While the popularity of account-based marketing (ABM) is no secret — after all, we just ended an entire event dedicated to it — the best practices for this strategy are growing more nuanced by the day as vendors across the world add their own spin to it. The second day of the B2B Marketing Exchange: Next Level ABM (#B2BMXNLA) virtual event featured the various aspects of content creation, with personalization and customization at the heart of most sessions and keynotes.
As attendees signed on to access all the insights day two of #B2BMX had to offer, they were welcomed by Jon Miller, Demandbase’s CMO and CPO, and his keynote, “Next-Level ABM Is NOW! Your Roadmap To ABX Success.” Throughout his presentation, Miller walked attendees through account-based experiences (ABX), the offspring of traditional ABM programs.
After wrapping up the Keynote and delving into a series of Breakout sessions, Lunch & Learns and Roundtables, attendees closed out the day with Nicky Briggs and Phyllis Davidson, VP Principal Analysts from Forrester, with their keynote, “B2B Content In The Age Of Customization.” Forrester’s experts took a more technical approach to their presentation as they laid out the basics of ABM content creation by running a fine-toothed comb over the various levels of customization available to organizations.
Creating ABX Content Using The F.I.R.E. Method
As powerful as ABM is, there are limitations — specifically, it tends to target accounts whether they’re in-market or not. Instead, Miller suggested organizations consider implementing ABX, an even more targeted extension of ABM. Given ABX’s experiential nature and ability to align go-to-market goals with the account journey, there’s a need for close alignment and collaboration between sales, marketing and customer success teams.
Through this alignment, Miller explained that the internal departments involved should work together to analyze the various data signals available to determine which accounts would most benefit from highly customized campaigns. He recommended the F.I.R.E. methodology to streamline the target selection process, which focuses on:
- An account’s Fit into the organization’s ideal customer profile (ICP);
- The level of Intent a prospect is demonstrating;
- A review of the account Relationship, and
- An analysis of an account’s Engagement.
“A big enterprise might take all this information and throw it to their data scientists, but smaller companies don’t have the ability,” explained Miller. “We actually combined those ingredients into ‘pipeline predict,’ which is a score on how likely a target will become an opportunity in the next 30 days by analyzing its on- and off-site behavior. Once you have the four F.I.R.E. pieces, you can use them to understand and map where the accounts are in their unique journey.”
Once the account’s journey is accurately mapped, the next level of ABX revolves around reaching accounts at the right time with customized content that demonstrates a deep understanding of an industry and its unique issues. Target accounts want fresh ideas and insights; not recycled pieces of knowledge they’ve seen five or six times. Gemma Davies, Sr. Director, Head of Global ABM and CXO Engagement for ServiceNow, reinforced the value of engaging accounts with unique, relevant content in her afternoon session.
“These highly personalized experiences are helping sales close larger deals faster and helping our own customers really realize our value, impact and the work we do to enable their businesses and customers,” said Davies. “Our objective and purpose is to make sure that we’re curating and delivering high-impact, customer-centric, personalized experiences.”
How To View ABM Strategies With A Technical Lens
Davidson and Briggs circled back to traditional ABM content in their closing keynote by identifying its three layers and importance of each. With a focus on the low, medium and high levels of insights, content and activation, the experts dove into the specific aspects of generating successful ABM strategies.
At the low level, insights include core information on persona buying groups and industry trends, while the medium level concerns sub-verticals and introduces the use of first- and third-party data. At the high level, account plans and related information become more important, as there is typically a short list of accounts here that organizations will want to supply with “significantly customized” content.
Broad content lives at the low level of content creation, and it’s used here for the biggest volume of ABM accounts. The medium level is more concerned with vertical- and cluster-appropriate content that’s personalized with imagery and messaging. Predictably, the number of customization components increase along with the levels, so the high-level here features hyper-personalized text, imagery and logos.
That’s a lot of content, but the beauty of ABM — specifically for industry-specific content — is that old campaigns and pieces of media can be placed in a content library and repurposed at a later time.
“The content team should provide templates for the ABM teams to use when customizing content, and ABM teams should provide input on past asset utilization,” said Davidson. “It takes a village to actually make these kinds of customization changes.”
When it comes to activation, the three levels include:
- Sending content via broad delivery channels — such as email — when a customer is in market on the low level;
- Generating account-specific ads, channels and nurture streams at the medium level; and
- Using data generated from intent signals, buying triggers, sales information and timing considerations to drive the choice of delivery on the high level.
Predictably, all these categories and their increasingly specific levels of personalization put an enormous load on marketing teams’ plates. To that end, Foundation Marketing’s Director of Marketing, Melanie Deziel, used her presentation to educate marketers on her secrets to efficient content creation. Throughout the session, Deziel recommended organizations actually put constraints on their creative thinking to provide structure in the content creation process.
“The only way to consistently produce good content ideas is to have a consistent process for generating them — when there’s no system, our brainstorms aren’t productive,” Deziel explained. “Choosing the two most important questions to answer gives us enough constraints to push us to think critically. For content creators, the questions typically concern focus and format. Your focus is what you’re examining, discovering, illuminating or conveying, and the format is how that message is shared and brought to life.”
In this era of demand for personalized content, ABM and ABX build off each other to provide prospects and clients with the level of customization they’re seeking at the time they want it. Whether organizations want to take a more experiential, traditional or combinational approach to content creation, the second day of #B2BMX provided a series of actionable insights and takeaways for successful campaigns across all strategies. If you’re hungry for more ABM insights and takeaways, be sure to check out our recaps from day one and day three. To re-live the three-day event or experience it for the first time, check it out on-demand.
This story premiered on our sister site, DemandGen Report.