If your company is like most organizations, one of your biggest headaches is your database. Underpinning everything the sales and marketing departments do, a database can make or break your growth. Yet databases often get very little attention. I get it.Continue reading...
Tom Cruise’s “Jerry Maguire” sports agent movie character famously shared a mission statement with his entire company where he suggested “fewer clients” and getting back to “caring for ourselves.” Money and clients should not, he suggested, be the focus. He was fired the next day.Continue reading...
A central component of your Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy is content. Regardless of the account, content is one of those needs and wants that crosses all industries, niches, and demographics. That's because content is a tool that helps businesses find solutions to some of their most critical business problems. The thought-leadership they can find from other companies also shapes their purchase decisions to invest in a brand's products or services. Content is a way to convince them you are the right choice.
The challenge is to craft the content in such a way to build awareness, drive engagement and perceived value, and support your overall ABM efforts to deliver personalized messaging. There are some specific ways to generate scalable content that will achieve these goals throughout the customer lifecycle.Spend Considerable Time on Research
So often research is the most rushed stage of the ABM marketing effort, despite the need to focus on specific information about each account. Marketers think that what they can find during initial research endeavors is good enough. However, when you think you have looked enough and collected substantial data, start again to see what else is still out there.
Your content will be that much better for the more comprehensive and methodical approach you take to the marketing research effort. The research you need should focus on anything that will help you understand your accounts and what is important to them. What you discover essentially gives you the framework for your content.
When delving into these accounts, also find out more about the environment and factors that impact those pain points and the opportunities they are looking to leverage. Directly ask your audience about where they consume information and what type of format they enjoy. After collecting more research than you think you'll ever need, start identifying patterns. Also, consult with sales to get more intelligence.
Some of the insights may call out differences between your accounts to inform how to improve personalization. Additionally, there may be signs as to where similar content can assist more than one account.
These are the details that will improve your content and illustrate why it's worthwhile to spend the majority of your time on this part of the content process.Inventory Available Content
You may already have existing content that was developed prior to developing your ABM strategy. Some of your previously published content could be repurposed and used effectively now that you are following an accounts-based focus. Look for any specific topics in your content library that would resonate with your accounts. While you may need to update certain aspects of it, this is a good way to use available assets and get more mileage out of them.
As you go through your existing content library, this is a good time to organize it with dates, information, and notes on how various articles or other content formats can be used in future ABM campaigns. This will help you quickly locate it when you are ready to start a new marketing effort, giving you more time to spend on personalizing it for each account.Create a Content Matrix
From there, use the existing information to develop a content matrix. This provides a more succinct way to stay on top of the content you have and the content you still need to create. Plus, it keeps the information you need to develop focused on each account's needs and interests.
Your matrix should have a column that lists out each account. From there, map out content that builds on each objective you want to achieve with that account. For example, one content campaign can raise awareness while another can inspire a call to action. From there, the matrix provides you with space to personalize the content while staying relevant and aligned with your overall ABM objectives.Test and Re-Test Your Content Efforts
Marketers often skip the testing phase that is so vital to content success. They either believe they don't have the time or that testing doesn't yield any results. In reality, testing can be as valuable as the initial research. Testing is a way to experiment with different content, visuals, formats, and messages. This only involves a small segment, but it provides insight on how the larger audience will react.
If some aspect doesn't work out, you can change out that part, revise, and re-test until you get an overwhelming response. That's when you take it to the audience, knowing your content now supports your ABM strategy.Design Parallel Paths with Content Marketing Program
Your ABM strategy and the content developed for your content marketing program should be complementary. By putting these on parallel paths, you may discover ways to derive additional value from each. This includes sharing that information and repurposing it along the way just as you have done with older content.
Consider creating a microsite that serves as a content hub for content, research, and testing insights. This site then becomes a resource for the entire organization, including sales. This maximizes the value of the research and testing efforts plus encourages deeper collaboration among departments.
Hoping to have more extensive help while you craft your content for ABM? Great! The Modern Marketing Guide to ABM is available to you for free, today! Check it out:
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“The man in constant fear is every day condemned.”
- Publilius Syrus, c. 50 BC
Addressing change and encouraging change are what our Transformation Services team pitches. We don’t create change; we simply help people understand how to deal with it. Without change, our team wouldn’t even exist. Without change, the world wouldn’t have Netflix. We would still be watching reruns of Cheers on network television at a set time every Thursday evening, or we’d be reading books by the light of a kerosene lamp, or writing long-form letters with a quill.
The world changes all the time; it's an immutable fact of life. It also happens to be a fact that is belied by the persistent fear that runs through much of the corporate world, which finds itself bracing against winds of disruption from digitally-native competitors and advances in technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI). When faced with these disruptive forces, many companies blink with denial and hope their tried and true models will withstand the competitive threat. A defensive do-nothing stance, however, is not a good strategy. Instead, companies should be running head-on to confront these changes.
This topic has been front of mind after a recent team meeting where we discussed how we could help our customers prepare their marketing practices for the future and not just the present. In our past lives as IT practitioners, we would refer to the action of preparing systems for external threat as “hardening”.
It’s a different paradigm now when we consider what companies must do to prepare themselves to face external forces of disruption. To describe it, I’ll say that hardening alone is not the goal; it’s graphene-ization (I added the suffix). Graphene is, “the hardest material in the world, but also one of the most pliable.”
That’s what we want for our clients. We want to help them build environments that are strong, agile, and adaptive and that can do more than just provide a great defense. They should be able to flex and bend to absorb and exert pressure at the same time.AI as an Opportunity
To achieve that goal we have many other related goals, all of equal importance. One goal is to allay the fear many people have around Artificial Intelligence. Oracle builds AI into its products but that’s not why our team pushes it. We encourage it because as a technology, it makes good sense for our clients’ customers, our clients’ businesses, and our clients’ employees.
For employees, we believe AI can be beneficial for those who are stymied by many of the various signs of a disengaged buyer/customer and their shifting habits because it offers the opportunity to take on tasks no human can possibly handle. It’s one thing for humans to gather, using traditional programmatic methods, the online and offline data on their buyers and customers. But it’s something else entirely to take all that data and assess it in near real-time in order to discern customer behavior pattern in hopes to produce automated, insight-driven, and business-impacting actions. How will AI help customers? They’ll be the recipients of more specific, relevant, and pertinent messaging; more personalized service; and more control over their experiences with vendors.Have No Fear
Fear can be a motivator but it can also act as a drag on forward momentum. One of our hopes is to be able to shed light on the areas of technology and process rejuvenation that can cause fear but that can also provide beneficial and substantial ROI. Artificial Intelligence carries such a promise and you might find this series of videos from McKinsey a helpful supplement to that argument. At roughly 2.5 minutes for each of the five videos, industry experts share why AI is indispensable for the modern corporation, and that despite the media hype and hyperbole. AI is not about sentience and it’s not something to be feared.
Build a strong, adaptive company for the future. Take a look at what's coming. Take a look at the Future of Modern Marketing: 2017.
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Demandbase updated its B2B account-based marketing (ABM) play today with the launch of a re-architected ABM platform that combines targeting, engagement and conversion solutions in one. With the release, the San Francisco-based vendor aims to offer marketers an easier way to plan and execute campaigns "across the entire funnel.Continue reading...
In my previous post, we discussed the importance of creating a data strategy and modeling your data. Interestingly enough in recent research completed with Econsultancy 46% of ANZ respondents cited integrating data as their key challenge with marketing automation. Once you have your base data model, you may also decide to layer in additional insights based on analysis done either by an in-house team or an agency. This could include data like customized personas based on buying type or what type of customers are detractors.
Following on from the last post, we will continue with our automotive example: The main data object is the buyer and the secondary data object is accessories or factory options. Beyond the base layer, which is the data that you can collect directly from the buyer on a form or from a third-party provider such as Dun and Bradstreet, we can also start tracking their digital body language or external web analytics data to provide insight into how we can better personalize their experience. Digital body language can be tracked through marketing automation platforms that allow us to monitor and view how a client or prospect is engaging across digital channels.
For example, for buyers that purchased in the last quarter were there any common engagement criteria that a buyer has completed that would trigger an intent to buy?
Did they visit the site more frequently?
Did they complete a Sales enquiry form?
Did they schedule an appointment with a Sales Rep?
Can we look for similar activity within our prospect database as provide a more targeted communications strategy to drive conversions based on these additional insights?
Another layer of insight to utilise is mobile usage. Do you know if your customers use mobile versus desktop? Is there app data you can leverage to decide on the frequency or method of communication? If you notice a particular group of buyers searching using their mobile device, perhaps they can choose to receive push notifications versus email. Can you layer any push notifications via SMS or an app especially for time sensitive communications?
From a web analytics standpoint, you can take a similar approach to mobile and analyze patterns in web browsing behavior and see if there are any trends that predominate in a particular buyer group. For example, you may find buyers within a certain age group go online during a particular time of day and search for certain search terms on the site.
In our next post, we’ll discuss how to represent these objects in your marketing automation platform.
As a B2B Marketer, your days are spent trying to reach your customers with the right message at the right time. For ideas on using Account Based Marketing to make this easier, check out this free download.
Now that you have discovered the benefits of using an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy to maximize your available marketing and sales resources by developing personalized campaigns for targeted accounts, it's time to focus on how you can further integrate ABM into your sales practices. Through the integration process with sales, you'll be able to develop a deeper understanding of each account in order to enhance how you personalize all marketing communications with those accounts going forward.
The result can be increased revenues and referrals from those accounts as their satisfaction with their experience rises.
Here are three ways that you can integrate ABM into your sales practices:
Available tools and platforms facilitate the integration process between ABM and your sales processes. This includes platforms that automate and update lead and contact information so everyone has the same current data on the accounts. Technology can also streamline marketing campaigns and provide a way to collaborate on the production of these campaigns. For example, this can include getting immediate feedback from sales on the visuals and content that marketing has developed, which is then shared across both teams.
Another area that technology can assist with in terms of integration would be the ability to deliver action-oriented insights from the data collected during the marketing and sales processes. The analytics can be divided and segmented into different metrics to understand the impact that certain ABM strategies had in assisting sales with lead generation as well as conversion.
This capability also includes customized reports on each account, drilling farther down to illustrate how the personalization efforts have impacted the results with that account. Having this information can serve as the map that both marketing and sales need to see how they can work together to improve the efforts that both make to winning new customers and keeping existing ones.2. Training
Shortening the learning curve for your marketing and sales teams through training can speed up the integration process between ABM and your sales system. The introduction of the aforementioned new technology also precipitates the need for training. our teams need to understand how ABM works and what it can achieve for sales.
First, your teams need to understand how ABM works and what it can achieve for sales. This gives them the rationale they need to be willing to change habits and processes that they might have been using prior to this move to the ABM approach. Second, providing hands-on training of any new technology gives them the framework for what type of integration is possible that will save them time and reduce any redundancies across functions. It will also show them how the integration can produce more insights that will help them achieve better results.
The faster you can ramp up their understanding of what and how to integrate ABM and sales, the faster those results will come for the organization. Through their training, they may even realize other aspects of what they do that can be integrated to speed the personalization of marketing and sales for each account.
While technology and training can provide the pathway to integration between ABM and sales processes, it is up to the people within those functions to truly make it happen. To be successful requires communication and collaboration between those on both teams. This starts with regularly sharing what each team is doing in conjunction with each account to determine how they might combine efforts to improve the experience for that account.
This will also help to ensure that both marketing and sales are speaking the same language so the accounts don't become confused by interaction with both.
Scheduling meetings as well as checking in on a one-on-one basis helps everyone understand the latest information on that account and showcases the results of the integration efforts. Ideas and feedback can then be implemented based on the previous efforts to determine how to further integrate. Doing this in a stepwise fashion can ensure the integration process works and helps everyone on both teams get acclimated to the changes that result.
The sales staff can provide their insights to marketing about why and when an account wanted to buy, which enables marketing to more effectively plan their campaigns for specific times of the year based on that information. Making that information available through a collaborative platform furthers the integration of the processes that both teams enact, helping to get more results within less time and using fewer resources.
Integration doesn't happen overnight between sales and marketing, and it doesn't end at some point. Instead, consider integration as an ongoing evolution for your organization that will occur over time. Each step you take toward integrating ABM into your sales processes will incrementally change what your teams are doing and result in measurable performance improvements.
Be patient, thoughtful, and open to the integration process that requires technology, training, communication, and collaboration to optimize the benefits you'll get from doing so.
When asked, a third of marketing organizations say their biggest challenge is maintaining personalized and consistent interactions with their customers. Download the Argyle ABM Survey for more insights.
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“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” — Charles DarwinA Shift from Inbound Marketing
After decades when there were few changes in marketing, in the 1990s, internet marketing was born. Then around the turn of the century, new technologies gave way to inbound marketing, putting the power in the buyer’s hands. The goal of inbound marketing was to attract prospects by providing information that helped them learn about solutions to their problems.
While inbound marketing can attract leads, it casts a wide net across the market. You may need to throw many leads away because they’re not qualified. Meanwhile, the ones you want may swim right by your net. So while inbound marketing is great when you want to go after a broad market, it’s not as effective at bringing home the accounts that can change the trajectory of your organization.A More Targeted Approach: Account-Based Marketing
A more focused approach, account-based marketing, is now gathering steam. It’s a strategy you can use to bring the specific accounts you want into your fold.
To implement account-based marketing, you must change the role of your business developers. They no longer need to sort through and qualify the fish that swim into their nets. Instead, they must reach out to the prospective high-value accounts.
Because each targeted account could represent significant long-term revenue streams for your organization, marketers and business developers can afford to put time into research that enables them to personalize their communications. Here are four steps to getting started with account-based marketing, which will increase your business developers’ efficiency and success rates.1. Decide Which Companies to Target
Use the Pareto rule (about 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the causes) to assess the accounts on your roster. Analyze the firmographics of the roughly 20 percent of your accounts that represent 80 percent of your profits. You probably want to target accounts that look similar. Also, you likely want to target those that are the next step up the ladder. Once you know the firmographics of ideal accounts, you can develop a profile and find the companies that meet it.2. Filter Them Down
While you now know which companies you’d like to onboard, that doesn’t mean they are interested. Rather than wasting a lot of time running after them all, find out which companies are in the market for what you sell. To do so, use predictive marketing analytics, which uses online click histories and offline data to forecast buying interest.
Adding predictive analytics to your lead qualification process can substantially improve your results. In a study that EverString commissioned with Forrester Consulting, they discovered that companies that used predictive analytics were almost three times more likely to surpass the average growth rates in their industries.3. Find the Buying Team
Most likely, your reps can’t win the deal communicating with one person at each account. They need to reach out to a whole team of decision makers, influencers and gatekeepers. So they must understand the web of decision making at each account and build relationships with all the stakeholders.
How do you find out who is on the buying team? Some data services provide contact information, which you can import into your customer relationship management (CRM) system. Also, your business developers can do some sleuthing by using online platforms such as LinkedIn.4. Contact the Accounts You’d Love to Land
After they’ve completed the research, your reps can reach out to the buying teams at your ideal prospective accounts. They should do so in a way that shows they understand the issues a business faces and are aware of what’s driving the industry. Also, they cannot be overly focused on the sale. Instead, they must provide valuable insights that can make business people more successful.
Reps can communicate initially via the phone, social media or personal emails. What works for the first contact depends on the individual they’re trying to reach. It’s likely that using two or three methods of outreach will be more successful than just one. For instance, pick up the phone, leave a voicemail and follow up with an email. If that doesn’t work, try to connect via social media.
That said, in the end, because you can develop the deepest relationship through one-on-one conversation, you want to talk with people on the phone. Also, it allows you to gather human intelligence, gaining a better understanding of the problems your prospect faces and the team involved in solving them.
Once you develop a good relationship with the players of one buying team, you can reach beyond them to other divisions and departments in the same organization. Each conversation is a stepping stone to the next one.
Companies that are shifting to account-based marketing are outperforming their peers and that’s why this strategy is becoming so popular. Making this change, however, requires you to redefine the role of your business developers. They will spend less time sifting through leads to find the golden nuggets and more time in research to find the gold. Once they know where it is, they should use the phone, email and social media to contact key account buying teams. Their goal is to speak with as many key stakeholders as possible and build relationships.
Account based marketing puts faces on a previously faceless crowd. Click here to download the Account-Based Markting Guide for Modern Marketers to learn more ways to improve your marketing game.
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Demandbase, provider of a B2B account-based marketing (ABM) platform, closed $65 million in its latest funding round today. This round brings the San Francisco-based company's total funding to $150 million. Chris Golec, Demandbase CEO, told CMSWire the company plans to continue its innovations in Artificial Intelligence (AI) throughout its ABMContinue reading...