Using ABM Tactics The Right Way For Your Business | MRP
Account-based marketing (ABM) is an old idea that’s getting a new lease on life. The concept was originally based on the notion of building business relationships one customer at a time. Today, ABM is about building business relationships with an account, customizing messaging and tactics to the specific needs of that account.
This makes perfect sense to us, because focusing at the account level is the way sales is done, the way target account plans are built by CROs and VPs of sales. Marketing has historically taken those account plans to build out marketing campaigns to support sales.
So in spite of all the hype in the market, we didn’t see this move to ABM as a seismic shift. We saw it as more of a pendulum swing. Before the onset of contact-based marketing automation platforms, marketing focused its efforts at the account level. But, as platforms such as Marketo, Eloqua, and Salesforce.com gained market share, efforts shifted from account-focused to contact-focused. Because the tool being used to automate marketing efforts was contact-based, there was an increased effort to find as many people as possible to put into the database so there would be enough names to market to.
However, as the market soon discovered, or better yet remembered, contacts don’t really buy. Buying centers, or demand units (to borrow SiriusDecision’s term) buy, and there are multiple people within those demand units. To successfully market, you need to focus on something greater than a set of contacts. So the pendulum swung back and the market re-directed its efforts to the demand units within each account.
The Future is Customer Engagement
As we at MRP began to implement our own ABM strategy, we realized it’s actually much larger than identifying demand units; and it’s much larger than being able to deliver relevant content to an account. What we’re really talking about is customer engagement.
What are we trying to accomplish when we execute ABM strategies today? We’re taking everything we know about a particular account – their historical interaction with us, how they interact with our digital footprint, what intent signals they’re showing across the web — and we’re synthesizing it so we can match our content and tactics to the desires of that account. We’re trying to present our customers with all the information they want from us at exactly the right time, in exactly the right format, and on exactly the right device.
At its core, that’s so much more than ABM. It’s customer engagement. And the ability to do that at near real time is the future of ABM.
How ABM Benefits Your Business
The single greatest advantage your business will gain from ABM strategies is the ability to cut through the clutter and be heard. If you are able to link your CRM system, POS system, marketing automation system, digital marketing platform, and social media platforms together; and if you’re able to tie your content strategy to the output of those systems, you have the potential to rise above the noise that constantly bombards us on our phones, in our inboxes, and everywhere we turn.
What ABM will do for your business, if it is done well, is cut through the noise. Because it marries historical account interactions with current intent, you are able to personalize and optimize the exact message being delivered to the targeted account.
And the metrics bear this out. Delivering a targeted, optimized, personal message provides a significant increase in customer engagement and opportunity conversions. As we are all building our B2B revenue engines, consistently improving conversions at each stage of the Demand Waterfall is our primary objective to achieve our revenue targets.
How Businesses Are Using ABM Tactics Today
Businesses understand the importance of narrowing their focus and identifying the accounts that represent the best targets for them – their total addressable market (TAM). Once they have their target accounts, they are able to append those accounts with the firmographic and technographic information available from third party data integration tools.
When the IP addresses associated with those accounts visit their websites, they are able to personalize and optimize each visitor’s experience. And while the account is on their website, they ‘cookie’ the IP address, and subsequently deliver personalized, optimized display ads across all the digital channels.
There are a lot of businesses out there that define ABM exactly as described above: identify accounts early, deliver personalized messaging, and then follow them around on their journey. We think that’s part of the process, but there are two pieces missing from this approach:
- Predictive analytics powered by rich intent data. When you add this component to the approach outlined above, you get a better idea of what that client is interested in right now – before they get to your website – and that allows you to personalize your content even further.
- Integration with sales resources. Where ABM has the biggest impact in our own business is the facilitation of growth within our top 20 accounts – the accounts we need to retain and grow in order for our business to be healthy. We can run an ABM program using the digital tools that are available, and can deliver emails and display ads when we marry that personalization capability with intent data.
In order to do ABM fully, you need to extract information about those accounts from the people who know them best – the sales team. They have intimate knowledge of each account and know what they’re focused on, what matters most to our champions and their managers, and which of their initiatives we can align with.
Extracting that information and integrating it into your marketing efforts is what takes your account based marketing strategy to a whole different level.