Blog
26th May 2021

In our last MPG Insights post, we defined Account Based Marketing (ABM) and explained why it’s a marketing approach that B2B businesses should be looking to integrate into their marketing and sales strategies and processes. In this post we focus on the ‘how’, and outline a guide to getting ABM up and running in your business.

Refresher: What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

ABM is a marketing approach to identify, target and engage a specific set of high-value accounts by creating highly personalised messaging and customer experiences for key individuals within these accounts. Well executed ABM should deliver strong ROI through higher conversion rates, shorter sales cycles and higher average order values. 

Your ‘how to’ guide to building an ABM strategy

1. Identify your target audience members within ABM accounts

Before you can conduct ABM, you need to know who your high-value customers are:  draw up a list of the potential members, subscribers, sponsors/clients or delegates who would be most valuable to have as customers. From this, conduct deeper research to map out the full Decision Making Unit (DMU) around these individuals – including any key influencers of decisions as well.

Ensure that on your database, you have the customer data required to target these decision makers and influencers. If you lack this data, first see if you can use research to fill  these gaps. If data research is not possible or compliance issues make it difficult to hold or target these contacts, narrowly focused PPC campaigns can get your brand and message in front of key stakeholders with targeted companies. Alternatively, you could try and leverage advocates to pass your marketing on to these individuals. 

At this stage, an important action is to identify, understand and document the DMU members in each account. What challenges and opportunities are these people facing, right now? What questions are they desperately seeking answers to? What peers and businesses do they want to connect with? What would make them join your community, purchase your membership or attend your event? What would they hope to achieve by investing time, money and attention into your products?

2. Create relevant messaging and content

The key to making ABM work is delivering highly relevant messaging and content. Every touchpoint should deliver a message that is compelling in isolation, but also cohesive with the wider journey.

Before you can get into the details of customer journeys and specific channel tactics, first formulate the key messages, focused on products and features, USPs and benefits – that will resonate with each identified account. What is it about your value proposition that meets the specific needs of each organisation (or group of organisations)? 

The more relevant and specific you can be here, the more impactful your messages will be. If you can explicitly mention one of an account’s most pressing challenges or opportunities in your messaging, and explain how you can help them address this, you will grab their attention.

Next, consider the content you are creating and distributing to individuals within targeted accounts. These are your reports, whitepapers, interviews, webinars or any other type of content piece that is used for marketing and lead generation. While designing content specifically for your ABM needs is likely to deliver a strong result, a practical (faster, cheaper & easier), while effective method is to integrate content by ‘packaging’ it in a way that creates relevance for your targeted accounts. This can be done by prefacing it with context on why it’s relevant to a specific industry or challenge e.g. when using an industry report, you could pull out the section that is the most relevant to the DMU you are contacting.

3. Map the desired customer journeys for targeted individuals

From first contact through to final conversion, understanding the journey your accounts will take through your marketing funnel helps you make better decisions on how to optimise each stage of the journey or touchpoint by putting the right content and messaging in front of the right person, at the right time. 

Consider how quickly you expect accounts to move through the funnel and how often and when they will receive comms. Refer back to the research you did on their motivators: how will they be fed relevant and useful information, specific to their needs?

Get customer journeys down on paper, laying out the various options you think targeted individuals might take. Lucidchart is a great tool for this kind of customer journey mapping. 

4. Create a campaigns plan based on these customer journeys

Using your customer journey maps, map out the specifics of the particular channels and tactics you are going to deploy.

A combination of emails, social media outreach and engagement, PPC ads, content pieces and landing pages should create a compelling and engaging journey that feels relevant and effortless –  ‘made just for me’ from the customer’s perspective. You don’t have to recreate everything from scratch for each account (or group of accounts), but at a minimum consider each touchpoint from the perspective of individuals within your targeted account DMUs. 

For example, grouping contacts by job function and sending them an email tailored to the challenges/needs they will personally experience in their roles will still deliver a relevant and personalised message, while the grouping saves you time and resources as well.

5. Execute sales and marketing campaigns

Once you have a detailed plan in place, you need people in your team with the skills, time and motivation to execute it.

Rigour and agility are valuable traits for marketers working on ABM. Getting targeted messages out to the right people at the right time requires careful forward planning, especially if your ABM efforts are running concurrently to your ‘standard’ marketing campaigns. Adjustments to your targeting, channels, and messaging are likely to be needed as campaigns progress, so critical thinking, an analytical mindset and the ability to execute well and at speed are all essential. 

Project management tools – such as Clickup – can make even complex campaigns easy to manage, especially when multiple stakeholders across sales and marketing are involved. Consider whether your current methods of project management and lead processing are fit for purpose to handle the extra complexity of ABM.

Integration between sales and marketing must be seamless from your targeted customers’ perspective. Sales should be picking up the conversation that marketing already started, and marketing should only be pushing leads to sales teams when they are ready for the harder sales message.

6. Measure and optimise

As with all marketing approaches, ABM relies on measurement and analysis of results. It is important to build to your ABM programme user behaviour and goal completion tracking from the outset, ideally in an automated report that highlights the most important metrics. (Google Data Studio – working in tandem with Google Analytics is a good combination here).

Look for areas where accounts are dropping off or left to ‘cool down’ for too long if not contacted by sales quickly enough. In ‘standard’ marketing, it is expected that a large number of targeted customers will fall out of the funnel on their way down. With ABM, this drop off needs to be minimised, and understanding where and why accounts are disengaging is vital. You’re already placing extra emphasis on the marketing comms for individuals targeted within ABM, so make sure that applies to your reporting too.

ABM is a powerful approach when planned and executed well. But, do ensure that if you go down this path, your plan is to invest well for the longer term. The careful engineering of campaigns and targeted comms takes time to set up, run and show results. As is usually the case with high performance marketing, a strategic mindset and support from senior stakeholders is essential to make ABM work for you. 

 


MPG can help develop your ABM strategy

From creating a robust ABM strategy, to strong execution for maximum impact, MPG has you covered. 

Our team of B2B marketing experts have the toolkit to ensure your sales team gets focused support to target and convert your most coveted customers.

With our well mapped out process and martech/salestech set, MPG will help you better integrate your sales and marketing to positively impact your revenue growth. 

Get in touch


MPG have been a valuable marketing strategy partner to Kademy’s leadership team. They have helped us decide how best to invest in marketing based on the stage we’re at with our business, and have also given us very practical advice on various marketing initiatives around ABM, content marketing, social media, PPC and website optimisation. Having MPG’s marketing expertise plugged in to our business gives me confidence we’re moving our marketing function forward in the right way.

Alex Hentschel, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Kademy

 

Implementing ABM in your business: a ‘how to’ guide

Blog
26th May 2021
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