Account-based marketing (ABM) has become a must-have strategy for B2B organizations looking to engage the accounts with the best potential, but for ABM’s promise of efficiency and effectiveness to payoff, marketers must be able to engage the decision-makers at the target accounts.
We know content is critical to reaching target-account decision-makers, but the content you use in your broad thought leadership and demand marketing efforts typically won’t fully deliver on your ABM agenda. To help B2B marketers align content with ABM strategy, last week we hosted a webinar with practitioners from Engagio, Uberflip and Influitive called “How to Evolve Content Marketing Strategy for an ABM World.”
During the webinar, Charlie, Hana and Cassandra provided valuable advice and concrete examples for how to evolve content strategy to strike a balance between scale and personalization – without stretching content creators too thin.
With so many compelling examples to fill the webinar, not much time was left for Q&A, so we captured the questions to follow up afterward. As promised, here are the answers to the questions submitted during the webinar.
Can you explain how the “custom quotes from customers” content idea works?
Charlie: Many times the coordination of reference calls can be challenging and a drain on your top customers. Instead, try jumping on a call with your top advocates and grabbing a quote from them to 4 or 5 prospects at once. The quotes should be specific to the questions and challenges of the prospect of course, but this is a more efficient way to do it.
How do you calculate the cost of your content strategy? Man hours + design costs?
Charlie: It's easier to do with a 3rd party, but you can assign a fixed cost (or estimated cost) based on the hours or opportunity cost of your projects. The takeaway is that when the cost of content is measured the same as other campaigns, it becomes easier to decide which is more effective.
Referencing Charlie’s early ABM email example, how can you avoid seeming too disingenuous with the "personal touch" (e.g., asking too many bike riding questions)?
Charlie: Personalization and offering value upfront isn't mutually exclusive. If you can personalize on work-related wins, it's a plus. Perhaps check into the retweets or likes from the target persona – you can get a good read into what gets a reaction there.
Can you explain the content waterfall that was referred to on the slide?
Hana: The idea is that you create one main piece of content with a good amount of substance. Then you make a plan to break up that piece of content and create a bunch of other, smaller pieces from that main piece. So from a workbook you can also create a number of blog posts, PR, social posts, infographics, worksheets, cheat sheets, videos, webinars, etc. It saves time and helps you get the most out of your original content effort.
Kate: So for example, consider this webinar the main piece of content. Around it we wrote a couple blog posts (this one is one of them!), created an on-demand version, sent out an ABM workbook with 10 worksheets to help marketers plan their ABM strategy, made a bunch of social posts, created an email nurture track, and could create a slideshare, infographic…you get the idea.
Please suggest other ways to get content in front of your target individuals in your strategic accounts, other than email.
Hana: Personalized website experiences, content hubs, in-person conferences and events…
Cassandra: Personalized videos and messages sent via social media, direct mail packages, retargeting display ads…
Confidentiality is a big concern of our organization. How do you handle personalization when this is an issue?
Kate: Be mindful about the extent to which a person has opt-ed in. If someone has submitted a form and raised their hand, they'll be more receptive to personalization from you than someone who thought they were sneaking around your website undetected. This goes back to my caution about getting to personal, too fast and coming off creepy.
Cassandra: You have to know your audience, of course. This type of situation is when 1:1 interactions, rather than public, may be more appropriate. Influitive can get away with a lot because our customers are marketers, but it's not the same in every industry. Whatever data you can gather on your potential customers and where they congregate, use that to your advantage. You don't have to call them out on Twitter or announce to an entire conference that you're hunting them down, like we did – find what works for your company. You can be human and personal without putting all that information into the public eye.
We are a small company and find ABM to be very resource intensive. Plus the investment required in tech is overwhelming. What tips do you have for a small business to do ABM effectively?
Charlie: ABM is all about good resource allocation and being scrappy. Dream big and read up on successes of others – small companies don't have the resources to test a ton of things, so you'll have to borrow from others' playbooks. Technology goes a long way to help you scale.
Kate: I second Charlie’s suggestion about borrowing from others' playbooks. Marketers are usually happy to share what’s working for them. (See Cassandra's examples during the webinar!) And when I do get budget for tech, I regularly reach out to fellow marketers for prioritization advice. Also know that ABM isn't right for everyone. The first worksheet in this ABM workbook will help you assess if ABM is a good fit for your organization.
Regarding Cassandra’s example of personalized video sent to someone via Twitter: Are these posted on your public timeline?
Cassandra: Yes, they are. Know thy audience (and risk tolerance). Marketers may be more willing to take a little bit of public shaming than other personas. And Influitive may be more comfortable taking risks in this regard than most other companies.
Hopefully this gave you additional ideas and understanding for the process of advancing your ABM content strategy. And if you missed the webinar or just want to take a look back, you can view it on-demand here.