Avoid the ABM Content Quagmire
Continuing with the key pillars to Account Based Marketing Success, we started with data, now let’s talk about content. When developing your ABM content strategy, it’s easy to get caught with a case of the cans. Sure you can develop company specific personalized content, but should you?
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While account based marketing requires a shift in thinking from quantity to quality, your content strategy should follow suite. Going deep on personalizing content doesn’t always lead to an exponential increase in conversions. Taking a balanced approach means developing a content strategy that will build pipeline while maintaining an optimal level of effort.
An ABM content strategy starts with an audit of existing collateral and a roadmap of how and where content will be used. Then think about your key performance indicators (KPIs) and test first before creating ABM-specific collateral.
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Content Audit: What’s working, what’s not?
Take stock of your existing content by creating a content audit. List all the attributes of each piece, including the type of content it is (white paper, case study, feature sheet, webinar, video, etc.) applicable stages of the buying funnel, use case, industry, target audience or any other relevant categories to your business. Include the date it was created and when it was refreshed. Be sure to do your due diligence to confirm that featured customers are still with the company or quotes align with your brand messaging.
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This is also a good time to examine their performance. Look at the metrics to determine which assets are most attractive (click through rate) and most relevant (conversion rate). You may find that there are only a few pieces that are popular and relevant to your ABM campaign, and that’s okay. Many companies are are suffering from too much content. Recently, at a sales and marketing roundtable held in the Bay Area, a senior level marketer from a large global software company announced they had gone on a content diet reducing their collateral by 80%. Of their hundreds of content pieces, they found that only 20% were being used most of the time.
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Content Roadmap for the Marketing-Sales Funnel
Once the content audit is complete, it’s time to develop the funnel roadmap to identify the content gaps in your strategy.
Most content falls into three main categories:
- What your company is selling (assets that explain your company, product features and solutions guides)
- Why this is of value to the prospect (competitive information and thought leadership pieces)
- Who says refers to 3rd party validation that supports your product claims (customer case studies, analyst reports, partner marketing, sponsored content and media relations)
These three types of content come into play at different parts of the funnel depending on the action you want the prospect to take. What and why are pivotal in the top of funnel strategy where you’re focusing on lead conversion. Says who comes into play in mid-funnel where you’re focus is on sales conversion and pipeline acceleration.
Once the ABM content roadmap is developed, look for gaps in content. Ideally, you’ll want to have at least 3 pieces per stage of the funnel to launch an outbound strategy while your content marketing team is developing any additional collateral you’ve identified. Remember you don’t have to develop new content or put a company-specific slant on the existing content to launch your ABM strategy. Chances are that there’s existing killer content that can be used with a personalized spin on the outbound messaging.
Consider all the players involved in a deal when developing your roadmap and where they come into play. For example, if you’re selling an accounting software your target audience may be the comptroller, but the decision maker may be the CFO. Each member of the buying unit will have different needs that requires different collateral. Be sure to include them in your content roadmap.
ROI: the case for a balanced content strategy
You’ve identified your content gaps and are ready to start developing. Before you begin developing content for each company in your strategic account list, take a baseline measurement of your KPIs in an ABM strategy with generic content. Your inbound and outbound strategy are going to be highly targeted, so your conversions and pipeline should naturally increase. Understanding the impact of a strategy shift is imperative before writing a creative brief for each ABM company.
Once you’ve established baseline metrics, you can start to develop more personalized content. If you have a horizontal product that spans multiple industries, consider first adapting your marketing messaging by industry. This does not require you to go very deep. You can take your top performing assets and put a vertical spin on them.
When developing company specific collateral, start small with only a handful of companies so that you can test the conversion rates on the company specific collateral and compare your return on investment (ROI) to determine if there’s a significant enough lift to make a case for company-specific personalization. Many people see marketing salaries as a sunk cost. With content, it’s all about time, so whether you have an in house team or freelancers, be sure to include the cost of salaries in determining ROI.
Content is the key to conversions in your ABM strategy. Once you have your plan in place, you’ll want to apply different strategies for the different types of accounts and layers of the funnel. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks on ABM content execution in part 2.
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Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post from Jamie Hardin. Jamie is a data driven SaaS marketer and natural problem solver. With 14 years of progressive demand generation marketing experience she’s seen marketing move from one size fits all messages to personalization at scale to account based marketing. In her current role as Senior Marketing Manager for ON24, she focuses on optimizing the go-to-market strategy for ABM enterprise organizations and industry segmentation. Connect with Jamie via LinkedIn or email@example.com.