There’s a lot of buzz lately about account-based marketing (ABM). That buzz has left some marketers wondering whether or not account-based marketing and content marketing can work together. The answer is yes, of course!
Before we start talking about how they go together, let’s define what account-based marketing is.
ABM programs allow organizations to place more resources and effort toward key accounts and marketing to each one or a small group of similar companies as its own market. An account-based marketing strategy requires tight alignment between sales and marketing. While the amount of effort and resources applied to this type of marketing is high, the payoff can be, too.
This move toward ABM has ruffled some B2B marketing pro’s feathers. After all, they’ve been slaving away on inbound and content marketing programs for the past several years to bring in leads. Now all of the sudden people want to flip the script and focus on the aggressive pursuit of specific accounts.
Is ABM Right for Your Business?
The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice content creation and inbound marketing efforts in favor of account-based marketing. However, you decide to tackle ABM campaigns, consider the following questions:
- Is your target audience primarily B2B?
- Do you have to deal with more than one decision maker?
- Do deals for your products or services take three or more months to close?
- Do you have the sales and marketing staff to support an ABM strategy along with your regular content marketing strategy?
- Are the sales and marketing teams aligned — or at least open to aligning — so they can pull off successful account-based marketing campaigns? (The Content Marketing Institute found that only 19% of enterprise respondents say that content marketing and sales teams are extremely or very aligned. In fact, 28% report there is little to no alignment between the functions.)
If the answers to the questions above don’t uncover any roadblocks to ABM, then let’s talk more about account-based marketing and content marketing.
Identify Your Targets
With account-based marketing, you need to think about target organizations, not target personas. Market research can be useful here, but you should also work closely with your sales team to identify the right target accounts.
Research Your Targets
You want to get the all the details you can about how decisions are made for a product or service like yours and who’s who when it comes to making those decisions. Look in your CRM for any past intelligence gathered about an organization. Another great source of this type of information is LinkedIn. Use advanced search capabilities to narrow down your list of potential stakeholders. Don’t forget to look into other details that may trigger or reinforce the need for a solution like yours. Set up Google Alerts to help you monitor for big company news — acquisitions, new product launches, and more.
Audit Your Existing Content Library
If you’ve been creating content for your brand for the past few years, then you should have a collection of high-quality blog posts, ebooks, videos, reports, and other great content assets that you can repurpose for use in an ABM strategy. As you’re reviewing your existing content, look at it through the lens of one of your target accounts. Also, think about each of the influencers and decision makers at that company. What may they expect to see to help them make an informed buying decision? Once you’ve audited your existing content, you should have a list of what assets you can repurpose for ABM and what types of content you still need to create.
Make Your ABM Content Highly Relevant
Remember, your ABM content needs to be customized to address the pain points, needs, and the team of your target account. Just adding a couple of personalized lines to insert a decision maker’s name and the company name in an otherwise general piece of content is not enough.
As Jon Miller, the CEO and co-founder of Engagio, wrote for Curata, there are some effective personalizations you can make to content you already have on hand. These include:
- Changing the title or subtitle of a post or article to make it more targeted to the company you’re trying to sell to
- Using photos and images that align with the target industry or account
- Sharing case studies that pertain to your target account’s market or vertical
- Revising an asset’s introduction and conclusion to speak directly to a specific account or group of accounts
- Create a custom, personalized landing page and email
Of course, you can take your content to the next level and vertical-lize or super-personalize new assets the intended audience. Here are a few ideas.
Low(er) effort content ideas for ABM
Sure, you still have to write a blog post or curate content here, but these content approaches can cast a slightly larger net that hyper-personalized content does.
- Industry or niche-specific trends
- Pain point and solution posts
- More general posts where you can mention the target account as an example (positive) to bring decision makers’ attention to your company
- Curated content hubs using a tool like Scoop.it where you can focus on aggregating and commenting on industry or niche-specific articles
High effort content ideas
With these types of assets, we are talking “I Only Have Eyes for You,” super-specific and highly personalized.
- Blog posts focused on a single target account. You can create articles that are not indexed or searchable on your site — your reps share the link with the appropriate account.
- Single-account content hubs using a tool like Scoop.it to curate highly relevant posts for a single account. For example, you might include news about competitors where you add your own commentary about how the target account can defend against moves the competition makes. You could include your hyper-focused, one-to-one blog posts here, too.
- Customized reports for a single account.
Arm Your Sales Teams with the ABM Content They Need
Someone on your sales team will likely be the one to deliver a lot of the ABM content you create. Therefore, you need to make sure the team has access to all the assets you’ve developed to help them with account-based selling.
As a HubSpot Partner Agency, Jackson Marketing recommends using HubSpot’s documents library. However, there are a host of sales enablement platforms you can choose from to make content more accessible to your sales team.
Promote Your Content to Your Target Accounts
While salespeople will directly interact with target ABM accounts, marketers can help get the word out via social media sites and other forms of promotion. Most social media sites allow you to create custom audiences. Upload your targets to reach them that way. You can also use Google Ads and some social advertising platforms to remarket to your key accounts.
Additional methods include:
- Email marketing
- Old-school direct mail
- Targeted blog posts (in a custom hub or on a no-index page that you or your sales reps share directly with targets)
- Podcasts or webinars where you invite an executive or influencer from your target accounts to participate
- Strategic mentions of key accounts in blog posts and articles
Measure Your Progress
You need to track how target accounts interact with your brand once you’ve initiated ABM. Look at things like:
- Your list of known individuals from an account — has it grown?
- Are you seeing more engagement from target accounts after enacting ABM?
- Have you gained new accounts from your activities? Have you increased sales with existing accounts thanks to ABM?
Are You Using Account-Based Marketing?
ABM isn’t for every company. If you sell a $10 industrial widget, the expense and effort of account-based marketing probably doesn’t make sense. However, if you have a long sales cycle with many decision-makers in the mix, it may be worth it to investigate how ABM could shorten sales times and improve close rates.
What Sales and Marketing Technology Do You Need?
If you’re ready to charge ahead with ABM, make sure you’ve got the right software and solutions on hand to help you put your best foot forward.
Marketing Automation. Select a marketing automation platform that enables you to use dynamic content for personalizing and customizing specific pages of your site to key accounts.
The best automation solutions will include tracking, reporting, landing page creation tools, forms, and email marketing modules. To make ABM easier, make sure your marketing automation platform integrates with your CRM or sales engagement solution (or both!). An option like HubSpot makes it easy. HubSpot comes with its own CRM and sales tools, but it also integrates with popular CRM platforms.
Sales Engagement Tools. Your sales team needs the right technology, too. Often CRM alone is not enough. Look for sales engagement tools that help sales reps manage their cadence and outreach efforts. Think about a solution such as the one from our friends at VanillaSoft, or use tools provided by HubSpot’s Sales Hub. Better yet, use two solutions like these together.
You may want to add some additional bells and whistles to your ABM outreach like text messaging (to opted-in numbers only), one-to-one videos using a solution like Vidyard or Dubb, and social selling tools such as LinkedIn Navigator.
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