Account based marketing rose in popularity over the past two to three years as B2B companies warmed to the idea that targeting key accounts, rather than a broad group of businesses, would land them their most coveted customers.
Terminus, a Mojo Media Labs partner, which blasted into the Inbound 2017 conference with notable fanfare, now leads agencies and companies into the lightly charted waters of account based marketing with its account-level advertising platform. The idea of a flipped inbound marketing funnel excited HubSpot agencies. Like crabs on bacon, inbound marketing agencies (Mojo Media Labs being among the first) lept on the “ABM” train.
The prospect of account based marketing is attractive because the account based approach makes incredible sense for B2B companies who know they will be more successful if they can gain business from specific companies. Even so, a shift to the philosophy of targeting fewer accounts isn’t the path to success for those companies in itself. As the cliche goes, content is still king. Many of the same principles that succeed in inbound-style content marketing will translate and should be used in account based marketing.
Thankfully, if you happen to be a company or writer interested in ABM, you already know who you’re targeting (in theory). This creates opportunities to deliver engaging, customized content. Success will begin by understanding which aspects of your content marketing strategy play especially well into an account based approach.
Get to Know Your Audience on an Account and Persona Level
Account based marketing, as the term suggests, involves targeting a specific list of accounts. The exact companies you are targeting are laid out before you even begin content production. That’s a huge advantage that you’re not always afforded with standard content or inbound marketing!
It’s important to determine your strategy based on the audience within each account. You’re going to know the accounts, but you’ll need to do some thinking about which departments make the most sense to target, as well as the roles in those departments that could influence a purchasing decision. Maybe you’re targeting an IT manager or a financial manager or the CFO. The content you write will be developed specifically to meet the pain points of the people in these roles. This is a principle that remains true for all content marketing, but becomes even more critical in account based marketing.
As for pain points, you must zero in on what pains your business solves for the people in those roles. How do you improve IT business processes? How will you improve the life of the finance manager? How will you save a CFO enough money to warrant getting his or her attention? Does research into an account yield any events that could give you an idea of the pain points these people could be feeling right now?
Unfortunately, your competitors will have some of the same ideas, which brings us to the next point.
Capitalize on Differentiators and Remarkables
In most markets, you’re not going to be the first to give your general spiel about the products and services you deliver. The CFO’s email inbox is likely flooded with companies trying to win business using a similar line of offerings. You can’t rely on your products and services to sell themselves because you know they hit the most common pain points. You will win business by being better at telling the story about what makes your business more remarkable.
To be clear, your remarkable could be the quality of your customer service, but simply throwing out the boilerplate “quality customer service” isn’t going to cut it. Don’t describe your customer service as simply “caring” or “quick to respond,” but tell the full story. Share a case study or a situation where your customer service came through for someone in a similar role as your target role. Give people a chance to see how your remarkable could apply to them.
Likewise, if your remarkable involves expertise and credibility, this is where your content absolutely must shine. While a sales team can show off expertise in a well-rehearsed pitch, there’s nothing like having original research, a white paper, or a cluster of in-depth blogs to back up your claims to credibility.
Diving into a specific topic tied directly to your target audience’s most prominent pain points is an excellent strategy, but there’s a caveat. So on to the next point.
Deliver Value and Originality
If your competitors are trying to establish their own expertise, they’ll likely be following many of the same content marketing strategies that you are. Most notably, they’ll be researching keywords and pain points just like you. This commonly leads to an oversaturation of content on topics — mostly short “popcorn blogs” — within any industry. You’ll find hundreds of blogs and articles, for instance, on how artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming business processes or how lending agents can attract more mortgage customers. There are often reasons to add your voice to the noise on these general topics, but you’ll get far more value out of content that dives into detail on a topic that is overlooked, but still relevant all the same.
For instance, you could write and design an interactive web page that goes into great detail about intelligent capture, an AI-powered technology that allows mortgage servicers to process thousands of unstructured documents at one time. You won’t have as much competition as you would writing about AI generally, and you’ll have a chance to address pain points in greater depth. By linking to blogs, videos, and infographics from the web page, you’ll give your target audience an entire world to explore and learn more about the topic.
Once you’ve established your expertise on a topic you think will resonate with your target roles and departments, now it’s time to get people to your content.
Have a Strategy for Funneling your Account Based Marketing Traffic
Account based marketing campaigns will most often use social media advertising and email marketing to attract their target audiences. You’re going to have to send all that traffic somewhere — and it better be someplace good.
Well hey, you just developed this interactive web page with a ridiculous amount of in-depth content about a topic you know will get your audience’s attention. You have blogs and graphics setup for visitors to have a field day researching what your company could do to solve their pains. By sending traffic to that single landing page, you can easily track which areas of your page are most popular or whether or not the topic you chose is even the right choice for your audience at all. Account based marketing, at least at first, is all about leveraging engagement to build awareness.
Secondly, while it’s not generally best practice to gate too much of your content or send your visitors to form fields, you’ll want to set up some potential points on the page for lead generation to expand your contacts within an account. By giving your visitors an opportunity to contact someone in sales or schedule a consultation with you when they’re ready, you could get some early wins without sales having to do all of the legwork.
Just remember, it’s your content that gets the account based marketing ball rolling fastest.