For B2B marketers today, “making things personal” is a no-brainer. It engages buyers. It gets more leads. And it builds meaningful relationships. Consequently, it’s no surprise that account-based marketing (ABM) is on the rise — it excels at capturing the whole story behind an account. But many newcomers to ABM still struggle with honing their strategy to best connect with buyers.
Successful ABM centers your business’ marketing, sales, and service departments around your accounts. B2B marketers start by identifying leads to engage with, based on ideal customer profiles (ICPs) developed with input from sales. Using a combination of marketing automation and CRM technology, the three teams then work together to build a cross-channel strategy that guides the lead from the nurturing stage to the closed deal and beyond.
ABM has been a primary strategy that marketers have turned toward, but it’s not been without its challenges. Marketing has undergone a seismic shift due to the ongoing pandemic. For example, traditional tactics like live events have become obsolete. As a result, B2B businesses are adopting more digital strategies to engage their buyers and foster relationships. Channels such as email, web, social, and digital events are also cost-effective.
This article will cover how to orchestrate engagement with these digital channels.
Before we get into our tips on how to successfully implement a digital account engagement strategy, it is important to understand the three main challenges ABM addresses.
- Marketing plans fall flat when not grounded in strong strategy. Before discussing the tools you need for ABM, consider the structure of your strategy. With the right engagement strategy, you can then focus on the tools you need to fulfill it. A coordinated effort combines the right tools with the right strategy, and makes it possible to deliver the right digital content over website, email, and social media.
- Struggles to meet customers' digital demands. ABM requires a greater degree of organizational complexity. Tailoring digital content to meet each account’s needs requires a lot of heavy lifting upfront. However, without the right technology or staffing, it's difficult to create and deliver bespoke, personalized content. Thus, launching and scaling your ABM strategy without the proper tools results in the wheels falling off and the strategy being rendered useless.
- Digital success is less likely with siloed departments. Account-based marketing takes more than a marketer. Many companies approach engagement as a marketing-led effort, but sales and services teams must be included to engage customers at every touchpoint. A unified effort among marketing, sales, and service keeps customers happy and engaged with every aspect of your business through the entire lifecycle.
“64% of ABM programs were started within the past five years.”
Remember, account-based marketing is still fairly new — 64% of ABM programs were started within the past five years, according to Salesforce’s “State of Marketing” report
. There isn’t a definitive playbook for how to best implement these strategies. As a result, B2B businesses are relying on trial and error to figure things out, and that can get costly.
Despite the challenges associated with ABM, delivering a successful engagement campaign can yield invaluable long-term results when it comes to building customer relationships. In fact, 97% of companies
that have effectively implemented ABM strategies reported a higher return on investment.
With digital becoming the main space for customer engagement, B2B businesses must reassess their ABM strategy and adapt their engagement tactics to meet the demands of the online marketplace. Here are three ways you can boost your digital account engagement strategy.
How does your business envision its full product or service catalog in relation to the entire customer lifecycle? Think about how your customers continue to see value after the sale — and how marketing, sales, and service can partner to ensure that happens. Conduct an internal audit of your customer lifecycle. It will help you identify where you can engage customers and deliver personalized content to create a smoother journey.
One effective way to do this is to pretend to be a buyer — experience each part of the sales cycle, from the welcome email to the training materials. A secret-shopper audit at InsideView
identified a handful of gaps in information, which gave their team key insights to align the entire post-sale and marketing experience.
Pro tip: As you evaluate your marketing strategies and refine the customer journey, remember to bring sales along.
Knowing the gaps in your customer lifecycle and innovating with your digital content can help you connect with more prospects and customers. As buyer needs and behaviors evolve, prioritizing this type of testing will help you keep up. While it can seem like pivoting too quickly can cause you to miss out on sales, being agile can actually put you steps ahead of your competitors. Fifty-two percent of high-performing B2B companies
report extensive use of agile/lean methods in their marketing approach.
B2B businesses need a variety of engagement tactics to meet customers across multiple digital channels.
Your ABM toolkit
consists of the various tactics by which you deliver personalized content to the buyer. In a digital world, this might include dynamic website content, personalized emails, or targeted social media posts.
Successful B2B businesses incorporate each of these tactics into their engagement strategy, honing in on the right blend to provide tailored content across channels through constant testing and adjustment.
Different content can serve different purposes for the customer. Your content might look to solve a problem by offering solutions outside of just the product or service you provide. It might serve as thought leadership and present customers with new concepts or ideas. It may present data and research, or simply look to entertain your customer in order to draw them to your company.
Once you have strong content, you need to make sure the customer actually sees it. When a customer receives personalized content, they are more likely to continuously engage with your company. A successful digital engagement strategy hinges on the ability to deliver personalized content. Collecting important information about your customers allows you to better understand how to engage them across multiple digital channels. This information — including industry, job title, areas of interest, location, intent data, and more — can help you create personalized journeys based on the interests and behaviors of your buyers.
Once you have this data, you can use it to segment your audience and deliver content based on what matters most to them. Employing dynamic content
on a website and in email gives B2B businesses the ability to personalize their interactions with each account. Try creating CTAs for your homepage that showcase industry-specific content based on the customer who is visiting the site. Or include a “next best action” callout in the footer of your sales emails
that reflects the recipients’ previous engagement.
But don’t stop there. Engage in social listening
across various social media platforms to gain a better understanding of the conversations that are important to your customers. Then use those insights to alter your company’s content to reflect your customers’ wants and needs. You can also track a customer’s landing page engagement to serve more relevant display ads
as they visit other sites. Then, you’ll be able to better target your customers and give them a nudge to explore your products, offers, and other content.
Account-based engagement holds a lot of potential for B2B companies. At its core, it is about meaningful interaction and relationship-building with your customers. The companies that can implement these strategies effectively and adapt to the fast-evolving environment of the digital world will exceed their sales goals — and have a passionate group of customers behind them.