Function- And Vertical-Specific Content Bring ABM To Life
I’ve read a lot about account-based marketing over the past year, and while much is written about targeting, data quality, email outreach and the technology to manage an ABM program, I’ve seen very little written about the importance of content in engaging targets with your sales team.
While those other aspects are important, I think content, stories and the messages you’re delivering make the difference between success and failure. It’s so critical that I think the content strategy is even more important than the playbooks that drive touches, workflows and email sequences.
Here are five upgrades you can apply this week to your account-based marketing effort to increase connect rates and engagement rates while also improving the flow of sales opportunities into your pipeline.
1) Edgecrafting Your Messaging
Your prospects are getting tons of crappy emails all day long. You know exactly what I’m talking about because you’re getting them, too. Edgecrafting is the practice of pushing your message to the edge without going over. By pushing it to perform, to disrupt and to get attention, you’ll be continuously working on your message until it connects and drives engagement.
You might go over by being too aggressive or too disruptive. You might come in too low and not be compelling enough to get anyone’s attention or move them to act. But once you find that happy balance, you’ll see your targets connecting and engaging in productive sales conversations. You’ll see the top of your pipeline filling up as a direct result of your ABM efforts. You’ll know you’re on the right track.
2) Use Function-Specific Content
People are looking for content that speaks directly to them and their challenges. CFOs want to read financial, ROI and expense control stories. SVPs of sales want to hear revenue and new customer success stories. CEOs want to hear company-wide growth stories. Each of these people needs content in context to their unique perspectives on the same exact business. If you have assets like this to share with them during the sales process, you’ll win more than you lose.
To create a functionally targeted content marketing strategy, you need to understand each of their perspectives. You need to understand their pains, their challenges and the questions they ask at each stage of the sales process. Once you get to know these people as unique people, the content can get more personal, more specific to their challenges and more relevant to the issues they discuss with you during your calls. This will yield much better engagement rates and also contribute to filling up your pipeline.
3) Apply Industry-Specific Case Studies In Bite-Sized Chunks
After you have function-specific content, you can start working on industry- or vertical-specific content. Typically, this content takes the form of case studies and success stories, but with ABM you’re going to want to look at more digestible content assets. Smaller snippets, video vignettes, blog articles and one-page guides are perfect for this type of content offer.
You can even create a series of small pieces that connect to tell a larger, more comprehensive story. Think about it like chapters in a longer book. Now your prospects can self-serve, or you can slowly dole out pieces of the story that are relevant to the conversations your sales team is having with them in the sales process.
4) Feature Your Prospect As The Hero
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see with ABM programs. Companies feature themselves at the center of the story. Their software, their company, their ideas, their services and their people are at the center of the universe, when it should be your prospects who star in your story.
Your stories need to have the prospect as the hero. We’ll help YOU improve your conversion rates. We’ll show YOU how to increase website visitors. Our services help YOU drive revenue goals. We’ll help YOU align your marketing and sales efforts. See the difference? Make sure you know what stories to tell. To figure that out, you’ll have to ask a lot of questions about the current situation at each prospect’s company. Your prospects will tell you what stories they need to see to feel safe about working with your company.
5) Test, Test And Test Again Until You See The Numbers Increasing
You should keep an eye on several metrics related to account-based marketing. Here’s a list of KPIs for you to consider, courtesy of the Terminus website.
Engagement rate is a key metric for ABM programs. You want your target prospects to be clicking on your ads and your emails, downloading your content and asking to speak with you.
Reach within an account is also an important metric. If you do ABM right, you’ll have between six and 10 contacts at each of your targeted accounts. You want as many of your contacts engaged with your content as possible. A 70% reach rate (seven out of 10 people reached) is much better than a 25% reach rate (one out of four people reached).
Another important metric is pipeline velocity, which can also be described as the time it takes to close a new customer from first connect to final sale. This is also known as the length of the sales cycle.
Account based-marketing isn’t the kind of program where you wake up on Monday and start executing on Tuesday. The alignment challenges between sales and marketing alone require strategy and planning. The data required to do this right, the connect sequences and the outreach messaging are all going to take thoughtful discussion, research, competitive overlays and very strong copywriting. Our experience shows you typically need between 30 and 90 days to get this foundational work set up before you first touch a targeted person.
But if you’re already fairly far down the ABM road, then the upgrades above could move you from mediocre results to more significant results. If you’re just starting, adding the items above could help you get out of the gate quicker and see some major wins in the early innings. Keep in mind that it’s not just about simple touches and high-level targeting. You shouldn’t be thinking, “if we touch a prospect seven times, they’ll want to connect with us.”
Your goal should be to touch them once with disruptive, emotional stories and high-value educational content so their response is, “wow! I have to talk to this company.” That’s when account-based marketing turns you into a revenue superstar.
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