This is a guest post from Katie Bullard. As Chief Growth Officer of DiscoverOrg, Katie brings 15 years of marketing, product, and strategy experience in global, high-growth technology businesses to her role at DiscoverOrg. She has a bachelor’s and masters degree from the University of Virginia.
If you’re developing an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy in 2017, you’re in good company. Thousands of B2B companies are focused on ABM this year. That’s because it’s an informed way of analyzing success you’ve had with existing customers and makes future marketing efforts more successful.
But if you’re like most organizations, you might not know where to start.
Let’s break down your ABM plan into five simple steps that will get you off the ground in no time.
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1. Analyze Your Customer Base
Who are your best customers right now? To identify best-fit candidates for your future ABM campaign, look at your top-performing existing customers. Reach out to your operations or finance team and ask for help objectively choosing your top 20-25% of customers. Compare characteristics including retention, revenue, and profitability.
Now that you have a manageable number of customer accounts that you’d like to replicate, look for what separates them from everyone else. What do they have in common? It might be:
- Revenue Base – Where do your best customers earn most of their money?
- Industry Base – Are many of them in IT? Retail? Fabrication?
- Technographic Characteristics – What server-side applications do they use? How about their browsers, OS, and collaboration tools?
That last point leads to an “Aha!” for a lot of our customers. Technographic insight is important for several reasons: First, if your offering integrates easily with your client’s tech stack, it’s more valuable to them. And second, technographic information can offer a lot of insight into the values of your target companies. Do they prioritize user experience? Are they early tech adopters? Do they rely on legacy systems supported by workarounds?
Once you’ve analyzed best customers’ characteristics and identified commonalities, it’s time to find lookalike companies. Now you know what to look for … and it might not be what you expected. Revenue might not be the most important data point after all, or perhaps you have an opportunity in an unexpected industry. Pinpoint five to ten vetted characteristics, and use those to create a list of prospective companies.
Finally, you’ll need the names and contact information of appropriate people at those companies. For example, if you’re selling to sales or marketing, find the appropriate contacts within those departments.
3. Expand Intelligence
Now you have a list—great! But if you’re like a lot of DiscoverOrg customers, your list may be long: maybe 3000 companies and 10k contacts. That’s too long for account-based marketing.
It’s time to hone your company insight with any account intelligence you have. Ask questions like: Are any companies on your list going through a funding event, such as an acquisition or a round of funding? How about recent executive moves?
Similarly, consider your contacts with this in mind. What’s their responsibility? How are they positioned within an org chart structure?
4. Rank Accounts and Contacts
Continue narrowing your list by ranking (or tiering) your prospects. Consider focusing on a specialty, or prioritizing them by likelihood of a sale. Who is most likely to buy or engage with you?
At DiscoverOrg, we like to use a 5-star rating. Within your list, rate contacts on a scale of one through five, and create a list of only 5-star accounts and contacts.
Our mantra is build, test, refine. This part of an account-based marketing strategy can be repeated. While volume isn’t usually a problem in ABM, you can take this list back to Step 2, and your new 5-star contacts might have a fresh set of characteristics in common that could lead you to a whole new industry.
With a highly refined list in hand, it’s time to engage. Digital advertising, email campaigns, direct mail, and phone calls can all be part of your account-based marketing strategy. Now that you know what characteristics your blockbuster prospects share, you can get personal.
The best-laid ABM plans must start by identifying, vetting, and ranking contacts based on data first. Without a highly vetted list, your account-based marketing strategy will fall short — so start with a plan!