Our recent webinar on Marketing Planning and Performance in an ABM World covered a lot of territory. With three experts in the field each bringing insights from their particular background and specialty, attendees got a heaping dose of knowledge in exchange for the hour they spent.
It’s not too late to gain some of that knowledge yourself. The webinar recording is still available, if you register at the link above.
If you’re not quite sure about watching yet, our webinar recap can give you some of the highlights.
The first panelist, marketing influencer and B2B advisor Jason Hekl, started us out by defining ABM as “demand creation and customer relationship programs and messaging to an audience of specific accounts.”
With a robust background in ABM, even when it went by other names like “target-based marketing,” he was able to provide perspective on how it works now and how it’s evolved over the years.
The Three Steps of ABM
Jason laid out three main steps that have been a part of successful ABM from before its current incarnation:
- Narrow your focus. ABM is decidedly not a numbers game. You want to get specific with your list of accounts. Hekl suggests having multiple tiers to focus on, with your top tier probably being so specific as to be in the double digits or less. That’s how focused you want to be.
- Do your research. To reach those specific accounts, you need to learn everything you can with whatever resources are available to you.
- Customize your outreach. Put your research to work making every message you send to your target accounts specific to the needs and priorities you’ve identified in your research.
These tenets have always been important to doing targeted marketing well, but luckily our ability to achieve the different steps of the process has largely improved over the years.
How It’s Different Now
Jason identified three ways that ABM has gotten easier, and one way that it’s become more challenging.
- We now have better tools for intelligence. Marketers can learn more about people faster.
- We have more channels for reaching people. You don’t have to hope for the best with cold calling or send people to meet with accounts in person; the internet has created a wide range of ways to reach people.
- We have sophisticated martech tools. Tech products allow marketers to scale ABM. There are tools to structure workflow, improve measurement and diagnostics, and even tools to ensure you can connect all your different tech tools. These tech products are great enablers for companies deploying ABM.
Those are the positives that have changed. The big negative: increased noise. People get so many emails, encounter so much content, and see so many ads from day to day that standing out and cutting through the noise is a huge concern for marketers.
Getting ABM Right is Hard, But Possible
While technology and the internet have made some aspects of ABM easier, it’s still tricky to get right. Hekl laid out a few specific things businesses need to get right in order for ABM to work well:
- You need alignment with other departments. If you’re not working with sales, your work is far less likely to pay off.
- You can’t depend on the traditional funnel. The old funnel was based on assumptions about how people are likely to interact with a brand, you should pay attention to what your data tells you.
- You need good content. The right messaging is a key part of the equation. You have to put the work in to develop the content that’s most relevant to your prospects.
That’s already a good deal of information, but at this point in the webinar, Jason handed the reins over to Srihari Kumar, CEO and cofounder of ZenIQ, to expand on the topics of orchestration.
The Importance of Orchestration
Srihari made the point that no matter how good of a job marketing does, if sales isn’t on the same page, an ABM program is likely to fail.
Alignment is crucial to the success of ABM.
A lot of accomplishing alignment between departments at your institution is a matter of working out internal company policies that prioritize it, but part of it is about getting your technology to coordinate.
Right now, most companies have fragmented views of each account. Sales sees one part of the information your company has on an account, marketing sees a different part, and the CEO has their own different view. You need to be able to put the parts together to see the whole.
A unified view both helps you to more actively coordinate sales and marketing’s actions and ensures that any knowledge the company has about an account is accessible to everyone. When you pull all your data into one view, you’ll quickly see:
- Which leads are being over nurtured
- Which leads are being overlooked
Identifying which of your target accounts fall into each category will help you to better craft a personalized campaign based on the touch points you’ve had with each contact so far.
Tips for Deploying ABM
We’ve already covered some of the most important tips for doing ABM well, such as doing the proper research and connecting all your tech to achieve better alignment. Darin Hicks, CEO and cofounder of Hive9, topped off the roundtable with a few extra best practices for ABM:
- Have an integrated marketing plan. Planning is important and integrating your planning with other departments will make everyone’s work stronger by ensuring you’re all moving forward in a coordinated way that’s likely to get results. Work together to set specific goals and build out a plan based on those shared goals.
- Put customers at the center. This seems obvious but is still something many companies struggle to do in practice. Break down your marketing by audience so you can provide more relevant messages to each one, better control the frequency of communication, and prioritize the leads you focus on based on which ones are likely to be the most valuable customers.
It’s easy for companies to be product centric rather than customer centric; making that shift may take some work, but it’s worth it.
- Prioritize measurement. Tie your measurement back to the goals you established in your marketing plan so you can be confident you’re measuring what really matters. Don’t just look backward, use your past data to help you project the results you can expect moving forward. And go farther than just looking at top of the funnel metrics. Make sure your measurement extends to opportunities and ROI (not just leads).
This is all an overly simplistic summary of what was covered in the webinar, so if you stop here, you’re missing out. Watch the full webcast to get more details and context for the concepts covered here. It will be well worth an hour of your time.