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Sunday, 10 September 2017


Account-based marketing (ABM) is a B2B strategy that concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts within a market and employs personalised campaigns designed to resonate with each account & its key decision makers to achieve mutually agreed business goals and objectives.

Please note that my post would be limited to digital medium only from execution perspective. However, the ABM concept broadly remains same & offline ABM activities that you might be doing already can be added in step 3. 

5 Step approach for ABM:

5 Step Approach for ABM

STEP 1: Select Target Accounts
The primary step is to find out who exactly you would like to reach out to. This steps requires an elaborate discussion between sales and marketing teams. Some could be high worth accounts, existing accounts, strategic accounts and so on. The step not only includes identifying target accounts for your business but also the exact departments (job function & seniority) and decision makers within those departments.

STEP 2: Define Objective (or goals)
If you would like to avoid any confrontation with the CEO in future then make sure the objectives/ goals are identified & mutually discussed with the top management well before initiating any account specific outreach activity. 

The objectives can be as follows:
a. Secure more meetings with senior management
b. Close a higher percentage of large deals
c. Drive faster sales cycle time
d. Grow revenue within existing accounts
e. Promote higher customer loyalty

STEP 3: Identify Digital Channels
Well, here i am only focusing on digital channels but please make sure all your offline activities are in sync with digital promotions (eg. physical meeting after a digital campaign; geo-targeted ads before physical events etc.). 

Identifying right digital channels is a no-brainer, some of the key channels that can be leveraged are: 

a. LinkedIn (obviously the best) - There're plethora of options available such as LinkedIn ABM, LinkedIn Remarketing, LinkedIn Sponsored InMails, Spotlight and Text ads. Do make use of new features such as 1 click lead gen, LinkedIn contact retargeting & website retargeting. Do not forget to integrate Eloqua (if you've Eloqua as marketing automation platform) with LinkedIn.

b. Email (the cheapest) - This requires database or list of email addresses of contacts within your target accounts.

c. Account targeted display ads on ad networks (may require high investments but can be targeted to account and job-seniority levels). Key service providers are: Demandbase, Vendemore, 6 Sense, Kwanzoo, DMPs such as Oracle Bluekai etc.

d. DMPs (the costlier but more targeted) - Create segments and reach out to them via search, display, email, mobile etc.

e. Account re-targeting: Reach out to accounts who've been to your website again & to opt-in contacts (make sure they're double opt-in for specific geos such as Canada & European region). Most of the service providers mentioned in point c. have the account remarketing capabilities as well. Specifically for contact level retargeting, you can use AdRoll CRM re-targeting, Google customer match, Twitter tailored audience & Facebook custom audience.

STEP 4: Personalise Content
Leverage IP based and cookie based personalization technologies to serve relevant and appropriate content to your target audience & (or accounts). It is not wise (esp. in today's world) to serve same content to all website visitors. Segment visitors on the basis of company name or a particular action taken in your website and make the experience more personalized. Example, audience spending more than x minutes on a particular section of the website or downloading content about specific products and services can be shown a more relevant content. 

You can make use of Demandbase, Oracle Maxymiser, Google optimize etc. to serve personalized content across website (Demandbase & Kwanzoo can also help personalize banner ads served on ad networks to specific accounts/ industries). There's a rise in Artificial intelligence based website personalization as well (eg. Demandbase site customization). It'll be interesting to see how advertisers can leverage AI based personalization with ABM.

STEP 5: Enable Sales
Whatever ABM activities you've taken up, make sure all of them are aligned to objectives discussed in step 2. Enable sales team by showing results of all ABM activities by preparing an account level pre & post type of reporting. It's vital to have a strong analytics platform within your organization to get to this type of reporting. Google & Adobe analytics are two most widely used platforms, recently there's a rise in predictive intelligence based analytics tools as well (eg. 6Sense). 

Marketing team should ensure that sales receive timely website activity report done both at an account level and at individual level along with campaign specific reporting. Some organizations prefer to show a dashboard (instead of excel report) using Qlik, Google data studio, Klipfolio etc. 

Well that's it ! Make sure you've a project plan with timelines before you initiate any of the above.

Benefits of ABM
It won't be apt for me to say the rhetoric that ABM will get you: Better & Clear ROI; Tight & Close alignment between sales & marketing; Optimise spends & Efficient tracking of goals. My advise is - Do it and find out how ABM is working for your company.

Happy ABMing !!

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