This week, Engagio, an Account-Based Marketing software platform led by Marketo Co-Founder Jon Miller, hosted a comprehensive ABM virtual workshop featuring a variety of thought leaders. And the best part? You didn’t even have to leave your desk to soak in all of the great thought leadership!
The event kicked off the morning of February 23rd to answer questions about the hot topic of ABM, and explain why its proliferating across the B2B sales and marketing space. Marketers who want to invest in an ABM strategy or optimize their existing approach flocked to their computers to catch a few, or maybe all, of the eight speakers that spanned the morning.
Just in case you missed it, we’ll clue you in on some of the highlights from Jon Miller’s session, Seven Steps to ABM Success. Plus, we’ll also give you the break-down of the session, Account Selection Deep Dive, from EverString’s own President, J.J. Kardwell.
What is Account-Based Marketing?
Jon kicked off the workshop experience by providing a definition of the roadmap to a successful ABM strategy.
Jon Miller described ABM as “a strategic approach that coordinates personalized sales and marketing efforts to open doors and deepen engagement at specific accounts”.
To set the stage, Jon explained the difference between traditional demand generation efforts and Account-Based Marketing. Take a look at his slide below:
Using a simple analogy, Jon explained that traditional demand generation is fishing with a net. In other words, marketers put content out there online and immediately start catching fish (leads). You don’t care which fish you catch; you just try to get as many of them into your net as you can. According to Jon, this approach is largely too passive for today’s buyer.
In contrast to traditional demand generation, Account-Based Marketing is fishing with a spear. You take a targeted, proactive approach in all of your marketing efforts. And you only spend your marketing time and dollars on accounts that are likely to buy your products or services. Instead of waiting for buyers to find you, you go out and find them!
How Do You Implement a Successful ABM Strategy?
While ABM may be a hot topic at every conference and panel this year, how is ABM actually done? Jon discussed several steps to take when implementing an ABM strategy.
Here are a few steps to note:
Jon stressed that the first, and most important, part of an ABM approach is account selection. Account selection is the process of aligning sales and marketing teams around a list of target accounts and existing customers that are most likely to deliver revenue.
ABM requires extensive personalization. It requires you to change your outlook on your demand generation efforts, and start thinking about email outreach, content creation, online advertising, and events on a 1:1 or 1:group basis. Because of the extra work and time your team will need to put into this effort, you want to make sure you are spending time on the right accounts.
Engagio thinks about account selection using a four-stage maturity model. Each stage will allow you to get value from ABM, but the more data you bring in, the more likely you are to optimize your resources by targeting the accounts with the highest propensity to buy.
J.J. Kardwell, President and Cofounder of EverString, went deeper into the topic of audience selection, explaining the fourth level of maturity—predictive analytics.
J.J. explained how predictive marketing gives you a point-of-view on every account in the entire market. Predictive marketing provides insight into an account’s fit, engagement, and intent in relation to your business.
Kardwell said, “if you’re off by 5 degrees and you start off on a cross country trip, you will end up in a very different spot”. Similarly, if you start out with the wrong accounts in your ABM strategy, you will not end up where you need to be.
Predictive marketing provides you with the data you need to be successful in this stage of your ABM journey. Without this insight, you can get caught up in subjective judgment based on companies your reps have sold to in the past, or you end up prioritizing accounts based on gut feel. This kind of manual selection also tends to have blind spots in new geographies and segments.
Predictive insights prevent all of this by using data to compile an objective list of target accounts.
Do Your Research
What happens after account selection? To do ABM well, you need to do your homework on your target accounts. You want to learn as much can about the company and its decision makers. You can find this out from direct conversations that your SDRs are having with these buyers at events or on the phone. You can monitor buyer LinkedIn profiles or Twitter feeds to find out what your target accounts are interested in or what their pain points are. Work with a predictive platform that has access to intent data so that you can understand what your buyers are reading online.
All of this information can prove incredibly valuable when you are trying to stand out and show the buyer that you understand their needs.
Create Targeted Content
Whether its putting a prospect logo on an existing ebook, or creating an ebook dedicated to one specific account, you should be creating high quality targeted content. Not to say that ebooks are the only way to go either. Emails, webinars, white papers, blog posts, graders; all types of content are relevant to this conversation.
Jon showed that 75% of executives will read unsolicited marketing materials that contain ideas that are relevant to their business. That’s a good looking number! This graph below from his slides shows the level of personalization that you can incorporate to your ABM strategy.
One of the really interesting parts of Jon’s session was his concept of orchestration. He said that true ABM is not about any one factor, it’s about synchronizing different coordinated plays to drive an account forward.
For example, when thinking about a single account and the decision makers within an account, you should think about how each program can work together to market and sell into a particular account. Maybe it’s a direct mail piece to an executive followed by outreach from a sales rep over personalized email, phone, and social. Or if the buyer is further in the funnel, then maybe it’s a coordinated play around one-to-one emails, followed by ad retargeting and social media advertising by accounts.
This concept of orchestration means that content, events, online advertising, SDR outreach are all coordinated around the success of closing a few particular accounts, instead of being separate initiatives.
ABM is Not Just About Marketing
ABM is not just about marketing, it is also very much a sales strategy. In many cases, sales reps are on the front lines, collecting information and sending outreach. Sales and marketing teams have to work together to select accounts and strategically execute on an ABM strategy–thus promoting natural sales and marketing alignment.
For instance, from the initial account selection process, both teams have to be a part of the ABM strategy—whether that’s getting in a room to talk about which accounts to go over, or employing a predictive marketing platform to provide data on the right accounts. Without this cohesion from the outset, you can’t have the kind of coordinated approach that ABM demands.
Through to the close, sales and marketing need to work together to coordinate plays that come from within each of their own wheelhouses. Think sales doing the 1:1 personalized interaction over email, at events, and on social, and marketing providing the content, the targeted online advertising, and event planning.
We are looking forward to seeing more and more marketers thrive by employing Account-Based Marketing strategies in their organizations. To learn more, check out Engagio’s ebook, The Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing.