It’s become an unwritten rule in modern B2B marketing: You can’t host an event without spotlighting account-based marketing’s (ABM) strides and its relation to revenue generation. The 2021 B2B Sales & Marketing Exchange (#B2BSMX) focused three of its keynotes on account-based and revenue-generating strategies, featuring experts such as Outreach’s Mary Shea, Microsoft’s Danny Nail and Demandbase’s Jon Miller.
Nail and Miller discussed how marketers are experimenting with ABM and account-based experience (ABX) strategies to drive engagement. Shea took a different angle, however, and focused on how organizations can harness the personalization aspects of ABM and ABX to drive revenue generation.
Collaborating At The Programmatic Level For ABM Success
First things first: How can an organization know that their ABM initiatives are working if they aren’t experimenting with them? In Nail’s keynote, “Inside The ABM Test Kitchen: Sharing Different Flavors & Recipes For Successful Programs… + A Few Gotchas Of What To Avoid,” he outlined the three levels of ABM:
- 1:1, which is highly personalized and customized;
- 1:few, which features high levels of personalization with some generic content; and
- 1:many, which is content that’s relatively generic and personalized by name or industry.
In order to create those highly targeted 1:1 and 1:few campaigns, Nail explained that sales and marketing teams must collaborate to understand prospects’ schedules and when to approach them. To determine the nuances of personalization and test campaigns, teams must conduct low-level research to improve their targeting and outreach.
“You need to use account-level insights as a foundation to understand the level of scale from the beginning,” explained Nail. “This includes in-depth insights, such as external industry and IT research, internal account plan review, stakeholder mapping and a deep dive into company profiles.”
In order to enable collaboration for #ABM, Marketing needs to make Sales aware of what ABM is and inform them of each account's preferences to enable proper engagement @Microsoft #B2BSMX @DannyNail pic.twitter.com/sjTRlwkgDa— B2B Sales & Marketing Exchange (@B2BMX) August 11, 2021
Nail also recommended that organizations create templated content that they can reuse and customize as necessary. Highlighting the importance of interactive content, he also discussed how repurposed content generates a higher return on investment (ROI). Given the multiple uses of this content, it demonstrates how ABM operates on a continual basis that requires constant research and content recreation from multiple teams.
“ABM is an ongoing process,” he explained. “The key is to determine the story you want to tell and identify how you’ll see it before giving it to the consumer.”
The Rise Of Revenue Innovators For ABM Flexibility & Predictability
In a keynote about driving predictable revenue, Shea focused on what she called “the new cohort of leaders,” which she referred to as revenue innovators. These innovators are coming into power in a highly transformative, ever-changing B2B environment where flexibility and predictability remains key.
“Right now, I consider us in the ‘next normal,’” said Shea. “Within this next normal, we’re seeing a period of economic challenges, major demographic shifts and Millennials are half of the global workforce. There are significant implications around how that demographic buys and sells. When you factor in political and social unrest and climate change, we’re seeing massive unpredictability.”
Shea cited Forrester research that showed 54% of revenue leaders say an uncertain economic environment is going to impact their mode of market performance strategies, while 38% said they are anticipating evolving market requirements. Shea explained that companies, consequently, are operating in smaller-scale sales forces now compared to pre-pandemic times, and require more agile teams that can adapt to their account’s needs.
Within these teams, she continued, is the need to ensure all employees have the technology they need for success. This new “cohort of revenue innovators” uses all the technology at their disposable to put their buyers at the center of their strategies. ABM and ABX initiatives are fueled by the technology those innovators can easily implement to manage their account data and predict revenue and engagement.
“I think CRM’s moment is over and it’s moving to a different place in the sales tech stack,” said Shea. “The new platforms need to manage outreach, conversational intelligence, engagement and intelligence. These platforms can extract all of the activity that’s happening across the buying cycle, such as content consumption and engagement, and bring it together to shape intelligence that everyone can act on.”
How To Create F.I.R.E. ABX Content
As powerful as ABM is, there are limitations — specifically, it tends to target accounts whether they’re in-market or not. During an evening keynote about the power of experiential marketing, Miller suggested organizations consider implementing ABX, an even more targeted extension of ABM. Given ABX’s experiential nature and ability to align go-to-market goals with account journeys, there’s a need for close alignment and collaboration between sales, marketing and customer success teams.
"The account-based experience is an umbrella term, which allows to bring our marketing, sales and customer experience teams under one roof. This allows us to build personalized experiences for our accounts while driving pipeline." - @jonmiller #B2BSMX @Demandbase pic.twitter.com/58rW53H4vl— B2B Sales & Marketing Exchange (@B2BMX) August 11, 2021
Through this alignment, Miller explained that the internal departments involved should work together to analyze the various data signals to determine which accounts would most benefit from highly customized campaigns. He recommended the F.I.R.E. methodology to streamline the target selection process, which focuses on:
- An account’s Fit into the organization’s ideal customer profile (ICP);
- The level of Intent a prospect demonstrates;
- A review of the account Relationship, and
- An analysis of an account’s Engagement.
“A big enterprise might take all this information and throw it to their data scientists, but smaller companies don’t have the ability,” explained Miller. “We actually combined those ingredients into ‘pipeline predict,’ which is a score on how likely a target will become an opportunity in the next 30 days by analyzing its on- and off-site behavior. Once you have the four F.I.R.E. pieces, you can use them to understand and map where the accounts are in their unique journey.”
Once the account’s journey is accurately mapped, the next level of ABX revolves around reaching accounts at the right time with customized content that demonstrates a deep understanding of an industry and its unique issues. Target accounts want fresh ideas and insights; not recycled pieces of knowledge they’ve seen five or six times.
If you’re craving more #B2BSMX takeaways, check out our recap on how marketers are revamping their ICPs to fix their go-to-market strategies with Gartner’s Craig Rosenberg and Terminus’ Sangram Vajre. For an overview of the new age of branding guidelines, check out our recap of Corporate Visions’ Carmen Simon and MarketingProfs’ Nick Westergaard branding keynotes.