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You need a practical and tactical guide to developing an account-based marketing (ABM) campaign. You understand why you should implement ABM and what an ABM strategy could do for your business.
So this guide will walk through some of the best tools and tactics you can use to run an ABM campaign effectively.
Determine your Business Goals
It frequently happens that a company starts because of a good product idea. The company starts to get some traction, and revenue starts coming in the door. The problem these companies face is they don’t have a clear mission or a clear picture of success.
Without a clear picture of success, you can’t possibly know what ideas truly best serve the company. You have to decide what you are trying to accomplish as a company.
Some questions you can ask yourself to clarify your business goals are:
- What problem do we want to solve?
- Why do we want to solve this problem?
- How do we solve this problem?
- Who struggles with this problem?
- How do we reach the people struggling with this problem?
- How many customers do we want to serve in the next 5 to 10 years?
- What do we want our annual revenue to be in the next 5 to 10 years?
This is not an exhaustive list of how you can determine your business goals, but this will help you start thinking about why your company exists. Here is where you find the purpose of your work.
Once you have answered why your company exists, you can start to drill down into specific questions of who and how you serve. The goal here is to ask questions that can collect qualitative data about your business. When you understand the qualities of the customers you most help, you start to gather data to prove you are serving your purpose.
Lastly, you need to collect hard evidence you are succeeding. That’s where the question of revenue comes into play. Many companies fall into the trap of focusing solely on revenue.
The purpose of a business is not to make as much money as possible. The purpose of a business is to serve and better the lives of its customers.
When a company prioritizes the needs of its customers, revenue becomes an unavoidable bi-product. Answering the questions of where you want to be financially in the future is an indicator of how well you are serving your customers and serving the mission of the business.
Determine your ABM Strategy
Once you have walked through these questions and defined your business goals, you need to develop a strategy to serve your business goals. Many businesses get confused when it comes to the differences between goals, strategies, and tactics.
Goals are where you want your business to go.
Strategy is the plan you develop to get there.
Tactics are how you get there.
- Your business goal could be to help 100,000 small business boutique owners scale their business past a single location using your CRM.
- Your marketing strategy would then become engaging and informing small business boutique owners on a target account list on how to scale their businesses by leveraging technology.
- Your marketing tactics would include sending targeted digital ads, developing relevant blog content to send in emails, and attending the same events as small business boutique owners.
Look at your business goals. Determine if an ABM strategy would increase your ability to achieve your goals. Look at what you do best. Then look to see where there are gaps in the market.
You may find there isn’t a company in your industry serving customers in a specific way. If the gap you have identified lines up with the problem you solve, your strategy should be filling that gap in the industry. When you go target potential customers, you know you are uniquely positioned to solve their problem in a way no competitor can.
For example, we at Mojo Media Labs love HubSpot, Terminus, Sendoso, and implementing successful ABM programs. We see there aren’t many HubSpot Partners that offer ABM services. So we have developed partnerships with ABM platforms like Terminus and Sendoso to best serve our clients looking to use HubSpot to implement ABM.
As a result, we are uniquely positioned to best serve customers looking to implement ABM using HubSpot, Terminus, or Sendoso. If that sounds like you, please schedule a call today.
Create your Target Account List
Any marketing campaign must start with who you are trying to reach. Once you have determined your ABM strategy, you need to create a target account list. We have written another blog titled “How to Create and Use Your Target Account List for Account-Based Marketing” that details this process.
- Create an Ideal Customer Profile: Look at your current customers. Which ones do you love working with? Identify the trends between your favorite accounts. Write the trends down. You created an Ideal Customer Persona.
- Create a Target List based on your Ideal Customer Profile: Find more companies like the current companies you love working with.
- Understand the Accounts on the list: Assess how likely each account is to buy from you. Even though every company is a good fit, they probably aren’t all likely to close quickly.
- Create a tiered approach: Now that you have assessed the likelihood of an account closing, focus your efforts on the accounts you see will close more quickly.
For a more detailed dive into creating a target account list, be sure to read the blog linked above.
Create your ABM Leadership Team
The creation of your ABM leadership team will likely happen in tandem with creating your target account list. We have also written a blog detailing how to create your ABM leadership team. If you’d like a more in-depth walkthrough of this process, follow the link to How to Create your Account-Based Marketing Leadership Team.
When you build an ABM leadership team, you want:
- People from a few different departments (Marketing, Sales, Operations, Finance, Customer Success, and Product Development)
- People that are team players
- People that are optimistic
- People that are curious
- People that will advocate for ABM
To attract the right people, make sure you communicate in the language they speak.
- Finance and Executives want to discuss profitability and ROI
- Operations want to speak on developing better processes
- Customer Success want to discuss how to ensure customer satisfaction
- Product developers want to create the best products
- Sales want bigger deals to close faster
When you can discuss how ABM makes all of these areas, people will listen and want to help implement this strategy.
Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams Around Revenue
You may be wondering why you need to align around revenue. Above, we literally said, “The purpose of a business is not to make as much money as possible.” So why would you want your sales and marketing to align around revenue?
We also said that “When a company prioritizes the needs of its customers, revenue becomes an unavoidable bi-product.” Revenue should function for your company as a success metric.
When your revenue increases, your customers are communicating to you that you have fulfilled your purpose. You are helping them overcome their problems, and they need you so they can fulfill their purpose. Increasing revenue is the largest indicator of a business fulfilling their purpose.
When marketing and sales take ownership of revenue, they take ownership of their piece in the business’s success. When you read that, you may feel that your marketing and sales team are already owning revenue.
- Does marketing talk more about views, social media engagement, and leads than they do about revenue?
- Does sales talk more about call volume, and just closing any deal than how they can increase revenue by matching products to customers?
It’s likely both marketing and sales speak to revenue at some level. It’s unlikely that both marketing and sales measure their success against a revenue goal. When you establish a revenue goal that your marketing and sales teams need to reach, you will naturally start to see your marketing and sales collaborate and align.
The purpose of a marketing lead quota was to increase revenue. The purpose of a closed deal quota was to increase revenue. Instead of making the main goal for each department a step towards revenue, just make their goal revenue.
By placing the same revenue goal in front of both marketing and sales, they are more inclined to focus less on vanity metrics and more on delivering results.
Determine Your Tactics
Now that you have your strategy and teams aligned, it’s time to look at what methods you will use to execute your strategy. Many of the tactics you use could be heavily industry-based.
Many industries have a massive emphasis on tradeshow attendance. Other industries have field reps coming in-person to a set number of accounts. Whatever tactic you use, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- You need to reach our decision-makers. Most high-value accounts you will target will have a buying committee that must all agree to move forward with your product. Don’t choose tactics that are convenient for you to execute. Chose tactics that provide you access to influence and persuade decision-makers.
- Focus on adding value. No one wants to receive an email that just says, “Let’s have a demo. My product can help you grow your business!” As you put decision-makers through your sales process, create personalized messages that add value to their business. When your salespeople transition from being seen as another sales rep to a trusted advisor, your prospects will buy.
- Invest in marketing efforts you own. You don’t own Facebook. You don’t own tradeshows. You don’t own billboards. These marketing tactics have a place in a comprehensive marketing strategy, but you don’t want to solely reach customers in a place you don’t truly have control.
In a year like 2020 when every tradeshow was canceled, many companies lost the ability to connect with their customers. When you invest in marketing you can control (like your website, email database, or content), you become known by your potential customers on a platform you own. You can then use the other marketing channels to point potential customers back to the marketing channel you completely control.
You will start to see a higher ROI because you won’t have to pay for access to decision-makers. When you can target decision-makers that want to hear from you, they will buy from you.
Again, the specific tactics you use are highly dependent on your industry. To help give you some direction, here’s a list of common ABM tactics:
- Ad targeting by industry or company (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.)
- Sending gifts to contacts of specific accounts
- Personalized website chat
- Personalized website pages
- Personalized content (case studies, white papers, or personalized audit report)
- Tradeshow or other event attendance
- Interact with target accounts on social media
- Inviting contacts of target accounts to speak at relevant events or on a podcast
Again, your industry may have other tactics that would be more well-received by the contacts of your target accounts. Just ensure whatever tactics you use reach a decision-maker, add value, and point back to a marketing channel you control.
Audit your Technology
With the tactics you want to use in mind, you need to audit your existing technology to see what is currently possible with what you have.
There are a few pieces of technology every ABM campaign will need. To help you in your audit, here are the most commonly used pieces of technology and a high-level overview of what they offer.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software- This piece of software provides one centralized system for all of your customer information. A CRM provides consistent data for your entire business to operate from and enables you to pull data on specific customers to implement highly personalized marketing campaigns.
- Marketing Automation Software (MAS)- This software enables marketers to create incredibly engaging and effective marketing materials at scale. Many CRM’s have a marketing automation software component you can add. You should consider implementing the MAS that your CRM provides to ensure the most effective communication between your systems.
- Data Enrichment- This technology will integrate with your CRM to add potentially missing information on existing contacts. For example, if you have a contact’s email address, data enrichment will provide the rest of the firmographic information surrounding the accounts in your CRM.
- Website Personalization- This technology enables marketers to have website pages that have content to better match the needs of the page viewer. By personalizing the web page experience, you can ensure the prospective customer feels as if your company understands directly what they need. For a more advanced example, think of how Netflix recommends shows.
- Website Chat- This technology enables you to create a conversational marketing experience for your customers. Your chat tool will guide your customers through a conversation and lead them directly to what they are looking for. This personalization creates an incredibly engaging, positive, and helpful experience for your customers.
- Ad Targeting- This technology allows you to send digitals ads to specific contacts on a target account list. These ads can be highly personalized to directly address the known needs of your target accounts.
- Sending Platform- This technology equips marketers to send personalized gifts at scale. Many sending platforms integrate directly with your CRM and can send gifts automatically based on predetermined triggers.
- All-in-One ABM Platform- This technology provides you everything you need to implement digital ABM tactics. Each platform has its specific strengths, but one platform will provide you with the breadth of tools you need to effectively implement an ABM strategy.
These are all of the individual tools you should consider as you look to implement an ABM strategy. Some of these platforms will overlap depending on if you decide to implement an All-in-One ABM platform.
Important Note: You should at minimum have a CRM, MAS, and some kind of ABM tactic platform. If you need help conducting a tech stack audit, schedule a call today.
Implement ABM Technology
Once you have determined the ABM tactics you want to implement and what capabilities you presently have, it’s time to find the appropriate technology to ensure you can execute.
The companies in this list below are the companies we have partnered with. Before you skip this section, know we use the listed technology in our company. We never recommend something we aren’t using or doing. The same goes for our technology partners.
So is this a shameless opportunity for us to promote our partners? Yes.
Are these partners genuinely the best options for you? Yes.
If you are looking for one system to dramatically improve your entire business, we recommend HubSpot. With HubSpot, you have one of the most powerful and intuitive CRM’s on the market. Additionally, HubSpot boasts a best-in-class marketing, sales, and servicing modules for your company.
If you decided to transition your business to use the full suite available with HubSpot, you would have implemented the CRM, MAS, Website Personalization, and Website Chat tools. HubSpot would lay a rock-solid foundation to scale your business and start implementing an ABM strategy.
Just know with HubSpot, you can start with one piece (like a CRM) and slowly build out your technology over time. Their pricing model makes it easy to get started with every tool having a free base level.
For your All-in-One ABM platform, you should implement Terminus. This platform provides you with highly targeted advertising using firmographic data pulled from your CRM. You have access to see which target account has the highest likelihood of purchasing your product based on research and engagement patterns.
Additionally, you have better insights based on advanced multi-channel reporting that pull information from all of your marketing efforts into one place. Terminus integrates directly with most CRM’s to simplify your marketing and sales efforts. With Terminus, you get everything you need to plan, execute, and improve your ABM efforts.
As you look at a Data Enrichment platform, we would recommend using either ZoomInfo or SalesIntel. ZoomInfo is a more prominent player in the data enrichment space and pulls in all of their updated contact information from email signatures. SalesIntel is a new player in the data enrichment space but has shown its ability to ensure high quality and accurate data. They use mobile phone applications to pull the contact information you need.
Both partners integrate with most CRM’s to ensure all of your contact information is up to date. With better and accurate contact information, you can launch a multi-contact ABM campaign and address the pain points of each contact in a target account.
Lastly, if you want to incorporate gift sending into your ABM strategy, consider using Sendoso. They can send anything from branded merchandise boxes to email gift cards to personalize your gift sending at scale. Sendoso also integrates with many CRM’s so you can automate your gift sending.
If you were to partner with HubSpot, Terminus, Sendoso, and SalesIntel/Zoominfo, you would have a comprehensive technology stack to launch a highly effective ABM campaign. These technologies work incredibly well together. Though there’s a bit of a learning curve to implementing and executing with this technology, they have online courses that teach you how to use the tools. Additionally, we are certified partners and can help you with the implementation of a full ABM tech stack.
Develop Highly Targeted and Personalized Content
By this point, you have developed a target account list, developed an ABM leadership team, created an ABM strategy, and implemented the right technology for your strategy. You need content to reach your customers. An ABM strategy works because you have a message crafted to reach your target accounts.
If you only have general content for your customers that doesn’t directly address the needs of a target account, ABM won’t work nearly as effectively. This task may sound daunting, but you likely have pieces you can repurpose into targeted content as you look at your existing content.
Depending on the tactics you decided to move forward with will determine the content your should prioritize personalizing. A good rule of thumb is to prioritize the earliest point of contact. If you are doing ad targeting, you need to prioritize creating highly personalized content for your ads. As you run your ABM campaigns, you can better optimize your funnel as you have target accounts flow through it.
Also, know that highly personalized content can vary depending on your content bandwidth. Some B2B marketers with a bit more bandwidth create ads, landing pages, downloadable content, and video series for each account. They see a high conversion rate as a result, but many B2B marketers can’t create such personalized content.
Highly personalized content could simply be content that directly addresses something you know your target account list struggles with. You can create this content based on the intent data you have collected in your ABM platform.
Some more examples of highly personalized content include:
- Reports and Audits on a target account
- Videos Recorded for One Contact in an Account
- Webpages that pull in the personalized information from your CRM
- Content-specific to an industry
- Content-specific to a role in an account
The goal of your content is to create something that makes a select few high-value individuals feel understood and that their future success hinges on a conversation with your company. That kind of content is incredibly difficult to create, but it’s worth the endeavors.
Think about it from your own perspective. You are likely a marketing leader in your business. If you received a piece of content that directly addressed a problem you had been struggling with, wouldn’t you be more likely to work with the company providing the content?
When you create this highly engaging and direct content, people will buy.
Run Your First Campaign and Look at the Data
The foundational work has been completed, and you have created your marketing collateral for your campaign. Now all you have to do is run the campaign.
As a recommendation for getting started, you need to let your campaign run long enough to collect a statistically relevant sample of data to then use for further improvement. This means the campaign should run for at least 60 days to see what your results are.
Revenue likely won’t dramatically change after your first 60 days. Your first campaign should be judge by improving the metrics that eventually lead to revenue.
Your first campaign should be judged on whether or not the “needle” moved. For the purposes of your first campaign, the “needle” could be more interest in your product, more accounts engaging on your website, or your sales team having more conversations. If these kinds of metrics are trending positively, you have created something successful.
Adjust Based on the Data
With the data from your first campaign, you can now make adjustments for further improvement. Some pieces of data to look at would be:
- Did target accounts engage with the content we sent them?
- What web pages led to accounts moving through our pipeline?
- Were there any parts of our pipeline that caused accounts to move slower?
- How many of our target accounts are now having active conversations with salespeople?
- How can we optimize our content to speed up the pipeline?
- Do we need to engage more contacts within each account?
- Should we consider any new tactics?
The goal of looking at the data is to identify areas of improvement to increase your deal size, pipeline velocity, and customer retention. After running your first campaign, you will identify areas of improvement for your ABM campaigns specific to your business’s internal operations.
Get Started Today
After reading this blog, you have identified where you are in your ABM implementation journey. You also may have realized in reading this blog that ABM is far more than a marketing strategy.
If you are like the many companies that got started with a good idea, you probably haven’t slowed down since. ABM presents an opportunity for you to establish the kind of company you want to become.
Implementing ABM brings numerous challenges, but has been proven to work incredibly well for B2B companies. This challenge is worth it.
If you’d like assistance with implementing ABM, please schedule a call today.
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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