In a recent article, I talked about six steps you can take to set up your own Account-Based Marketing (ABM) program. While it’s good to talk about the concept of ABM, going from theory to action is a big jump. That’s because an ABM strategy is more focused on orchestrated, high-value programs and engagement with a smaller audience.
While ABM is a resource-heavy undertaking, it’s worth the investment. Why do I say that? Because in a recent webinar the ABM Leadership Institute shared some pretty compelling statistics:
- 77% of companies say ABM delivers higher ROI than other types of marketing
- 45% say it delivers more than two times ROI
- 67% report greater customer success
- 66% have had more references/advocacy
Now that I’ve presented the concept and potential results, I thought it might help to get tactical and walk through the actual steps of putting ABM into practice and where this practice may—or may not—deviate from what you do today.
1. Account Selection: Identify You Ideal Customer
Once your sales and marketing teams have aligned on the goals of your ABM program, you’ll want to identify your ideal customer profile (ICP). To start, think in terms of region, metropolitan area, institution size (enrollment and staff), technology sophistication, funding levels, and similar demographics. Another good place to start is with prospects that look like your top 20% of customers. By conducting a customer match of your file to MDR’s database, you can see the demographic variables of your top prospects at the building level, as well as a name match report of your best potential individual contacts by title within those institutions.
This list should contain a mix of existing customers as well as new prospects. Some larger, high-value accounts that you will focus more resources on, and some smaller, lower-value accounts that you will spend less resources on. The higher-value accounts will get more high-touch, customized campaigns, while the lower-value accounts will get slightly less personalized campaigns.
2. Research Your Prospects for One-to-One ABM
Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to get to know them on both a personal and professional level. This is where you want to be as thorough and specific as possible in your research. You want to know who you’re talking to, what they value, their pain points, the types of content that will resonate, and both where and how to reach them. The better you know them, the better you can customize your offer to draw them in. MDR can help you do this by conducting custom market research to help you learn more about a specific region, district, school, or group of people.
3. Create Personalized Content
This is perhaps the most important step of a successful ABM campaign. Once you’ve researched your audience and have a better idea of their interests, challenges, the kind of content they read, etc., you can begin to create content specifically for each person and/or account. The idea is to develop a message or an offer that is so personalized and appealing that they are compelled to respond.
If you thought you practiced content marketing before, consider doubling the number of pieces you will build. We know creating that level of custom content may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. MDR’s team of education industry experts can craft tailored content that will resonate with your audience, from websites and landing pages, to emails and articles, to digital ads and videos, and social media pages and posts.
4. Develop Targeted Offers
High-value prospects deserve high-value communications, like custom videos, direct mail pieces, or face-to-face meetings. For these select accounts and prospects, invest in creating a memorable experience, and one that shows your company or brand in the best light. The more unique, the better. Build in an offer that meets the exact need the prospect currently has. This takes right time, right message to the next level. You must demonstrate that you know the person and the account so well, that you outline what they need in that exact moment, they’ll have no choice but to react.
Keep in mind that ABM assumes high potential to buy. Think basic shopping cart abandonment marketing for a B2C company: you recently added a pair of flip flops to your shopping cart, but then got distracted. Later that day, you get a coupon for free shipping and 10% off those exact flip flops. You were ready to buy, knew what you wanted, and received a very targeted offer at the exact right moment when you were inclined to buy. ABM works the same way on an account or institution level—your offers should be targeted to those with the highest potential to buy.
5. Choose Your Distribution Channels
Creating unique, personalized content is only worth the effort if your audience actually sees it. We know that educators are engaging across multiple channels, web browsing, checking email, and scrolling on social media daily. We also know that email open rates increase dramatically for campaigns that follow marketing best practices and include digital advertising, versus email-only campaigns, for example. Your content and offer should be promoted on more than one channel to increase awareness and likelihood of response for your offer.
6. Track Key Metrics
Traditionally, marketers track MQLs (marketing qualified leads) as they progress through a lead funnel and turn into SQLs (sales qualified leads), but ABM tracking is more about account pipeline and the number of opportunities created at your target set of accounts.
One of the biggest recurring issues for ed marketers is proving ROI. Because so many orders are placed via district Purchase Orders, promotion coding can get lost. One way to counter this problem is to pull a transactional file at regular intervals. MDR can match those records to the original data set to determine how many orders originated from within the targeted accounts. Establishing a link to the original source can help you prove the campaign worked.
Although ABM is a resource-heavy undertaking, it could be worth it for your business. As long as you have the right buy-in, analytics, and tools for implementation, the rest should be a lot like what many marketers are doing today (with an added layer of personalization). We’re here to help! If you want to learn more about implementing ABM, or if you’ve already started on your ABM journey and have questions, contact us!