When you get in the car, you have a destination in mind. If you had no idea where you were trying to get to, you’d simply drive around wasting time and fuel. And who knows where you’d end up.
On familiar journeys, you know the route immediately. But when you undertake an unknown journey, you need a map, a Sat Nav, something to guide your route.
The same theory applies to marketing. Why would we embark on a large transformational project, such as Account Based Marketing (ABM), without understanding what your destination (goal) is and a plan of the steps to take to get you there?
Common ABM Roadblocks
If we choose the wrong tech and/or it doesn’t integrate with our current tech, then the output won’t fit our sales and marketing model – or at least the sales and marketing model we want to build. Let me give you a real life example. Client ‘X’ has been using Salesforce – pushing in leads that convert to contacts, which the sales people then assign to accounts. However, Client ‘X’ has multiple versions of the same account. Some bright spark has now bought an analytics platform from Demandbase and are really excited about integrating it into Salesforce. Giving the sales team anonymous account level activity alongside lead based activity. BUT, how do you know which accounts to put this information into? Is your Salesforce – and more importantly your sales team – set up to work in this fashion? A classic case of sales and marketing misalignment.
Where should I start?
When working with clients building an ABM strategy, I often get thrown a load of problems, buzzwords and tactics that people think they should be using.
It is vital not to fall victim to the hype. Take a step back and identify your destination. This will help you tackle the task ahead. It doesn’t always need to be the whole hog from the outset – sometimes starting small, proving the concept, testing, optimising and then rolling out to larger more expensive solutions is the best approach. Just be sure not to mistake this for going in, doing a few things and then complaining about the outcome.
Let me expand here as I’m sure some people are slightly confused by this.
In an ABM programme, experience tells us to focus on events, maybe some emails and then go for inbound. But you probably think email doesn’t have that much effect and inbound doesn’t really work. Why is that?
Well, either the tactics aren’t being used in the best possible way, or all tactics are being measured with the same success factors. Sales people will always prefer to talk to someone over receiving a lead that may or may not be interested.
So, when I say ‘start small’, I don’t mean cut out tactics. I mean track all your activities in the right way, attributing value and then optimising. Put simply, your customers consume information across lots of channels and sources, so don’t limit to only one or two of them. You’ll miss out. You can get your message in front of your audience everywhere they go and at all stages of their buying process. It is vital to seize this opportunity by building an integrated strategy that covers all touch points of the customer journey.
Sound simple? It is, but where marketers can often fall down is in not utilising the distribution channels fully. An integrated customer journey isn’t new, it’s been around for years and all your competitors are doing it. So how do you keep yourselves in front of them? You must deliver engaging messaging and content in the most appropriate channel and ensure you’re using technology that actually helps you track success (say it louder for the people in the back). Companies are now getting the first part of that sentence right, and sometimes (depending on expertise of new distribution channels) the second, but the last part is a real problem. Tracking success is where tech can help, but you need to know what to use.
Similarly, if you create a company list (given to you by sales, based on gut feeling) there is very little data to tell you whether the list is correct or not. Build your list based on facts. Predictive analytics and intent data are a great place to start. Then segment it into types of accounts and distribute your messaging accordingly.
For example, if you use an intent engine to create a list – by plugging in the demographics of the companies that you want to reach – then align that to your services, you get a list of companies that match your targeting. But more importantly, a list of companies that are interested. You can easily segment ALL those companies into ones that are more likely to engage and ones that are less. Meaning different messages and potentially different tactics to the two types of prospects.
It sounds much easier than it looks, but as with a long car journey, you need to have a destination in mind and build out your roadmap. This will make your life much easier.
Helpful pointers for finding your way:
– Don’t be afraid to ask sales how they built their company list and question the approach
– Start small, figure out the bare essentials to prove the approach works and then grow
– Build out a roadmap and integrate in new tactics, tech, direction as you evolve
– Make sure the way you report is the same way sales report, whether that is a change for them or for you