So far, we’ve learned everything we need to know about account based marketing (ABM). And we’ve learned what ABM is as well as where to start. Now, it’s time to top off our coverage (for now) with how to execute your account based marketing tactics. First, we’ll cover the process for organizing and launching ABM campaigns. Then, we’ll give you a suggested roadmap for implementing ABM into your marketing efforts to set your team up for success.
Generally, marketers follow a 6-step process for account based marketing initiatives according to Engagio. It’s pretty simple, but all 6 steps can (and should) become more advanced as your ABM strategy continues to evolve. Let’s get started:
1. Select Your Accounts
This is the first step for a reason. Selecting the accounts you’ll target in ABM campaigns is important to your overall success. Select your accounts thoughtfully and systematically. The list of key accounts should be specific, relatively short, and include high-value, high-potential targets. Sales and marketing must work together on this initiative. To be successful with ABM, you can’t have gaps between the departments.
Once you have your list of accounts to target, marketing and sales need to put together a tier structure. Account based marketing is time consuming. Creating tiers helps dictate the importance of accounts, aligning priorities and resources appropriately.
2. Discover Contacts and Map to Target Accounts
Marketing needs to build detailed buyer personas that represent the people you’re speaking to within those accounts. (Remember, those potential 17 people involved in the buying process?) Also, it’s a good idea to create more generic, secondary personas for those people who might not be the decision maker but do have considerable influence.
Once you have the personas, it’s time to find key contacts at each target account. Then, you’ll map their relationships. This can be done in various ways, but start by taking each selected account and filling them out with specific contacts based on ideal buyer personas. Compile those contacts from your existing database, manual data collection, and by using third party data vendors.
3. Develop Account Insights
Target accounts are a huge component of your ABM strategy, but delivering relevant content is just as important. To do that, you need to keep up with the following for all target accounts:
- The Market: Industry news, notable trends, marketing dynamics (and any changes), updates in regulations or laws, etc.
- The Company: Their strategy, any weaknesses, new opportunities (like mergers or acquisitions), known culture and values, recent sales announcements, etc.
- Target Personas: Know their main priorities, dislikes, work histories, preferred method(s) of contact, work styles, favorite foods (or something else special to make it more personal) of each person on the buying team
- Relationships within the account: How each contact relates to each other inside the company — who reports to whom, who influences the most, who leads meetings, etc.
- Connections to the Account: Existing internal connections with key contacts, the contacts’ previous experiences with sales or customer service, needs already communicated, the story between your company and your target account, etc.
This is a lot of information to gather, but details matter with ABM. Make sure you use various methods to collect the facts you need: social media, surveys, dedicated researchers, or even Google alerts. Have meaningful, direct conversations with coworkers and account contacts.
4. Generate Account-Relevant Content
By this step, you should really know your accounts. It’s time to either create new content or tweak existing content and messaging to best support your marketing campaign goals. Design your account-relevant content to target the buying teams for each account. The goal is to open doors and build or strengthen relationships, so make sure it’s relevant. Showcase the knowledge and information you’ve collected about their industries, and includes personalized messages.
Engagio makes a good point: every piece of content doesn’t have to be specifically created for each target account. That approach isn’t scalable. To do ABM well and make it an efficient practice, create a balanced mix of content, falling somewhere in one of these categories:
(Image credit: Enagio)
5. Deliver Account-Specific Interactions
Next, your team needs to determine the ideal interactions for your ABM accounts and associated budget for each. Common ABM interactions include:
This is a channel where you can take existing, successful campaigns and strategies and make them hyper-targeted to ABM. Social media is an ideal place to start for ABM, because of its targeting capabilities, flexibility to create campaigns, and familiarity among marketers. A brand new ABM strategy doesn’t have to be met with brand new tools.
LinkedIn has account targeting options, where advertisers can upload either account names or exact email addresses for targeted contacts. However, you need a list of 1,000 account names or 10,000 email addresses for the audiences to populate, which could present a problem for some.
Facebook has similar targeting capabilities but is a little more flexible when it comes to the number of contacts required to create an audience. Targeted account names is a little tricky, because you can’t simply upload a list of accounts like you can with LinkedIn. But it’s doable when building Facebook saved audiences if you’re willing to get creative.
Retargeting accounts and website visitors is a recommended strategy to make your ABM campaigns come full circle. Try starting on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google search advertising.
Using tools like VWO, your team can identify visitors who would otherwise be anonymous. Then, you can deliver highly personalized content based on their company, location, interests.
In ABM, email should be used as a vehicle to move the targeted contacts from messages sent via your marketing automation platform to individual sales reps. Then, reps can craft personalized messages and start developing strong relationships.
These take some significant planning and usually a budget to match, but big things can happen from them. Live events for an extremely targeted audience create significant opportunities if sales reps get face time with the right decision makers and influencers.
Similar to the live events, webinars need to be highly targeted and relevant to your ideal accounts. Think of the session as an uninterrupted opportunity to speak directly to your target contacts for a 30, 60, or 90 minute period.
6. Orchestrate Account-Focused Plays
Instead of deciding what demand generation campaigns to launch, when to launch them, and on what channels then determining how to interact with the leads, ABM challenges marketers to do the opposite.
Determine what interactions you want to have with the selected accounts and contacts. These interactions need to align with the plans and goals for each account. Then design and execute extremely detailed account plans including the following:
How you will interact with contacts
Type of content, tone and voice used
Where you will interact with contacts
What channels will have campaigns, how will the content vary depending on the channel for optimal performance
How often you will interact with contacts
The cadence of campaign launches, the frequency of reach based on the target account, ideal number of touches per contact before desired action is completed
Time to Show Off Your ABM Program!
Congratulations! You’ve done your homework, diligently completed each recommended step, and reviewed your plan of action. It’s officially time to launch your ABM program and watch the magic happen. Be sure to check back here for tips on what metrics to track and why to make sure your account based marketing tactics are a success!
Need additional help with account based marketing or another type of digital marketing program? Give us a shout. We’d be happy to help you figure it out!