How to Stay Ahead in the Great Account-Based Marketing Race

By Paige Montgomery on February 28, 2020

This account-based marketing piece is brought to you by Intelligent Demand Senior Marketing Manager & Certified Account-Based Strategist, Paige Montgomery. 

More and more B2B marketing executives and companies are making the transition from lead-centric to account-centric marketing, because the ROI of an account-based approach has been tried, tested, and proven. ITSMA put it best: “ABM delivers the highest return on investment of any strategic B2B marketing approach. Period.”

Let’s face it, account-based marketing (ABM) is no longer a trend to test or even pilot—it’s table stakes in 2020. And thanks, in part, to the surge of account-based thought leadership and marketing technology available, B2B marketers are getting better at ABM by the day, meaning they’re also getting better at creating strategies that engage target accounts and developing effective ways to connect the dots between marketing, sales, and customer success.

These are exciting times to be a marketer in B2B, but it’s also a critical time to be one step ahead of the competition—to be better, more original, and more memorable than the dozens of other companies who are going after your very same target accounts. 

So, how exactly can you stand out against your competitors who are also doing ABM? Or who have already beat you to getting an ABM program into market?

At Intelligent Demand, we work with marketing teams every single day to help their companies overcome this exact challenge, whether they are piloting, scaling, or already pushing the boundaries of ABM.

What we’ve come to learn is that the most significant challenge marketers face at every stage of the account-based journey is standing out in increasingly sophisticated B2B landscape and that the teams who are succeeding with ABM are the ones cutting through digital noise and creating personalized, memorable experiences that engage the right people at the right accounts at the right time. 

Getting this formula right is what winning at ABM looks like. And by winning, we mean a robust pipeline and revenue impact. 

To help B2B marketers get on the path to fast impact with ABM, our team uses a framework we call the ABM Success Pillars (which are really the pillars for better B2B revenue growth). These pillars guide every integrated strategy we create for our clients, whether they’re doing ABM or not. For this article, we wanted to outline how we would apply these pillars for an account-based pilot that incorporates a Sending Platform into the integrated campaign architecture (ICA). 

We tested this in the market with one of our global telecom clients and were delighted to learn that a physical channel is a great way to overcome the challenge of cutting through the digital noise and stand out among competitors.

8 Pillars of a World-Class Account-Based Marketing Program 

Account-Based Marketing Pillar 1:  Cross-functional Alignment

Establish alignment with key stakeholders. This means marketing and sales leaders who are accountable for revenue. Aligning this team around the target account list (TAL), ideal client profile (ICP), and market-appropriate goals for the sales development and sales teams is critical.

We put this pillar first because without top-down direction and alignment, the teams who are on the hook to hit pipeline goals, meeting goals, and qualified opportunity goals will have no direction, no buy-in, and the account-based approach will be a non-starter.

 In other words, if you’re the change agent who raised your hand to introduce ABM at your company and you stumble out the gate with alignment, your reputation will be hurt as much as your pipeline.

Account-Based Marketing Pillar 2: Intentional Targeting

This is where the ABM leaders identify target accounts based on the ideal client profile (ICP) and target account list (TAL). Intentional targeting will give account executives, sales teams, SDRs and BDRs (however your org is structured) a roadmap and SLA when it comes to which accounts to target, which buying centers to engage, and who engages when. Watch this webinar with TOPO and ID to learn more about who should be on your ABM team.

Account-Based Marketing Pillar 3: Courageous Creative

Where B2B marketing often falls short is visually impactful, relevant, and memorable creative. If the goal is to get and keep a buyer’s attention, your creative might be the most important piece of this whole puzzle.

You (hopefully) did great work with your go-to-market messaging strategy and product map, so make sure your creative brings your value proposition to life in a way that is memorable. Platforms like Sendoso offer countless ways to tell your brand story in a meaningful and creative way, so get creative. 

Do we need to say “creative” again?

Account-Based Marketing Pillar 4: Integrated, Client-Centric Strategy

Our team at Intelligent Demand geeks out about this pillar. 

There is nothing more effective than a well-planned, well-managed, and optimized campaign strategy that is integrated across stakeholders, channels, tactics, technologies, and processes to drive focus, orchestration, and impact. 

If there is one thing you take away from this article, let it be this: every touch has a purpose. 

The days of spray-and-pray random marketing are over. Be smart and strategic about how each element of every campaign connects to where your prospect is in the buyer’s journey—or their customer journey if your goal is retention and expansion. 

This is a sample ICA that demonstrates exactly how direct mail or personalized gifts fit into an integrated strategy. For this example, the high-value offer being leveraged by the SDR team is a workshop, and success meant booking a workshop with a target account.

Account-Based Marketing Pillar 5: Strategic Use of Data

Data is a beautiful thing when leveraged properly. Imagine if you could trigger a direct mail send to someone who has been searching the Internet for account-based marketing, literally gift-wrapping the answers to their questions and delivering it neatly to their desk (not their inbox).

Data can tell us a lot about our prospects and our customers. It’s an incredibly valuable tool in an ABM team’s arsenal and when it’s clean and well-maintained, it can be a game changer. 

Account-Based Marketing Pillar 6: Personalized Experiences

This is where a platform like Sendoso can make a significant impact on pipeline by delivering a personalized touch at a key point in the buyer’s journey. 

As an example, our global telecom client was piloting ABM for the first time. To engage target accounts and the decision makers within, Intelligent Demand created industry and persona-relevant experiences across multiple tactics and channels to drive relevance and engagement throughout the buyer’s journey. 

One of those experiences was delivered in the form of a personalized gift sent via Sendoso when a prospect reached a certain point in the buyer’s journey. The buyer had been nurtured through digital channels for several weeks by marketing and when the time was right, the sales teams were triggered to send a personalized gift. 

The result? A closed-won opportunity in less than half the company’s historical buying cycle time, as well as companywide buy-in for ABM.

Account-Based Marketing Pillar 7: Omni-Channel Engagement

This pillar is all about strategic planning and having a dedicated account-based team to orchestrate campaign tactics across targeted channels including, but not limited to: LinkedIn (we love this channel for SDR touches or targeted advertising), email, landing page content, sending automation, and a high-value offer (HVO) to drive a cohesive multi-touch approach, engaging buyers in places and ways they prefer.

Adding a physical channel to this mix (like Sendoso direct mail or gift sending) is a great way to get your brand directly in front of your buyers in a way that is memorable and relevant. 

Remember, we’re all about cutting through that digital noise and making an impact on the decision makers at our target accounts.

Account-Based Marketing Pillar 8: Measure What Matters

It is critical to establish KPIs and bi-weekly report-outs with key stakeholders to prove account-based ROI. Report on campaign metrics including engagement by account as well as media, landing page, and email metrics, providing optimizations throughout the campaign to continue to drive effectiveness. The most important thing is that the metrics you report on are what matters to the business. 

I mentioned before that there is a formula for a successful ABM team. We’ve been doing this for quite some time now and we’ve developed these pillars as our formula for account-based success. But we’ve also found that if you apply these pillars as a checklist within your revenue program, you will drive better and better results.

You might even get a promotion.

Need help with your revenue growth strategy? Learn more about how ID and Sendoso can help you get an ABM program up and running fast to start driving revenue impact. Together, our teams can help you bring the software and the strategy you need for success. Reach us at success@intelligentdemand.com. 

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