In demand generation, B2B marketers use broad outbound and inbound marketing approaches to generate leads. The goal is to start the funnel wide and capture as many leads from a target audience as possible, then sort through them to discover which are a good fit.
However, the challenge with using these lead generation strategies alone is that they oftentimes capture many low-quality leads, which seldom convert into paying customers.
For a B2B company, it can be more effective to execute account-based marketing (ABM) in addition to demand generation. While ABM is resource-intensive, it, generally speaking, is very effective at driving opportunities that turn into sales. According to RollWorks, companies that use ABM experience a 38% higher sales win rate.
In this quick guide to account-based marketing tactics, we start off exploring how ABM differs from direct marketing, a term sometimes confused with ABM. Then we’ll dive into some of the most common tactics that a B2B marketer uses to drive successful engagement with prospects, from personalized email cadences to website personalization.
Account-Based Marketing versus Direct Marketing
If you’re like other marketers, you may have learned about ABM and thought, “Isn’t that just direct marketing?” ABM and direct marketing are, in fact, different strategies, but they do have some similarities. ABM is a B2B-specific strategy. The goal in ABM is to segment your leads into best-fit target accounts, then target those prospects across multiple touchpoints with highly tailored marketing assets to encourage engagement. This strategy helps to create a highly personalized customer journey throughout the funnel. This is in contrast to running a one-size-fits-all marketing campaign where everyone is treated the same.
Primarily a B2C strategy, direct marketing is similar to ABM in that it directly advertises to potential customers across multiple channels like email, direct mail, and text messaging, with the goal of guiding customers to make a purchase. But the emphasis on personalization isn’t as high in direct marketing as it is in ABM efforts.
Common Account-Based Marketing Tactics
In account-based marketing, sales and marketing teams work together to create an ideal customer profile (ICP), list a number of best-fit target accounts, develop a deep understanding of each account, then communicate directly with key decision-makers at the accounts via highly tailored, resonant marketing assets and messaging. A key decision-maker can be anyone with weight or influence on a company’s buying committee.
To make sure you’re engaging with the right stakeholders at an account, conduct deep research using tools like LinkedIn or ZoomInfo to better understand organizational hierarchies, and read their blog and other thought leadership content to shape the messaging you use when speaking to them. Use the information you uncover on a prospect’s buying committee to decide on the best tactics for fostering engagement. Let’s have a look at some common ABM tactics that deliver results.
Personalized Email Cadences
An email campaign can be an effective component of an ABM program. However, the campaign should focus on delivering value to individual recipients (e.g. solving their pain points or educating them on new strategies and tactics in their field) as opposed to pitching your product to as many as you can capture via templated email blasts. This requires a more thoughtful and data-driven approach, leaning on tailored messages.
Here are some tips for pulling off exceptional personalized email cadences in an ABM strategy:
- Write authentically and personably. You want to sound like someone the prospect can relate to. Come up with a personalized subject line that resonates with your prospect and their interests.
- Lean heavily on data to inform your content. Don’t create emails based on assumptions of what your prospects want to see. Instead, use the data that you’ve gathered on their pain points, business goals, interests, and more to assemble the right email content. You can pull these data points from your own online research, your analytics platforms, and touchpoints on other channels.
- Send content-rich emails that respect where someone is in the funnel with you. Send emails with personalized messages and relevant content to the individual that moves them along to where you want them to go next. For example, if you know the prospect already engaged with your top-of-funnel blog post that shares best practices, send them a mid-funnel content asset next such as a case study that shows what happens when a real-life customer implements those best practices.
- Track how your prospects use your emails. To iterate and improve your personalized messages, in email or other channels, analyze data on how your ABM emails are performing: Which emails do prospects open versus which ones do they ignore? Which content do they interact with? These data points can tell you a lot about how to improve your efforts.
Personalized Direct Mail
While you’re sending out personalized emails, you can complement your efforts with direct mail to encourage further engagement. According to Forbes, direct mail is a top channel for direct response, citing data from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), which shows that direct mail, generally speaking, generates a high direct response rate of 4.4%, compared to just 0.12% for emails.
Why is this? The DMA posits that inboxes become cluttered with unsolicited marketing emails, so people are less likely to take the time to go through them. Direct mail channels, on the other hand, clutter much less. Also worth noting, Forbes cites a study from the UK Royal Mail, which concluded that “giving, receiving, and handling tangible objects remain deep and intuitive parts of the human experience.” If your goal is to create a strong connection between your prospects and marketing message, direct mail is a must.
Here are some tips for sending personalized direct mail to a target account:
- Choose the right time to send. Sending direct mail is a great way to warm up a prospect and get a conversation started early in the customer journey. It makes less sense to send these items later when the prospect has already engaged with you and has awareness of your product or company. However, you should send gifts later on to mark notable occasions in their customer journey, such as a booked or completed demo, which would encourage their continued engagement.
- Send small, personalized items first, to catch attention. Don’t send a crate of high-end champagne right at the start of your relationship with prospective customers when there’s nothing to truly celebrate yet. The gesture might overwhelm and signal to your prospects that you’re trying too hard. Instead, start off by sending smaller items like an item that’s personalized to the person and based on their hobbies or interests, or the same item to every prospect at the account that’s relevant to something noteworthy about their business or industry. Be sure to leverage your data to truly personalize your direct mail efforts.
A super effective yet often underutilized account-based marketing tactic is website personalization. You can send personalized direct mail or email all you want, but the customer journey loses traction if those efforts ultimately drive prospects to a generic website or landing page that treats them all the same. ABM can be costly, and if you successfully drive them to your site to learn more you can’t afford to lose momentum.
Here are a few best practices to consider when getting started with website personalization:
- Brainstorm various personalization ideas. While you have likely spent a lot of time getting to know your target accounts and prospects, it’s important to brainstorm multiple personalization ideas based on your data. Then you’ll test your ideas against one another to see what resonates best with each unique visitor. Testing various personalization ideas will remove any guesswork from your efforts and ultimately help you learn more about your prospects.
- Choose the right approach. Once you’ve come up with your personalization ideas, you need to find a solution that fits your website personalization needs. Two common approaches to consider are rules-based personalization (creating “if this, then that” rules for different segments of your audience) and predictive personalization (using machine learning to predict which is the best page experience to show to each unique visitor).
- Constantly iterate. Your work doesn’t stop once you’ve chosen a personalization approach and started testing your ideas. Your prospects’ wants and needs will change over time, so be sure to constantly monitor your efforts and refine your personalization strategy on an ongoing basis.
Networking Tactics for Account-Based Marketing
In a sense, ABM is like networking—you’re researching and therefore “getting to know” key contacts at companies you’ve identified. And you’re in turn getting them to develop an awareness of you, your brand, and your product. You want your ABM campaign to be as personal as you can get it. So here are a couple of tactics you can use to achieve this.
Create Lead-Specific Offers
You’ve done extensive research on the leads you want to convert. And now is the time to use those unique insights to maximum advantage. That said, a lead-specific offer is developed for a single prospect –– presumably, no one else will be offered it.
Lead-specific offers should be so compelling to your target that they can’t help but to look at them. Lean on your creativity here. The offers you should create depend on what you’re selling, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- A free 90-day product trial
- A personalized product package
- A personalized product pricing structure
- A deep 45-minute assessment of one of their channels, processes, or assets (wherever your business has expertise) with advice on how to improve it
Work with your sales team to identify the leads who are the readiest to convert into a sales opportunity—you’ll want to make these offers to them.
Use Sales Territories
In an ABM campaign, you can maximize the efficacy of your sales team by putting them into sales territories. A sales territory is a single account or a group of accounts that a salesperson is responsible for. Today, social proximity is the gold standard for sales territories. Sales professionals with high social proximity to certain leads will have better insights into their needs, so assign their sales territories accordingly.
You can’t understate the benefits of successful ABM tactics that align with a solid strategy first and foremost. While you’ll likely use multiple tactics to carry out your ABM strategy, you want to make sure each tactic complements one another to provide the most personalized experience possible for your prospects. You’ll likely need various solutions to carry out your tactics and maximize your ROI.
Website personalization is a hugely valuable ABM tactic, and Intellimize can help you create a personalized experience for each unique account and prospect in your ICP. Intellimize’s machine learning-based optimization solution automatically learns what converts to deliver the best personalized experience to your website visitors. B2B companies like Snowflake have realized 60% more landing page conversions by using Intellimize in their ABM efforts. Request your demo today and see how we can help you achieve AI Optimize across your landing pages and website alike.