If you’re a B2B marketer, you’re likely hearing the term Account-Based Marketing everywhere you turn. A quick search of your inbox might reveal a couple hundred emails in the last 90 days touting the latest and greatest in ABM content. And for good reason… In an era where marketing is on the hook to create customers and drive revenue, it makes sense to aim marketing efforts at companies that match your ideal customer profiles.
But knowing that it’s the right thing to do and getting the executive buy-in to do it are two completely different things. Marketers need more than just theoretical explanations as to how account-based marketing can help you reach the right customers. They need strategic and tactical plans that they can follow. They need to be able to go to their upper management and say “we need to implement an ABM program and this is how we’re going to do it.”
To that vein, we created an easy-to-follow 8-step SlideShare to help you build your account-based marketing program and get your boss’s support to execute it.
Step 1: Plan and Set Goals
One thing we’ve learned is that every program needs to start with clearly defined goals. Marketing goals today go way beyond an arbitrary number of new business leads. How many customers is your marketing team expected to contribute this year? What’s your close rate from opportunity to customer? How many marketing qualified leads (MQL’s) must you pass to your sales team for them to open a new opportunity? And what percentage of new business do you expect marketing to drive?
If you’re in the process (or need to be) of defining your marketing-driven pipeline goals, SiriusDecision’s Demand Waterfall can be a helpful guide. If you don’t yet have enough data to make an educated projection, consider using industry standards to determine your lead goals the first time around. Just remember to go back and use your own data to adjust over time.
Step 2: Assign & Align Roles
Both marketing and sales (and even your executive team) play a part in successfully executing an ABM program. It’s important at the onset that you define everyone’s roles in relation to the program. Sales and marketing must work hand-in-hand to reach those goals you defined in Step 1. Just like in a relay race, when your partners are ready for the handoff, they’re able to keep the momentum going and get to the finish line. In fact, companies are 67% better at closing business when marketing and sales work together.
Step 3: Define Target Accounts
Many people might be inclined to think this is the first (and only step) in developing an ABM campaign. Just know though that identifying the named accounts you're going to target with your marketing efforts is only one small piece in your overall ABM strategy.
There are a plethora of ways you can go about creating a named account list. Here are just a few to consider:
- What are the characteristics of your best companies? And what companies are similar to them?
- What are the biggest potential opportunities currently in your sales pipeline?
- Which companies are currently visiting your website or consuming your content that appear to be ready for your solution?
- What companies do you have access to through partners and advocates?
Step 4: Develop Buyer Personas
From our view, the most important thing to remember when it comes to ABM is this:
It’s essential to know the companies that you’re targeting. But the people who will be using your solution are the ones who sign the checks. If you haven’t done so already, invest time into developing your customer personas. Here’s a detailed buyer persona template we created that can guide you through this process.
Step 5: Map Your Universe
Once you have your target account list and know the personas you’re targeting at those accounts, you can identify the specific people you want to connect with at each company. Get this data into your CRM and keep it up to date. And as new leads from these accounts enter your database, match them to the accounts in your CRM. We know that some of this can be manual, but it’s absolutely worth the effort.
Step 6: Create Content That Isn’t Ignored
A well-developed content marketing strategy is the backbone of any effective B2B marketing organization today. Unfortunately, in this age of marketing automation, a lot of communications are created on a one-to-many level. Audiences tend to filter out anything that seems sent by a machine. The more personalized you can make your content communications, the more chance you have of breaking through the noise.
Step 7: Identify Tactics to Engage Audiences
With your account list, personas and content strategy in hand, it’s time to hone in on the marketing tactics that will engage your audiences. Inbound marketing is an important piece of attracting the right audiences, but not all of your target prospects will come knocking at your door. In order to reach those MQL and sales pipeline goals you established, you’ll need to include an outbound marketing strategy (third-party content marketing, IP-based ad targeting, etc.). Just make sure to target lead generation campaigns toward named accounts only.
Step 8: Analyze The Data That Matters
ABM drive results. It’s that simple. According to Marketing Profs, companies using ABM generate 208% more revenue for their marketing efforts. But in order to get to that point, you must constantly evaluate the data and make improvements where necessary. This is not a set-it-and-forget-it program.
However, it can take a while to have actual revenue data to verify your success. For the first 6 months, evaluate engagement among your ideal personas. Are the right people within your target companies interacting with your content? A few months into your ABM journey, you should be able to start measuring revenue attributed to your ABM efforts. That’s when you can raise a toast to celebrate your success.