Account Based Marketing (ABM) is the latest business development strategy that is working to cut through the noise and engage target buyers in a meaningful way. It involves getting as targeted as possible with personalized messaging sent through the most effective channels to drive interest in your product or service. There are loads of success stories about ABM, but there are also some real challenges to getting it right. The most common ABM strategy mistakes involve data—either using the wrong data or not gathering enough data.
Since data is the answer to avoiding much of the breakdowns in ABM strategies, the next logical question is, “What data do I need?” Here are the details on the data you need and how to get it.
Data to Understand the Type of Companies to Target
With ABM, the more targeted you can get, the better the performance of your campaign. This starts with determining the account types you want to target and getting aligned with sales on this decision. A great place to start is by looking at the data in your CRM platform and analyzing closed won opportunities. Filter your reports to look at factors such as:
- Length of sales cycle
- Deal size or profit (but balance that with up sell/cross sell)
- Support tickets/calls
Then once you have that ideal list, look for common attributes such as:
- Company size
- Buyer persona titles/role
- Triggering events
- How the opportunity was initiated
Sometimes this yields unexpected results so it is always helpful to validate your findings with 3rd party behavioral data. Involve your sales and customer success teams in this discovery process to improve alignment.
If you can’t identify any common attributes or if you are targeting a new market, then you’ll want to look at 3rd party data that can help you figure out the types of companies that would be a good fit for your product/service. This might be looking at companies that experience a triggering event that would indicate a need for your offering. For instance, if you sell IT services, you may want to target companies that are growing and may need to expand to a new building soon.
Data to Determine Who to Engage Within Target Companies
Business-to-business selling often involves an informal buying committee if the decision impacts a large group of people. For instance, if a company is looking to switch from Google Workspace to Microsoft 365 (or vice versa), this is a big decision that will impact all employees. So, they include lots of personas in the process to get buy-in. The question is, who are the personas that will be involved in the buying committee?
First, you need to understand the typical roles within the buying committee in order to determine who to target. These are:
- Buyer – this person signs off on the purchase order (PO) and has the ultimate authority. This is typically a VP or executive. That said, they may not be involved in the process until the very end. Marketers sometimes make the mistake of thinking they can reach this individual with ABM for a faster sales cycle. But that is rarely the case. They are busy and if you do reach them, they will delegate the research and sales contact.
- Champion – this is the person who wants this sale to happen and works to organize the buying committee and convince everyone that they should move forward with this purchase. This is the most important persona to understand and engage with your ABM campaign. Ultimately, this is the person feeling the biggest pain that has the most to gain from your offering.
- Influencer – This is someone (often multiple people) who carry weight in this decision and need to be convinced that it is the right decision for them and their teams. Often there are 3-4 key personas identified that could be champions or influencers and the ABM campaign will target some or all of them to educate and engage them.
- Reference – Sometimes the champions and influencers are too difficult to engage with ABM tactics because they are high level titles. A reference can be a smart way into an account that may be easier to engage and with a simple conversation may give you a warm introduction to the champion. Experimentation is warranted here to try targeting titles hierarchically underneath your champion personas.
- Deal Killer – Sales and Marketing often overlook the importance of this persona. If you can identify the deal killer persona (oftentimes it is procurement) it can be helpful to educate and influence this persona proactively with targeted content.
To figure out which titles match these personas for your typical buying process, start by talking with Sales to identify these for existing customers and look for trends. If you are targeting accounts different from existing customers, look at internet behavioral data to determine which titles are most likely to be interested in your offering as a place to start. You can also use this data to validate your internal findings from Sales. It’s always possible that there is a different persona who may be easier to engage with.
Data to Find the Channels That Target Personas are Using
When it comes to B2B marketing, we tend to get in a rut thinking that our targets can only be reached via professional channels like LinkedIn with some Google AdWords mixed in. The reality is that people aren’t in the office as much and aren’t only on business-approved websites. They are listening to podcasts or streaming soccer games while working. They are looking for solutions to their problems on YouTube. The point is, you need data to help you figure out the best place to engage with your target personas.
Behavioral data can tell you where your target titles are spending their time on the internet and which channels they engage with the most by commenting and sharing that information with others. This is critical information for your ABM strategy as there is a big investment in developing content and paying for placement of that content. For instance, behavioral data may reveal that target personas looking to research new software platforms like yours go to YouTube to find influencer reviews. You don’t want to go all-in on LinkedIn if YouTube is 200% more effective in reaching your targets.
Data to Find the Messaging to Engage Target Personas
Once you have the channels identified for reaching your target personas, you need to determine the messaging that will spark the interest of those personas and cause them to take action with reading, watching, and clicking through for more information. Behavioral data can help here too. Understanding the themes and topics of the content that your targets have been engaging with is the best place to start when creating messaging. This will help you better understand their pains, the problems they are trying to solve, and what they are truly interested in.
For instance, if you have a data management platform you may have created messaging around cost savings and productivity. But if behavioral data reveals that your champion persona is reading articles about data protection regulations, then you’ll want your messaging to tie into that pain of regulatory compliance and how your platform helps with this. Having this information is a launching pad for creating highly relevant content that gets clicks from your target personas.
A Data-Driven ABM Strategy Ensures Continued ABM Success
We live in a rapidly changing world and data from two quarters ago may no longer be relevant. It is critical to continue to monitor behavioral data in order to continuously improve your ABM strategy. Channel preferences change. Relevant messaging changes. Your ABM strategy needs to be agile to adapt and data will help you do this successfully.
Another way behavioral data can help is to expand your ABM strategy to additional target markets. Behavioral data can identify related target companies and personas that may also be interested in your offering. This will help you continue to drive revenue growth in an intelligent and informed way.
The more your ABM strategy can successfully pinpoint the right companies and personas to target as well as where and how to engage these personas, the more successful your ABM strategy will be. Data is the key to that success.