Most business leaders agree that it is a challenge to coordinate campaigns between marketing and sales teams while giving each team the freedom to succeed in their roles. But what if there were a way to perfect coordination between sales and marketing while deepening the connection to individual customer accounts at the same time? Impossible, right? Not really.
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic process of coordinating marketing and sales campaigns to build a connection with and initiate deeper involvement in specific customer accounts. It is a process that helps teams develop customized campaigns while addressing the key business problems facing the account and then map the problems to individuals and the company with the goal of creating a solution for specific problems.
This systematic approach to individual account management results in a significant increase in account closure while improving the speed at which agreements are made. All this, while providing closer integration between sales and marketing. With the benefits of account-based marketing (from here on referred to simply as account marketing) highlighted, let’s take a look at a quick guide to this marketing process.
Selecting refined accounts helps boost sales
Account selection is the primary consideration in the account marketing process. The goal of the company’s account selection process is to maximize sales. But this can only be achieved if marketing resources are channeled into accounts that are more likely to ensure a lasting return on revenue. When choosing the ideal accounts for account marketing, it is critical to consider the following issues.
- What customer attributes fit best with the products/services in question?
- What kinds of accounts have proven to be profitable over time?
- Which accounts offer the best strategic value?
But how can the company attach metrics to a particular customer account. Well the answer lies in processing the accounts with certain data in mind. There are four specific sets of data that must be considered – commitment, intent, firmographic (business profiles) and technical data.
Let us look at each of these data sets in detail and their importance for an account marketing campaign to be successful:
- Commitment data consists of any type of information that highlights how involved the company is with an account right now. Metrics in commitment data may include past sales, executive entry points, or reps’ activity levels. This is the type of data that can be found in a CRM system, web analytics and marketing reports.
- Intention data consists of information that highlights the signs that the company is in the market for a similar group at present. This may include data that shows the purchasing team that reviews the market. This type of data can also be found in forums and job boards.
- When reviewing firmographic data, a company will see the characteristics that best predict a successful sales process. This data could include information on the size of the company or the number of locations, or even the number of employees. Sources for this data include LinkedIn or third-party data providers.
- Technological data includes information about the technology that the prospect currently uses or is likely to invest in. And it should also include information about the technology it discards for a specific product or solution, or technology that provides a potential addition to its infrastructure.
For analyzing these data sets, companies can distill information by following a model that begins with the selection of data by their sales representative. This is done based on their experience working with their accounts. Then, the data collected by hand can be analyzed, followed by the advanced and acquired data. Finally, companies can take advantage of sophisticated modeling and analysis to focus on accounts with the highest value.
Conquer your goals with relevant and targeted content
The key to generating quality content for an account marketing program is to focus on engaging the audience. What types of content is most likely to inspire each person’s actions? For example, they are more likely to watch a 5-minute YouTube video than read a whole ebook!
This cannot be emphasized enough. Choosing content specific to each account is a critical consideration. So, in content creation, it is important for teams to know the kinds of resources that are already available and how this content compliments their marketing message. For this reason, a full content audit is recommended.
Often, one of the reasons why companies fail in their message when building an account marketing strategy is that they do not take full advantage of the content they already have at their disposal. Therefore, in shaping the content strategy, you must first perform a full audit of the content already available. Therefore in a viable audit process, the following points must be considered:
- Label the content by account, person, stage of purchase and main problem of the client,
- Identify gaps in content that will not be filled with current content, and
- Identify content that requires simple reviews to make it relevant to a specific account.
Once the content is sorted in these categories, companies can tailor content for each account based on the ‘deep knowledge’ they possess regarding that account. This process requires content managers to create a content calendar and then write summaries of content that can then be assigned to either internal writing teams or other specialist teams.
Develop a content game plan
To build compelling content for each level of the sales process within the marketing program, companies must start with a content game plan. This game plans maps to people and stages of purchase of the product. Creating this game plan will ensure that sales teams have access to the right information for each phase of their interactions with prospects.
Ensure consistent results with highly specific workflow strategies
Instead of promoting messages to large audiences and then filtering to the audience based on their response, companies that follow an approach in account marketing can conduct meaningful filtering before they interact with accounts. This involves a sophisticated multi-channel and multi-strategy process that initiates the conversation with a specific account and gives depth to the business relationship with that account.
For example, instead of simply focusing on e-mail campaigns to force C-level executive to respond to a request, companies can use phone calls and contact forms to determine what type of contact a specific person prefers.
An example of a workflow strategy, in which the company tries to achieve a cold business opportunity, may include the following steps:
- The configuration process begins by aligning all the company’s messages in a common theme, a business challenge or a special offer.
- The first wave of focus involves social media ads and various web portals to soften the vision of opportunity regarding the company.
- The second wave includes outgoing messages, whereby executives receive an email message and then a personalized contact from the sales teams by mail or telephone, and managers receive a more detailed email message followed by future communication.
Account marketing helps organizations to improve their marketing investments. It is a process that focuses resources on select accounts, while offering alignment of sales and marketing teams, as well as designing plans based on clear and practical data, and orchestrating communications with key decision makers. Through an account-centric marketing approach, organizations can transform marketing campaigns and build a replicable basis for success in the long run.