Identifying, reaching, and engaging high-value prospects on a deeper, more personal level is arguably marketing’s holy grail. And now thanks to account-based marketing software, marketers can do just that with remarkable precision.
While ABM has been climbing steadily into the ROI-driver seat, it has also transformed the marketing scene as we know it.
Mass-marketing used to be the rule. The larger the blanket, the better.
Now, it’s the exception. It’s not the number of leads that counts, but the quality.
Marketers today are living in the age of the hyper-connected consumer, where each prospect can be seen as a market of one. And marketers are responding by targeting micro-segments and consistently delivering relevant experiences exclusively to their most valuable accounts. In other words, they’re all in on ABM.
You do more with less. And it works.
As ABM has matured into a powerful marketing strategy, savvy B2B marketers have found new ways to capitalize on it to maximize their revenue potential. Let’s take a closer look at the top-performing ABM strategies your industry peers will be implementing in 2020.
The five strategies outlined below will get you on the fast track to ABM success this year – and well into the future.
1. Going Beyond Marketing And Sales Alignment
You’ve heard this one before: marketing and sales should join forces – that’s your company’s revenue-driving dream team.
And it’s true. Marketing and sales alignment increases revenue, customer retention rates, and sales win rates.
But it’s not enough for a thriving ABM campaign. Just imagine connecting the dots across your entire organization. Now that’s a game-changer!
No matter how well-designed your ABM strategy is, limiting your focus to marketing and sales might result in missed opportunities. To get the most out of your ABM efforts, strive to achieve alignment between other departments as well.
Skilled ABM marketers know that a collaborative organizational effort is the smartest route to VIP accounts. Unsurprisingly, they have been making real progress in adding a holistic touch to their ABM campaigns throughout 2019.
And it’s only the beginning.
Marketers are sitting on a goldmine of information. The input from customer success helps you build a 360-degree view of your accounts. Product management, on the other hand, not only has valuable market insights to share with marketing, but also the tangible solution that appeals to key accounts. These professionals can identify unmet needs, and pave your company’s path to increased customer satisfaction. On top of that, having a clear-eyed perspective into the expectations of your C-level executives enables you to steer your campaign in the right direction.
Unify this data and you get closer to your ideal accounts.
Company alignment will be the cornerstone of a winning ABM strategy in 2020 and beyond. Here’s a simple 3-step plan on how to get the most out of your cross-functional team:
Speak the same language.
Because your cross-functional team members have diverse business backgrounds, they may not speak the same business language or even embrace the same business values. Without crystal-clear communication, your ABM strategy is in jeopardy. The key is to find the common ground. Then listen – constructive feedback from a diverse group of professionals will significantly enhance your ABM program.
Despite their differences, your team members have a shared goal. It’s called revenue. What better way to achieve mission success than by working towards this common goal – together? It’s a surefire way to gain a deeper understanding of your target accounts and refine your strategy accordingly.
Who are your top accounts? How can you prioritize the prospects from your account lists? And what is the smartest way to personalize content for these accounts?
These are all questions that can be answered with precision in a collaborative environment.
Sit down to discuss your current ABM performance and your future action steps – regularly.
Rallying your team around a new initiative requires careful campaign monitoring, assessing what is working and what isn’t, and continually soliciting feedback from your team.
2. Identifying Optimal Accounts With AI, Intent Data, And Other MarTech Tools
You’ve built a powerful ABM team.
Now, sit back and relax. Intelligent technology will take it from here.
Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration; we can’t completely shut off our brains yet. But technology-driven ABM has gained some serious traction in 2019. And it shows no signs of slowing down.
It’s easy to see why: huge amounts of time, energy, and financial resources go into identifying highly-prized accounts. In-depth research into each account is crucial. And to ensure you have accurate and actionable intelligence at your fingertips, you have to go from gut-driven decision-making to a data-driven mindset. Trouble is, processing large volumes of data is not only complex, but it’s also prone to error. And without solid data, your ABM program is bleeding money.
But don’t worry. Several MarTech tools can automatically do the heavy lifting for you. Ask any marketer using artificial intelligence; with an AI-powered ABM program, it’s easier to:
- Synthesize data faster than ever before
- Zero in on your key accounts
- Find the prospects receptive to your previous campaigns
- Establish a holistic view of your best-fit
In the fast-growing AI and martech industries, you have plenty of choices. Customer relationship management systems, advertising tools, content management software, and marketing automation platforms are all included in today’s ABM technology stack.
Moreover, interest in intent data has soared throughout 2019. So much so that it’s now become a vital element in the ABM qualification process. By focusing on the previous behavior patterns of your target accounts, intent data brings you right in front of your in-market prospects. You know exactly which accounts are actively looking for what you have to offer – and that’s invaluable marketing intelligence.
Remember: because no two companies are identical, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to leveraging ABM tools. Before adding new technology to your stack, ask yourself:
- Will it integrate with your current systems?
- Does it help you connect your ABM activities directly to revenue?
- Will it work across departments?
- What are your must-have features vs. nice-to-have features?
- Will it advance your ABM goals – every step of the way?
3. Incorporating Direct Mail Into The Messaging Mix To Stand Out From The Competition
This might surprise you, but direct mail is not dead. In fact, there’s never been a better time to infuse direct mail into your ABM strategy than now.
Inboxes are extremely competitive, to say the least. Just think about the number of emails hitting your inbox today.
While email marketing remains an effective tool, to stand out you really should be thinking outside the inbox.
You want to be heard.
You want to be memorable.
You can be both by incorporating direct mail into your ABM program.
It’s how the world’s greatest ABM marketers will break through the noise in 2020.
By now, you have zeroed in on your top accounts and you should have a good idea of what they’re looking for. Put this data to work and send a highly personalized letter or even a thoughtful gift. A tangible, timely, and tailor-made surprise delivered to your prospect’s physical mailbox will skyrocket your response rates, boost awareness, and improve the overall effectiveness of your ABM campaign. Better yet, direct mail gives you endless opportunities to warm up a new prospect or turn the heat on an existing account that has gone cold.
Done right, direct mail can be your strongest brand differentiator. This is your chance to surprise and delight your customers in ways your competitors haven’t considered – all with a keen eye on personalization, which is at the heart of ABM.
It’s essential, so it’s worth repeating: personalization is key. Not every direct mail package will appeal to every account. You also can’t retarget an account by using content or products custom-made for the awareness stage. Gain deeper insights into the account lifecycle and your prospect’s buyer persona. Only then can you decide which product samples or promotional items to incorporate into your direct mail campaign.
To get more from your outreach:
- Keep your targeted messaging clear and concise.
- Follow-up shortly after the package has been delivered.
- Ensure that your digital and physical ABM efforts work in tandem and give your accounts the best of both worlds.
4. Hosting Events For Key Target Accounts
Show, don’t tell. That’s the idea behind the ultimate personal touch in ABM – and you can easily put it into action by hosting a high-value event.
Old-fashioned face-to-face communication still matters. No virtual meeting room or application provides the remarkable benefits of in-person communication. Marketers who organize account-based events have a greater chance to build authentic connections with top-tier accounts and accelerate the sales cycle.
Whether you’re planning to launch a large-scale event or one that brings in only the most coveted accounts, you should aim to gather the crowd that reflects your ABM goals. Rather than looking for potential customers, seize this moment and truly engage with your accounts – make it all about them; that’s how you will ultimately speed up the sales pipeline.
Orchestrating your own hyper-targeted event takes a lot of hard work, but it pays off.
Not quite ready to host your own event? No problem. Many industry leaders attend trade shows and conferences that bring together their most valuable accounts. The key here is using in-person time to connect with prospects.
Make a lasting impression by following-up with your event attendees. It’s how you get the conversation started. Remember that your ABM event is meant to educate your accounts. The time to nurture them further down the funnel is right after the event. In fact, post-event engagement can make – or break – the success of your overall ABM campaign. Don’t let your efforts go in vain!
Want to attend other in-person events? Scan the list of the event’s past attendees first to see if the event attracts prospects that are on your current target account list or prospects who resemble your ideal customer profile. In case you’re retargeting certain prospects, reach out to them before the event. It’s a great opportunity to keep your business top-of-mind.
5. Expanding And Improving Automation Of Omnichannel Tactics At Scale
In recent years, automation has been the talk of the marketing industry – and for a very good reason: it enables ABM at scale.
But there is a missing link: without omnichannel management, you don’t have the scale to drive sustained growth.
That’s why smart technology took it a step further in 2019 and made large-scale omnichannel automation possible – a tool that aids marketers in reaching target accounts via the optimal channel, with the right message, at the right time. Consistently.
Delivering hyper-targeted messaging and personalizing your outreach are essential to your ABM success. When it comes to winning over key accounts, however, timing is just as imperative.
Fortunately, by automating your omnichannel efforts, you can:
Gain real-time visibility into account engagement.
Which account is a quick win? Which one has yet to respond?
Make better-informed decisions.
Consider your target’s behavior and preferences. Discover where you should invest your resources and carefully determine your next steps.
Automate and run timely campaigns across channels.
Customize your ABM outreach and meet your targets where they are. Deliver immersive omnichannel experiences exactly when your accounts are actively using their channel-of-choice and are highly receptive to your message.
Track and measure your results.
Uncover buyer potential, get familiar with the key roadblocks encountered along the way, and identify future opportunities.
Paired with the right technology, your omnichannel ABM initiatives will truly start to deliver. All the more reason to scale up your efforts. It’s a can’t-miss opportunity to gain access to rich account insights, optimize your strategy with precision, and fuel growth more confidently.
No matter where you are in your ABM journey, be sure to select an automation software that is scalable and grows with your business, not against it.
With so many options available on the market, it’s easy to get swept away by the hype. But the reality is, top-rated platforms aren’t everyone’s best choice. Instead, look for the features you really need to advance your ABM program, like account planning, real-time personalization, orchestration, robust reporting and analytics capabilities, and integration.
The hype is real. In 2019, the great majority of B2B marketers explored new paths in their ABM journey. A bold prediction? It’s about to get even bigger in 2020.
At its core, ABM is more than a marketing strategy – it’s a philosophy that puts your key accounts at the center of your operations. You get to know your VIP accounts inside-out and align your entire business around them. Every detail matters – you need to develop a shared vision across teams, allocate your resources properly, and strategically employ technology to reach accounts more effectively.
Seize the moments that matter. Supersize your ABM strategy. Shatter your own records.
And voila, marketing’s holy grail is in your hands.
Ready to start having conversations with the right accounts at the right time? Check out Drift ABM today ?
Alexander Kesler is the founder and CEO of INFUSEmedia, a leading B2B demand generation firm that has made the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in America in 2018 and 2019. Alexander leads a team of digital marketing experts who specialize in B2B lead generation, content marketing & syndication, ABM & intent strategies, data processing & validation, programmatic media buying and brand amplification.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post. Interested in contributing content to the Drift blog? Email Molly Sloan at firstname.lastname@example.org