ABM is quickly becoming table stakes for B2B organizations that want to maximize their revenue potential, but it can still be hard to do at scale. As a follow up to our recent announcement of our new ABM solution, ABM Essentials, we wanted to cover a few tips and tricks for ABM using Marketo Engage. Before we dive in, let’s review what ABM is and why we need to start incorporating it into our current strategy.
What is ABM and Why Do It?
Account-based marketing (ABM) is more than a buzzword. It’s a strategy that savvy marketers are using to drive revenue across their business. Today, more B2B organizations than ever are shifting their thinking toward account-centricity. Successful organizations are striking a balance between traditional lead-based marketing and ABM. According to Forrester’s Q1 2018 Global B2B Marketing ABM Best Practices Survey, 96% of marketers say that ABM as a strategy will coexist alongside their other marketing approaches.
Today’s ABM landscape and status quo makes ABM really hard to do at scale. B2B brands are forced to use disconnected point solutions that limit the number of channels and create duplicative data sources. They also lack the automation capabilities necessary to truly nurture thousands of accounts at scale. Additionally, they are forced to view incomplete customer relationship management (CRM) data as the central source of truth for account knowledge. As a result, sales and marketing are left with an ABM strategy composed of random, individual customer interactions that don’t work in harmony with each other, are hard to report on, and don’t add up to a larger strategy - putting their brand at a high risk of not meeting customer expectations.
Instead of random interactions that focus on short-term gain, B2B brands need to put people and experiences at the center of their ABM strategy. ABM Essentials was designed to help you shift your mindset. By enabling sales and marketing to create account-based experiences (ABX), these ongoing and coordinated customer experiences focus on the lifetime value of a specific account and can add up to larger, holistic, and longer-term customer relationships. Using ABX, sales and marketing can avoid random acts of sales and marketing that don’t unlock the full potential of ABM and don’t maximize revenue potential.
Let’s take a look at a few tips and tricks on how to use AI to build the right target account list, use Intent data to prioritize the right accounts with sales, and use paid media to discover net-new accounts for your ABM strategy.
1. Using Account Profiling to Build My Target Account List with Sales
For ABM marketers, a common challenge is figuring out who to target and why. This is a time-consuming process and is often based on opinions from sales and gut-feelings from marketing, which ultimately results in the wrong list. It’s important to get the list right, however, so you can spend time on the right accounts. Doing this at scale is even harder when you have tens of thousands of accounts and multiple tiers.
Account selection is important because it sets the tone for all your ABM programs, and requires you to have good, clean customer data. Building the right target account lists requires a shared strategy, an ideal customer profile with sales, enrichment and prioritization using fit and intent data, and utilization of AI to help save time and improve accuracy.
- Build Your Model Basis List: Start with a list of your existing best-fit customer accounts that align to your ABM strategy. This could include customers that have consistently renewed or recently purchased a cross-sell product, large customers with large deal sizes, or those that fit within a specific vertical or segment. This can be done inside Marketo or in an external file. Make sure this data is accurate and up-to-date. This data will act as the foundation for accuracy when recommending who your ideal customer profile is and which accounts to target for your ABM strategy.
- Create your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): Upload your model basis list in Account Profiling. This will train the AI model on what attributes to look for when you tell it to scan your database or another list of accounts. Your AI model will use the model basis data as the foundation for your ideal customer profile. It will use your 1st party data and then combine it with 3rd party data to enrich and create your ICP that will be used to recommend your target account list.
- Scan your Database: Select which data inside Marketo that you want your AI model to scan. This list is generally based on what your ABM strategy is. For example, let’s say your ABM strategy is to focus on cross-sell. In this case, your model basis list might be a set of accounts that purchased cross-sell products in the last 3 months. If so, you would tell your model to scan a list of existing customer accounts that have not purchased a cross-sell product yet.
- View and Tune your Model Results: Account Profiling will show you results by ranking your accounts A-D to show you which accounts have a closer match to the ICP you created. “A” rankings are the accounts that have the highest propensity to close whereas “D” rankings have the lowest propensity to close. “A” accounts would mean you should focus on them immediately, while “D” accounts could be thrown in a longer-term ABM nurture stream. You can also view all the fit indicators that were used to create the ranking, and weight them differently if you feel some are more important than others. The fit indicators vary from a wide variety of categories, such as what technologies are being used by the prospect, whether a company is hiring or not, if they are interested in specific topics, etc. Natively integrating into your ABM workflow saves a ton of time, enables powerful account-level segmentation, and provides quick time-to-value for deploying your ABM programs.
2. Prioritizing My Target Accounts with Sales
After figuring out your target accounts, the next challenge is knowing which of them you should focus on first. Unfortunately, many marketers struggle to have additional account data to help them do this. They know how their accounts are behaving on their marketing channels but have no visibility of what's going on across the web outside their marketing channels.
This is where intent data comes in. It tells you which of your accounts, or contacts from specific accounts, are expressing intent on certain topics across the web. Topics are often categories or things related to the products and services that you sell, like “marketing automation”, “marketing analytics”, etc. Intent data helps point out which accounts might already be in an active sales cycle or have a higher likelihood to turn into an opportunity faster than other accounts.
Pro Tip: Take advantage of the power and flexibility that custom objects offer when using Intent Data
Last year, we launched a joint Bombora Intent Surge for Marketo partnership with Bombora. The way it works is: Bombora is one of the industry’s largest publisher co-op where it monitors and collects account level intent signals, across a wide range of predetermined topics. They attach the intent topic and score to Marketo lead object as a custom object. The data is refreshed weekly. Once in the system, a number of interesting things can be done within Marketo. The higher the score, the more intent shown by leads within companies. Once you setup a custom filter in Marketo that looks at the Bombora Intent topic and score, you can start segmenting audiences on intent score and/or specific topics to perform actions such as:
Trick: Build custom intent-driven scoring models by using Marketo smart campaigns and custom fields to weight topics differently based on their importance to your business.
3. Discover Net New Accounts using Marketo’s LinkedIn Account Matching and Other Paid Media Integrations
Discovering new contacts within new accounts or known accounts is generally challenging to do at scale because it’s often done manually by sales. Marketing will rely on traditional inbound efforts with no account strategy or filter in mind, which results in passing leads over to sales that are not part of their target account list - thereby wasting time and resources on the wrong accounts. Since Marketo Engage is your automation provider of record and has robust ABM capabilities, it can hydrate your target account lists with new contacts and accounts at scale in an automated fashion.
Pro Tip: Use fit indicators from Account Profiling and intent data topics from Bombora to inform your messaging for paid media and nurture streams.
Marketo has easy ways to get started with extending your account-based experiences across many paid media networks. Any Marketo smart list or static list can be synced to ad networks using the Send to Ad Bridge List action. Using Marketo Engage’s integrations with companies like Linkedin, Google, Facebook, Demandbase and LiveRamp, you can push audiences directly from Marketo and match them inside those networks without the need to export or import lists.
Here are a few examples of workflows you can execute:
Discover New Contacts within Your Known Accounts: You can discover new contacts within existing customer accounts or prospective target accounts by building a target account list inside Marketo’s ABM workflow, then pushing that list inside Linkedin to match accounts. Linkedin will tell you the match rate and allow you to segment by many different attributes for your paid media campaigns. You can send ads to contacts within each matched account that you may or may not already have yet in your database. Ultimately, this helps you discover all the right contacts within the buying group of your known target accounts.
Discover Net New Contacts within Net New Accounts: This use case refers to discovering new contacts within new accounts that look like your best customers so that you can grow your target account list for sales. This use case is similar to the one above, but instead of sending ads to your matched accounts, you can use look-alike models inside the ad network to send ads to net-new contacts and accounts. Linkedin and Demandbase are excellent at helping B2B marketers discover new accounts based on an uploaded best-fit account list that is pushed directly from Marketo Engage.
Re-target Unknown Website Visitors: Automatically re-target web visitors using Marketo’s web personalization feature. This allows re-targeting ads to known and unknown website visitors across any ad network. You can also personalize retargeting campaigns based on target account list audiences. This is done by placing a retargeting pixel provided by the ad network on your website and then setting up personalized account-level messaging based on both Marketo and the ad network’s segmentation.
Pro Tip: Use Marketo’s integrated lead ad forms to imbed forms directly into the ad creative to make it easier for customers and prospects to submit information
ABM is Here to Stay
ABM is a huge focus area for us this year and will continue to be going into 2020. We feel it is becoming the new foundation for B2B customer experience management. We have some amazing new ABM features coming your way that will help you create the most epic account-based experiences possible, so stay tuned and get excited!
This post was authored by the the Product Marketing team at Marketo, an Adobe Company