Making the leap to Account-Based Marketing (ABM)


More and more businesses know it—using traditional demand generation practices just won’t cut it in terms of turning their most valuable targets into leads and customers. These same businesses are increasingly turning to account-based marketing (ABM) to market more efficiently, align sales and marketing more closely, and bring in more revenue. Studies by ITSMA found that 84% of companies that use ABM report that it delivers a better ROI than other types of marketing.

As awareness of ABM and its benefits grows, companies are reconsidering their entire B2B sales and marketing philosophy and tactics. In a recent survey, 65% of C-suite respondents said implementing ABM was a strategic priority for 2018. Why, then, are nearly a quarter of these companies unable to make the leap to developing and executing an ABM program? If ABM is so much better than what they’re doing, what’s stopping them—or anyone else—from using it?

Getting from intention to action

As always, it’s a question of time and money. ABM is a proven solution, but developing the tools and processes to make it work does not just happen overnight. Putting a good ABM program into place means reassessing all aspects of the existing process. For marketers, that might mean creating new content.

And creating the level of content needed for ABM success is difficult! Indeed, research conducted by Canam Research, a subsidiary of Campaign Stars, reveals that less than 6% of Account Executives are effective at creating personalized sales content (e.g., emails, call scripts) for multiple stakeholders across different departments.

But it’s work, says Engagio’s Brandon Redlinger, that’s well worth doing. As useful as content marketing has been in helping B2B marketing teams start conversations with quality prospects, creating good content marketing still means devoting considerable time and resources to weave and cast a wide lead generation net. What if those same resources could be used to create materials that were of equally high quality but were more likely to be read and acted upon by their targeted audience?

Developing ABM content is a crucial part of any ABM strategy, but it isn’t something marketing teams have to do alone or simply try to cram in alongside the inbound lead–related campaigns they’re already creating. Bringing on a Marketing-as-a-Service (MaaS) partner like Campaign Stars can help marketers create the content they need in a scalable, streamlined way.

What constitutes ABM content?

According to Redlinger, the first step to building a library of valuable ABM materials is determining what kind of content is right for ABM. Everything that would be part of traditional sales and marketing is fair game—emails, ebooks, white papers, web pages, blog posts, podcasts, videos, interactive content, webinars, infographics, social media posts, surveys, quizzes … the list goes on. But with ABM, two key questions apply: Is it targeted? Is it relevant? These questions should be kept in mind for both the message a piece of content conveys and the format that message takes.

“Focus on tactics and formats that your audience engages with. Some personas read ebooks widely, while others don’t. Some will happily watch half-hour videos; others won’t even watch a 1-minute video.” – Brandon Redlinger, Engagio

Here is where the expertise of a partner like Campaign Stars is especially valuable. MaaS partners can help you create and maintain account-specific content hubs where different decision makers at your target accounts can find content that is relevant to their needs and stage of the buying process. And MaaS platforms will have a whole team of writers, designers, survey specialists and more.

A MaaS partner will also take a scalable approach by using tools such as a content playbook. Messages and content are mapped to personas and buying stages, providing a base to work from. When marketers need new content, the MaaS team will take different elements of the base, combining, reconfiguring, and tweaking them in just the right way for each account. The result is the same highly personalized messaging, but created in less time and without forever reinventing the wheel.

Getting started with ABM content creation

Redlinger identifies three steps to begin creating ABM content that makes targets take action:

  • Do a content audit—what do you already have that could be relevant, and where are the gaps?
  • Adapt existing content—what can be used as-is, or with just minor revisions/personalization?
  • Create new content—a bit more complicated, but again worth the effort. Decide on themes and topics to emphasize, identify sources in the form of experts and existing content, and create editorial calendars and briefs.

And if this all sounds daunting, it doesn’t have to be! A MaaS partner will have content and data analysis teams at the ready who are familiar with your accounts, messaging and personas but who also bring fresh insights. They will create content on-demand, test what works, and adjust accordingly so that you can reach out consistently to your highest-value targets in a way that resonates with them.

With MaaS, marketing teams of all sizes can create fully developed, personalized account-based campaigns. Your best prospects will have the attention you want to give them, without busting your budget.

For a more in-depth view of this topic, download our Holy Book of ABM Research written in conjunction with Engagio and Sendoso <here>.

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