4 Ways to Use Insights for More Effective ABM

Author: 
Jim Fowler

Buzzwords don’t get much buzzier than account-based marketing. Marketers in the B2B space are all about it, and there’s data to back that assertion up. SiriusDecisions’ 2016 State of Account-Based Marketing Study found that 27 percent of respondents invested between 11 and 30 percent of their total marketing budgets into ABM.

Still, while it’s great in theory, ABM isn’t all that practical for most businesses. Even if you’re going after a few standouts, the cost and manpower to execute such a high-touch campaign could put an entire business at risk if the sale doesn’t pan out.

That’s why, as a marketer, you'll get more mileage from your materials by employing ABM to court many similar accounts rather than just one. Sure, you may need to make a few tweaks here and there depending on the prospect, but most of a campaign remains intact. The insights gained from one company give you a peek into what makes competing companies tick and how to best appeal to them.

In the Event of…

At its core, ABM is a communication strategy. The goal is to create a back-and-forth between you and your prospects, in which you look for triggers, data, and insights from your accounts, then shape your messaging around that.

Let’s say, for example, you’re working in the information security industry and a cloud storage company experiences a data breach. This public-facing event provides an opportunity for you to strike up a conversation with prospects, not just broadcast content about your services.

That means you must be aware of what’s happening within your chosen space at any given time and how those events affect your customer base. In other words, everything is about cause and effect, and understanding causes and effects can simplify the account-based process for you. They illustrate the demand for your products and services, and you can use them to shape your ABM campaign.

Whether it’s revenue growth, customer churn, or something happening holistically in a segment of an industry, trust there will always be indicators available for your business needs. You just need know when they happen to understand how to use them to your advantage to spark up relevant communication between you and your prospects.

These indicators provide you with the clean stream of actionable insights you need in order to power your ABM strategy. If you’re not starting off with clean fuel, the rest of your process is bound to break down.

Basing Marketing on Accounts

How you go about turning those actionable insights into an ABM campaign will vary by industry, but the following steps provide a good base to work from:

1. Take the account’s temperature. Personalized communication is an ABM cornerstone. In fact, according to a CEB survey, customers are 40 percent likelier to purchase from a supplier who delivers content tailored to their specific needs.

If you’re not gleaning insights from your prospects’ business initiatives, challenges or changes, you can’t speak to their current state, and your marketing efforts won’t resonate as profoundly as they could. Simply put: You’re not speaking your audience’s language.

Invest in an alerts system that provides updates within your industry and at competing companies. Keep track of funding, leadership changes, and acquisitions at competing brands and use that information to craft a new approach toward gaining new accounts. If something pops up, you can quickly reach out with a congratulatory message that can lead to a deeper conversation.

In other words, news is indispensable to an ABM campaign. It provides the agility necessary to personalize your messaging and speak directly to what a prospect currently cares about at a given point in time.

2. Remember for whom you’re working. By now, no one needs to tell you to position the customer at the center of your marketing campaigns. After all, you’ve probably built your whole strategy around persuading companies to make a purchase. But honestly, you’re still putting your company first in that scenario.

While there’s not enough time in the day to keep track of every interaction with every individual at every account, you can work toward establishing stronger relationships by listening to an account’s overall needs. Try to forge a relationship with the account as a whole, not each person within the organization.

In a study by the Information Technology Services Marketing Association, 84 percent of B2B marketers said ABM produces a better return on investment than any other marketing option. Instead of simply thinking of it as yet another way to market your wares, make ABM about meeting in the middle and providing an experience that customers can’t get from any other company. Marketing isn’t a game of chase.

But understanding how customers experience your company can be a challenge. Most customer experience metrics don’t provide insights at the account level. They’re all about the individual or specific issues, not the overall experience.

3. Be the solution. Chances are you got into business because of some idea that solved some problem for someone. Never lose sight of that. Not only is it the reason your current customers do business with you, but it’s also the reason a lead will decide to come back to you in the future.

Listen to the needs of your target audience, and use what you learn to optimize all your products and services to meet those needs. Doing so makes it much easier to present your company not only as a solution, but also as the obvious choice among the competition.

Ask yourself why companies ever think of using someone else, what their biggest pain points are, and other questions that can help you stand out from the competition. Be the answers to those questions.

It’s essential to understand what you’re listening for so that opportunities don’t pass you by. If you have a clear plan in place for what to react to and how to react to it, you’ve got all the makings of an ABM campaign. Just listen to your customers, and they'll tell what they need.

Jim Fowler is founder and CEO of Owler, the world’s largest community-based business insights platform that business professionals use to outsmart their competition, gain competitive insights, and uncover the latest industry news and alerts.. Prior to Owler, Jim founded Jigsaw in 2003 and was CEO until it was acquired by Salesforce in 2010 for $175 million.