When you work in B2B sales and you’re targeting larger companies, you’ll often be faced with a team of decision makers and a longer sales cycle. One of the best strategies you can use in this situation, is account based marketing (ABM).
In simple terms, it means that instead of focusing on a particular type of buyer (your buyer personas) and generating leads from any company going, you instead focus on targeting individuals within specific companies you want to land.
It is a strategic approach that’s based around using personalized messages, campaigns and outreach programs to attract and maintain the attention of specific, high-value accounts.
Personalization is important for any kind of content or inbound marketing campaign, but it’s vital for account based marketing. The more personal you can be, the more likely it is you’ll get results.
Great ABM content that will help you win clients is content that is relevant, timely and highly personal.
You start by building a profile of the accounts you want to target. You’ll then need to spend some time finding out who you need to be talking to, in what way and how to reach them. This will guide and influence all the content you produce.
Get creative and take a step away from only using webinars or white papers. Instead, experiment with all forms of content and how it can be delivered. Content that ticks all the right boxes will work and be noticed by the people you want to see it.
If you’re faced with charming a team of buyers, then remember that each individual within the group is different and is likely to be spending time on various channels. Some may read blogs, or participate in forums and industry groups, while others prefer to engage in social media, or may only be found offline at networking events.
You need to figure out which channels are most likely to be used and then think what kind of content will work best to use them. This should form the basis of your planning – i.e. the channels you will use, the type of content you need and what the messaging will be.
Always make sure your stories are consistent and make sense when put together.
How to personalize content
Personalization means showing that you understand who they are as a company, and also what they need and want as an individual.
What are their challenges? What do they need? What might help them achieve their goals?
The information you need
Gathering information is going to be top of the list if you’re to make personalization work.
You need to know the unique circumstances of each target account, so you can use personalization to make your content stand out from the rest.
Here are some tactics for gathering the information you need:
- Use custom fields on your website
When visitors convert on an offer on your website (for example by handing over their email address in exchange for getting hold of a whitepaper), they will generally do so by filling in a simple form on your website. The best way to make use of such forms is to use progressive profiling – building up a picture of them over time. The worst thing you can do is to rush it and try and find out everything straightaway. That will put people off and just doesn’t work. Instead, every time they visit your website ask them a little more. Aim to find out more and more about who they are and what they are looking for.
- Monitor website behavior
How a contact behaves on your website will also provide you with valuable data. Have tools in place to track what web visitors are doing – such as which pages they look at, how long they stay on the site and how often they return. This information will give you a good indication of what their level of interest may be (provided, of course, you have a well thought through website that offers the type of content which makes this possible).
- Publicly available info
Don’t forget about information that is already out there in the public domain. That means anything you can find on search engines or social sites, for example. Modern software can do lots of the hard work for you, by automatically filling in all the details that are known about a person and their company, including social profiles. At Lead Forensics, we can even take it a step further by offering our customers the opportunity to get hold of contact details for the decision makers within a company.
Find out how Lead Forensics works in our free Introduction to Lead Forensics.
- Personal interaction
You will also be generating important information through every interaction that a contact has with you and your organization. Make sure anytime someone from your company has any kind of contact with a lead, that notes are recorded about it. Not only when it happened, but also full details about the conversation and any actions. Again, advanced management systems and intelligent tools can help you here by offering ways to automate the process.
Why segmentation is important
If you’re using ABM, you need to be clever with your segmentation.
When you’re just starting out, your main focus should simply be to gather data. Then, as you get more involved and start to make progress, it’s time to start looking at what segments are making the most sense.
This segmentation should be a mix of behavior (what the person has done), as well as demographics (such as industry, age and location).
This will then form the basis of your personalization.
Imagine for a second you sell commercial energy efficiency technology and someone has visited your website three times to look at pages concerning the functionality of solar panels for businesses. You can be pretty confident they have an interest in the subject.
You may choose to send them some highly relevant information at this point (such as how to use solar panels in their particular industry), using specific, tailored wording to show them you know what you’re talking about. The golden rule here is that it should never appear like generic copy.
Even if you’re not taking an ABM approach, segmentation is important for any content marketingcampaigns. The difference being that in general campaigns it will naturally be more generic, simply because you need to cast your net wider.
However, to use segmentation effectively for ABM you need to up your game. Which is why it is generally only used to market to high level accounts, which warrant the effort it will take to get them.
Make your website personal
With ABM, it’s also important to go to the effort of customizing your website experience for visitors too.
Thanks to things like IP numbers and cookies, it is now possible to give a returning visitor a different experience altogether. The changes don’t have to be big – subtle and highly targeted tweaks can make all the difference and ensure the person feels welcome and understood.
Whether the changes are obvious or very small, your conversions will increase if you can provide a personalized browsing experience. One of the simplest examples of this is a website changing its language automatically based on the location of a visitor.
Send strong emails
ABM is about using as much personalized information as you can. Aim to address a lead’s unique challenges and goals, and really show you have done your homework.
Never (ever!) send a generic, impersonal email. At the very least, always address the person by name. This is important for any kind of email marketing you do, but again, with ABM it’s crucial. You have to step it up and make your emails truly unique and personal. There’s no quick fix if you want to be effective.
Create unique CTAs
Many marketers also report increased conversion rates from including a personalized call to action (CTA). The more data you hold and the better you segment your contacts, the more effective personalized CTAs will be.
That’s because you are going to be offering the right piece of content, to the right person, at exactly the right time.
There are loads of digital marketing and advertising tools around today that can also enhance your results. Retargeting being one tactic that needs to be on the radar.
It’s now possible to show highly targeted advertising to people who visit your website, when they’re on other sites. As you know the pages of your website they looked at, you can then set it up so they automatically see adverts relating to the content they were interested in.
Think about interaction not just personalization
And remember it isn’t just about the type of personalization you use, but also how you interact. People do business with people after all – something which is as true in B2B sales as it is for any other type of business transaction.
Be personal and communicate well, especially when you engage on social media, it will pay off in the end.
Get team collaboration
ABM will work best if all departments – from sales and marketing, to customer services and accounts – are working together. You need to join together to aim for a common goal and to ensure you provide a strong, bespoke experience for each target account.
To make it happen, have regular cross-team meetings and discuss and agree on all strategic decisions. Use the insights each team has gained to create the strongest content and customer journey you can. This will lead to results.
Finally, think of AMB as trying to step into the shoes of the person you are targeting. Find out what they are looking for, what they are doing, who they are and then think how you can help them. That way you will be able to create a truly personal experience which gets you more opportunities and ultimately leads to more sales.