The disruption of the last 12 months has driven many if not all companies to re-think how they operate and shift legacy, longstanding strategies. This is not just internal workflows with their team but also externally to their clients and customers. Perhaps some of these changes were the shake-up the market needed, with many elements of our new normal being carried forward into the future as they are just better. We have certainly seen a few of these at oneninefive.
Acquiring new customers has proven to be one of the biggest challenges in 2021. With no face-to-face meetings, live expos or events companies are having to create innovative ways to capture the attention of their next customer. Something that is not new, but is certainly taking centre stage right now, is account-based marketing (ABM). For those that know the value of ABM it has been a go-to strategy for a while, although some companies have been slower to take it up. However, 2020 was the year that forced everyone to rethink their tactics and workflows, meaning that 2021 is understandably going to be the year that all B2B marketers embrace an account-based approach.
Ultimately, what we want is to engage with active accounts that show buying intent, although finding this decision-making unit in a remote and digital world is becoming increasingly challenging. Therefore, the focus must shift towards cutting through the noise. While in previous years the goal has been about a big volume, spray and play approach the game plan now must centre around big but accurate volumes; 1: many ABM.
In addition, the buying journey has shifted with it moving to remote and self-serve models over the last 12 months. This is something to be aware of when targeting your prospect accounts as 90% of B2B decision-makers expect the remote and digital model to be carried forward into the future. Therefore, targeting the right accounts with the right messaging is crucial since there will be no human-human engagement to persuade or negotiate; you will win or lose.
Underpinning all this though is good quality and accurate data. This is critical to the success of your ABM strategy. With everyone moving to digital prospecting channels, the field is incredibly saturated, and therefore working from first-party data where you can track and measure your prospective customers' intent signals are vital. It allows positive alignment between sales and marketing, with consistent and timely messaging, meaning when things change - as we know they can on a knife-edge - both teams are aware and can reposition their approach appropriately.
Putting the need for a high volume of targeted, quality leads and first-party data together, we must then think about the messaging to our prospective customers. This must be timely and be able to cut through the hundreds of other emails they are receiving. Video messages are proving to be hugely successful, with many buyers preferring them to plain audio. It is more engaging, breaks up their day, and replicates the face-to-face (sort of). We are social beings that enjoy human interaction, meaning there is lower resistance to accepting a video call than a face-to-face meeting.
No one could have written the year we have had. However, amidst the pain, fear, and disruption there are certainly some great new ways of thinking and working. Maybe we were flirting with the idea of some of them and this has been the driver to make us act. Maybe we had to think on our feet and reinvent the wheel as we knew it. Either way, 1: many ABM has always been a bulletproof marketing strategy that layered with accurate and good quality data, will prove hugely beneficial in 2021.
- Emma Laing, Account Director - North America