Attributable marketing has never been more important than it is right now. As marketers, most of us knew account-based marketing was becoming increasingly important, especially for B2B companies. Now that we are faced with a severe economic downturn, it’s even more important. Marketing departments were already feeling the squeeze to tighten budgets and do more with less. But now more than ever, marketing will have to be attributed to sales to drive value for the company and survive this market downturn. If for some reason you weren’t looking at ABM before, it’s time to catch up. That might sound overwhelming or daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Now is the time to take action.
Here are 5 ways you can shift your focus to account-based marketing in 2020 and beyond.
1. Sales Enablement is Key
We all know marketing has been seen as a cost center for decades. Now marketing is more critical than ever. Due to changes in technology, data availability, and smarter marketing strategy, marketing can prove itself to be a profit center when the right strategy is applied. Marketing efforts and dollars can be directly attributable to sales and revenue. Gone are the days of vanity metrics and simple awareness-based campaigns, and you and your leadership shouldn’t settle for less. But it’s incredibly important to have the right systems and taxonomy in place from the beginning of any campaign to actually get that attribution in place and have it be a sound metric. Sales and marketing have to be on the same page and use the SAME WORDS. Otherwise the data is dirty, the attribution is bad, and marketing will fall back to what it’s been.
2. Atomization and “ABM Lite”
As an agency, we’re often asked if “ABM Lite” is possible. Again, departments are trying to do more with less. We are an agency that never likes waste, and that’s something that drives us every day. So, yes, “ABM Lite” is possible.
One of the biggest components is knowing what you have available to achieve your campaign versus what you need to create. This will help you manage costs. Thankfully, ABM is more cost effective than traditional marketing. Conducting a thorough content audit will help you evaluate the content you already have for a campaign and where it applies in the buyer’s journey (as well as global considerations like translations and cultural sensitivity). You don’t have to recreate the wheel. Some compromise may be necessary in the beginning or given shrinking budgets, but scale will occur, and you will be able to prove value.
Companies are notorious for creating a lot of content that is very dense and valuable but often not seen. An audit of what’s available, what gaps exist, and what needs to be changed or optimized is important before creating any new content. It’s quite possible your company already has the core assets needed for a solid ABM campaign, and those assets simply need to be optimized or atomized to be effective at the right stage of the buyer’s journey or tuned to the right persona.
3. Communication and Shared KPIs
ABM takes time, but it’s ultimately much more effective than traditional marketing efforts and even most other digital marketing strategies. Many teams ask for ABM when what they really want is demand generation. They want leads and they want them fast. But most demand generation strategies and tactics lead to lower lead quality compared to ABM efforts.
When you understand your total available market, have a targeted account list, have sourced accurate contacts, and have applied the right orchestration plan to reach those contacts, you have a winning plan that will get you impressive results that will have your leadership and sales teams praising you and asking for more. To do that right will take time initially, but your ability to repeat effective campaigns once these things are in place will accelerate your efforts in the future. However, it’s important to get both sales and marketing on the same page and following the same shared key performance indicators (KPIs) of success. Talking the same language is important.
4. Knowing Your Audience
You might have a solid ideal customer profile (ICP) and maybe a target account list (TAL). But more often than not I see companies trying to do ABM using a lot of assumptions. They assume they know the basic demographics of their target audience, or they’re given a list from sales of identified accounts and try a pilot ABM campaign. When it falls short, they wonder why or assume ABM doesn’t work. Data matters. Research matters. I’ll admit we’re an impatient agency and getting started doing amazing work is really what we all strive for. It’s what keeps us up at night. But take the time to invest in the research up front, and once you have it dialed, then apply the right content, channels, and budget to achieve success.
5. Contacts Aren’t Evergreen
People change jobs more often than we realize. The average time on the job for Americans is 4.2 years. When we attended an event a couple weeks ago at an enterprise company, we asked how many people had changed jobs in the last six months. More than half the group raised their hands. So when you source contacts, keep in mind these are not evergreen contacts. You can benefit from the fact that true relationships stand the test of time, and your contacts might move to relevant companies in the same industry.
While lots of companies are battening down the hatches, you still need sales, and marketing should take a stance and own it. Be as targeted as possible and focus your resources in critical places that drive those sales.