The Latest from the ABM Experts
July 20, 2018
How to Complete the ABM Puzzle
3 steps to creating personalized content experiences that will engage target accounts
From conference floors to airport lounges, when I talk to other CMOs about their ABM programs, I find myself getting asked the same question. “We’ve gone to great lengths to identify and segment our target accounts, now how do we engage them in a meaningful way?” The recurrence of this question has highlighted a critical gap between ABM strategy and execution. Many businesses looking to embrace an account-based approach to marketing and sales are missing a vital puzzle piece—the ability to deliver personalized content experiences at scale.
Personalized content experiences are the fuel that will accelerate your carefully identified target accounts through the buyer journey. Here are three steps to help you create, personalize, and distribute meaningful content experiences as part of your ABM program.
Step 1: Get to Know your Content
The content you already have doesn’t do anyone any good if it’s sitting on a shelf collecting dust. And unfortunately, that’s the reality for most marketing teams. Research shows that almost 70% of content created by B2B marketing teams is never used. What a waste! The truth is most companies don’t even know what assets they have. Content is created in silos by different teams on different platforms, and as the saying goes, the right hand often doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.
Rather than spend money creating more content, invest the energy in a content audit. A content audit involves making a list of all your content and then putting the list into categories so you can cross-reference what you have. Your categories can include topics, industries, product lines, past performance, personas, and more. You can then get more specific and break your content into attributes such as URL, word count, social shares and so on.
Step 2. Make it Personal
You’ve probably gotten some mail that was personalized. Chances are you didn’t need what they were selling, but you read the mail cover to cover. Why? Because it was tailored to you and connected to you in a personal way. Getting personal is the best way to make a human and lasting connection. The same goes for developing memorable, high-impact content experiences for your ABM campaign.
Personalized content experiences can come in many different shapes and sizes. You could curate content assets relevant to a persona, buying stage, or target company. You could tailor the color palette of your communications to match your prospect’s brand or weave in relevant imagery that will cut through the clutter. Sales could tailor the messaging in their communications to focus on value propositions that will resonate with their use case. Determining the approach you should take to personalization stems from the approach to your ABM strategy be it one-to-one, one-to-a-few, or one-to-many.
One-to-one ABM programs warrant high personalization like creating a custom ebook for a target account or delivering a high-value gift or experience that makes the target client feel special like you “get” them. But be warned, it can take a significant investment in time, resources, budget, and research to put together a play like this.
One-to-a-few ABM strategies best align with medium amounts of personalization. Examples might include branded swag with logos of tech in their stack or another detail you’ve captured that can be applied across a group of accounts. Taking this approach will help you scale your ABM efforts by applying the execution of a single creative idea to more than one account.
One-to-many ABM approaches should be matched with low levels of personalization. While this approach is the easiest to implement and can be scaled with the lowest effort, I should be noted that it has lower engagement than one-to-one or one-to-a-few programs. Tactics used here could include targeting a large number of specific opportunities with a slightly more generic gift and messaging based on less information.
I know what you’re thinking—that sounds like a lot of work! Until recently, personalized content experiences have been hard to operationalize at scale. It would take a lot of time and resources to create custom landing pages tailored to each prospect. New tools like Stream Templates help marketing and sales teams to use customizable templates to cut the process down to just a few minutes.
Step 3. Choose your Channel
The final step to making sure your content is used is to ensure your target accounts see the personalized content you’ve produced for them—without feeling like big brother is watching! You need to drive prospects to your ABM experiences in a thoughtful and well-orchestrated way.
Modern B2B marketers are seeing excellent results with personalized experiences across marketing emails, paid ads, direct mail, social, sales outreach, and many more. But what tactic to use and when? Each has their strengths, but it’s important to be mindful of going too far.
Paid ads targeting named accounts are a great way to garner the attention of target prospects. But seeing an ad with your name or company logo can make people feel uncomfortable. Instead, consider custom digital ads based on the account profile based on the account profile that targets IP addresses or company name and pushes to content.
Social selling is a great way to engage with target accounts and prospects on a one-to-one basis. But sliding into a target accounts direct messages to push tailored content or mass tagging, tweeting or messaging anyone to promote your content is the fastest way to getting blocked or flagged for spam.
Use common sense and think about matching the level and type of personalization to the distribution channel, sales stage, and intended outcome.
The Bottom Line
Successful ABM is about using your content to its best possible advantage. That means taking stock, so you know what you have, making it personal so it has a better chance of being noticed and using the right tactic at the right moment for the right price. Do these three things, and you’ll be on the right path towards developing personalized ABM experiences that make optimal use of your content assets.