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ABM: Why so few marketers get it right?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is the most in vogue B2B marketing tactic for the near future.

Earlier this year an industry survey found that:

  • 60% of B2B marketers use ABM in lead generation,
  • 52% use it to manage target accounts and
  • 44% use it in programmatic and display advertising.

And marketers shared the benefits they’re seeing with ABM initiatives:

  • More efficient use of marketing resources.
  • Better alignment between sales and marketing.
  • A clearer path to ROI.
  • Faster sales cycles.

Marketers are definitely feeling confident that ABM is the right strategy for their business.

But, at the same time, they’re struggling to execute ABM at scale.

Forget building the perfect program.

You’re better off creating an ABM strategy that makes the most of your existing tools and capabilities.

You need three basic ingredients to get your ABM strategy right:

  1. A list of named contacts, prospects or accounts.
  2. The ability to assign a monetary value that you could gain by pursuing these prospects.
  3. The ability to develop tailored marketing and sales support for each prospect.

Got that? Good.

Now let’s agree on how we’re going to put it all together.

I got my recipe from here:

  1. Client centricity and insight
  2. A partnership between sales and marketing
  3. Focus on reputation, relationships and, ultimately, revenue
  4. Tailored programs and campaigns

Getting ABM right requires a commitment of time and capital from both marketing and sales.

That means making tradeoffs.

And that means the effort must be worth the reward.

There are no ‘one-size-fits-all’ ABM strategies.

Undoubtedly ABM is a powerful marketing tactic.

But it’s not strategic unless you leverage your resources.

And tweak your approach to reach your unique customers.

There are several ways you can go about it.

Choose yours based on your needs.

This ITSMA Marketing tool will help you.

The level of personalisation you’re able to deliver will make or break your ABM campaign.

An ABM campaign from GumGum is a Hall of Famer, for sure.

GumGum, a computer vision company based in Los Angeles, wanted to get John Legere’s attention.

The GumGum team knew that if they could capture attention at the top of the organization, everyone else below would naturally follow.

As the tale goes, GumGum followed John Legere on social media to learn more about his likes and dislikes.

They discovered that he’s a huge Batman fan.

So they created a comic book that would engage T-Mobile’s leadership, explain computer vision capabilities, and express GumGum’s industry points of view.

They came up with T-Man, a Batman-inspired superhero.

And his trusty sidekick Gums, who uses image-recognising technology to help T-Man save the city from bad cell-phone service:

Image: GumGum

I know this one’s a bit out there.

But it’s the level of personalisation that really makes this campaign so cool.

GumGum made the effort to learn about their prospect and came up with a uniquely personalised way to approach him.

The lesson here is that you have to make the effort equal to the reward you’re after.

And you may just win a big client like T-Mobile.

As well as become a legend in ABM. Not too bad for a comic book.

Check out more examples of kick-ass ABM here and here.

Here’s another impressive example of ABM from RollWorks.

They designed a campaign based on pain points they had identified through customer feedback.

  • Step 1: The campaign started with personalised display ads that went live as soon as an SDR approached the prospect.
     
  • Step 2: The ads were accompanied by personalised emails by the SDR.
     
  • Step 3: The email drove the prospect to a personalised landing page to introduce them to the SDR.
     
  • Step 4: After the prospect visited the landing page, they would start getting targeted with personalised ads once again.
     
  • Step 5: Clicking on an ad would take them to another personalised landing page where they could schedule a meeting with the SDR.
Image: RollWorks

You’d think they’d stop there, right?

Instead, they followed up with the prospect with a post-meeting direct mail.

The mail included a note from RollWorks and a poster explaining how their services can benefit the prospect’s business.

For prospects that went cold, they sent a custom Over-the-Line Kit.

The kit included a notebook that outlined a checklist for getting their first campaign up and running.

And it had quotes from happy customers every few pages.

That was for the prospects who didn’t convert.

For those that did, RollWorks went one step further.

Leveraging the insight that new customers only used limited features of their product, they took out personalised display ads to educate the new customer of all the other features of the product.

The fact that the whole campaign is built around a unique customer insight makes it impressive.

And each step is designed to add value to the prospect, make them feel special and uses marketing channels that are available to everyone.

There is no single way to do ABM right.

But there is a way to get it wrong.

7/10 marketers define their ideal prospects to be C-Level executives or decision-makers.

Then they go about building a campaign to target these titles.

That’s a mistake.

A good marketing prospect is anyone who is looking for information.

In fact, that’s the first stage of any B2B path to purchase.

Often the best prospects are the influencers.

These are the employees who are constantly looking for information that:

  • benefits them personally,
  • helps them solve a specific problem,
  • gets them a promotion or
  • elevates their company as a whole.

If you’re getting started with ABM, define your prospect as someone who is going to:

  • introduce your solution to their organisation,
  • initiate the buying process and
  • be a brand advocate for your solution.

No matter where you are in your journey with ABM.

This is the ONE thing you need to get right.

How does B2B social media differ from B2C & strategies for building a great digital business

1

“It’s a no-brainer strategy” to use Black Friday and Cyber Monday content to also sell subscriptions, said Chris Erwin, founder of commerce consulting firm Rockwater. That’s because it’s about monetizing the audience in every possible way. If a publisher is seeing a surge in traffic come to its commerce or content channels, then it makes sense to spread that audience to other areas of the businesses as well and engage and monetize them through subscriptions or use that surge to sell advertising, he said.  

Digiday: How Wired leveraged Cyber Week readers to increase subscription revenue

2

“Facebook’s discriminatory recruitment and hiring practice is routine, ongoing, and widespread,” the complaint reads. “It discriminates against U.S. workers because of their immigration or citizenship status, and it harms them by limiting their ability to apply, to be considered, and to be hired.”

In simple terms, prosecutors believe Facebook was hiding job listings reserved for visa-bound workers that the company had already contacted and knew it wanted to hire. But in its rush to clear the lane for its preferred applicant, the company allegedly violated important labor rules.

The Verge: The Justice Department is suing Facebook for side-stepping visa rules

3

Facebook reported last year that around half of auto consumers say that recommendations from friends and family are influential when deciding which new brand to buy, and 77% indicated that posts on social media had made them consider buying or leasing a new model.

That’s a significant consideration, and now, Facebook’s providing more tools to help car dealers connect with potential buyers on its platforms.

Facebook has added three new elements to its automotive promotion tools.

Social Media Today: Facebook adds new tools for automotive advertisers

4

We have a simple, five-part approach to building new businesses: breakout, blueprint, build, boost, branch. How do you rapidly identify the idea that would drive a lot of value? How do you flesh it out in a blueprint so you can assemble the plan and the team? How do you quickly work cross-functionally to build the actual business—not just the product but the commercial and operational elements? The last two parts are taking the kernel of a business and boosting and scaling it quickly and then thinking through how to potentially spin it off.

McKinsey: Building a great digital business

5

Hybrid Theory uses Facebook to create brand awareness by informing its audience about current industry topics like statistics that enable the followers to always relate the interesting information to the company. LinkedIn is used to communicate the company’s expertise, with the objective to get in touch with potential customers by showing off concrete solutions for their needs. 

The content and objectives on social media should be designed according to whether the company is a B2B or B2C company. However, content should be adapted for the different platforms and their different audiences. 

The Drum: How does B2B social media differ from B2C?

6

The next evolutionary stage of technology depends on completing the transformation that will make silicon architecture as flexible, efficient and ultimately programmable as the software we know today. If we cannot take major steps to provide easy access to ML we’ll lose unmeasurable innovation by having only a few companies in control of all the technology that matters. So what needs to change, how fast is it changing and what will that mean for the future of technology?

TechCrunch: AI’s next act: Genius chips, programmable silicon and the future of computing

7

Whether advertising can make a difference to a company’s survival depends on how brands approach their marketing communications. As Debenhams has proved, high profile above-the-line brand building does not guarantee commercial success. But if a brand takes a bottom up approach, starting from the customer perspective – listening, learning, adapting and then optimising appropriately – the advertising outcomes will be more valuable, as the marketing communications can inform decision-making.

By reading the signals customers are giving them, rather than relying on the subjective opinions of boardroom members and partner agencies, marketers will avoid bias and focus on what shoppers want from the retailer.

Campaign: Could a marketing rethink reduce the chance of another Debenhams?

8

In the plan, the Commission says the forthcoming political ads transparency proposal will “target the sponsors of paid content and production/distribution channels, including online platforms, advertisers and political consultancies, clarifying their respective responsibilities and providing legal certainty”.

“The initiative will determine which actors and what type of sponsored content fall within the scope of enhanced transparency requirements. It will support accountability and enable monitoring and enforcement of relevant rules, audits and access to non-personal data, and facilitate due diligence,” it adds.

TechCrunch: Europe to put forward rules for political ads transparency and beef up its disinformation code next year

9

While they embrace their individuality, Gen Zers believe that they are better together, leaning into communities on social media to connect with others. Communities can be formed around an array of things such as neighborhoods, hobbies and support groups, providing a place of acceptance and belonging. According to a study commissioned by Facebook IQ, 30% of Gen Zers believe that a commitment to community can help brands communicate more effectively on Instagram and spark meaningful connections.

Advertising Age: The rise of Gen Z

10

He says that the huge growth in digital advertising has helped deliver scale, but not necessarily the right kind. There’s too much focus on identifying someone without thinking about how we connect with them more meaningfully based on the context. Affleck says an “obsession” with targeting, precision and accuracy has replaced established marketing theory and norms.

“Because we can identify someone, we have forgotten about the context in which we are talking to them, the mood they are in, and their mindset. Are they sitting forward, are they entertained? We’ve almost just forgotten all of that and are just hitting people with endless comms.”

“It is utter, utter nonsense,” he says. And so, plugging the strategic context into these hugely expensive media buys is the group’s selling point. At a time when budgets are tighter, clients must get more bang for their buck.

The Drum: The pandemic could awaken marketers from ‘dumb period’, says Havas Media’s Patrick Affleck

Millennials now wield more decision making power at work. What does that mean for marketing?

Since the global lockdown started we’ve all been spending a lot more time staring at our screens.

And that’s true for both our personal and professional selves.

Since the start of the pandemic, B2B buyers are consuming more online content than before.

And there are differences in the type of content consumed as well.

For instance, interest in reading:

  • Executive summaries increased by 265%,
  • Landing Pages increased by 139% and
  • Webinars increased by 108%.

For the digital natives, this is more ‘duh’ than a revelation but bare with me.

(I know I have a stack of downloads that I opted in for and then promptly forgot about.)

The interesting thing is that, for the first time, online content and digital interactions are not only replacing in-person meetings, but people seem to have developed a preference for them!

Research by McKinsey shows that buyers have enjoyed the efficiency and convenience of self-serve and remote interactions so much that only about 20% hope to return to in-person interactions.

As an introvert, I’m pleased by this statistic. As a digital marketer, I’m ecstatic!

This shift is already reflected in how marketers across Europe are planning their budgets for 2021.

There’s an increased focus on investing in innovation and the use of new technologies for engaging customers.

This isn’t a ‘new normal’ type of shift either.

Because I know you’re sick of hearing everything slightly out of the ordinary getting put under the ‘New Normal’ blanket.

But believe me when I tell you that this one is different. And I’ll tell you why.

Millennials have officially grown up (yay us!).

And they’re moving up the ranks and taking leadership roles in the workplace.

All generation shifts bring their own challenges. 

Millennials are the first cohort of digital natives that don’t have any professional experience predating Google, Facebook, Amazon and thousands of other cloud-based apps for, well… literally everything.

GWI and LinkedIn explored this generational shift and discovered that millennials, whom they’ve dubbed BETA, are already key influencers in their organisations as well as approach B2B purchasing very differently.

You can download the research from here.

B2B marketing needs getting back to basics

Build relationships and establish your status as an expert.

Jillian Ryan from eMarketer shared these eight invaluable solutions built off the back of their 2020 B2B marketing report.

Here are the one’s I’ll be taking to my clients: 

  1. B2B events may not be back in full swing until 2021. You need to actively embrace virtual interactions in thoughtful and interactive ways.
  2. Budgets are reduced. Be more vocal but also spend smarter. Run your campaigns in sprints with regular performance evaluations and recalibration.
  3. Businesses need to speed up recovery. And if your products can deliver that, now’s is the time to be social about it. Speak up and help your customers invest in the right solutions.
  4. COVID made the vulnerabilities in your supply chain stand out like a sore thumb. Work with your sales and logistics teams to find ways where marketing can help improve customer experience.
  5. Spoil your existing customers. This one rule hasn’t let me down so far. Your job as an expert is to make your customer wildly successful at their job. Have you been doing that lately? How can you improve?

It’s time to stop chasing top-of-the-funnel volume and start using account-based marketing to lend a hand and deliver your expertise where it’s needed the most.

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B2B buyers may not trust your website, but they won’t make a purchase decision without it

Making a sale can be challenging but making a purchase decision, it seems, more challenging still. According to Garner, the quality of your content can make all the difference.

A new report discovered that B2B buyers, on average, consume 13 different pieces of content before making a purchase decision – out of which eight are from the vendor’s website.

That’s a pretty big number don’t you think?

Especially when B2B buyers claim that they don’t have much faith in the trustworthiness of the claims made on those websites.

What in tarnation is going on here?

Take adtech for example; there are literally tens of thousands of vendors out there.

Picking the right tool can seem like finding the right needle in a haystack if the haystack was made out of other, almost identical needles.

It’s no wonder then that product specification and comparison pages on a vendor’s website are considered the most influential to purchase decision making.

Far more influential than ads, industry blogs or email marketing.

Context is king

People often start searching for a solution when they encounter a problem.

Depending on how urgent the problem is, their aim is to start exploring solutions as quickly as possible.

Completing a B2B purchase cycle can take anything from a few weeks to a few months.

In light of this research, what can you do?

First, create content targeting long-tail keywords. This will help you drive traffic during the problem identification phase.

Then, treat your website as a service with product description pages and comparison tools designed with the user in mind.

Do this and you’ll be a part of the conversation from the very beginning of the purchase journey (and more likely to end up on the final top 3 list of your potential clients).

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