This blog was originally posted on Marketo's blog here.
By: Amar Doshi
Posted: March 16, 2016 | Account-Based Marketing
There’s a lot of talk around account-based marketing (ABM) in the B2B marketing realm and for good reason. ABM is an effective account-centric approach that targets high-yield accounts, and while it’s not a new concept (it’s a practice followed since the 1990s), it’s receiving renewed interest among B2B marketers due to technology trends that are digitizing the execution of ABM strategy.
Before, ABM was an extremely high-cost endeavor that represented a significant drain on budget and human resources. Creating segmented marketing tracks, surfacing personalized content, and reacting to individual prospect’s behaviors was all done manually and could only be supported for a small subsection of highly strategic, tier 1 accounts.
But the ability to access and make sense of new data sources, and automate key marketing activities, has made ABM a strategy that is implementable across the full spectrum of a company’s target market. Below, we’ll explore how three major technology trends have made ABM execution more efficient and scalable:
Over the past decade, an increasing amount of content about B2B products has become available online. Increasing inbound marketing efforts have accelerated a buyer’s access to product specifications, deployment plans, and user reviews. At the same time, a significant amount of research by B2B buyers is being done through publisher sites, buying guide portals, technical comparison sites, social sites, and a vendor’s own website. This data explosion has created a treasure trove of digital footprints left behind by potential customers engaging with content and has allowed companies to gain visibility into the buying behaviors of target accounts. ABM strategies are built on a company’s very ability to build target account lists based on the business needs and challenges they are uniquely positioned to address, so this new access to buyer activity and data allows marketers to identify more accounts with greater precision.
According to ITSMA, 85% of marketers feel that understanding their buyers is their primary responsibility. Big data analytics can help marketers achieve this goal. For every piece of digital information that is predictive of buying intent, there are hundreds of data points that are just noise. Advancements in technology now allow for the efficient analysis of a great volume, variety, and velocity of information generated from online and offline interactions. This development has made it possible to glean valuable and actionable insights for B2B marketing and sales teams from mountains of data that indicate whether an account has a need and is in the market to buy your product.
For the B2B account scenario, this is especially important given that every product has a different buying cycle, in terms of both research and purchase. The buying cycle involves thorough research from a buying committee as opposed to a single buyer within an account, and it requires time-sensitive analysis from marketers to react to these behaviors and take action at the right moment. This is where predictive intelligence solutions that focus on time and need identification at the account level are crucial to inform account-based marketing campaigns. A well executed ABM strategy represents an orchestrated omni-channel marketing effort that leverages different channels–such as media campaigns, display advertising, email nurturing, outbound sales prospecting, and offline events–and insights driven by predictive intelligence to inform and improve the customer experience and conversion rates of every downstream marketing and sales process.
With MarTech companies tracked by Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic nearing 2,000 companies as of the last count, there is an ocean of technology-enabled automation that marketers can use to act on account insights and predictions gleaned from predictive intelligence at every stage of the funnel. From real-time web personalization and programmatic ad buying, to automated dialers and auto-qualified leads–there isn’t a single workflow within online or offline account-based marketing strategies that will not be influenced by data insights and marketing automation. While data insights improve decision-making for targeting and messaging on everything from display advertising to email, marketing automation enables these actions to happen seamlessly as customer data enters and flows through your system.
Given the dynamic nature of B2B sales, having static target account lists constrains the impact of any ABM strategy. With the technology trends above, the concept of a dynamic target account list is now a reality. Predictive intelligence and marketing automation technology work in parallel to enable account-based marketing and sales efforts to become both time-based and need-based. Data-driven insights allow marketing teams to continuously monitor and hone what activities represent true buying intent and which accounts are exhibiting them most strongly, and marketing automation allows these insights to influence which accounts receive what messaging and when. This combined approach facilitates the right sales conversations for B2B buyers and vendors, while minimizing effort and money spent on target accounts that are not in-market to buy.
Interested in learning more about how predictive intelligence and marketing automation is helping customers execute ABM? Register now to join us on March 17th at 10am PT for our webinar Predictive & Marketing Automation: Making Account-Based Marketing Work.