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The foundation of every Account-Based Marketing (ABM) program should be specific to your organization's needs. ABM is not a single formula or tech stack. It’s a strategic go-to-market approach.
With that said, if you are starting fresh or looking to understand why your ABM program isn’t delivering the results you were expecting, there are a few areas that need to be set to have lasting success with ABM.
So if you are looking to build an ABM program, here are the areas you need to address to set a foundation for success.
Identifying Your Goals
Many marketers start an ABM program because they feel it’s what they need to do. There isn’t a clear objective around the program, and as a result, it’s nearly impossible to assess if something is truly working.
You must align your strategy to the business objectives and outcomes.
When you set clear intentions on what you're trying to achieve, the path to get there becomes a little more visible. These are some great questions you can ask yourself to identify your goals truly.
- What is the revenue goal?
- Can we reduce high customer churn?
- How do we accelerate our pipeline?
- Are there opportunities for account expansion?
Identifying the goals leads to the strategy behind your ABM foundation, so making sure you have identified them helps start to put a more concrete plan and perspective in place.
. You can’t launch the site without the service page.
When you start building an ABM program, you transition your marketing from persona/lead targeting specific accounts. You need to have a very clear ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) to build your Target Account list. Poor targeting will lead to poor results.
There can be a lot of factors to consider, but you can keep it simple by asking yourself these questions and starting to identify from there.
- What problem do you solve?
- Who do you solve this problem for?
- What are the characteristics that make up these organizations?
By identifying the key problems you solve and who you solve them for, you can translate a clear and effective solution. This helps reach more of your target ICP and builds confident communication around your value proposition.
Defining the characteristics that make up the organizations can take a broad answer. Often, when discussing the ICP and building out the list, marketers tend to get stuck on the logos. Everyone gets excited about working with Microsoft and Apple, but most companies can’t support the needs of organizations that large. Your ICP should accurately reflect those you work best with over the clients you would love to have. Focus on those you can provide your best work to.
That's a foundational element, and it becomes clear the target account list is one of the most crucial parts you have within any given ABM campaign.
Identifying the characteristics of the accounts you're targeting and the problem you're solving is a library of content. The primary leading indicator of success in ABM is target account engagement. Your content should drive engagement, not lead captures.
Put the most relevant message in front of your most relevant audience at the most relevant time.
This will enable your sales team to have the resources to build their presence and engagement. It will drive the brand's engagement as well. So making sure that you have content that directly addresses the problems for those target account lists is vital.
- Do you have content to directly address the problems for the target accounts?
- Repurposing old or evergreen content
- In house vs. outsourcing content creation
- Content creation timeline
- Case Studies
- Landing Pages
Content development is the engagement portion, and you want to make sure that you have that ready and that foundational piece is there. If you do this in-house or outsource, that content creation is dependent on your company's resources and bandwidth.
Whether it's persona-specific content that speaks to how your buyer is experiencing a problem or an issue, how you solve the issues within your industry, or its content that adds value to the industry, just make sure you have the content built out at the ready.
Tracking Intent Data
Data is essential, especially when building a successful long-term ABM strategy. ABM leans into ungating your content and creating a highly engaging experience for your target accounts. As a result, your standard inbound marketing lead capture tactics for tracking won’t be nearly as effective. So here are a few questions you need to ask yourself as you consider tracking your engagement.
- What do you consider engagement?
- Creating a scoring model
- Tracking intent signals
- Technology vs. 1st part data
Whether it's a dashboard, creating a manual scoring model based on your first-party data, your CRM data, or leveraging technology to track content signals having a system to collect and analyze these things is essential.
In today's market, there are a lot of technologies out there that solve for identifying what a lot of organizations have called the "dark funnel" or "anonymous website activity" this data is really crucial to identifying when there's intent on your accounts.
Identifying intent and tracking shows when your marketing team puts in the effort and the hard work to warm up those leads, making sure your sales team is working right alongside them and your brand is getting all the coverage you need.
That leads us right into the next segment.
Sales & Marketing Alignment
Marketing and sales alignment is becoming increasingly more critical, especially in the world of ABM. Even if you're aligned on things and have the same goal, you still have to make sure that your processes and orchestration are set up.
This is how.
- Multi-touch approach on accounts
- Marketing and sales orchestration
- Building the target account list based on best-fit customers
- Do you have the tech in place to activate sales?
We've seen in the past with inbound methodology that typically, the specific target accounts that sales are working on marketing aren't. The focus tends to be growth, the new lead pipeline, or MQLs.
When you focus on achieving alignment, you see marketing working in conjunction with sales to create a team that drives towards success together.
One of the most crucial parts of building an ABM foundation is working without fail to build the target account list based on these best-fit customers.
It's imperative that marketing and sales have a hand in the target account list. This way, both teams have buy-in and a stake in those account lists converting. When this list is siloed in marketing or sales, you can almost bet it won't convert well, or it might not be based on the best customer data. Sometimes, this can lead to fingerpointing or a misalignment between marketing and sales, so creating a cohesive environment and everyone in sync with that target account list is essential.
Another fundamental piece is having the tech in place to activate sales, or at least having the process to activate sales when an intent is signaled through marketing.
You see this, especially with pipeline acceleration. So make sure that your sales team can see throughout the sales process if there are any additional signals that they can act upon to accelerate that pipeline.
A lot of the time, we like to talk about executive buy-in, and it's fitting. We're all focused on the buy, but here at Mojo, we like to consider not just getting the buy-in but also the "executive blessing."
- Does your executive team understand the strategy?
- ABM timeline (6-12 months)
- Lead vs. revenue measurement
- Cross-functional buy-in
One of the most essential parts of getting this blessing is to make sure that your executive team understands the strategy and is entirely on board with what it will take.
Most successful ABM programs take anywhere between 6 to 12 months to start seeing true success. It's not something that will happen overnight, so understanding this is beyond important.
This will help not only keep the timeline in perspective but will also realign the metrics each department is holding themselves to.
We all want an influx of leads but what's even better than 100 low converting leads is 25 in the pipeline with a high probability of conversion. Quality > Quantity.
- What is the goal with a transition to ABM?
- Measuring against target account engagement & revenue vs. leads
- Is ABM the best strategic move for your business?
Transitioning into ABM is all about having a pipeline of highly qualified leads and, in turn, more long-term success and less work when closing the sale. Reaching your ideal customer is the primary goal, and the benefits for your marketing and sales teams quickly become apparent.
The mindset shift starts to set in when you start to measure target account engagement & revenue vs. leads. It becomes clear that the more you reach your ideal customer, the better your potential deals become. These metrics only bring benefits and stability to your brand, your teams, and your clients in the long term.
Making sure that ABM is the best strategic move for your business is a no-brainer, but it needs to be said. If you're a B2B company with a long-drawn-out buying cycle, this might be the best fit for you. But if you are in a short sales cycle with small deal sizes, ABM is likely not the best fit.
Get Started Today
If you are looking to build your ABM program, your foundations are critical. As you read over this, one area of your business likely stood out as the weakest area. Focus there and start shoring up the foundation. Then launch (or re-launch) the program.
If you need more educational content to drive your ABM program forward, check out 20 on-demand sessions on ABM topics specifically designed to answer your biggest questions and help you overcome any challenges you might face.
As President & COO, Nikole is obsessed about building a great company made up of an inspiring culture and highly successful client engagements. Outside of Mojo, Nikole is also pretty obsessed with traveling, spending time at their cabins in Broken Bow OK, her Golden Retriever, Bella, and enjoying Italian dinners and wine with her husband, Mike.
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