FlipMyFunnel Post, Other

Why You Should Be Fueling Your ABM Strategy With Inbound

The world isn’t black and white. There are a lot of gray areas whether we like to admit it or not.

The sales and marketing world is the same way. It’s not just inbound or just ABM. It’s a mixture.

Jen Spencer, VP of Sales & Marketing at SmartBug, articulates on this exact topic live from B2BSMX 2019.

Here’s what we’re unpacking today:

  • Reasons why inbound is still valuable
  • How buyer personas affect your ABM strategy
  • How to create content and web experiences that serve the buyer personas within your target accounts

This post is based on a session delivered by Jen Spencer at B2BSMX 2019. You can listen to the full episode here and below.



Why inbound is so important

Jen: I’ve been known to go on record and say I believe ABM is really orchestrated inbound.

Why is inbound so important?

First of all, we all know that 84% of buying committees have a champion. You plan your strategy around this one individual in the organization who is going to be that internal champion.

The thing is, that champion holds 59% of the purchasing influence over the buying committee. That’s a lot of influence that person has.

97% of champions will tell you that they’ve actually made their purchasing decision before the committee has even been formed.

So, if you’re not thinking about how you’re going to influence those champions long before they’ve actually come into your ABM pipeline, you’re missing out on an opportunity to educate and inform them. Champions will cite content research and expertise as those primary considerations when making a purchase.

I want to talk about three very specific ways that inbound will fuel ABM.


1. Buyer personas

Jen: If you’re not familiar with buyer personas, they are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer.

In ABM, we spend a lot of time building out our target account lists. But, you don’t sell to a company. You sell to people. That’s why buyer persona research is so critical.

Sophisticated marketing personas give us more than just their company name or their job title. You may have demographics, but to get psychographics you’ve got to go a little deeper.

Inbound can help when you conduct buyer persona research. You’ll learn how someone likes to communicate with you.

When I think about our buyer personas at SmartBug, I know who is going to be open to text messages, who I’m likely going to meet at an event, who’s going to be spending time on LinkedIn, who’s going to be more open to a phone call or opening emails.

That information can obviously be used in marketing, but it’s also really valuable for your sales team whose job it is to create engaging experiences.

The other piece of information you’ll learn by conducting personal research is what platforms they’re using to consume information. The better you can understand where to focus your energy, the more effective your marketing is going to be.

Now, it’s far too easy to try to do too much, so focus on where your personas actually are not.

At the end of the day, we are human beings and human beings make emotional decisions. It’s one of our jobs in sales and marketing to make sure we understand what may be emotionally driving somebody and what they really care about.


If you’re really interested in expanding your buyer persona research, at SmartBug we recommend the Adele Revella model. She’s the CEO and founder of the Buyer Persona Institute.

Through that model, you are able to conduct interviews and research in a way that’s less prescriptive and more like a natural conversation.

Think about the types of things you learn about somebody over a cocktail or a coffee that’s not a part of a business-minded script.

We have to remember that we sell and market to humans.


2. Content offers

Jen: How do you make sure you have the right content at each stage of that journey for your buyers?

Are they educating themselves before they end up on one of your target account lists? They are conducting research, consuming information, talking to people, and constantly being influenced.

It’s your job as a marketer to make sure your message is available to them and it’s appropriate and applicable to them at every stage of the journey. This should be even before they realize they have a pain, to the point where they want to do something about it.

Content will also allow you to improve the brand recognition that you have among your personas within your target accounts.

Remember, people are human and they want to feel good about the purchasing decision they’re making. You need to be seen as somebody who’s going to help them achieve their goals.

When I say content, I mean blogs, social media, webinars, etc. Think about how you can add value.

If you’re producing content that speaks to your ideal customer profile and your buyer personas, there’s likely somebody else who’s similar who will find you. I don’t know a salesperson who would say no to that.


3. Web experiences

Jen: We know engagement is a really key metric when we’re talking about ABM. It’s especially important when we’re in a B2B sales cycle.

One thing we do in the inbound world is personalization on landing pages and web pages. We do this in a way to actually improve the person’s experience and there are some pretty sophisticated tools out there.

If you have a really intelligent inbound CMS, you can display custom copy, custom forms, different images on pages when somebody who fits a specific profile is visiting your site.

There’s some really great technology out there to help you (pro tip: check out HubSpot).


It’s not one or the other

Jen: I don’t believe the world is just inbound or ABM. You need to be doing both.