ABM campaigns start with a solid foundation. You identify a target list, send carefully crafted outreach, and drive quality traffic to your site.
But it’s the buying experience you build on that foundation that makes all the difference with an ABM buyer.
I sat down with Jesse Miller, Head of Digital Experience at Rollworks, to talk through why your digital strategy can and should inform your ABM strategy and how to uniquely tailor your digital experience to each target account.
Why a Digital Engagement Strategy for ABM Works
So, why should marketers roll out the red carpet for potential buyers?
Because that’s exactly what they expect.
83% of customers are willing to share data to enable a personalized experience. They know if they sign up for an email list or answer a survey or download an ebook that you’re recording that data.
But 60% of businesses struggle to execute a personalization strategy.
Why? It comes back to recording, organizing, and storing that data. Without the right information, it’s nearly impossible to customize your digital experience to suit the preferences of your ideal buyer.
71% of marketers also report that they struggle with outdated data. You can’t underestimate the impact of bad data on an organization’s productivity and ROI. Peep these stats 👀
Sales reps and marketers alike spend hours researching prospects, cleaning up data, and trying to piece together the right information. And they still don’t always get it right.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been called <first name> or the wrong name in a sales email?
It happens all too often. It’s time for a change.
What Makes for Great ABM?
Don’t worry, I’ve got your handy checklist right here:
Great ABM should be:
- Highly personalized to the contacts under an account: Not just personalized to the account or industry, but to the particular contact. Who is this person? What is their job title? What are they looking for?
- Factoring in engagement and intent: What is each contact doing and what indicators do you have that they’re ready to buy or potentially not ready to buy?
- Hyper-focused on a buyer’s pain points: What’s in it for them? You should be able to clearly demonstrate how you’re solving a specific problem and providing value.
- A conversation starter: ABM is about relationship-building. You’re starting a conversation that may last years, if you do it right.
- A seamless experience from start to finish: No matter who it is or what channel they’re engaging with, the experience has to be tailored to them. So, if you go from an ad to a landing page and that ad is personalized, but the landing page isn’t personalized, then you’ve lost them.
- A rallying mission between marketing and sales: Both teams can align behind the same goals and the same set of contacts to guide them in their day-to-day role. At the end of the day, marketing and sales are part of one team — revenue.
5 Ways to Leverage ABM Across the Digital Buying Experience
So, how do we achieve great ABM? Use these five tactics to make sure your ABM leads have a jaw-dropping experience from first touch to closed won:
1. Start with Who
The fundamental premise of marketing hasn’t changed.
You have to know your audience. With all of the data you’re collecting, you should know:
- Who are you engaging?
- Where are they coming from? How did they come to your site?
- What have they engaged with on your website?
- Why are you engaging them? What problems do you solve?
Once you know who you’re talking to, it’s important to engage them. Conversational Marketing creates a personalized and real-time experience on your site. Here’s what it looks like in practice:
You can see we’re engaging the account and calling them by name. We’re understanding the intent of the visitor. Then, it’s about recommending the next best step they need, not the next best step that we think everybody needs.
2. ABM Drives Your Digital Strategy
Your ABM strategy should inform your digital strategy.
Anything that’s worked well digitally at scale can transfer easily to ABM. It’s all about delivering the right message at the right time and understanding which channel might be effective at the stage of the buyer’s journey.
10 years ago, marketing would clap their hands and say to sales, “Here’s your opportunity! We’re done here.”
That’s not going to work anymore. You need to engage in full-funnel marketing.
Take this RollWorks advertisement.
They’re advertising a piece of content they created geared toward prospects mid-funnel around how to pivot during COVID-19. When someone clicks the ad, they land on a page that matches the experience. It looks the same. It feels the same.
Where it gets interesting is the added layer of personalization using Drift. Instead of relying on merge fields that can go wrong, focus on the journey. Their bot says, “I noticed you got here from one of our ads. Are you looking into [topic]?” That creates a cohesive, personalized experience that’s frictionless.
It doesn’t have to be everything all at once. At Drift, we recommend a crawl, walk, run approach. You don’t need to start with everything figured out to build personalization into the experience.
Start with what you have.
It’s going to be small changes over time that amount to big-picture personalization.
- Think about segments first. Segment your audiences into distinct groupings of accounts that have similar attributes.
- Then, identify your highest value pages. Decide how much personalization you want to start with.
- Can you personalize based on what you know? Think about headlines based on who the person is, where they’ve come from, what they’re interested in. From there, get as personalized as you can with the creative and copy.
For your site, think about the best next step specific to that person in their journey. You want to personalize the interaction based on who they are, creating tailored campaigns so it’s consistent across every channel.
3. Intent-Driven Advertising
I can’t say it enough: Data is everything when it comes to ABM.
Not only does it help you craft your list and segments, but it can also show you which levers to pull and when. That’s especially true when it comes to advertising.
Once you have a solid understanding of the company size, industry, and revenue within your target account list, match your advertising based on where an account might be in the buyer’s journey. If they’re already engaged with your brand, you don’t need to explain who you are. But if they’ve never heard of you, you’ll need to do some heavier lifting in your advertisement.
They’re not just going to click on a demo – they need to know who you are first.
Where you can fine-tune your advertising is with intent data.
Not all intent data is created equal.
I’ll use search advertising as an example. If someone is searching for “B2B marketing,” well, they could be looking for anything from ABM tips (hello!) to email templates. It could apply to thousands of companies in the space.
So while that does indicate they might be interested in Drift, it’s putting your eggs in a basket that’s not really there. That’s why you have to tier your intent topics. If someone’s searching for your brand (or a competitor), that indicates much higher intent about purchasing than someone searching for SEO tactics or AI-powered marketing. Those are better suited for thought leadership or awareness-level advertising.
Match your intent tiers to the buyer’s journey so you understand what questions and topics people search for that relate to your company and the problems you solve. And then use that intent data to improve your program and audience segmentation.
4. Know When to Go Outbound
ABM only works if the sales team and the marketing team work together. Your sales motion should sync with your marketing motion. That’s how you accelerate revenue.
Intent data doesn’t just drive your advertising – it drives your sales team’s priorities, too.
When you know which search topics are the most relevant, cater your outreach from a sales perspective. You don’t want to go outbound too early.
Your data will tell you what to do.
At Drift, we use two metrics for our sales team: Lead score and behavior score. What actions did a prospect take to get them over a certain threshold to get to a MQA? From there, a sales rep can say, “Okay, I have these 10 people I know will be most likely to convert into a paying customer.”
That’s a much better use of their time.
If you have strong alignment, you’ll be able to inform them on the status of any given account and how they’ve already engaged with you. Then, it’s up to the rep to take it to the finish line.
5. Build Relationships Virtually
ABM looks a little different now. But just because you’ve had to cancel a lot of your traditional relationship-building activities and in-person meetings doesn’t mean you can’t use events as a tactic.
With ABM, especially your VIP accounts, you can build something special – yes, even virtually.
We host small, 20-person virtual events specifically for our target accounts. They’re much smaller than our typical events and the experiences are much more elaborate –like a virtual tour of a museum, virtual wine tastings, and more.
We’ve been calling it white glove ABM.
It’s about creating something exclusive and that people don’t see every day – especially in a time when we’re not able to be in the same room.
The Cost of Not Customizing
You might be thinking, “This is a lot.”
And it is. There’s no doubt about that.
But the cost of not creating a personalized, tailored experience might be something your business just can’t afford.
When you miss the mark on personalization, not only do you lose deals, but you make it look like your brand is a beat behind. How can someone trust you if you can’t get the details right?
I think the data speaks for itself:
- Companies have a 5-15% increase in revenue for companies that personalize their buying experience versus companies that don’t. That adds up.
- There’s up to a 50% reduction in acquisition costs for companies that personalize the buyer’s journey. If you’re not doing this, you’re paying more to get these people through the door. How many generic offers will it take to get one of these target accounts in the door and interested in your brand versus one highly targeted, highly valuable offer?
- 74% of people switch brands if the buying process is too difficult. So, it’s not just about the offer. It’s not just about adding the company’s name in your ad. It goes way deeper than that. Make it easy for your customers to buy from you.
The truth is, the quality of your buying experience matters just as much as the quality of your products and services. For your most important target accounts, that’s what’s going to make the difference between you and your competitors.