While account-based marketing (ABM) and demand generation are seen as vital components of any outbound marketing strategy, an interplay between the two is too rarely considered.
Why? Because ABM is all about prioritizing the quality of engagement — engaging specific accounts with deeply personalized content and touchpoints that feel uniquely crafted with them in mind. Never mind the quantity; feel the quality!
The reverse is true for demand gen. There often feels like an insatiable need to fill the top of the funnel with as many leads as possible in the belief that the nurture process will eventually drive conversion. Never mind the quality; feel the quantity!
But what if you took the basic principles of ABM (insight-driven, targeted and specifically relevant) and applied them to your demand generation efforts? The truth is that using such a highly targeted, account-centric approach allows you to more effectively reach those accounts and decision-makers that really matter to you, enabling you to deliver more valuable leads and maximizing your budget in the process.
Sounds great in principle, right? (And really rather obvious!) But how do you crack the code in making your demand generation efforts more account-centric?
Here are five key learnings from ABM that we can take to ensure demand generation success.
Be precise: Narrow down your target account list.
Traditional demand gen is akin to deep-sea trawling: you’re casting a net very wide in the hope of pulling in large volumes of possible contacts who might be ready to engage and hopefully meet your BANT (budget, authority, needs and timeline) criteria. But with account-centric demand generation, as the name suggests, we can borrow from ABM and develop an account list using firmographic and behavioral data to identify those accounts where we are most likely to drive engagement.
So, take the time to analyze a variety of your data sources (from firmographic to intent data, and from tech/product installs through to past account engagement) to settle on the accounts that you believe offer the greatest potential. And then drive sales and marketing alignment, and shared ownership for success, by working with sales to agree on the target list.
Be engaging: Deploy content that is likely to elicit a response.
Content syndication is typically a key component of demand programs, but all too often in the quest to reach as broad an audience as possible, the content used is bland and uninspiring. Working with a defined list of more valuable accounts allows you to put additional resources into creating content that is likely to be much more relevant and contextually interesting to the audience — not account-specific perhaps, but certainly genuinely account-relevant.
So, look to include increased content personalization with assets that meet the specific needs of your audience by industry, location/language, role or seniority. Or offer higher levels of communication personalization — for example, identifying and promoting the most relevant element of your asset for a specific sub-group of prospects. And lastly, it’s possible to deploy multi-touch execution. This means delivering communications that take different approaches to promoting the same offer, varying the message and asset, and thus giving potential leads several chances to engage.
Be smart: Know who you want to engage and who you don’t.
Once you have your defined account list and, therefore, are targeting a more focused and finite audience, you can now more effectively identify advocates, influencers and buyers within the key accounts and not just those that are easiest to reach.
For example, social research will allow you to identify high-value influencers and engage them via social channels, email and phone. In turn, phone prospecting can get you deeper into the buying group, while structured research questions and verbatim phone transcripts allow other influencers to be discovered and added to the target list.
And with a smaller, higher-value group of accounts in scope, you can afford to target and reach a wider group of individuals within an account — for example, senior managers and even users who will advocate for an approach or technology.
Be everywhere (that matters): Take a multi-channel approach to engagement.
Just as ABM focuses your content syndication better, the same approach can be extended to your media strategy. Rather than taking a broad targeting approach, you can focus on a very defined audience, creating the effect of immersing your audience in your message, through the following approaches:
• Social media: Build account- and role-based targeting, reaching smaller, highly-defined audiences more often with value lead engagement.
• Display media: Using IP and cookie-level targeting, create ring-fenced company audiences and concentrate media spend, engaging a corporate audience and providing reporting at a company engagement level.
• Audience match: Marry content syndication with display media by way of an ID graph in order to target key individuals in your target audience.
• Intent audiences: Remember the intent signals that helped to identify target accounts? The same people who generated those signals can form digital audiences, allowing you to focus media on them.
Be complementary: Run account-centric demand generation alongside broader campaigns.
It’s not an either/or approach when looking at account-centric and volume-based demand programs; both have their place in your marketing mix. Let broad audience campaigns do what they do best: create awareness, reach new audiences and target at the top of the funnel. But avoid creating negative perceptions in accounts that believe you should know them better. Take these accounts out of your broad programs where generic messages might be a turn-off and make sure you are targeting them through your account-centric efforts.
For a marketer, there’s nothing more satisfying than creating a steady stream of high-quality leads that can convert. It’s the lifeblood of the function. By deploying a smart approach to account-centric demand generation, modeled on the steps above, it’s possible to significantly increase the quality of leads you are generating. The rewards most definitely justify the effort. And your colleagues in sales will thank you for it.