Building your account-based marketing technology stack
Account-based marketing is possible thanks to innovations in marketing technology (MarTech). Since the rise of marketing automation platforms, thousands of new MarTech software vendors have entered the product category.
There are dozens of subcategories of MarTech, such as email marketing, interactive content, advertising, video marketing, events, search (SEM and SEO), content marketing, social media marketing, and many more. The list is ever-evolving.
But to successfully execute your account-based marketing campaigns, a few essential pieces of software are required. These platforms will enable your B2B marketing and sales team to do account-based marketing at scale.
Here is what should be included in your account-based MarTech stack:
- Customer relationship management (CRM): Your company needs a centralized place to store and manage all of your customers’ contact information. This includes both your current clients and prospects. A CRM is the best place to store all of this information. The Salesforce CRM system integrates with almost every type of MarTech software in the marketplace. Salesforce is the 800-lb. gorilla. More than 100,000 companies are using it, as there are options for small, mid-market, and enterprise level organizations.
- Marketing automation: A marketing automation platform (MAP) is used for tracking engagement with contacts in your CRM. A MAP gives you the tools to create activities, then monitors the level of activity each contact is engaged in. Marketing automation is used for scoring the contacts created in your CRM. The platform has a direct interface with your CRM through an application programming interface (API). Whenever you add a new contact record to your CRM, the data is pulled into your marketing automation system. Using a marketing automation tool, you can identify your customers, build your lists, and send content.
- Contact management system (CMS): The platform on which you host your company’s website. The most popular CMS on the market today is WordPress because of its easy-to-use functionality. All of the pages for your company’s website are created and uploaded. The CMS also gives you a platform for posting blog content.
- Social media: Every successful, modern brand has a presence on social media. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the essential platforms on which you need to have a company page. From here, you can update your followers with company news, sponsor posts, and drive your targeted audience to learn more about your organization. Social media works to establish new connections and further engage your potential sales opportunities and customers.
- Advertising: A critical part of account-based marketing is to surround your targeted accounts, and the contacts within those accounts, with your message. This is accomplished through advertising. Google Ads helps, but it doesn’t give you account-level attribution. Consider account-based marketing platforms, such as DemandBase, Engagio, LeanData, and Terminus, to assist with launching advertising and measuring the effects.
Creating account-based marketing campaigns
With account-based marketing, think about going beyond the typical B2B buyer’s journey to an account‘s journey. The account’s journey goes beyond the purchase decision (whether to buy or not from your company) to the customer experience. Follow these rules for creating account-based marketing campaigns that go from the buyer’s journey to a customer experience:
- Find your ideal customer: An ideal customer profile (ICP) is the type of company you want to do business with. The ICP includes knowing which company size (either employees or revenue) and industry is a best fit for your product or service. The marketing and sales teams should work together to define this ICP, then identify the types of people in these companies who will be the users (or “champions”) of your offering. These people are called personas. When defining your personas, include job title, role, responsibilities, and use cases for how each individual will work with your company.
- Think about the key takeaways: What’s the message people in an account will take away from each marketing campaign? Depending on the industry and persona, you want your message to be tailored to the audience. If you’re target is a CMO of a large software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, the message will be different than if you were targeting an IT manager at a small bank. Your message should not be how your solution works. For example, “How (same title) like you are succeeding with account-based marketing.”
- Time your message: The message in your account-based marketing campaign should be based on the stage of the buyer’s journey. What you tell your contacts and the content offered must be different for each stage. An account-based marketing platform syncs with your CRM system to advertise based on these stages. The stages are:
- New: A brand new account where the contacts need to be educated about your service or product offering. The message should serve up informative content, such as an infographic, blog post, or video explaining your company’s solution.
- Prospect: An inbound or outbound account that has been designated a marketing qualified account (MQA) and deemed to be a good fit for your business. After the MQA is passed on to sales, it becomes a sales qualified account (SQA). More educational content explaining how people with similar ICPs or personas have been successful with your company is required, such as case studies or customer testimonial videos.
- Opportunity: The SQA has become a revenue opportunity, as they are ready to make a decision whether to purchase from your company. In the opportunity stage, the content offered should demonstrate a return on investment (ROI), competitive analysis of what your solution offers, and a smooth implementation and on-boarding process.
- Customer: After the purchase decision has been made, marketing’s job continues. With account-based marketing, customers become advocates for the brand to increase organic, authentic, word-of-mouth marketing. The content here needs to include video tutorials, checklists, and guides to help make it easy for customers to adopt the product or service.
- Land and expand: After landing a deal with one contact in the account, there will be opportunities to grow your business inside the account with additional revenue opportunities. Here, you want to develop a “power user” or “champion” to have as a use case demonstrating success with your company.
- Cross-sell/upsell: An upsell is selling an upgraded version of your product or service to the same contact in the account. Training content, such as an ongoing webinar series just for your customers, assists with cross-sell and upsell potential.
- “Always on” air cover: Nurturing never stops with your customers. In order to create customer advocates, marketing must consistently provide content purposely built for your company’s clients. This type of content includes advertising, quarterly reports, “town hall” webinars with your company’s leadership, and holding an annual user conference (an event just for your customers and partners).
- Be where your accounts are: Your prospect, opportunity, and customer accounts engage with a variety of marketing channels. The channels include digital media such as mobile sites, social media, videos, emails, and much more. Offline channels include events, direct mail, and phone calls. By knowing your ICP and personas, you can determine which channels might be the best-fit to engage your accounts. For example, an engaging video personalized for an IT manager would go a long way compared to calling him on the phone.
- Serve instead of sell: With account-based marketing, it’s all about thought leadership. You want to serve up educational content instead of trying to sell your product or service. This all comes back to nurturing your accounts so when they are ready to buy, your company will be top of mind.
- Measure the results: You have to know if each campaign is working; to do this, you need success metrics. The success metrics for your account-based marketing campaigns should include:
- Contacts in the account: Did we reach the right people who will use our product or service? How many of these people did we connect with during the campaign?
- Stage progression: Did the account move to the next stage in the account’s journey? For example, did the account move from prospect to opportunity, or from customer to upsell?
Follow up with your contacts: The account’s journey is a continuous cycle. Even if the company you’re targeting goes out of business, the contacts you reach with your marketing message are still out there. In the marketplace, sharing what they know about your company. As you think about your ABM campaign, think about what the follow-up action will be from your efforts.
In this account-based marketing framework, we examined each stage of the buyer’s journey. Here is where you can see associated content and success metrics for each stage. Use this framework to measure progression of the account.