Some of the more widely promoted benefits of account-based marketing (ABM) are pretty hard to discount: They include, according to this Forbes article, faster buying cycles, higher close rates, higher value sales and increased organizational alignment.
But marketing organizations that are new to ABM, and even those organizations to whom it’s not new, can fall victim to some common mistakes when implementing ABM.
Here are three common missteps organizations can make when executing ABM and what they should be doing instead.
1. Failing to identify sufficient numbers of stakeholders who will help make the buying decision at each targeted account.
In most cases ABM involves an outreach to a select group of stakeholders at a select list of accounts. Ideally, the marketing organization already has developed a series of personas to characterize the categories of professionals slated to be included in ABM outreach efforts. That means having an understanding of key job titles, basic demographic info, what the individual’s motivations are and how the product or service will help them.
Having these personas will then drive specific individuals at target accounts to be targeted. For example, Forbes says individuals to target may include CEOs, sales managers, sales reps and account executives within an account. Other organizations may identify people such as architects and engineers who are responsible for specification. Whoever is selected, these are the individuals to target when requesting meetings and to build relationships with to ease and hasten the decision-making process.
Organizations need to go through the process of identifying the people at each account who match up to those personas, but in some cases this step gets overlooked. It can be as simple as using a source like LinkedIn to find out full names, job titles, seniority and contact details. There are also paid resources that can accomplish this, too. Be careful though, as data also can be out of date: according to Chief Marketer magazine, contacts may change jobs more frequently than expected. The magazine quotes a Payscale report that found that at some larger companies, the median employee tenure is less than 18 months.
2. Not considering or knowing the location of each targeted account within the buyer’s journey.
More than likely, the list of targeted accounts that an organization comes up with can be a bit long to be targeted with ABM efforts in its entirety. Not only that, but it’s probably not cost-effective to target all of the organizations at the same time. It’s pretty much a sure thing that some will be closer to making a buying decision than others. For this reason organizations will find better results by prioritizing the list and honing in on those companies that show signs of being ready to buy, first.
A great way to do this, although many companies don’t: make use of predictive analytics. Any number of specific tools are on the market, and with them an organization can do things like compare current customers with prospective customers to identify the best-fit targets. Or they can use insights about the account’s activity to match prospects with their place in the buyer’s journey, which ultimately means identifying which prospects are expected to make buying decisions first.
3. Not creating a one-to-one experience for the contacts/stakeholders.
According to Dun & Bradstreet, data is the fuel for any successful ABM program. And while data is useful at multiple points of ABM campaign development, it also needs to inform those efforts so that organizations can create messages specific to certain accounts as well as to key contacts at those accounts. This can be done, Dun & Bradstreet says, using the insights gathered along the way such as from personas, the account’s level of intent to buy, and what specific forms of content and messaging approaches will play well with the targeted contacts.
According to DemandGen Report, B2B personalization has gotten a good deal of lip-service but its execution hasn’t always lived up to the hype. But, these days more and more B2B buyers expect the unique customer experiences they receive on the consumer side to happen in their professional roles, too. And with more data tools available these days, B2B organizations have access to technology that lets them develop smarter customer experiences in terms of what platforms and messaging strategies will engage their target customers.
In fact these technology tools are among the resources B2B organizations need now to succeed in their ABM campaigns. We’ll cover some of these tools in next week’s post.
Until then, please reach out for help with a specific ABM question or challenge you’re facing.