2020 was a true turning point for account-based marketing, as organizations doubled down on their ABM plays to engage with audiences on a more personal, human level during the age of digital transformation. According to Demand Gen Report research, 73% of marketers’ ABM expectations were exceeded during 2020. Given the prominence, success and longevity of this strategy, the Demand Gen Report team reimagined B2BMX with an ABM twist, and brought B2B Marketing Exchange: Next Level ABM to more than 2,000 attendees from across the globe.
Day one of #B2BMX kicked off with Andy Crestodina, Co-founder and CMO of Orbit Media, who discussed the importance of generating proprietary research and incorporating the findings into ABM campaigns. Greg Verdino, Author of “MicroMarketing: Get Big Results by Thinking and Acting Small,” closed out the day by diving into the intimate nature of ABM and why companies should focus their strategies on human-to-human connections. Instead of focusing on as many accounts as possible, day one highlighted the need to place the person behind the account at the forefront of engagement strategies and revenue streams, while delivering targeted, one-of-a-kind content.
Taking A Research-Based Approach To Comprehensive ABM Experiences
From sleeping with one eye open to see if the Tooth Fairy was real to comparing car reviews online, research has been embedded in our lives since day one. Given its integral role in human nature, it makes sense that this desire for facts and evidence transferred into our professional lives. As such, research is one of the primary drivers behind buying decisions, especially in the modern B2B space, noted Crestodina during his keynote.
According to Crestodina, the first step is to identify the ideal customer profile (ICP) and create an audience list segmented by industry to ensure the content is ending up in the hands that need it most. There’s a reason prospects aren’t engaging with companies, which, most commonly, was because they weren’t receiving the information they wanted — and, if they were, there was nothing to differentiate it from the competition.
“You have to have a hook,” said Crestodina. “Research is a fantastic way to give yourself a hook to attract attention. It’s a way to just give people information because the philosophy of the content marketer isn't to necessarily sell — it's to help people make a buying decision.”
Organizations should determine if their website is the primary source for any information and, if it isn’t, take the steps to make it one. All of this creation requires thoughtful planning — an area highlighted during RollWorks’ Lunch & Learn session. Devon Watts, the company’s Sr. Director of Corporate Marketing, explained that planning is the backbone of every ABM campaign. When companies are laying the groundwork for research, they must go in with a plan on how they’ll use the insights generated as part of their bigger-picture strategy.
When it comes to sharing the research-based content with prospects and clients, Crestodina reminded attendees to follow the laws of visual hierarchy: Video is more compelling than pictures; pictures are more compelling than text.
“A social media post might take me two minutes to create; a social media video might take me 20 minutes to create — that's 10x the effort, but it’s worth it because I'm getting 100x the results from this,” said Crestodina. “Always look to upgrade your content and formats as much as you can, even if it's 10X the work.”
In terms of live webinars, outreach should be manual and automated, Crestodina said, with the ultimate goal of tracking those who engage with targeted advertisements, as “the point is to demonstrate your expertise and make all your competitors irrelevant by showing you’re the best, most insightful choice to work with.”
Increasing ABM Effectiveness By Engaging The Individuals Within The Account
The evening keynote led by Verdino, explored the shrinking of mass marketing initiatives and influx of small-scale, 1:1 ABM programs.
Verdino focused on the importance of forging intimate account relationships. He said marketers are slowly moving away from reaching as many accounts as possible in favor of building stronger relationships with targets through real-time engagement in a smaller setting. This allows marketers to foster mutually beneficial relationships with accounts that drive lifetime value for customers and lead to brand advocacy.
“Mattering a lot to a few of the right people is worth far more than mattering just a little to everyone else,” said Verdino. “Forget about reaching as many people as possible — the future of marketing was, and still is, about building and maintaining deep, meaningful relationships between your company and its customers.”
Verdino emphasized the importance of involving key accounts in the ABM process, and that having a “Customer Council” is the best way to hold the accounts’ attention while building brand credibility. This involves the accounts in the brand’s ABM process, which allow marketers to take in feedback and shape future engagement to appeal to the account’s own processes.
“Brands earn attention when they give attention,” Verdino explained. “Businesses become more interesting to buyers when brands are more interested in those buyers, which helps you move away from interruption marketing to more interactive marketing. This is an opportunity to create participation, partnerships and dialogue through collaboration and co-creation.”
Verdino explained that while many modern marketers are leveraging personalization in their ABM programs, they often fail to engage the buying group or person that makes the purchasing decisions.
Digital marketing, however, has made it easier for marketers to learn about the interests and pain points of various individuals, and Verdino believes that marketers have an opportunity to connect with the individuals behind the accounts. Some tactical examples he explored include:
- Customizing Content For Individuals: Research reports, surveys and E-books can be marketed and customized for an individual’s pain points and areas of interest, which increases engagement with relevant data, research and case studies;
- Recalling First-Person Experiences: Sales reps in charge of accounts can speak to their own personal experiences on a pain point or process in 1:1 meetings with individual buyers, allowing the individual to build rapport with the brand they are engaging with and accelerate the buying process; and
- Leveraging Social Media Data: Marketers can determine an individual buyer’s interests through their social media activity, paving the way for creative outreach based on shared interests or pain points between the individual and the brand.
“The boundaries of the personal and the professional have eroded due to the pandemic,” said Verdino. “Marketing to an account without engaging each individual within that account in a genuine human way falls short of the promise of personal.”