Welcome to the world of Red Branch Media, where we don’t just dabble in Account-Based Marketing (ABM) but build an entire digital marketing machine to catapult your leads to new heights. Before we dive in, though, let’s lay some groundwork.
WARNING: Your core marketing function needs to be firing on all cylinders to make ABM a resounding success. It takes around 90 days to craft a well-oiled machine that encompasses email marketing, website development, messaging, and brand, lead scoring, social media wizardry, analyst outreach, and strategic positioning. Only then can we unleash the Kraken, erm, I mean the power of ABM, and watch revenue soar.
Let’s talk about Account Based Marketing (ABM) in the most Red Branch Media way possible.
Strategic Goal Setting
We start by deconstructing our ambitions into actionable objectives. It’s not just about numbers; it’s about understanding the motions and mechanics behind those numbers. This clarity enables precise targeting—deciding the volume and nature of accounts that will receive our ABM charm.
Breaking Hearts… I Mean Goals
Let’s break down our goals into different motions. Think of it like planning a bank heist, but instead of bags of cash, we’re after high-value accounts. By dissecting our goals, we’ll have a clear plan on how many accounts we’ll need to add to our ABM programs.
Imagine our overarching goal is to increase the annual contract value (ACV) of our sales by 20% through ABM. Here’s how we break it down:
- Quantitative Analysis: We assess our current ACV and set a numerical target for the increase. If our average ACV is $100,000, a 20% increase means each new contract should aim for a $120,000 value.
- Account Segmentation: We then determine how many accounts would be needed to hit that increase and categorize them based on potential ACV uplift. For instance, we may identify that to achieve our target, we need 10 new accounts, each bringing in the increased ACV, or we could aim for a mix of new accounts and upselling to existing ones.
- Motions and Mechanics: We look into the specifics of how to reach these accounts. This includes dissecting the customer journey for each account type, understanding the decision-making process, and aligning our marketing and sales efforts to engage them effectively.
- Actionable Objectives: We set smaller, tactical goals that are directly linked to our strategy. For example, we might aim to engage with 30 Tier 1 prospects through personalized marketing campaigns in Q1, with the intention of converting at least 10% to qualified opportunities.
- Resource Allocation: We align our resources to these objectives, ensuring we have the right talent and tools in place to achieve them. This could mean assigning a dedicated ABM manager and support staff to oversee the campaigns for high-value targets.
- Timeline: A specific timeline is set for each milestone, breaking down the 20% ACV increase goal into quarterly, monthly, or even weekly targets.
- Feedback Loops: We establish mechanisms to monitor progress and adjust tactics in real-time. This could involve weekly review meetings to assess the campaign’s performance against the objectives and making necessary adjustments.
By translating a lofty goal into a series of smaller, achievable tasks, we set the stage for a focused and measurable ABM campaign. This approach allows us to track our progress, make data-driven decisions, and maintain alignment across teams.
ABM Team: Dedicated ABM Task Force
ABM is a team sport where marketing and sales coalesce into a dynamic duo, if not an ensemble. A dedicated team where members spend a significant portion of their time not just executing but living and breathing ABM ensures a synergy that’s critical for success.
In the world of ABM, you need a dream team. Make sure you have at least two heroes from marketing and sales who can run the joint playbook. These brave souls should dedicate at least 75% of their time to running ABM like it’s the world’s most thrilling adventure. Together, they’ll conquer the ABM landscape and emerge victorious!
Composition of the ABM “Dream Team”:
- The ABM Strategist: This is a senior marketing professional who understands both the art and science of ABM. They’re visionary, have a firm grasp on data analytics, and are adept at crafting personalized campaigns. They’re the ones setting the stage for the ABM narrative.
- The Sales Lead: A senior salesperson with a deep understanding of the customer’s journey and a knack for relationship-building. They provide insights into the account’s needs and pain points, ensuring that the campaigns are highly targeted and relevant.
- The Content Maestro: A creative content marketer who knows how to tell a story that resonates with each targeted account. They’re responsible for creating personalized content that speaks directly to the needs and interests of each prospect within the account.
- The Data Wizard: A data analyst who can interpret the myriad streams of data into actionable insights. They keep the team focused on the right metrics and help in identifying the accounts that show the most promise based on engagement and intent data.
- The Tech Guru: A martech specialist who ensures that all the systems are integrated and running smoothly. They oversee the CRM, marketing automation tools, and other technology stacks that support ABM campaigns.
- The Customer Success Champion: Someone from customer service or success who provides insights into current customer satisfaction levels and identifies opportunities for upselling within existing accounts.
Why Choose Them?
The ABM Strategist is the visionary, able to see the bigger picture and how each campaign fits into the broader company goals. Their strategic approach ensures that all efforts are cohesive and aligned with the organization’s direction.
The Sales Lead bridges the gap between marketing’s creative strategies and the frontline realities of customer interactions. They ensure that the ABM efforts are not just creative, but also pragmatic and tailored to real customer needs.
The Content Maestro crafts the messages that will resonate with the targeted accounts. Their creativity and personalization skills are essential for engaging high-value prospects.
The Data Wizard offers the insights needed to make informed decisions. In a data-driven approach like ABM, they ensure that strategies are based on solid evidence and can be adjusted in real-time as new data comes in.
The Tech Guru is essential because ABM relies heavily on technology. From automating personalized outreach to tracking engagement, their role is critical for seamless execution.
The Customer Success Champion brings the voice of the customer into the ABM strategy. They ensure that retention is as much a focus as acquisition, which is crucial for maximizing customer lifetime value.
Together, this dream team possesses the full spectrum of skills required to execute a successful ABM strategy. Each member plays a specific, critical role, and their collaboration ensures that the strategy is comprehensive, targeted, and effective.
ICAP (Ideal Customer Account Profile): The Secret Recipe
Imagine crafting the perfect profile for your ideal customers. It’s like creating a dating profile, but instead of swiping left or right, you’re swiping for potential accounts. Build this profile based on firmographics, technographics, and other juicy details. Throw in a clear definition of tiers, account qualification criteria, the buying committee structure, and the jobs to be done of the committee members. Voilà!
Ideal Customer Profile (ICAP) Refinement
- Firmographics and technographics for a skeletal framework.
- A nuanced tier system for client prioritization.
- Rigorous account selection and rejection criteria to avoid resource drainage.
- Detailed buying committee structures because we deal with ecosystems, not entities.
- An in-depth analysis of each committee member’s responsibilities and needs—their jobs-to-be-done.
Firmographics are to businesses what demographics are to individuals. They include key organizational metrics such as:
- Industry or sector (e.g., FinTech, Healthcare)
- Company size (e.g., SMB, Enterprise)
- Revenue (e.g., <$50M, >$1B)
- Geographic location (e.g., North America, EMEA)
- Growth stage (e.g., Startup, Growth, Maturity)
Step-by-Step Approach to Building a Great ICP:
- Data Collection: Start by gathering data on your current best customers. Look at your CRM, customer feedback, and sales data to identify patterns and commonalities.
- Firmographic Profiling: Based on the data collected, define the firmographic characteristics that your best customers have in common. Are they mostly from a certain industry? Do they fall within a specific revenue range?
- Technographic Assessment: Understand the technology stack these companies use. This can be crucial, especially for SaaS or IT services. For instance, do they predominantly use cloud services, or are they likely to have a robust mobile workforce?
- Tier Definition: Create tiers based on the potential value and fit of the accounts. Tier 1 might include large enterprises with a high need for your product and the budget to match, while Tier 3 might include smaller companies with less immediate need or budget.
- Selection and Rejection Criteria: Develop clear criteria for what makes an account qualify for your ABM efforts and, just as importantly, what does not. This could include minimum revenue requirements, the presence of a certain technology, or specific challenges they face that your product can solve.
- Buying Committee Mapping: Identify the structure of the buying committee within these organizations. Who are the decision-makers? Who are the influencers? What are their roles?
- Jobs-to-Be-Done Analysis: For each member of the buying committee, articulate their main challenges, needs, and the ‘jobs’ they need to ‘get done.’ This could involve interviews with current clients, market research, and sales team insights.
- Prioritization and Validation: Prioritize the accounts that best match your ICP and validate the ICP with your sales and marketing teams. Is there a consensus that these are indeed the ideal accounts? Are there any gaps or oversights?
- Iterate and Refine: The ICP is not set in stone. As your business evolves and as you gather more data from your ABM campaigns, revisit and refine your ICP accordingly.
- Documentation and Dissemination: Document your ICP in a format that is easily accessible and understandable for all stakeholders. Make sure your sales and marketing teams are aligned on this ICP and understand how to use it.
By following these steps, you create a robust ICP that acts as a north star for your ABM efforts, ensuring that you focus your resources on the accounts that are most likely to drive revenue and growth for your business.
Metrics & Reporting: Tracking Our ABM Triumphs
We delve beyond the surface and track metrics that signal progress, celebrate quick wins, and consistently review sales pipelines and revenue metrics. We view ABM as a bespoke initiative, meriting its own reporting pipeline to gauge its unique impact.
Making metrics and reporting an exciting part of ABM is like turning data into a thrilling narrative of our journey toward victory. It’s about capturing the saga of our campaigns, with numbers as the protagonists.
Specific Metrics to Track:
- Engagement Score: A composite metric that measures account interactions across different platforms. This could include website visits, content downloads, webinar attendance, and social media interactions.
- Account Penetration: Tracks how deeply we’ve infiltrated target accounts, measuring the number of engaged contacts within each account.
- Pipeline Velocity: How quickly opportunities move through the sales pipeline.
- Influence Revenue: The revenue directly influenced by ABM efforts, separate from other marketing initiatives.
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): Predicts the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer.
Tools for Automating Data Collection:
- CRM Systems: Salesforce or HubSpot to track sales interactions and pipeline data.
- Marketing Automation Platforms: Marketo or Pardot for engagement metrics.
- Analytics and BI Tools: Tableau or Google Analytics for a deeper dive into user behavior and conversion tracking.
- ABM Platforms: Demandbase or Terminus for a more ABM-focused suite of tracking and engagement tools.
Baseline Metrics and Benchmarking:
Start by looking internally at your historical data; understand your current sales cycle length, win rates, and average deal size.
Industry benchmarks can be found through reports from analyst firms such as Gartner, Forrester, or from ABM platforms that publish aggregate data.
Peer benchmarking is also valuable. Engage with similar-sized companies in your industry through communities like LinkedIn groups or industry conferences to understand their benchmarks.
Frequency of Checks:
- Real-Time Dashboards: For metrics like engagement score or website interactions, real-time dashboards can provide instantaneous feedback.
- Weekly Check-Ins: For more dynamic metrics such as account penetration or pipeline velocity, weekly reviews can keep the team agile.
- Monthly Deep Dives: For revenue metrics and CLTV, a monthly in-depth analysis can give you the strategic overview needed for long-term planning.
- Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs): A comprehensive review every quarter to assess overall ABM performance against goals and benchmarks.
By embedding these practices into your ABM routine, metrics and reporting evolve from mundane tasks to strategic rituals—each number telling a story of conquests, learnings, and the path to our ultimate triumph.
Metrics, my friends, are the lifeline of any successful ABM strategy. They’re like our personal cheerleaders, rooting for us from the sidelines. So, let’s track leading indicators, celebrate small wins, monitor the sales pipeline, revenue metrics (ACV, win rate, sales cycle length), and even create a standalone pipeline for our ABM program. With metrics in hand, we’ll know if we’re crushing it or if we need to pivot like a graceful figure skater.
Stack It Up, ABM Style: Harnessing the Power of Innovation
In the quest for ABM supremacy, equipping our arsenal with the latest tech gadgets isn’t just smart—it’s non-negotiable. Here’s how we can weave in some of the avant-garde tools like Walnut, Gong, and AI-powered platforms to give our stack that cutting-edge sharpness.
Salesforce or HubSpot: These are no longer just CRMs; they’re ecosystems brimming with integrations and AI insights, predicting the next best action and identifying patterns we didn’t know existed.
Intent Data, but Clairvoyant:
Bombora or 6sense: Think of these as the crystal balls of intent data, uncovering which accounts are in market for what we’re selling before they even know it themselves.
Engagement Data with a Twist:
Gong: This isn’t your average engagement tracker. Gong uses conversation intelligence to analyze sales calls, offering a goldmine of information on customer pain points and sentiments.
Walnut: It’s the personalization powerhouse. Create bespoke sales experiences and interactive demos tailored to each account’s expressed interests and needs.
Account Enrichment with AI:
ZoomInfo or Clearbit: These tools don’t just enrich accounts; they turbocharge them with data that’s so rich, it’s almost decadent. Think deep insights into buying behavior and organizational hierarchies that are updated in near real-time.
Chorus.ai: This platform gives us the superpower to dissect sales calls and meetings to extract patterns, trends, and actionable insights, all thanks to its AI-driven analysis.
Marketing Automation with Intelligence:
Marketo or Pardot, now with enhanced AI features, can predict the success of our campaigns and personalize outreach at scale, ensuring our message hits the right note every time.
By adopting these tools, we’re not just stacking up—we’re strategically assembling a suite of capabilities that allow us to execute our ABM strategy with precision, personalization, and proactive insight. This tech stack isn’t just lean; it’s a curated selection of the finest instruments in the symphony of targeted marketing.
If you’re running a pilot program, keep your technology stack lean and mean. No need for excessive tools here. Just grab a CRM, one source of intent data (like those website visitors who can’t get enough of you), engagement data (from webinar signups and such), and a sprinkle of account enrichment (like LinkedIn URLs and emails) to spice things up.
In the pilot phase, we go lean but potent with our tech stack. The essentials:
- A robust CRM.
- A single, reliable intent data source.
- Tools for capturing engagement data.
- Resources for comprehensive account enrichment.
Account Hunting: The Art of Tracking Prey
Our sales collaboration extends to account selection—identifying those already engaged and setting priority benchmarks. It’s an investigative process, akin to selecting the finest grapes for an exquisite vintage.
Equipping the Sales Mavericks
To elevate our sales team from skilled hunters to strategic predators of the ABM savannah, marketing must arm them with more than just spears and arrows. Here are some ingenious tactics that marketing can deploy:
- Sales Enablement Platform: Tools like Highspot or Seismic can provide sales teams with real-time, situational playbooks, case studies, and testimonial videos that resonate with each specific account’s stage and needs.
- Predictive Lead Scoring: Utilizing AI to score leads based on their likelihood to convert, ensuring sales efforts are concentrated on the most promising prospects.
- Automated Scheduling: Implementing tools like Calendly or Chili Piper to remove the friction from meeting scheduling, allowing prospects to book time directly into sales reps’ calendars.
- Chatbots and Virtual Assistants: Embedding intelligent assistants on key web pages to qualify leads in real-time and book meetings or direct hot leads to the most relevant sales rep instantly.
- Social Proofing: Amplifying customer success stories through targeted social media campaigns, reinforcing credibility, and priming target accounts.
- Microtargeted Campaigns: Running hyperfocused ad campaigns on platforms like LinkedIn, directly targeting the employees of prospect companies with tailored messaging.
- Sales Intelligence Tools: Integrating platforms like LinkedIn Sales Navigator or Lusha to provide sales with deep insights and triggers for personalized outreach.
- Content Personalization Engines: Using tools like Optimizely to tailor the website experience for visitors from target accounts, showcasing relevant content and case studies.
- Direct Mail Campaigns: In an era of digital overload, a well-timed, personalized piece of direct mail can stand out. Services like Sendoso can help automate this process.
- Referral Programs: Encouraging and incentivizing current customers to refer others within their industry, leveraging existing relationships to warm up new prospects.
- Account-based Chat: Implementing account-specific chat options that connect prospects with the most knowledgeable reps for their needs.
- Joint Webinars and Events: Marketing can organize events that are cohosted by sales, ensuring that the content delivered is precisely what the prospects need to move them down the funnel.
By implementing these tools and tactics, marketing doesn’t just support sales; it becomes the wind beneath their wings, propelling them toward their targets with precision, speed, and a touch of flair. Together, they don’t just chase accounts; they orchestrate a ballet of strategic engagement that’s impossible to ignore.
We must help our sales counterparts in their noble quest for engaged accounts. Together, we shall define appropriate sources to identify these accounts, establish account prioritization criteria, and perfect the art of account research. It’s like tracking elusive creatures in the wild, except our prey is potential revenue. Let the hunt begin!
Personalization Galore: The Tiers of ABM Awesomeness
The depth of personalization is directly proportional to the potential of the account. We craft a personalized experience for each member of the buying committee in top-tier accounts, while still maintaining a bespoke touch for the lower tiers.
Indeed, personalization in ABM must transcend the rudimentary name, company, and title references. True personalization feels almost precognitive in its approach, like receiving a gift that you didn’t know you wanted, but, once received, feels utterly indispensable.
Ideas for Effective Personalization:
- Behavioral Trigger-Based Outreach: Using marketing automation to send personalized content based on specific actions a contact has taken. For example, if they’ve spent a significant amount of time on a service page, follow up with a detailed guide or case study relevant to that service.
- Content Fit to Industry Nuances: Tailoring content that speaks to industry-specific trends, challenges, and language. For instance, sharing a regulatory compliance guide with a prospect in the finance sector or a technology adoption roadmap for a healthcare contact.
- Personalized Video Messages: Send videos where sales reps address the prospect by name, reference a recent event in their industry, or comment on a recent initiative the prospect’s company has undertaken.
- Predictive Content Delivery: Using AI to predict and serve content that matches the prospect’s stage in the buyer’s journey or their current business needs.
- Personalized Tools and Resources: Providing interactive tools, like calculators or assessments, that are customized with the prospect’s own data or scenarios.
- Custom Audits or Analyses: Offering a personalized audit of their current systems or strategies, demonstrating a deep dive into their specific context and providing actionable insights.
- Tailored Proposals and Solutions: Crafting proposals that not only address the prospect’s needs but also anticipate future challenges and opportunities they might not have considered.
- Interactive, Account-Specific Landing Pages: Creating landing pages that are tailored for individual accounts, featuring content, imagery, and calls to action that resonate with that particular business.
- Strategic Gifting: Sending gifts that are meaningful to the individual, like a book on a topic they’ve expressed interest in or a donation to a cause they support.
- Personal Insights and Commentary: Sharing personalized insights on industry reports or data, demonstrating a deep understanding and investment in the prospect’s success.
- Client Success Mapping: Illustrating a personalized roadmap of success, showing the prospect exactly how your solution fits into their future growth plans.
Effectiveness of Personalization:
The efficacy of these tactics lies in their ability to make the prospect feel seen and understood. It’s not just about acknowledgment; it’s about relevance and resonance. When a prospect feels that your message is crafted specifically for them, it not only captures their attention but also their trust and, ultimately, their business.
Tier 1 personalization is akin to a bespoke suit, tailored to every curve and contour of the client’s needs and preferences. Tier 2, while more off the rack, still feels custom with adjustments made for the role and industry vertical. Tier 3 gets a more ready-to-wear approach but with smart, industry-aligned accessorizing that still feels special.
In essence, effective personalization in ABM is about demonstrating unequivocally that you have not only listened but also understood and anticipated. It’s a concierge service in a world accustomed to self-service.
Different tiers, different levels of personalization. Treat your Tier 1 accounts like royalty by providing full personalization for every member of the buying committee. Tier 2? How about some job roles and vertical-based personalization? As for Tier 3, they deserve vertical-based personalization. Remember, personalization is the key to their hearts (and their wallets).
Warmup and Activation: Rethinking the Funnel for Innovative Engagement and Activation
We reject the antiquated funnel approach. Our multithreaded strategy interweaves:
- Community engagement across social platforms.
- Content and events that resonate with the accounts’ real-time needs.
- Collaborative content initiatives.
- Direct engagement through personalized consulting, workshops, and audits.
- Custom content hubs for a tailored experience.
- A social selling approach informed by genuine engagement and intent data.
- Thoughtfully crafted direct mail containing personalized proposals.
Warmup and Activation: The Evolution of the Funnel
Just as the three-pointer has revolutionized basketball, so too must we reimagine the sales funnel. It’s no longer a linear journey down a conical path; it’s a network, a web, a sieve where leads are not just falling through but being actively guided and filtered based on engagement and fit.
The traditional funnel presupposes a one-way journey — broad at the top and narrow at the end. But what if, instead of a funnel, we think of it as a sieve with multiple entry points and a series of filters that qualify prospects based on their engagement level, need, and timing? This approach recognizes that prospects may enter at different stages and may move nonlinearly through the process.
Here’s how we can apply this concept:
- OmniChannel Engagement: Like a team running a fullcourt press, we engage prospects across all channels — social media, email, direct mail, webinars, and even in-person events. Each touchpoint is an opportunity to qualify and further engage the prospect.
- Dynamic Content Strategies: We develop content that resonates with real-time needs and serve it dynamically, akin to how basketball players must adapt to defenses in real-time. This keeps the content fresh and relevant, encouraging continuous engagement.
- Collaborative Content: We team up with prospects on content creation, much like players assist each other to score. This could mean coauthoring reports or hosting joint webinars, which fosters a sense of partnership.
- Direct Engagement: Offering personalized consultations or workshops is like breaking down game footage with a player. It’s direct, customized, and immediately valuable, helping to build trust and establish expertise.
- Personalized Content Hubs: Instead of a one-size-fits-all resource center, we create account-specific content hubs that feel like they’ve been curated by a personal coach, filled with content that addresses the specific challenges and goals of each prospect.
- Social Selling Based on Engagement: We leverage social listening tools to understand and engage with prospects based on their online behavior, much like a coach tailors their game plan to the opposing team’s strategy.
- Direct Mails with Precision: Sending thoughtfully crafted direct mail is like executing a well-timed play; it stands out, it’s memorable, and if done right, it can change the course of the game (or the sales process).
In this reimagined model, we’re not just passively waiting for leads to fall through the funnel; we’re actively guiding them, providing value at each step, and using a range of tactics to engage and convert. It’s a more complex, more dynamic, and ultimately more effective approach to driving sales in the modern era. Just as the game of basketball evolves, so too must our sales strategies — and the sieve is our new playbook.
Forget about the boring, linear funnel approach. We’re here to shake things up! Instead, let’s engage in multithreaded nurturing and activation. Get involved on social media, infiltrate communities where our potential buyers dwell, create content and events that align with their current needs, collaborate, provide 1-1 activation through consultations, workshops, audits, and recommendations. Personalized content hubs, social selling, and even direct mails with personalized proposals will make them weak at the knees. Who needs a funnel when we can create a whirlwind of excitement?
With these eight core pillars intact, your ABM strategy for 2024 will be unstoppable. Revenue will flow, and competitors will tremble in awe. So, my fellow marketers, go forth and conquer the world of ABM with humor, creativity, and a Red Branch twist!