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Three ways to dynamically trigger ads based on account behavior

Author Shea Castle Category Account-Based Marketing, Engage, Product Updates, Target

Key takeaways from this article

  • Automatic ad nurturing is now available to all Terminus customers with access to Account Hub and Engage
  • Support sales with targeting ad messaging driven by funnel or opportunity stage
  • Accelerate pipeline and conversions with ads triggered by intent and engagement signals
  • Increase customer retention with competitive intent ad campaigns

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When creating an email nurture program, it’s always important to consider how you can tailor content based on how recipients are engaging with the program — typically by using if/then logic. If they open and click on email A, then they receive email C next week. If they don’t open email A, then they proceed to email B the following week, etc.

But with digital advertising, it’s difficult to segment out your message based on where an account is in the buying cycle without creating a lot of manual work. It’s even more difficult to automate action based on behavioral signals like intent or engagement, since those signals may pop up before a person becomes a lead and go away within a matter of days.

Through an account-based lens, this creates issues in list management, as the target accounts you select at the beginning of the quarter will all quickly require different activities and messaging based on how they engage with and progress through your programs.

But now, with Terminus’ ad nurturing capabilities, it’s possible to dynamically move target accounts between tactics — based on their behavior. You can even use cross-object fields pulled from your CRM.

Imagine being able to start with one list of accounts defined through firmographics, and personalizing an ad and content journey for each account dynamically throughout your reporting period — while still having all activities roll back up to that one master list for easy measurement.

Here are three quick use cases — all starting with a list built through Terminus Account Hub — that you can now execute within Terminus Engage. 

 

#1. Opportunity Stage Waterfall

In this use case, let’s say we sell an IT solution and track four opportunity stages: Open, Consideration, Evaluation, and Negotiation — meaning we’ll need four total tactics in our program.

Each tactic in our ad nurture will start with the same Account List as its base. To build this list, simply use Terminus Global Filters within Account Hub. You can use CRM data, our built-in firmographics, or other data to determine your target accounts. We’ll end up with 100 total accounts taken from specific industries with a baseline revenue range and employee count.

Open Opportunity Stage

For our Open stage tactic, we’ll target all IT personas with general awareness messaging that leads to a resource page. Since I’m working with limited budget and this is our highest level of engagement, we’ll set the daily budget to $10 a day. The goal here is to stay top of mind with the account as conversations progress with our team.

Interest Opportunity Stage

In our Interest stage tactic, we’ll have different ad creative that leads to a pre-recorded webinar invite. We’re still targeting all IT personas because this is an early stage opp and we want as much coverage as we can get. But I might increase my daily budget here if I notice that accounts tend to get stuck at this stage to ensure that I’m reaching these accounts effectively and accelerating them through the pipeline.

Consideration Opportunity Stage

At the Consideration stage, we’ll have another set of ad creative that leads to a white paper or case study, targeting all IT personas. Since these accounts are progressing well through the funnel on their way to closed won, I want to increase my daily budget to $15 to ensure our message is getting in front of the accounts consistently.

Additionally, since I always want to increase the level of activity an account receives as it progresses through the funnel, I can layer on LinkedIn Sponsored Content to IT senior decision-makers to drive more awareness with target account leadership.

Negotiation Opportunity Stage

At our Negotiation stage, I’m ready to get more targeted with my personas, targeting IT senior decision-makers. And, since I know Finance tends to be a roadblock in our deal cycle, I can also add them to this tactic (or create a separate one with different messaging), and I can use another set of ad creative to hit them with a case study or white paper that’s more relevant and specific to their pain points.

I’m still going to do LinkedIn Sponsored Content to IT decision-makers, but I’ll switch from executive awareness content to something more targeted. Additionally, this is a great place to layer on something like direct mail that’s tied into the theme of the ads and content to give these target account decision-makers a surround-sound content experience.

Since each of these tactics start from the base of those 100 target accounts, all of these activities can be rolled back up to one list see how the entire program is impacting pipeline, revenue, and closed won deals.

 

#2. Target Accounts Showing Intent and Engagement

We want to ensure we’re covering our pre-opportunity accounts with awareness messaging, but we’re working with limited budget that doesn’t allow for all accounts to receive equal spend.

Focusing on intent and engagement signals allows us to target accounts that are both researching topics relevant to our brand and visiting our website. These are pre-opportunity accounts that are most ready for a conversation and could use some proactive messaging.

This is where the difference between an account list and an ad tactic audience comes into play. A target account list should be created using data that won’t change during the program, ie firmographics or technographics. Ad audiences can use more dynamic data, like opportunity stage, intent, or engagement. As accounts show different signals, they’ll move from ad tactic to ad tactic, but will always remain in the same account list. 

To use a sports analogy, the account list is our entire roster of players, and each ad tactic is a different play that requires different players. If your account list is only made up of quarterbacks but the play calls for running backs and wide receivers, you aren’t going to find much success. 

In this specific instance, we can make our account list for this program as broad as we’d like (without just saying “every account in our CRM” — we also want to measure this program, so it doesn’t make sense to include accounts that aren’t best-fit for us), since we’ll only be serving ads to accounts that show both intent and engagement. The rest of the accounts in the list will be waiting on the sideline for their opportunity to enter the game.

It’s also important to set a date range for Bombora Intent Surge and Engagement Spike. This way, when an account’s intent or engagement fades, they’ll automatically be removed from the tactic since those signals are no longer actionable. If you don’t set a date rage (like 30 or 90 days), if an account shows intent or engagement, they’ll remain in the tactic indefinitely. That doesn’t create very efficient spend.

If you want to take this use case one step further, you can create two separate tactics for intent and engagement. Accounts showing intent surges should receive more general awareness messaging since they’re likely earlier on in the buying journey and may not even know about your brand, and accounts with engagement spikes should receive more conversion focused messaging since they’re already visiting your website.

 

#3. Customer Accounts Showing Competitive Intent

When it comes to digital advertising, customers typically get the short end of the stick as budget is moved to support net new acquisitions. But you don’t need to run always on advertising to your customers in order to get your brand in front of them at crucial periods.

Advertising to newly acquired customers or those in an active renewal/cross-sell/upsell cycle are use cases we’ve always promoted to increase ad spend efficiency. But this doesn’t always get to the heart of an issue when dealing with customers that are unhappy or even looking at a switch to one of your competitors.

Just like with net new logos, you always want to take action on intent signals before your competitors can.

Think of it this way: When you’re selling into an account that’s currently using one of your competitors, it would be a huge advantage for your competitor if they knew their customer was researching you and could proactively reach out. Now you can do the same with your own customers.

Start with a list of your customers that you want included in the program. If your customer base is on the smaller side, maybe you want to include them all. But for those with large customer bases, those that are focused specifically on churn, or those with limited budget, start with a list of both customers with a renewal date in the next two quarters and those that sit on the bottom end of whatever satisfaction score your company tracks. Qualitatively working with your customer success team will also bring out customers that are a good fit for this.

Next, you’ll create a tactic in Terminus Engage using this list as your base. From there, you can use Global Filters from within Account Hub to select the intent criteria. Whereas with the intent and engagement use case we were focused on accounts showing any intent, here we only want intent for competitors and related differentiator topics.

Side note: You’ll also want to regularly update this list and send to your partners in customer success so that they’re always in the know on which of their accounts are showing intent for competitors. Providing air cover with ads is a good start, but the most meaningful conversations will happen on a one-to-one basis.

Within this tactic, you’ll want to include messaging about building on your current partnership and link to content relevant to your differentiators. And just like with the intent and engagement use case, you’ll want to set a limit on the intent surge date because otherwise one intent signal will stay with that account indefinitely, even if the actual intent has faded.

Note that while you can create individual tactics for each competitor, if a customer surges on more than one topic within a certain period, they’ll be placed in multiple tactics at once. That might not be a problem for you, but it will mean you’re theoretically bidding against yourself for the same ad placement.

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And those are three ad nurture use cases made possible by Terminus’ audience segmentation capabilities. 

Get in touch with a Terminus rep to learn more about what’s possible with our complete ABM platform.

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