Holistic ABM – Layering ABM into all your marketing activities

ABM is an excellent new way to engage with Accounts.

ABM is cutting edge and as such many marketers are not even in agreement as to what ABM is.

I suspect if I ask a few marketers what it is I may not get the same answer.

To get a better understanding of ABM I would point you to an existing resource that does a great job of explaining this. Here is a quote from Jon Miller’s blog:

“At its core, account based marketing encompasses everything that B2B marketers do to support sales at target accounts.”

Here are a few more words on what ABM is and is not as a foundation. Traditional demand generation concerns itself with moving many through a funnel, identifying potential prospects that are a fit, adn bringing those to closure. This is the “fishing net” approach. According to Jon ABM is more of a “spear” approach where we identify who we want to be talking to in a very targeted fashion and talk to those people in a special way to favor them over others.

Why is this all happening now?

Prior to having an engagement marketing platform marketing teams could not do a great job of supporting sales at target accounts because the data was just not there to be able to act on any more than a one-off initiative.

Today’s engagement marketing platforms allow marketers to take more and more actions specifically focused on target accounts.

Leading edge ABM functionality takes this a step further, allowing marketers to pursue a broad set of activities all honed in on those key target accounts.

When a client decides to start with ABM in their engagement platform, the instinct may be to just consider the ABM functionality in isolation. My opinion is that ABM needs to be considered holistically across the client’s entire engagement portfolio.

What is the engagement portfolio I am referring to?

The engagement portfolio is all the marketing activities that are part of your marketing footprint. ABM can touch all those activities so as part of the ABM Framework that we usually bring to clients, we are sure to look at ABM across the whole portfolio. Here is an example of some pieces of the portfolio – in the context of ABM:

  • Website ABM – Their web pages targeted to target accounts
  • Email ABM – Emails targeted and personalized to target accounts
  • Scoring ABM – Favoring targeted account actions in the scoring model
  • Online ABM – Targeting your online advertising to target accounts
  • Direct mail ABM – Personalizing direct mail by target account
  • Telemarketing ABM – Targeting outbound calls to target accounts
  • Lifecycle ABM – Specialized routing of target accounts to inside sales or sales
  • Lead scoring ABM – Customized scoring for target accounts
  • Sales Alert ABM – Alerts for sales based on target accounts

The above list is not exhaustive. The point here is to realize that ABM touches your entire portfolio of engagement so each element of the portfolio should be considered in the context of ABM.

What we are going to do is take a look at a process for how to think about deploying ABM holistically taking into account your other marketing automation activities.

I think this is important because ABM is very new. And the initial focus on ABM has been more about a. what is it and b. how to deploy it on its own. While the industry grapples with those to important points, there just has not been enough time to think about ABMs impact across all engagement.

ABM Deployment Methodology – k.i.s.s.

I like to keep things simple.

This brings me to a post on ABM by Mike Telem of Marketo where he lays out three steps to implement ABM:

Step 1:  Define Your Key Target Account

Step 2:  Engage Target Accounts with Personalized and Relevant Campaigns Across Channels

Step 3:  Analyze and Optimize Your ABM Performance

I completely agree with his 1-2-3 – he knows what he is talking about!

Now we will drill into #2 to get a flavor for the power of ABM and to understand our process a bit better.

Holistic Engagement with ABM

So you are a client and you want to deploy ABM. You already practice engagement marketing. So how will you engage your target accounts?

Assuming step one is in place and we have our target accounts we now need to consider options for layering ABM into our engagement portfolio.

Case Study 1

In the first client example the client wanted to drive increased engagement with their target accounts. The specific tactic they planned was to invite members of their target account group to regional events. And they would do this using personalized content on web pages fro those target accounts (Web ABM).

In simple terms the use case for this would be we have decided to gather a target account group, and invite them to regional events via personalized web pages for those regions.

The combinations of engagement needed in this case varied by target account, geography and type of ABM. Here is a snapshot of how the variations were specified:

holistic engagement image 1

So to do this we have 1 target account group, 7 geographies and one engagement channel. This results in 7 engagement combinations. Those are the engagement touchpoints we need to deploy!

This first example is a more focused deployment in terms of ABM channels – we have only deployed to Web ABM.

Case Study 2

In this second example the customer wanted to drive more engagement with target accounts across all possible marketing channels to increase target account revenue. The target accounts were high-priority accounts so in this case the revenue was valuable for the client as well as engaging more with these high-priority accounts to make them more sticky. These accounts could then be referenced for other potential accounts. So in this example the target account list was compiled and they decided to focus on Web ABM, Email ABM, Event ABM, and Direct Mail ABM.

In simple terms we are selecting our target group again and this time we are targeting ABM engagement across Web, email, events and direct mail.

Here is how they mapped out their combinations:

holistic engagement image 2

We have 1 target account group and we deploy to 4 engagement channels. So there are 4 engagement combinations in total. In this case our ABM strategy is reaching into 4 of our engagement channels. The advantage here is that 4 of our engagement channels are helping us achieve our ABM goals.

Case Study 3

In the third client example, the client also wanted to focus on target accounts. And they wanted to focus on a few types of ABM. They also had industry priorities from the senior executives. So they deployed ABM with different content by industry so they could specifically speak to the priority industries.

In this final example we are engaging with target accounts, certain industries, and across several engagement channels. Here is how the combinations were designed:

holistic engagement image 3

The interesting thing about this example is that the 5th and 6th combinations are actually nurture streams. This means ABM is directly impacting our nurture framework which is often a key engagement marketing process – separate from ABM. So this example really shows how ABM is impacting plans across all marketing activities – holistically.

In this example the client was able to increase conversions and revenue for priority accounts, in priority industries, and across multiple ABM channels.

A few comments on all this

So I hope it was clear how ABM needs to be considered holistically across all your engagement marketing. There is a whole lot more to ABM than this. In simple terms the framework to deploy ABM is really as simple as 1-2-3. It’s just that there are a lot of ways to actually achieve the 1-2-3 and the more time you spend considering and planning how you want to deploy ABM, the better result you will have. Given the variety of the above examples you can see it is not a one-size-shoe-fits-all situation. I hope you find this useful!

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