Account Based Marketing is partly about engaging account stakeholders with information, content and events that pique their interest, but what are the channels of engagement that are appropriate for the right person at the right time, and how does the model of the customer relationship evolve over time? Engagement planning is a key aspect of any ABM project. Defining what collateral is a match for the customer organization and the targeted individual within that organization is critical. The same goes for honing the message tone and all these will vary depending on the stage of the customer lifecycle, the person’s interests and past activities. It’s also about knowing when those individuals want to be reached and how channels can be profitably combined using an omni-channel approach. Some of these efforts will be sprints in pursuit of a specific short-term opportunity and others will be marathons with a slow-cooking and gentle nurturing of the customer/prospect taking place over long stretches of time. This nurturing might feature tens or even hundreds of bespoke interactions.
“Often on big accounts you will see an expanding number of decision makers pursued with a bold ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ attitude and with different channels used to cajole them,” says Agent3’s Greg Salmon. “But if I were to offer one piece of advice it would be to start small and scale out. What not to do is to be hell bent on a certain tactic or channel. Also, some companies invest loads of time and money in making everything measurable and the frequent problem is they can’t see the wood for the trees. They have all these disparate sources and they can end up generating numbers for numbers’ sake rather than identifying real insights. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket or spam people, but do keep knocking on the door as a cumulative effect takes place if you’re delivering the right content to the right people at the right time.”
Peter Bell, director of product marketing at marketing automation software company Marketo, agrees that a ‘softly, softly’ approach that avoids spamming and is respectful of the needs and interests of the target audience is wise. He says that collecting data over time provides valuable ways to look at customer behavior in new ways, for example seeing how organizations as a whole are responding to certain topics or formats, rather than just individuals. That in turn allows for fine-tuning of messages. Bell sees a few new trends, saying that he believes overly-long content won’t get read, that Facebook is only increasing in power as a partner for marketers, and that websites must be assessed for their ability to generate revenue. He also says that, with tighter regulation around data and privacy, such as GDPR, looming, the end is nigh for mass mail-outs that ‘spray and pray’ for lead generation. But he also warns not to forget the analogue world. “If you’re looking to ‘intercept’ the customer you have to have inherently a multichannel approach – that could be search, websites, digital advertisements, email, Facebook, Instagram, syndicated content, a whole gamut of digital activities – but it could also be analogue activity.
“Offline behavior has to be integrated and captured with overall profiling or it’s an incomplete picture. If you visit a booth at a trade show or don’t log a purchase you have the equivalent of that thing we’ve all experienced in the B2C world: why are you showing me ads for a product I bought yesterday? That means you need to update systems appropriately and in a timely fashion. It’s not in the realms of science fiction but it takes sales and marketing commitment and alignment.”
Click here to download the full ABM Insight Report and learn about more ABM best practices across the following fundamental areas:
- Selecting the right accounts
- Targeting the right decision-makers
- Aligning sales and marketing
- Leveraging the power of predictive analytics
- Proving the value of ABM
- Managing change to ensure ABM success