5 Account-Based Marketing Best Practices to Follow
Written by Lucy Jones
Sep 26 2016
From defining campaign goals, to deciding a go-to-market approach, or creating ABM specific content - these are the best practice activities that ABM campaigns should include.
Account Based Marketing is a strategic approach that coordinates personalised marketing and sales efforts to open doors and deepen engagement at specific accounts. - Jon Miller, CEO and Co-Founder, Engagio
Understanding The ABM Process: Best Practice Activities
You are likely aware that successful ABM strategies require intricate focus, personalisation and relevant engagement. But what activities should a typical campaign include?
As a guide, the following steps are all ABM best practice (and are also a solid part of Inbound strategies and B2B marketing in general).
5 ABM Best Practice Steps To Follow
Set Campaign Goals
ABM is gaining traction because it provides a clear goal for your campaigns and direction on the accounts you need to advance. Ultimately, while you may have additional marketing goals and be monitoring progress by reviewing pageviews, engagement, clickthrough etc, top level KPIs will usually come down to quality account generation, account DMU contact increase and revenue expansion within accounts.
Focus on progressing the accounts you’re targeting as a measure of success.
To succeed you need to make sure campaigns are focussed towards securing quality account relationships, and that you are closely monitoring how effectively your team progresses with, and converts those ABM relationships - or you’ll never achieve revenue goals.
2. Create A List Of Good-Fit Target Accounts
If you could close one key company as a customer who would it be? Think about what defines them as a key account. From budget, to location, to their unique business challenge (that you can solve) and more. There are multiple factors influencing whether a company or set of individuals are a good account fit and these vary from company to company.
Once you understand the key attributes of your ideal targets (such as the challenges they have, typical revenue, size, location etc), draw up a shortlist of companies or individuals who fit that profile. If you already have a database or list of key accounts/ prospects to target, be sure to check that they qualify against your criteria before you begin any ABM activity. You may also want to consider using predictive modelling, using those ideal attributes to identify best fit audiences (organisations and decision makers) for you.
A fully developed ABM strategy enables marketers to engage key personas at target companies, which is why more than 80% of marketers say that ABM outperforms other marketing initiatives - ITSMA
3. Identify Prime Channels & Develop Relevant Content
Once you know which accounts to target, you need to get your engagement infrastructure and content in place. To earn relevant engagement with your target list, you must have a crystal clear view of not only who your key account targets are, but why they are a good-fit; by identifying the business challenges they have, that you can solve. This will give your content direction.
In Inbound marketing campaigns, educational content is mapped to lead challenges at each stage of the buyer’s journey (from Awareness, to Consideration, to Decision) and used to engage and nurture leads to close. Content is then placed on the channels that relevant leads are active on, increasing the chance of fruitful interaction.
ABM takes this process one step further, personalising content to detail specific account challenges and targeting it to that specific audience. Targeted segmented email marketing, social selling, paid advertising on social, and on-page content personalisation (or ‘smart content’) are just some of the options available for presenting account-specific content to the right channels, at the right time.
When creating ABM focused content:
Review your current content, and see what you can repurpose. Clearly ABM campaigns require content personalised to suit your specific account targets, but that doesn’t always mean you need to create new pieces. If you’re already creating content mapped to the challenges your key accounts have, a little repackaging may be all that’s needed.
Think about the personalisation. What does personalisation mean? For ABM it means adapting and amending content to clearly resonate with your accounts. This might include adding your key account’s name or logos to content, or creating titles, introductions and sections that directly speak to your target account. For example you might adapt a blog to read ‘7 Things [Account Target Name] Should Be Doing To [Solve Their Prime Business Challenge].
Use smart personalisation on your site. Smart content works to recognise each site visitor uniquely, and displays different copy, personalised to them and their buying context each time they visit. Landing pages, forms, emails and site copy should all be personalised to build the best experience for your target accounts.
4. Select The Right Go-To-Market Approach & Segment Target Prospects
There are multiple choices when choosing how to target your ABM approach. Typically, ABM campaigns target accounts by IP address range, cookie tracking, by job title, use location or keywords to identify and market to key accounts. An effective campaign should include sales development tactics, such as engaging on social media via social selling.
Which you choose (potentially you may use a combination of these) will depend on who you are targeting and how you want to engage. For example, are you targeting multiple individuals in an organisation, or a single key decision maker?
With ABM, you need to segment your database in a way that supports your go-to market strategy. Common segments you may choose to split your database by might include:
Company classification (ie: Fortune 500)
Note: Using ABM tools that help you automate segmentation will enable much more efficient ABM management.
You should also ensure your content is segmented to resonate not only with the correct account audience, but with their challenges at the right stage of their buyer’s journey. It’s also important to check that the content messaging you share to an account is consistent across channels. ABM Content Promotion Tools can help you to achieve this.
5. Align Marketing & Sales
Successful ABM relies on consistent communication and alignment between marketing and sales departments. Both departments must have the same vision of who your target accounts are, your revenue goals, and the activity required to secure those goals.
Companies with aligned marketing and sales departments on average generate 208% more revenue for their marketing efforts - MarketingProfs
When planning and implementing an ABM campaign, make sure everyone involved has a clear idea of their unique ABM role and responsibilities, such as creating the right content or implementing promotion and nurture tactics. To keep track, hold regular sales/marketing catch-ups to review tasks, monitor how accounts are progressing and brainstorm new ideas.
As it’s unlikely that your teams will win every account targeted, it’s wise to use these meetings to review and learn from any lost deals. It’s the best way for all sides to learn and progress your ABM approach.