ABM brings the right guests to the party; marketing automation keeps them engaged
What is account-based marketing (ABM), and how is it used? Columnist Jeffrey L. Cohen provides a primer on how ABM can improve marketing automation, drive sales alignment and improve customer profile data.
Party planning is a great way to think about account-based marketing (ABM). When you invite people to a party, no matter the size, you make an effort to provide something for everyone: food and drink options, fun activities that everyone can participate in. And you’ll even plan who sits at which table.
ABM is about deciding who you want to invite to the party and catering to their needs to make sure they are happy. This isn’t really a new concept and, based on many surveys, an overwhelming number of B2B marketers are either already using ABM or plan to use it in the next year.
What’s different this time? Technology.
ABM improves marketing automation
Marketing automation was developed as a way to communicate with individual prospects in a relevant and consistent manner, but much of the sales process focuses on specific accounts, not people.
Account-based marketing and marketing automation combine the best of both worlds and create a new dimension of marketing and sales alignment that improves both marketing conversion and sales close rates.
More than five people are involved in the average B2B purchase decision. The combination of ABM and marketing automation means that everyone on a buying committee can be contacted with relevant, persona-based, educational content to help support the sales message. (Relevance is based on their role within the organization.)
Marketing automation has always been able to deliver this, but it is now targeting more precisely with additional company-level data that considers each person as an individual at a company.
Most B2B marketers have sparse and inconsistent data about their prospects, which limits a full understanding of both buyers and accounts. These buyers come into marketing automation systems as either anonymous visitors from a variety of sources or as known visitors from email or CRM.
ABM drives sales alignment
The sales team wants to reach out to accounts most likely to buy. Marketing needs to examine current customers and to collaborate with sales to really understand which prospects will become customers.
Whether the process is manual or done with technology, this will give marketers an understanding of their customers that they may never have had before. Marketing and sales alignment is a key driver for sales.
Marketers can filter their account lists by company and run targeted campaigns directed to the specific accounts determined by sales. These campaigns can be further targeted toward only those accounts within a specific industry, annual revenue or region. With the right data and an ABM mindset, marketers can target anonymous users at those accounts, too.
With a list of anonymous users at the ideal accounts, marketers can target them on external websites. For example, they can run search ads on Google, display ads in The Wall Street Journal, or even ads on LinkedIn and Twitter directed at the VP of marketing at companies in the life sciences industry with over $500 million in revenue and over 3,000 employees. The optimal sites are based on what is known about the targets.
These anonymous users click on the ad and arrive at a customized landing page, which is targeted to a specific audience or even a specific account. As the prospects view this unique, targeted page, they are more likely to submit a form on the landing page. Once they click the submit button, those anonymous users become known prospects.
ABM improves profile data
Account-based marketing tools incorporated into marketing automation systems provide a bonus when those users become known. Company data — or what’s called firmographic data — is automatically added to their profile records. Any previously known contacts at the same company that had gaps in their data are also automatically updated with any new information.
Newly discovered account contacts are now part of the target account, providing complete visibility into all key decision-makers. Appending progressive data delivers a lot of value, so marketers no longer have to spend days finding and inputting outdated information into spreadsheets and CRM systems. This improves the accuracy of the profile data.
A full ABM integration into marketing automation allows this rich data to be used directly in the design of campaigns. Marketers can target prospects based on specific criteria now available in their profiles, or even run campaigns directed toward a single account.
Companies can direct account-based nurture campaigns to their most important prospects and customers. Marketers can implement account-specific campaigns, accelerating conversion rates and driving revenue from marketing qualified leads.
This is how the addition of account-based marketing improves the whole process of marketing automation. Marketing and sales alignment. Better quality leads that are more likely to convert. And happy guests sitting around the table at your party.
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