What Role Does ABM Play in your Content Marketing Strategy?
January 4, 2019
By Kristen Deyo
If you’re like most of today’s B2B marketers, you probably recognize that account-based marketing (ABM) has become an important element of any effective go-to-market strategy. In fact, in a survey conducted by the Digital Marketing Institute, it is estimated that 92 percent of companies consider ABM crucial for B2B marketing success. So, what role does ABM play in your existing content marketing strategy or how can you get started? Here are some tips to help you navigate the ABM waters and start using ABM principles in your current content marketing strategy.
If you’re a B2B marketer, chances are you’ve leveraged ABM principles even if you haven’t realized it. By their very nature, B2B companies are forced to prospect and sell to a targeted list of people. Thus, most B2B organizations have used a combination of inbound, outbound, and account-based tactics to help drive success. So, it should come as no surprise that 60 percent of companies plan to invest in ABM. Here are just a few benefits of ABM:
According to a benchmark survey conducted by ITSMA, 87 percent of marketers measuring ROI say that ABM outperforms other marketing investments. In the same survey, ITSMA also found a direct correlation between the length of time ABM had been implemented and the “proportion of companies achieving a higher ROI.”
Sales and Marketing Alignment
Organizations that leverage ABM are more tightly aligned than those that don’t. According to Bizible, marketers who use ABM are 42 percent more likely to report alignment with their sales team compared to those not using ABM. ABM forces sales and marketing teams alike to not only speak the same language, but to also collaborate on key ABM tactics and align on sales initiatives.
More Personalized, Relevant Experiences
One of the most important parts of ABM is creating personalized, individualized, and targeted content for a specific person or role within a target account. ABM challenges marketers to flip the funnel by identifying target accounts and building a plan around directly engaging those accounts before and after they become customers.
Better Reporting, Deeper Insights
Organizations that invest in ABM are often better at measuring success than companies that don’t. In fact, according to Bizible, 32 percent of marketers doing ABM say their organization is “effective at measuring marketing performance, compared to just 15 percent who are not doing ABM.”
HubSpot Academy “Prof Tip”
"You don’t have to choose between inbound and ABM. You should build your ABM strategy on top of an inbound foundation. Think of your business as a farm and sales as the harvest. Regardless of what kinds of crops you’re growing, there are some basic things you need to do to prepare the soil—ploughing, fertilizing, irrigating, and so on. In the same way, no matter what go-to-market strategies you use, you need to create and publish content and invest in SEO to make sure the right people can find that content, and you need to build a company culture that focuses on delighting customers and turning them into advocates for your brand. These are the sorts of things the inbound methodology helps with, and you should follow that methodology even if you’re all-in on ABM. The difference comes after that initial soil preparation. Going back to our farm analogy, some seeds are easy to grow and support because they respond well to a standard nurturing approach. Other seeds require a more high-touch approach to thrive, so you can only grow a few at a time. Both kinds of seeds require a foundation of good soil and water, but if you’re growing trees, you need to additionally invest in pruning, grafting, and cross-pollinating—and that’s ABM."
- Kyle Jepson, Senior Inbound Sales Professor
The Role of Content Marketing
An effective ABM strategy cannot be executed without content. Period. In fact, I would argue that content is the cornerstone of any effective ABM strategy. Sure, identifying ideal account profiles and building buyer personas are mission-critical—but it’s how well we deliver content in context at each stage of the Buyer’s Journey that’s going to move the needle forward. In fact, according to one DemandGen report, 89% of respondents stated that winning vendors “provided content that made it easier to show ROI and/or build a business case for the purchase.” Thus, great content is not merely derived from brainstorming sessions or recommendations from thought leaders; instead, great content is derived from the needs of your audience.
How can you get started? Here are some ways you can start incorporating ABM into your content strategy.
Personalize Sales Enablement Content
Data from McKinsey & Company shows that personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent and increase revenue as high as 15 percent. Give prospects that personal touch when conducting sales outreach. One example is to sync with marketing to include custom fields or personalization tokens for email outreach or downloadable offers.
Tailor Your User’s Web Experience
Given the hyper-focused nature of ABM, it’s critical that ABM programs deliver content that drives conversion. Personalizing landing or web pages is one effective tactic for doing this. B2B marketers should create targeted, account-specific landing pages that display custom copy, images, offers, and forms depending on the person or target account that is visiting the page.
Mention Target Accounts in Your Blog and Social Content
Blogging should be an important part of your B2B marketing strategy. Consider incorporating your target accounts into blog content to build rapport. In order to continue to stay top of mind, mention your target accounts on social. It’s all about delivering content in context—across multiple channels. You can take it one step further by creating Twitter lists or streams to keep tabs on the conversation.
Generate Content Focused on Booking a Meeting
While marketing content is often aimed at generating leads, sales content is focused on helping sales teams generate a meeting or call with a prospect. ABM only works when sales and marketing are working together to help build non-digital relationships with target accounts. Free consultations and/or evaluations are great examples of this type of offer.
Choose the Right ABM Technology
ABM is not like other traditional marketing tactics. Effectively implementing ABM is resource-intensive and a long-term investment. Leveraging ABM technology and tools can help organizations alleviate some of the burden and can help facilitate your ABM strategy. For example, ABM platforms like Terminus use advanced targeting methods to locate your target companies and deliver relevant ad content.
ABM is more than a buzzword—it’s increasingly becoming a B2B marketing standard. And delivering personalized, relevant content is the cornerstone of ABM success. We’d love to hear from you! Is your organization using ABM? If so, what are some of the tactics you’re using in your own content marketing strategy?
About the author
Kristen Deyo was formerly a Director of Marketing Strategy at SmartBug based in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She has 8+ years experience developing strategies for primarily B2B SaaS/technology companies and hyper-growth startups. She holds degrees from Queen's University (Cha'Gheill!) and the St. Lawrence School of Business. When not digitally plugged in, you can find her enjoying a good happy hour or planning her next adventure. Read more articles by Kristen Deyo.
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