From Nurture to Negotiation: Intelligent ABM in 2018

Level 9 - Champion Alumni
Level 9 - Champion Alumni

Miss my session at Summit? Here's a recap of my 7 steps to launching your first Account-Based Marketing strategy.

Account-Based Marketing is here to stay. In the digital age, it’s easy to get bogged down in the hustle and bustle of the MarTech capabilities and lose sight of what really matters: engagement. Because even though we’re marketing to accounts, it’s individuals that serve as internal champions to demonstrate the value of your product within their organization. So what does that mean for you?

In the end, it all comes down to understanding your audience. But first, we need to remember the foundation of any marketing strategy: what are we trying to get out of it?

On that note, here are seven steps to launching your first Account-Based Marketing strategy.

1. Determine your goals


A few things to keep in mind when setting your goals.

  • Make sure they are quantifiable. Think "I want to influence 50 opportunities" rather than "I want to increase pipeline." If you can't look back and definitely determine whether you met your goals, you're doing it wrong.
  • Goals should be timely - this just means set dates for them. Put a reminder on your calendar in X number of days to evaluate whether you hit your target. If you don't hit it by your specified end date, that doesn't mean you failed. It just gives you a basis for planning next time around.
  • Don't forget that goals should be valuable to the business. Sure, a 43% click-through-rate feels great, but it won't influence your ARR. Think MQAs (Marketing Qualified Accounts), SQAs, or opportunities.
  • Get buy-in from sales! If sales isn’t ready for ABM’d leads (let's pretend that's a real word), your marketing efforts will be wasted in the transition to sales

Ok, you must be thinking. But my sales cycle is 18 months. I can't wait 18 months to determine whether my ABM strategy was successful!

You're right! So set KPIs for short-term evaluation. This is where you get to look at "vanity metrics" - look at deliverability, the number of engaged accounts, engagement within each account, and individual tactic success.

2. Define the Audience


Marketing is expensive. It takes time, money, and resources. Put delicate effort into selecting your audience so that none of our hard-earned content goes to waste!

  • Strategically select your accounts, but it doesn’t end there!
  • Strategically select your contacts. You want to find people who will get excited about your product and who will want to spread the value of your offerings within the organization. More on this in a second...
  • Have your SDRs weigh in on account selection and job titles - they know what to look for!
  • Leverage resources: predictive, personas, behavior scoring (this will tell you what type of people engage with content you already have), and yes, intuition!

Don't forget to find a data provider that you trust. If you are sending emails, make sure they have a high validity rate. If you are sending direct mail, make sure they are good at providing addresses. Nothing is more discouraging than putting a ton of time and money into a campaign and realizing most of it made it in front of your prospects.

Now back to the contact selection. You know the term "Buying Center" that everyone's talking about? It's just a reference to the unofficial buying decision committees within each of your target accounts. To best market to each company, figure out everyone who has influence in the decision to buy your offering and market to them personally. For example, if you're selling software, you have to get IT on board no matter which department will be using the software, but the messaging to IT will be very different than the messaging you deliver to potential users. If you want more on this, comment below and I'll write another blog post!

3. Create your strategy


Notice that is is not the first step! Now that we know the why and the who, it's finally time to create the what! Start with the obvious - outline your content. Your content, like with most marketing strategies, should follow the basic buyer journey:

  1. Begin with brand awareness and thought leadership - now’s your chance to really demonstrate your value and build trust with your prospect
  2. Introduce pain points - you want your prospects to relate to the problems your product or service can solve
  3. Introduce interactive materials - ROI calculators, worksheets, free trials or demos, etc. Once they have a taste of life with you in it, they won't want to go back!
  4. Now we can get a little more aggressive with more sales-focused CTAs: “Call Us” vs “Check Out Our eBook” - these CTAs should point prospects in the direction of your goals
  5. Help your SDRs know how to reach out depending on demographic qualifications and engagement within each account

Make sure CTAs drive prospects to your goals, and adjust along the way to meet KPIs. Once you know what you're going to say, figure out how you're going to say it. What will you send? Emails? Retargeting ads? Web personalization? Social media placements? Direct mail? SDR outreach? Get creative. The possibilities are endless!

When you're developing this collateral, determine both the content and the design cohesively so that your outreach provides a consistent experience for your prospects. Keep the cadence in mind. Nobody wants to be over-emailed, but if you spread your messaging too far apart your prospects won't remember you between touches. A good way to get around this? Ongoing display ads.

4. Get Cliché and Smarket


Don't take this for granted. Sales + marketing alignment will make or break your campaign! After you create your content strategy, get input from sales early on- make sure they’re as excited about it as you want your leads to be!

  • Set up your program to communicate all relevant information to sales, and give them a heads up as to how that information will be made available to them
  • Get aligned on the timeline - if you have joint goals, you must have a joint timeline to match
  • Let them know ahead of time which accounts you’ve chosen and when & how they should interact with them. Direction is everything!

5. Implement


Set up your program in Marketo, and integrate everything you possibly can to flawlessly orchestrate your tactics and gain cohesive reporting. I wrote a blog post on this a while back that addresses the technical side of this. Check it out here if you’re interested!

  • My biggest tip: leverage Engagement Programs to coordinate timing of complex campaigns with multiple channels. SO. HELPFUL.
  • Set up your target accounts if you have the ABM platform, and make sure sales have the chrome plugin. It's legit.
  • Test, test, test - both technically, and statistically to see what works and what doesn't.

6. Learn


Just because you went live with your new ABM strategy doesn't mean you're done. Remember those KPIs we set at the beginning? Every single day, evaluate the performance of your program to make sure you're meeting your expectations, and if not, make the necessary adjustments. Remember, results take time! Sales cycles are longer with cold outbound.

  • Talk to sales! If morale is good, it's a great early sign.
  • Celebrate your wins and learn from your losses - both with marketing & with sales

If you have RCE, now is the time to use it. Go into your lifecycle and check the "Start Tracking by Account" box for each stage. Then you can use the Model Performance Analysis report for companies!

lifecycle.png analysis.png


7. Rinse and Repeat...after you’ve made updates from your learnings of course!

Not only do you learn more each time, but you have more fun too! You worked heard creating this strategy, and if it works, there's no reason to throw it out. Find more target accounts and contacts, and do it again. Engage more accounts and watch the money roll in.