Are You ABM Ready?
If you’re a B2B marketer, you’ve read (and heard) a lot about account-based marketing (ABM). Chances are, if you’re not utilizing this particular tactic, you know someone who is. In the past year alone, there has been a 21 percent increase in the number of companies that have a full ABM program in place. Of course, the practice of identifying key accounts isn’t actually new. Marketers have been fine-tuning their targeting efforts for decades. What is new is the advancement in technology with its ability to supercharge ABM efforts at scale.
Either way, it’s the ABM of now that persists in confusing even seasoned pros. Before venturing any deeper into the mystifying world of ABM, let’s refine what it means at present: According to Laura Ramos, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research and speaker at ZoomInfo 2017 Growth Acceleration Summit, “ABM is a strategy through which marketing and sales jointly obsess over how to pursue, establish and grow long-term, highly-engaged revenue relationships with specific customer accounts."
The word “obsess” is intentional, “because deep customer knowledge — and the ability to apply this knowledge to create more effective marketing and sales interactions — lies at the heart of successful ABM.”
The new ABM order consolidates your more conventional marketing segments (industry, product/solution, marketing channels, etc.) into one living and breathing target of focus. In essence, each one of your accounts is a nation on its own, made up of individual citizens available to you in the form of company contacts. From here on, we marketers know that to get ahead of our competition and target these accounts and contacts effectively, we must “obsess” about the language of our customers. So let's get down to business.
Here, we’ll outline four common obstacles for you to avoid on your way to adopting today’s ABM approach successfully.
1. Fix Sales and Marketing Misalignment
It’s imperative for sales and marketing to get on the same page of any ABM campaign before proceeding any further. If sales and marketing strategies are at odds, there’s virtually no way to initiate a streamlined ABM approach successfully. See also: chaos and disjointed processes.
As the first order of business, sales and marketing pros must agree on their chosen accounts, as well as specify the target audiences that thrive within each, including revenue, location, team size, in-house marketing automation platform, etc. Following, sales and marketing need to commit to an ongoing plan of working together; with marketing accommodating and enabling sales throughout each stage of the customer acquisition cycle, and with sales performing outreach using agreed upon messaging and value props. Additionally, sales and marketing must continue to communicate what’s working and what’s not to one another in order to optimize effectively.
2. Stop Overcomplicating the Process
This one sounds easy. But as most seasoned marketing and sales pros know, things can get pretty messy, pretty fast. It’s important to remember that at the end of the day, the accounts you’re reaching are made up of contacts who are just like you — human. When it comes to reading or responding to marketing content, you’re jaded and often discerning in your decisions to delete, open, and/or pick up that phone. So sell the same way you’d like to be sold.
With this in mind, obtain just the essentials on your prospects. Sales can start off by selecting a handful of employees at each chosen account, then gather their most up-to-date contact details and learn other pertinent information like employment history. This will ensure the marketing and sales database is not only current but also valuable for both teams in enhancing outreach.
3. Fill Those Holes
Your ABM strategy is only as good as the data that powers it. To the point, SiriusDecisions asserts that “60% of companies have an overall data health that’s ‘unreliable.’ So if your database is loaded with outdated, erroneous account and contact information, just how effective can your marketing initiatives be? Before boarding that flight to ABM success, it’s critical to fuel your campaigns with the right contacts within your selected accounts.
With the help of a data provider, determine where your data may be falling short and where it’s plain old missing in action. Then, do your absolute best to maintain a continuous flow of quality data. Getting there may be somewhat time-consuming at first, but once backed by a winning data-driven strategy, you’ll see how targeting the right audience, at the right time, can make all the difference in your outcomes and ROI.
4. Personalize Your Content
On a daily basis, you’re flooded with what can seem like a ceaseless downpour of information and content. And when the subject line fails or the content you’ve opened doesn’t speak your language, you simply — and quickly — delete it out of existence. Out with it goes all the hard work of the marketing and sales team. But don’t pity marketing and sales, feel sorry for your prospects — they’re tired of reading the same old, same old.
The key is to make your content relevant. A dynamic database of up-to-date contacts and accounts will work to perfect your ABM campaigns and ensure the content you’re creating and optimizing is speaking to the right person. Furthermore, the content you’re personalizing should work to address the pain points your customers are facing. It’s only then — through relevant and trustworthy content — that your messaging will get the attention it deserves.
So, are you now ready to take on ABM?