Do You Need to Invest in New Technology to Do ABM?
One of the biggest questions I’ve heard from B2B marketers this year is what kind of technology is needed to implement and measure account-based marketing, or ABM.
Before we get started answering this question, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Terminus is an account-based marketing software company, so it’s not as if we don’t have a stake in the game. But above all, we’re B2B marketers, too. We know the challenges that come with selling and marketing a complex product to a large group of stakeholders, which is why we believe so strongly in ABM and in our product.
That being said, we know every B2B company has different business challenges and goals, and there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all marketing technology stack. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at all the different types of MarTech that can fuel your account-based marketing.
The technology you use to power your account-based marketing program depends on your approach (or approaches) to ABM. We wrote last week about the four tactical approaches to account-based marketing, which are:
- 1:1 ABM
- ABM Lite
- Programmatic ABM
- Bolt-On ABM
1:1 ABM and ABM Lite highly personalized approaches to ABM that target high-value accounts. Technology can power up your 1:1 ABM and ABM Lite strategies and help you reach your target accounts across multiple channel. Still, you can reach this shortlist of named accounts on limited channels without specific marketing technology.
Thanks to technology, Programmatic ABM is much more scalable. With account-centric marketing tools, you can reach a large group of target accounts (100 to 1,000) efficiently and effectively while still personalizing the buyer’s experience.
Bolt-On ABM is a hybrid between inbound marketing and account-based marketing that is entirely reliant on technology. It allows you to take your inbound leads and automatically expand your reach to more contacts at each account, even if they’re not in your database. It’s highly scalable as long as you have the right account-based marketing software in place.
So, while it is possible to do highly targeted account-based marketing without a robust marketing and sales stack, this severely limits the number of companies you can engage with and the channels on which you can reach them.
The most robust account-based marketing technology stacks have tools from each stage of the #FlipMyFunnel model for ABM, pictured left. The stages are:
- Identify best-fit accounts
- Expand reach to the right people in those accounts
- Engage accounts with highly targeted content, offers, and outreach on the right channels
- Advocate turns customers and prospects into raving fans
- Measure the results that matter for your business
I know it sounds like a lot, but don’t panic! You don’t need to go out and immediately invest in new software for every stage of the #FlipMyFunnel model to do account-based marketing well.
Read on to explore the different types of ABM technology and evaluate which solutions are right for your business.
Technology in the Identify stage of the #FlipMyFunnel model for ABM helps you find and select your list of target accounts. Identify software falls into two categories: data and predictive.
Data technology helps you identify accounts based on firmographics and other attributes. For example, you could search for accounts with 1,000-2,500 employees, in the IT industry, that are using HubSpot’s marketing automation tool. Data technology may also provide insight into the accounts, contact data, and other enhancements.
Predictive software uses data science to help select and prioritize accounts. These tools have a variety of methodologies and provide a solution for determining the following:
- Fit – Is the account a good fit for your solution?
- Intent – Is the account in-market for your solution? This is determined using a variety of buying signals from across the web.
- Deep Attributes – Predictive can give you insight into attributes that are difficult to find in traditional data providers — for example, if you work at a digital marketing agency, you may need to know how much each account spends on online advertising.
The software in the Expand stage helps find the right people at your target accounts. This technology helps marketers cover an account in a variety of ways by providing:
- Contact data for buyer personas
- Lead-to-account matching and routing to ensure that leads are being associated with the right accounts in your database
- Insight into the account profile
- Expanded reach to more decision-makers and influencers at target accounts, even if you don’t have that contact data in your CRM
While many of the tools in the Identify stage also provide value for the Expand stage, such as predictive scoring on contacts or selling contact records, many marketers leverage existing technology in their stack, such as their CRM, to ensure that they have the best account profile.
The software in the Engage stage includes all of the technology you need to scale your outreach to the decision-makers at target accounts. The main categories of Engage technology are:
- Marketing automation & email
- Event & webinar
You probably already have tools that can be repurposed for your ABM efforts, such as your CRM, marketing automation platform, webinar platform, and content marketing technology. Your marketing automation platform might even offer landing page personalization.
Think about your overall ABM strategy and how engagement technology fit into that strategy. You don’t have to go out and purchase tons of new tools. Instead, you can repurpose the tools you use and replace lead-centric software with account-based software. For example, if you’re already spending money on digital advertising, you can reallocate that money to account-based ads instead. Pick and choose tools based on your strategy, not the other way around, and you’ll have what you need to drive measurable results.
For many B2B teams, the majority of marketing resources are spent generating demand and accelerating deals through the sales process. This is a very effective focus for marketers using ABM, but what are you doing once that deal crosses the finish line?
Advocate tools help you continue to foster relationships with your customers and turn them into loyal ambassadors for your business. There’s no more effective form of marketing than word of mouth.
[Tweet “84% of B2B businesses begin the buying process with a referral, via @EdelmanPR”]
[Tweet “83% of customers are willing to refer a solution they’re satisfied with, via @TexasTech”]
There are several different types of Advocate technologies that allow you to engage with customers across their entire journey, including onboarding, adoption, upsell/cross-sell, retention, referral, and expansion. It’s also important to give your customers a voice, which is where industry review sites, such as G2 Crowd in the software industry, come into play.
While Advocacy is an oft-overlooked stage of the #FlipMyFunnel model for ABM, investing in the customer experience and focusing resources to ensure that your customers are happy will lead to more engaged customers that become raving fans of your product or service not only within their company, but also externally in the market.
The Measure stage is critical for showing the impact of your ABM program. You don’t necessarily need to invest in an ABM specific measurement tool. Try combining tools you already have such as your CRM, Google Analytics, results from engagement tools, or even an Excel spreadsheet (if necessary) to measure the success of your account-based marketing campaigns.
In addition, most ABM technology in the other stages of the flipped funnel have in-app analytics that can help you prove that your marketing is having a measurable impact. For example, we just released Account-Based Visitor ID, a feature that allows B2B marketers track website engagement on an account level to demonstrate ABM success.
Factors to Consider as You Evaluate ABM Tools
How can you make sure you don’t get afflicted with “shiny object syndrome” and drop a bunch of money on tools that won’t drive meaningful business results? It’s simple:
Let your strategy dictate your technology and not the other way around.
I love the way WhiteHat Security approaches technology investments. They create evaluation guidelines to help them weigh the value of each solution they’ve evaluating, grading each product on factors like features and benefits, cost, implementation time, ROI, and customer support.
Consider the following factors as you develop your own scorecard for evaluating ABM software:
- Integrations. Does the tool integrate with key tools already in your stack, such as your CRM and/or your marketing automation platform?
- Ease of use. How long will it take to get up and running with this product? Do you have someone on your team who can own the implementation and adoption of the product?
- Partnership. Is the vendor going to be a partner who’s invested your business outcomes, or are they simply providing a product?
- ROI. How does the product fit into your budget, and what kind of return on investment can you expect to see?
How Does Your ABM Tech Stack Stack Up?
Now that we’ve explored the big five categories of account-based marketing technology, you’re probably wondering where you have gaps in your ABM tech stack. Find out with the Account-Based Marketing Stack Grader, an interactive tool that visualizes your MarTech by category, allowing you to identify any gaps and overlap in your technology. Get started now.