If your team has adopted processes for Account Based Marketing, you already know what it’s supposed to be doing, which is to help you align marketing and sales to build richer revenue streams for your company. But are you sure it’s really doing all that it could or should? Truly effective ABM execution takes ongoing thought, planning and especially a sharp acumen.
According to Sirius Decisions, just over a third of B2B companies report tight alignment between sales and marketing in ABM. Clearly there is room for improvement across the B2B industry spectrum. Here, then, are some tips to help you step up your game and tweak some of your strategies for better results with your ABM.
How best-in-class practitioners keep their ABM programs in top shape
Good results start with good habits. Certain practices have to become part of a regular routine:
- Regularly review tactics to ensure they focus on ones that provide the best return.
- Constantly review whether any time-consuming manual processes could be automated to free up team members for more creative initiatives.
- Promote marketing programs regularly, internally and externally, knowing that recognition helps to build ABM’s brand, which makes it easier to recruit accounts into the program and justify the resources needed to support extra accounts.
- Remain sensitive to organizational change, and recognize when it may be time to pivot programs to adapt to a new operating reality.
At some companies, ABM programs can get stuck in a rut, particularly between the period of nine and 24 months following adoption. This is usually where they have gone beyond the pilot stage but still haven’t been fully embedded into the fabric of the organization.
An annual “spring cleaning” provides a good opportunity to reflect on what may be needed to give ABM a permanent home.
Start by looking at your strategy, goals and alignment:
- Do you have a clear statement of the overall program goal? And more importantly, have the goalposts moved since the program was set up (e.g. due to organizational change)?
Suggested strategy: Use this time to review the currency of your ABM charter if it hasn’t been reviewed in a while, especially if you’ve been through organizational changes since the program was established.
- Is your sponsor still on board? When was the last time you checked in with the sponsor to discuss what success looked like and what had been delivered against that goal?
Suggested strategy: If you don’t have quarterly business reviews in place with your executive sponsor, now may be a great time to suggest a program review using your updated charter as a basis for discussion and alignment.
- Do you have the resources you need? Some ABM programs get stuck in pilot mode because they don’t have the resources to scale beyond a pilot. Paint a picture of what a best-in-class ABM program would look like for your organization and the resources it would need.
Suggested strategy: Create a budget and business case to support the investment, using examples of how ABM has delivered superior returns.
- What have the results been to date? What have you learned from them, and how can you use this to improve your program and create a business case for more resources?
Suggested strategy: If you didn’t formally complete a post-pilot evaluation, consider doing one now. Review the efficacy of all your tactics so that you can scale back those that aren’t working and double down on those that are.
- Do any of the account selections need reviewing? While some accounts may have qualified when you first selected them, times can change, and a change of account management or change of circumstance on the target account’s side may mean that they no longer meet the original selection criteria.
Suggested strategy: Review account selections periodically to ensure that accounts still qualify for ABM support. In addition, occasionally review the selection criteria as business priorities change. For instance, if new legislation increases propensity for one of your offerings, this can lend weight to opportunity scoring.
- Is ABM still in demand and front-of-mind with account managers and the sales team? Chances are, those that haven’t been included in the program to date will need a refresher on the benefits of ABM if you’re recruiting new accounts into the program and want to make sure they get included at all levels.
Suggested strategy: Consider doing an internal communications push featuring case studies of the benefits achieved to date.
More Data, More Personalization:
You need data to engage consumers. The better the insights you are able to gather from this data, the more precise and personalized can be the message you generate for your target accounts.
What’s truly revolutionary now is how data is acquired. Data may be gathered from both mobile and fixed devices. It could be location or activity-based, sourced from smart appliances like TVs, fitness trackers, home systems and many other IoT devices.
This data, combined with previous marketing messages, demographics, life events, purchase history and lots more can produce rich actionable insights. Investing in the right technology to optimally organize this volume of amount of data will generate opportunities to create more personalized messages.
And finally, advancements in ABM technology can supply you with some turbocharge.
More Predictive and Insightful: As data and predictive analytics science becomes more advanced, customer insights are growing more detailed and accurate. Predictive technology will help identify common client attributes and group these accounts on matching criteria.
This information can help identify potential clients for your target account list.Technology will provide more richly relevant data, allowing marketers to focus on engaging and servicing their accounts, rather than spending time on filtering data to gather insights.
More sophisticated tool integration: Popular marketing tools will move towards cross-platform integration bringing together common denominators like account management, orchestration etc. Integrated tools will help marketers get a holistic view of their target accounts across a broad array of touchpoints, leading to in-depth customer insights.
AI and ABM: Modern Artificial Intelligence technology can structure cumbersome data and deliver relevant information and patterns about your customers like their preferences, current engagements, what they read or talk about and much more.
To deliver relevant messages to your customers, a thorough research and in-depth knowledge are required. AI can already do this better than we can as humans, and in a much more cost-effective way. AI can convert data into insights and actions needed for 1:1 interactions, by utilizing information across most critical channels. Applying AI to your ABM can help you identify right accounts, find the right insights and decide on right actions to materialize 1:1 connection with your customers.
Here at Leadit Marketing, we’d be glad to work with you on a smarter game plan for your current ABM program. Sometimes a little expert help in things like selecting the right automation platforms, or creating a long term marketing plan, can make a small investment go a long way by avoiding mistakes and dead-end outcomes. Contact us with your questions!
Shannon Prager is recognized B2B marketing strategist and the President of Leadit Marketing. She is responsible for the daily operations and management of Leadit Marketing as well as the long term vision for the company.
A marketing leader with over 19 years of B2B demand generation and marketing experience, she understands the importance of a fully developed integrated marketing strategy. Shannon’s background includes demand generation, marketing automation, social media, digital marketing, customer marketing, account based marketing and marketing operations. You can follow her on LinkedIn via https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannonprager or Twitter @ https://twitter.com/LeaditMarketing
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