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Six ways to make your ABM budget go further

By Greg Salmon, Partner, Agent3

Given that 84% of marketers have found ABM yields a higher ROI rate than any other form of marketing, it’s easy to see why so many are turning to it as a panacea for all their marketing ills. But when it comes to ABM there is a vast array of tactics and rabbit holes within which to bury your budget – technology, tools, people, platforms, content, personalisation, analytics, advertising – the list is endless.

You don’t have to have a huge budget to conduct successful ABM. The challenge is that it’s very specific for each organisation and target account, so while one tactic works for you, it might not necessarily work for your neighbour. Our pragmatic tips below offer a practical view on how to make your budget go further, regardless of your tactics or methods.

1. Reuse, repurpose and rejuvenate your content

Content is a cornerstone of any ABM campaign, whether it’s highly targeted at a specific stakeholder as part of a 1:1 strategy, or tailored to a particular vertical as part of a cluster programme, content is the method by which you will engage your stakeholders. But content can be expensive and time-consuming, so reusing what you already have or repurposing it with slight changes where required can help save costs and ensure consistency of messaging. Graphics from online or printed content can be reused as part of a video, words from a blog can be reused in infographics, across multiple social posts or in direct mail, and sector-specific content can be easily tweaked to target another similar vertical, for example.

2. Measure ROI

It sounds obvious right, why would you do a tactic without having some form of measurement to see your return? But when it comes to ABM many companies simply attach a ‘sale or no sale’ measurement. This approach isn’t granular enough to find out what’s really working, especially considering the length of sales cycles in some accounts. One of the advantages of ABM, particularly when it’s with very few accounts, is that tactics that don’t work or drive good ROI can be adapted until the desired outcome is achieved. When thinking about your ROI and where you spend your budget make sure it’s specific to each tactic and account; there is not a one size fits all approach. If you have no brand awareness within an account, the ROI measure will be different to if you are targeting a very specific stakeholder with whom you already have a relationship and want to expand their understanding of your products or services. Think about outcomes for each tactic and associated budget, and measure them accordingly.

3. Use insight to help direct big budget decisions

The three pillars of any campaign - people, process and technology - are obvious places to start investing your budget. But just throwing money at them does not guarantee success. Consider not just the ROI on each investment, but also the other costs associated with them. For example, attending or sponsoring big events that you think your stakeholders might be attending is risky. Conducting research and insight before hand to ensure you know they’ll be there, you know what talk tracks they’ll be attending and therefore maximising your exposure will drive better ROI. High feature technology is great, but are you going to use all those functions, or is there a simpler version that still achieves the same goal? Research reports can place you as an authority on the subject, but can the report become a framework and reused to get yearly benchmarks? Avoid investments that are single shelf life and try to think where and how big investments can be updated and reused.

4. Support your technology investments

There is a mind-boggling array of ABM technology available. Before blowing your budget on high tech tools evaluate whether the system integrates with your existing stack, what it offers not just for ABM but across your marketing spectrum, and whether you want to adopt a cross-platform approach, which may simplify the process. Regardless of the technology you choose, there are other factors to making integration and adoption a success. Support the tool with internal owners who will champion the technology, understand what exactly you want from the technology, how and why – what outcome will it drive? And vitally think about what resource you’ll need to support it – not just in the marketing team, but across the business - sales, IT, finance and beyond. Is the price worth the level of commitment you need to make it work.

5. Soft costs still cost

The one thing unaccounted for in many budgets is the time, resources and therefore ‘soft’ money it costs to run an ABM programme. Agencies can help you plug any gaps without hiring full time staff and will account for some of your budget, but they will still need managing, briefing and integration - agencies and third parties need to be augmented with internal support to ensure success. Giving them access to internal teams and having them as an extension of your own team will yield far better results, but takes more internal time and resource. What impact will the technology, the third party or the new tools have on your team and those elsewhere – and what do you need to support them? These need to be factored in to your budgets. Could you plug other tactics with investment or do you need to employ people with new skills to make your ABM programme work?

6. Build in flexibility

While making a grand plan and assigning budget to all the aspects of your ABM programme is effective and reassuring, it’s worth building in a degree of flexibility. There are always unforeseen elements that crop up and need addressing. For example if tactics are working well and sales come to you with a proof of concept for the account, or one type of content is having a much better engagement rate than others, then being able to redirect budget, quickly and easily can help you steal a march on competitors.

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