Over the course of the past two quarters, I’ve led 4 ABM lunch and learns, 3 ABM webinars, 14 customer onboarding calls, and 2 user groups. In that time, I’ve heard a lot about how marketers across many companies are implementing account-based marketing and what ABM questions those marketers have been asking.
ABM, or account-based marketing, is a marketing strategy that’s being adopted across B2B industries at an incredibly rapid pace. And with good reason, as a study by Demand Metric found that 97% of ABM practice leaders said that ABM offered a higher ROI than other marketing methods, with 38% calling it ‘much higher.’
At our lunch and learns, we polled our audience with various ABM questions and found that attendees were at very different stages of implementing their ABM strategies. Some marketers shared campaigns they had already ran, such as direct mail posters, while others joined the lunch and learn to find out how to get started.
For those marketers who couldn’t attend this lunch and learn event, I thought I would compile the top ABM questions that marketers asked, along with our answers.
The Top 4 questions asked about ABM:
The answer to this largely depends on the size of company you are targeting. There is definitely still room for inbound marketing in your B2B marketing strategy, especially if you are doing more of a scaled ABM approach, meaning you are working on thousands of accounts rather than hundreds.
Imagine a tiered pyramid of accounts. At the top are your tier 1 target accounts, which are the big banner logos that the company needs to close in order to establish itself in the industry. Those target accounts deserve a well-thought out account plan and plenty of sales research time. For these accounts, every email should be personalized, the marketing initiatives should include invites to exclusive events, and the educational content should be catered to their specific use case.
Then on the lower tier of P3 accounts, you have your non-named, smaller accounts. An account in this bracket could be a credit union in North America with more than 100 employees and at least 5 locations, for instance. For these types of target accounts you can build content that is relevant to their industry and use case, but not necessarily customized for them specifically.
This ABM question came up twice, which indicates to me that more folks wanted to ask it but may not have felt comfortable speaking up. One marketer, for instance, wanted to know how you pick between sending a box of chocolates or a bag of local coffee.
In our marketing department, we built our direct mail touches around our customer success story book and the concept of building better marketing campaigns. We incorporated a blueprint theme across our materials to tie in the “Build Better Campaigns” theme.
The process of coming to a decision on the theme and the kits came out of multiple brainstorming meetings where we talked about what information our prospects wanted to know about us and what metrics we could provide for them. But, most importantly, we talked about how we wanted to make them feel upon receiving the kits.
My advice is to identify your unique value proposition for your customers and how that value should make your customers feel. For example, I’ve seen one HR software company send out beach kits, complete with branded towel, sunscreen, frisbee, and hat. The concept being that when you use that solution, you’ll have the ability to actually take PTO.
Not every direct mail touch needs to be a full blown marketing campaign complete with designed elements. For example, in one of our smaller programs we simply send coffee kits with a note from our sales rep. The note card has our logo on it so the recipient knows it was from us. The coffee kits have been effective at booking meetings for our sales team. It is a lighter touch that is easier to get up and running.
Large scale events can still have an ABM touch, they just take some thought and planning. I’m reminded of a blog post from Maria Pergolino (now CMO at Anaplan, previously VP of Marketing at Apttus) about how a Tesla car giveaway at Dreamforce was actually ABM.
On the surface, a free Tesla giveaway at Dreamforce seems like a big waste of marketing budget and a way to invite everyone and their brother to try to get the car. But Apttus used the Tesla offer as a way to fill a presentation room with 1,200 targeted prospects.
Prior to the event, the marketing and sales teams worked together to outline their target list of prospects they knew would be at Dreamforce. The campaign built brand awareness in a big way for Apttus with the accounts that mattered to them and they were able to give a product pitch to a captive audience.
(Fun fact: The fine print of the Tesla giveaway actually said you get to have the car for a 1-month lease. But of course the news headlines read, “Apttus gives away a Tesla at Dreamforce.”)
This type of tactic is what ABM is truly about. By aligning sales and marketing teams around one target account list, while creating an offer that stands out, the company will connect with the right people that matter the most to the growth of the business.
As shown in the example of how to decide what direct mail item to send to your prospects, you need to first think through what message you want to convey to your prospects with your content. To make the process easier, we have a handy “customer journey mapping canvas” that walks through how to identify personas, along with their activities, goals, metrics, motivations, and influencers.
Going through the process of mapping out the key AMB questions your prospect might ask at each stage of their consideration cycle will give you the information you need to create content and run campaigns. ABM questions such as “What is RollWorks?”, “How is RollWorks different from xyz competitor?”, or “Why do I need to purchase RollWorks now?" The answers to those ABM questions should be the blog topics you write about. This type of work will net LOADS of content ideas, I promise.
Want to See More ABM Examples?
These are just a few of the ways you can integrate ABM into your existing B2B marketing strategy. If you’d like to see more examples, check out our D.I.Y. Account Journey Template, part advice, part template on Measuring ABM through Account Journeys.