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At this moment, your key accounts are researching various solutions and evaluating your products and services online – anonymously.
They are the self-directed B2B buyers of the new digital age.
Tech-savvy and taciturn about their personal information, they rarely give out contact details and prefer to contact sales reps late in the buying cycle, when they have likely already decided on their preferred vendor.
In addition, B2B buyers no longer make decisions individually. Rather, they are typically part of large buying groups of up to 30 people, making it difficult for sales teams to reach consensus.
And they don’t just research your business. The content of online sellers has exploded and members of shopping groups can now access a wealth of information about your competitors and their offerings. Once they start comparing specs, features, and functions, you will be too late to shape their thinking.
All of this can lead to customer failure, leaving important customers unaware of your new strategies, solutions, or product lines; the CEO brand story goes unheard; and customer confusion.
All of this in turn can lead to an internal marketing crisis: impending budget cuts, marketing becomes tactical and even sales takes on the marketing function.
The responsibility of marketing in the age of digital purchasing
Most B2B organizations are still sales driven. Even in high-growth companies, CFOs often have the rule of thumb to devote only 20% of the total sales and marketing budget to marketing.
That made sense when sellers controlled 80% of the buyer journey. However, since sales have lost much of this control, marketing teams are responsible for adopting new technologies for digital account-based marketing (ABM).
Account-based marketing can help make the transition to digital sales.
Forrester, Gartner and thousands of ABM practitioners agree that a digital account-based approach is the most efficient and profitable B2B marketing strategy today.
With ABM, companies can …
- Target marketing and sales teams on high priority accounts
- Engage large groups of buyers throughout the buying journey
- Notify sales teams with actionable insights
The approach results in higher sales win rates, shorter sales cycles, and larger deals.
Get started with account-based omnichannel marketing
For many B2B marketers, getting started with ABM is complex and overwhelming.
Let’s look at some common questions new ABM hires ask.
How should we choose our target accounts?
Account selection depends on whether your strategy for sales growth is to attract new net accounts or to expand your checking accounts.
For an ABM strategy “net new account” Bring your sales and marketing teams together to identify and prioritize a list of candidates for target accounts. IP-based account analytics can help prioritize your target account list. For example, you can rate your key accounts list based on anonymous and known account activity on your website, advertising, and email marketing and use these to prioritize accounts with the highest likelihood of purchase.
For an ABM strategy “Account Extension” Use the 80/20 rule to focus on the top 20% of accounts that are already making 80% of profits. Then use the intent scoring method above to identify the low hanging fruit.
Which marketing channels work best?
A modern digital ABM program works best with an omnichannel approach that includes the following channels:
- IP display
- Facebook and Instagram
- Website personalization
Each of these channels have their strengths and weaknesses and can encourage significant exposure to the target accounts. However, the full potential of ABM is achieved when all channels are coordinated to work together at the account level and provide a consistent account-based experience across all channels.
Which messages should we convey and when?
Winning target buyers means reaching them on the right channels with the right message at the right time. But what is “right” depends on the stage of the buying cycle.
I recommend breaking it down into three phases – delivering specific messages, assets, and offers during each phase as part of a planned, sequential journey.
- Level 1: awareness. First, create general brand awareness and convey your CEO message to the members of the key accounts purchasing group. Always on account-based IP display advertising is a great starting point for getting your target accounts to your digital assets like your website, blog, and social pages before they even begin their buying journey.
Then introduce “challenge messages” to highlight the vulnerabilities of your target accounts. Get them to acknowledge and internalize a problem they didn’t know they had. This is where account-based IP display advertising, email and website personalization and account-based ad retargeting on Facebook, Instagram and Google come into play.
Monitor reach and engagement to make sure your target accounts see and interact with your message.
- Level 2: Recital. Next, teach key accounts how other companies have solved the same problems. Bring in the more expensive LinkedIn marketing and offer informative content such as a downloadable case study or a free webinar.
Continue to monitor reach and engagement, as well as asset downloads, registrations, and meeting requests.
Join their journey as they look for solutions. Offer a whitepaper and then use more targeted news to promote your products and services through datasheets, virtual showrooms, etc.
Convince them it is time to have a conversation with your sales reps and keep track of the number of meetings scheduled and opportunities open.
- Stage 3: decision. Keep delivering news across channels, reminding key accounts of their problem, and highlighting your company’s unique selling points, value, and expertise. You have run your accounts through the buying cycle and you will see more closed opportunities, bigger profits, and higher sales growth.
And remember, the work doesn’t stop there. Maintain your relationships with major customers after the sale with “always-on” account-based IP display ads and emails. Offer surveys, blog posts, customer newsletters, new product launch news and product upgrades.
Ultimately, ABM with Omnichannel Sequential Messaging is the best way to help your key accounts buy from you and reach them where they are consuming their content. But with omnichannel, many B2B marketers struggle to bring all of their marketing data together at the account level. An ABM platform with account-based analysis is crucial here. Look for a system that offers account-based website analytics and built-in marketing engagement from major marketing and advertising platforms.
Using an integrated omnichannel ABM platform, your sales and marketing teams can monitor rising purchase intent signals and gain a competitive advantage in attracting large-scale deals.
What expertise will we need?
Running a successful omnichannel ABM program requires a wide range of skills. You will need everything from strategy, planning, creative and copywriting to account mapping, ad operations, email marketing operations, social marketing campaign management and more.
With so much involved across multiple channels, many B2B marketers choose to use a managed services provider (MSP) to complement their internal teams. Consider choosing an MSP who has extensive industry experience, global reach, and the expertise to apply best practices at every stage of your ABM program.
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With the right ABM strategy, technology, and team, you’ll be well equipped to interact with your target accounts and drive sales.
Ready? Take over the sale to these key accounts now.
More resources on account-based marketing
Enterprise ABM: Five Common Pitfalls and Tactics to Avoid Them
How the pandemic affected account-based marketing
Everything you always wanted to know about account-based marketing (but were afraid to ask): Samantha Stone on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]