and results of one account vs. another to optimize the ABM program.
Most marketers plan multiple or blended marketing strategies. So, marketers running an ABM or practicing a blend of it, such as inbound marketing, need to know which investments are working. Advanced analytics can help them to allocate a budget for strategies being used for their business.
Therefore, it is expected to witness more touchpoints and data brought into advanced analytics becoming increasingly easier for marketers to consume in the future.
Chatbots' Demand in ABM
As per Salesforce, 69% of U.S. consumers prefer using chatbots when engaging with brands as it yields a prompt response.
A chatbot on your website can answer customers' basic questions every time. AI-powered chatbots can be used for customer support, expanding contact strategy dramatically with a controlled message. These chatbots have become so lifelike that many customers don't even know the difference. And chatbots offer the added benefit of gathering, analyzing, and providing actionable data to improve the customer experience.
How Can Marketers Harness This Potential?
As per SiriusDecisions' survey, more marketers are doubling their budgets and moving their ABM journey effortlessly. So, irrespective of where you are on your journey, you also need to make sure you always move ahead.
When it's time to include technology, be sure to select an ABM platform that supports your marketing journey now and in the future, as well. This means it should support multiple channels and marketing strategies, giving the flexibility to adapt and discover what works best for your organization.
Conclusively, look for a platform that can serve as the hub of your ABM technology stack. The ablest place to start is from a platform that will give you the ABM essentials and connect a wide range of technologies to encourage you to grow over time. This way, you can shape your future in account-based marketing in the best possible ways.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does ABM work?
Identifying which accounts (companies) you can target is the first step after creating a buyer persona. The next step is to market them using campaigns to attract potential clients. And then, measure the activities of your account-based marketing campaigns. Metrics, such as clicks, impressions, and page views, are easily measured.
Why is account-based marketing important?
ABM helps to assemble marketing efforts through multi-channels and analyses key accounts' status to drive more revenue. It also maximizes the efficiency of your B2B marketing resources and aligns sales accordingly.
How is AI used in ABM?
AI solutions in ABM can help the marketing team to make firm data-based decisions faster than before. The usage of chatbots helps to answer many common questions about marketing efforts and benefits. Also, AI tools can be used to track intent data as well.
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"name": "Why is account-based marketing important?",
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"name": "How is AI used in ABM?",
"text": "AI solutions in ABM can help the marketing team to make firm data-based decisions faster than before. The usage of chatbots helps to answer many common questions about marketing efforts and benefits. Also, AI tools can be used to track intent data as well."
Article | March 30, 2020
It’s official – studies show that marketers who implement account based marketing generate 200% more revenue in their efforts than those who don’t. In fact, 84% of B2B marketers have bought into this vision and believe that ABM delivers higher ROI than any other marketing strategy.
But what makes it crucial for B2B success you ask? Well, ABM is highly useful for organizations with multiple stakeholders or buyers. It’s not just about personalizing your brand messages and targeting multiple decision-makers at every touch point, but doing that at scale. A senior marketing manager at Hubspot says,“It is to address the needs of an organization by connecting with all of the stakeholders within it. That's one reason why it works so well in B2B -- oftentimes you have to work with five or more stakeholders in a given sale.”
While account based marketing has been around for a few years, it still feels like a relatively new concept and marketers are still trying to perfect their strategies for ABM. In this article, we’ll take you back to the basics, walk you through some examples, strategies, tactics backed by data and top marketers in the B2B space, so you’re ready to bring your A-game.
- What is account based marketing?
- B2B account based marketing
- Some sure-fire account based marketing strategies with examples
-Identifying your target
-Researching your accounts
-Tailoring content to resonate with your prospects
- Finding the best channels for your campaigns
-Running your campaigns
-Measure and evaluate your results
- Some real-life examples of account based marketing
- Account based marketing best practices
What is account based marketing?
Account based marketing, in its simplest, is a business strategy used to focus on a set of high-quality target accounts instead of a lot of weak accounts. This strategy allows marketers to identify and target the accounts/decision-makers/individuals that they value most. In short, high-value accounts/prospects are identified, key stakeholders in these businesses are targeted, then marketing strategies are implemented through various channels to appeal to their specific personas and needs.
I believe ABM is B2B. Most companies are still focused on top of the funnel. Mature and forward thinking CMOs are starting to help their sales team win more and faster by focusing on pipeline velocity and expansion deals.
-Sangram Vajre, Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist, Terminus
B2B account based marketing
Believe it or not, half of the account based marketing programs are still in their early years and only 17% of those programs have been running for three years.
So, if you’re one of those marketers who just launched their ABM, don’t worry about having missed an opportunity.
As we know, there are a hundred different ways to execute an account based marketing strategy based on your business requirements. Although experts would argue that some companies think they’re doing ABMwhen really they’re just focusing on one element of ABM.According to ITSMA, a wining ABM program constitutes a mix of several best strategies, practices, and technologies; its core principles include:
Strategic focus on improving business reputation, relationships, and revenue (if it’s just about lead gen, it’s not ABM!)
Tight partnership and integration with sales (if there isn’t active, ongoing collaboration throughout the lifecycle, it isn’t ABM!)
Tailored and personalized programs and campaigns based on deep customer insight (if customers get the same experience and inside-out messaging, it’s not ABM!)
While it may seem a little tricky to get a head-start, once you have your strategies in place the results can be truly rewarding.
Some sure-fire account based marketing strategies
Since our goal is to target all the decision-makers within the same organization, your ABM campaign must be designed to resonate with these specific people.
Before you start to implement your ABM strategy, there are three key foundations that your teams need to agree on:
• Purpose of your ABM program
• Accounts you are targeting
• Prospects within those accounts that you’re targeting
Identifying your target
Finding and identifying your target is the first step; which does not mean developing and targeting personas. You’ll be focusing on organizations instead.
Identifying your target should be a collaborative effort between sales and marketing. Since it requires data from both the teams – you have to look at firmographicdata(used to categorize organizations, such as geographic area, number of clients, type of organization, industry, technologies used, etc.) and technographic data, as well as strategic factors like market influence, likelihood of repeat purchase, and expected profit margin.
Researching your accounts
Once you’ve identified your target, dive-in to do a deep research to find out additional information and representation of your ideal business customer. Having an idea of the company structure, who the key players are can give you a clear direction of how you’re going to create the appeal for your products or services to those targets. What would make this even better is if you know the influencers and decision-makers in that organization.
Some simple steps like manual research on LinkedIn is a great way to uncover that data. For example, you can do an advanced people search to find out more about your targets. Below is an example by Hubspot for finding out your target through an advanced search on LinkedIn.
DECK 7 identifies new prospects who could convert as a customer by analyzing their insights through interactions and engagements on social media, digital media or through their form fills, whitepaper downloads, etc. Some of the visitors could have downloaded their whitepaper through an email that was sent to them through their marketing or sales teams. Or they might have visited a blog or landing page through DECK 7’s newsletter, ONDECK in which case DECK 7 retargets them. This gives the company insights about the intent of their target audience and helps them plan their messaging.
Tailoring content to resonate with your prospects
Your next step should be to collaborate with the design and sales teams to create hyper-personalized, valuable content, that’s visually compelling and communicates the right messaging at the right time. Have your content centered around these key parameters:
• Personalize sales enablement content
• Wow them with your solution
• Establish your expertise, personality, and appeal
• Keep them involved, consuming your ideas and engaging with your brand, and
• Invite them to stay connected so they can become customers
Remember that the beauty of ABM lies in personalizing your content towards these accounts, so, make sure that your brand messaging speaks to their specific pain points. Your content and imagery should also serve as solutions to their challenges and business needs.
Finding the best channels for your campaigns
To strike the right chord with your target prospects you must utilize the best channel for your messages. Some of the most effective channels that DECK 7 uses include:
Social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook are some of the best in letting you run your campaign and customizing them according to your business needs. You can appeal to specific organizations as well as the titles within those organizations. Use Facebook’s demographics filters for seeking out your targets or even take it to the next level by targeting their specific job title.
Running your campaigns
An important step to keep in mind would be to not let your content run wild. Since ABM programs are so targeted/personalized in nature you need to be careful as to not overwhelm your target with the same messages over and over again. Hence concentrate on catching your prospects’ attention without turning them away.
Measure and evaluate your results
After your ABM program has been running for a period of 30-60 days, it’s time to evaluate whether it was a success or a failure. It is reported that about 60% of CMOs have trouble proving their ROI. A lot of it has to do with not asking the right questions while measuring results. According to Wordstream, some of the critical questions you need to ask are:
• Whetheryour personalized content proved to be engaging? If so, how?
• Are the accounts becoming more engaged with your brand?
• Are you expanding the number of known stakeholders within these organizations?
• Did you move any of these targeted leads down the funnel?
• Did you generate any revenue from these campaigns?
• What could you do better going forward?
Some real life examples of account based marketing
Webinars accompanied by a pizza! The concept is pretty simple and straight forward – a pizza is delivered to the target accounts, so they can enjoy it while attending your webinar.
But it doesn’t have to be pizza. Lunch and earns can be done with anything from any beverage to food item of their choice, so, you can enjoy the experience with your prospects from the comfort of your desks. This helps to boost webinar attendance and is a great way to encourage prospects to pay attention.
This approach is useful across the account lifecycle from initial engagement to upcoming renewals, expansion or even re-engage at-risk accounts. You could even go so far as to build out personalized webinar experiences with customized landing pages so the prospect or customer feels as if the webinar is hosted just for them – which can be a great way to show off product updates or educate people on your platform.
Snowflake, a cloud-based data-warehousing company, leveraged its in-house expertise to develop a robust library of high-quality content, which they use to create individualized experiences for target accounts. At any given time, the Snowflake team is running 500 concurrent individualized account-based campaigns, and each of these 1-to-1 campaigns is developed in tandem with their sales reps (who know their accounts inside and out) to create personalized messaging and content experiences.
These content experiences aren’t intended to drive conversions, either. None of the customized content is gated. Instead, Snowflake strives to build credibility with its audience first, only then using retargeting tactics with those that engage to drive traditional conversions through weekly demos or free trials.
Each campaign can be launched quickly and starts with digital advertising as a means to distribute the experience to the right account depending on where they are in their lifecycle. You can run the same or similar campaigns by leveraging a platform like Uberflip in tandem with your advertising and marketing automation platforms.
This approach is most useful when trying to gain initial engagement or progressing an account to meaningful engagement. It can also be used in a Land and Expand strategy to penetrate other departments within the organization.
Account based marketing best practices
To make your ABM program a success, you need to align your sales and marketing teams. Oftentimes it is this discrepancy, which, if not addressed, ends up causing a lot of loopholes and miscommunication.
Sales and marketing have to be best friends, they have to be fully aligned with each other, and they have to know what each other is doing at all times so they can partner. Companies that don’t do that cause themselves a lot of heartache.
-Erik Charles, Vice President and Solutions Evangelist, Xactly Corp.
Marketing has traditionally had a lead-centric focus, which is pretty much the opposite of their counterparts in Sales, who have always had an account-centric approach
– This statement reveals the real disconnect between how most companies and marketing teams build their ABM.
You must personalize content at scale.
This is the heart and soul of every B2B account based marketing. The main goal of content personalization is to fit target accounts like a glove. And while executing personalized content at scale is challenging, it is also the most rewarding when done right. Thankfully, B2B marketers are getting better at that.
Whether or not you’ve tried to implement a full-blown ABM program, chances are you’ve most likely used at least one element of it in your marketing endeavors. And that’s a great start. The key thing to remember is to be clear about what you’re trying to achieve with your ABM program and how well co-ordinated your teams are.
Article | March 12, 2020
Lead nurturing is the automated process of sending personalized and relevant content to prospects and customers at every stage of their account life cycle. It focuses on marketing and communication efforts on listening to the demands of prospects and providing the information and answers they seek.
Article | March 17, 2020
Account-based marketing (ABM) programs deliver huge results, but those results can sometimes be elusive. Over the past twelve months through my consulting practice, I’ve had an intimate view into over fifty ABM programs. More common than not, most marketers are telling me that their results are underwhelming. So, what is the missing link? The answer lies in the disconnect between marketing-orchestrated experiences and buyer expectations.