The concept and practice of account-based marketing (ABM) has gained quite a bit of traction over the past few years within the B2B marketing community. When onboarding new customers to DivvyHQ, we’re seeing more and more companies deploying ABM tactics and DivvyHQ plays a vital role in helping them manage their ABM campaigns and content assets.
So if you’re thinking of exploring the ABM waters to catch whale customers, we thought it would be helpful to provide a quick overview of ABM basics and then dig into how content marketing platforms (like DivvyHQ) can be used to manage the planning and ongoing execution of ABM campaigns.
Account-Based Marketing 101
Wikipedia defines account-based marketing, also known as key account marketing, as:
A strategic approach to business marketing based on account awareness in which an organization considers and communicates with an individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one. Account based marketing can help companies to:
– Increase account relevance
– Engage earlier and higher with deals
– Align marketing activity with account strategies
– Get the best value out of marketing
– Inspire customers with compelling content
– Identify specific contacts, at specific companies, within a specific market
In practice, ABM is a multi-step, coordinated effort between sales and marketing teams that requires a significant investment in time and resources, but the payoff can be huge. Want to land a whale in a competitive market? ABM may just give you the best chance of closing the deal.
5 Key Steps of Account-based Marketing
In researching for this post, I have to give props to Marketo for their efforts in providing a robust set of informational guides, ebooks and case-study webinars surrounding this topic. And rightfully so as most ABM campaigns will likely include a large amount of email-based content assets that would be delivered via marketing automation.
In their Account-based Marketing 101 webinar, they outline 5 key steps to the process:
- Identify target accounts – Who are the whales you’d ideally like to catch?
- Map accounts – Within a target account, which division, department or team are you wanting to reach? What challenges is that target group likely facing? How are decisions made within the organization? And who makes them?
- Create and/or gather content assets – Based on the challenges that the target group is facing, you’ll need a library of relevant content assets that will be presented to nurture the key contacts. You may already have a sufficient library of assets, but this process also may help you identify new assets that need to be created from scratch.
- Plan & execute your campaigns – Leveraging the content you pulled together in step 3, you’ll then set up and launch your campaigns in close coordination with your sales team. Campaigns may run over weeks or months, so a shared calendar that centralizes activities and assets is very helpful here.
- Measure & analyze – Are emails being opened? Are CTA’s getting clicks? Are resources being downloaded? Did we get the meeting? As with any solid marketing initiative, ongoing measurement of campaigns is critical so optimization can take place if needed.
Just like content marketing, ABM takes time to plan, time to execute, and time to find and nurture the right contacts within those target accounts. Luckily, content marketing platforms like DivvyHQ can help you organize and streamline these efforts.
Managing ABM in DivvyHQ
Let me first start by addressing the “why”… Why would you want to manage ABM initiatives within a content marketing platform vs. just loading everything into a marketing automation or email marketing platform. Well the obvious answer is that your campaigns will likely include more than just emails. Your library of content assets, whether complete or not, likely includes a variety of formats. A single ABM campaign may include any/many of the following:
- Email copy/images
- Call and voicemail scripts
- Whitepapers, eBooks or reports
- Product/service collateral
- Social outreach
Assuming that some portion of these assets will need to be created from scratch and approved in collaboration with sales, your marketing automation platform likely doesn’t have the functionality to get this done efficiently. Planning and collaborative production of content assets (of all shapes and sizes) is our bread and butter, so this should be a no-brainer.
Now that we’ve answered the “why”, now let’s dig into the “how”. This gets into the “many ways to skin the cat” territory and the approach that you choose will likely be determined by how you’ve already chosen to set up your DivvyHQ environment. Here are 2 approaches to explore (in no particular order).
Dedicated Calendar(s) for ABM
How it would work: With DivvyHQ’s multi-calendar architecture, a dedicated calendar could be created to manage all ABM activities (ex: “ABM Calendar”) or individual calendars could be set up for each target account.
Pros: This approach would separate ABM-based content schedules and projects from other general initiatives and both marketing and sales team members could easily access only the calendars that they need for collaboration. A quick filter by calendar would provide simple visibility and reporting on only those campaign schedules and asset creation projects.
Cons: The separation of projects (as mentioned above) may keep things organized, but projects may slip through the cracks because they aren’t included in the general stream of content production projects. Secondly, it would be smart to determine the scope and longevity of your ABM initiatives before you land on an approach. A few questions to consider…
- Will you always be executing ABM initiatives?
- Are you just experimenting with ABM?
- How long will individual ABM campaigns typically be running?
- How many accounts are you planning to target? (If each target account will have its own calendar, then you may be adding many calendars)
- And what will you do with a calendar when an ABM initiative is done?
Note that deleting an outdated calendar also deletes the content records within it, so this should be considered when determining your approach.
Set Up ABM Campaigns for Each Target Account
How it would work: This approach would largely leverage your existing content calendars and content types, but you would create individual campaigns for each target account. Each campaign’s start and end dates could be set to however long you need, but then be archived when you deem the initiative to be done. Secondly, you could make additions to your content strategy metadata to include your target accounts within the target audience field.
Pros: This approach weaves in your ABM-specific content projects alongside your other content production schedules, while still providing a mechanism to view a clean, organized schedule of those initiatives (filtering by ABM campaigns vs. ABM calendars). The campaigns can be archived when done and they can be referenced and repurposed when planning future campaigns.
Cons: The only real con with this approach is that sales and marketing team members who will need visibility into your ABM campaigns will need to understand DivvyHQ’s filtering capabilities so that they are comfortable filtering their calendar and content lists down to the campaign they want to see. Luckily, Divvy’s filtering functionality is stupid simple, so that shouldn’t be much of an obstacle.
Don’t Be a Whale Watcher
You don’t have to just sit in the boat watching whales swim by. Your competitors certainly aren’t. Give account-based marketing a look and perhaps we can help simplify your journey. Or, if you’re just looking for a stupid simple content marketing platform to get your content team organized, feel free to start a free trial of DivvyHQ today!