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Account-based Marketing

Making Account-Based Marketing Work at Scale

How do you know two marketers are talking about account-based marketing? Their lips are moving. ABM has taken the marketing world by storm – and with good reason. According to Demand Metric, 96% of B2B marketers say ABM is key to their success and 60% of those who have employed ABM for at least one year attribute a revenue increase of 10% or more to its use. But there’s a big difference between talking the talk and walking the walk when it comes to implementing a successful ABM strategy.

B2B marketers face challenges in making ABM work at scale – from finding the resources needed to create the type of focused micro campaigns that a successful ABM strategy requires to measuring interest and engagement on an account-wide basis in order to know which accounts are the most sales-ready and which are not.

Reducing the ABM burden on already overtaxed marketing teams
Creating scalable digital marketing campaigns for specific named accounts can be a significant hurdle for many marketing organizations. Once you’ve created a target account list and mapped the relevant content that is tailored to each segment, you still need to create highly targeted micro campaigns that move prospects from early stage awareness all the way to purchase consideration.

Much of the focus in ABM today is on early stage acquisition or conversion but this neglects the key to truly cultivating interest: nurturing key accounts until they are sales ready. Simply getting the right people from your target account to visit your website, click on your ad or engage with content over social channels is not enough. Once you capture that initial interest, what’s your plan for keeping that account engaged?

This is where content marketing automation comes in. By automating the packaging and sequence of related content for specific audiences and delivering these personalized content journeys whenever or wherever your target buyer clicks, content marketing automation removes the need for complicated microsites, landing pages and custom web development, allowing marketers to create highly personalized, micro campaigns as the destination for every click. In fact, content marketing automation can provide enough scale and efficiency that a marketer could create a set of custom content journeys for every account they wish to target.

Identifying your most engaged and sales-ready accounts
Research has shown that engaged prospects will consume multiple content assets per session. This “content bingeing” behavior is a key indicator of deep engagement and sales readiness. Some content marketing automation customers report that buyers who exhibit this binge behavior are 2.4X more likely to be accepted by sales than those who do not.

Not only does this technology accommodate the behavior of a buyer who wants to binge on related content, it also tracks and identifies when this behavior is being exhibited so marketers can take appropriate action. By tracking exactly which assets each individual within an account has consumed and how long they have spent reading or watching it, content marketing automation allows marketers to unpack engagement and intent at the account level. Getting a target account to visit your site or click on your ad is one thing; knowing they spent 25 minutes consuming multiple pieces of content in a journey customized just for them provides a whole other level of insight.

This post-click engagement data can be easily incorporated into lead or account scores to demonstrate not only which accounts have clicked, but which are highly engaged with your content and self-educating. These engagement thresholds can then be used to accelerate lead scores, alert sales or trigger additional campaigns, providing greater insight into an account’s sales-readiness.

ABM Requires a More Grownup Definition of Conversion
According to a recent study from Demandbase and Wakefield Research, 33% of marketers continue to measure success by conversion rates, with 19% by cost per impression, 17% by total leads and target account lift, and 15% by click-through rate. In order for marketers to realize the full potential of their ABM investments, this needs to change. Here’s why:

Let’s say you’re a provider of solutions and services to the financial sector and that two large banks are on your named account list. You’re targeting both of these accounts with your ABM micro campaigns in an effort to educate, influence and inform their path to purchase. In terms of traditional marketing metrics like click throughs, the two target accounts both look pretty much the same. So how do you gauge which account is the most sales-ready and prioritize your efforts accordingly? Is getting a contact at the account to click enough? Wouldn’t you rather know what happened on the other side of that click?

Attention as a unit of currency across an account
Instead of tracking a series of discrete events (e.g. click throughs and content downloads), which provide at best faint signals of buyer intent, you need real attention metrics and account-level insight. The ability to measure real content engagement – what content assets contacts are actually viewing and how much time they’re spending with them – on an account-wide basis is the key to making ABM work.

Content engagement analytics provide insight into the totality of an account’s engagement with your content. Put another way, you can think of it as a way of measuring an account’s collective attention span across all the various contacts within a target organization.

Intensity Not Just Intent
So let’s go back to those two banks on the target account list: If the content engagement data tells you that in Bank A, 3 different people have had only cursory engagement with your content, spending no more than a few minutes with it, whereas in Bank B, 15 different people spent quality time with a number of different pieces of your content (totalling several hours collectively), which would you say is more sales-ready? It’s about measuring the intensity of engagement within an account, not just weak signals of buyer intent, and using this insight to zero in on accounts where the interest and engagement is highest.

Summing Up
Rather than casting a wide net, account-based marketing is about narrowing the focus to identify, target and engage accounts that are the most likely to purchase. Done right, ABM is the inevitable evolution of demand generation. Content marketing automation can play a key role in allowing you to move your buyers – both known prospects and anonymous visitors – through a journey of relevant content faster and more effectively.

By automating the sequence and delivery of content into highly engaging, personalized experiences that allow buyers to consume multiple assets per session, marketers are able to fast-track buyer education within accounts, optimize content engagement, improve lead qualification and gain new insight into the sales-readiness of target buyers.

Learn More at Marketing Innovation Summit, April 20-21
If you’re heading to Marketing Innovation Summit in San Francisco, check out my presentation Bet on Bingeing: Why Content Consumption is the Key to Better Conversion. I’ll be looking at how leading organizations are driving greater engagement with their content and delivering better qualified sales opportunities by accommodating their prospects’ desire to binge. And if you miss MIS, you can still catch my ABM session with John Dering, Director, Marketing Programs, Demandbase at Oracle MME in Las Vegas: Making Account-Based Marketing Work: Aligning ABM with the Buyer’s Journey.