ABM succeeds or fails by the accounts that you choose to target.
They should be front and center of every decision you make.
Informed by your Ideal Customer Profile, guided by your first- and third-party data, they’re the hub from which to roll out creative strategies and messaging tactics.
And the beauty of that focus on accounts is ABM’s ability to deliver truly unique, engaging, and personal buyer experiences that regular B2B marketing strategies simply cannot.
In a recent episode of Let’s talk ABM, I had the pleasure of speaking with Lisa Sharapata, during her time as CMO at BoostUp, about the evolution of Account-based Marketing, and the future of the buyer experience.
Lisa is now Chief Marketing Officer at the Arbinger Institute.
In the interview (full recording here) we discussed:
- How Lisa has seen ABM change over recent years
- How best to use intent data in your ABM program
- How the buyer experience needs to change
- Her advice for anyone launching an ABM program
Let’s take a look at some of Lisa’s top tips for building buyer experiences with ABM:
6 ways to build buyer experiences with ABM
1. Adapt to ever-changing environments
If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s how quickly the world can change.
In an instant, the pandemic plunged businesses into a new era of Zoom meetings and remote setups, and the ways in which we engage with our target audiences had to adapt.
Gone were the days of cold calls and face-to-face meetings. Working from home, prospects became more difficult to reach, and businesses had to find new ways to cut through and engage with people on a personal level.
As a result, interactions became more about the value exchange, and less about conversion – and that is exactly the mindset that ABM promotes.
Of course, conversion is still paramount to success. But, truly valuable buyer experiences are driven by personalization, empathy and understanding at every touchpoint – not just when a deal closes.
And now, with remote and hybrid working a permanent part of life for many businesses, marketers need to adapt to deliver buyer experiences that are centered around value, creativity and innovation.
Doing so means delivering something that goes beyond cold outreach; instead, it promises a true value exchange that not only builds upon existing relationships, but sets the foundation for new ones.
“I think the remote environment has changed things and everything's gone digital. So there's so many people who are doing all the research online now. You don't have to have a face-to-face meeting.” – Lisa Sharapata, previously CMO at BoostUp
2. Leverage the power of intent
With ABM, organizations have the ability to pinpoint exactly who they should be targeting. Forget outdated ‘spray and pray’ tactics, which waste marketing spend and put a cap on results.
Fueled by intent data, ABM hones in on accounts that are currently active in-market, and helps marketers to understand the pain points and challenges of those that fit their Ideal Customer Profile.
In a world where marketers are fishing with a net, ABM allows you to fish with a spear.
That’s not to say that intent data is a magic pill. Using it still requires a lot of work – from accessing to analyzing, to then using intent to fuel your creative campaigns.
Simply harnessing the data won’t be enough to set you apart in competitive industries.
So, focus on how you use intent.
Intent data gives a behind-the-scenes peek of how your target accounts think. And that is a powerful tool! So, use it to make their lives easier. Focus less on plugging your product, and more on fixing account pain points. Create a buyer experience that is fueled by data, and which speaks to the account’s direct challenges.
“I definitely think intent holds water. And I can't imagine going back to a world of form fills and lead scoring, but I also think you have to take it at face value.” – Lisa Sharapata, CMO at BoostUp
3. Every experience is P2P
Contrary to popular belief, B2B doesn’t have to be boring. At the end of the day, whether you’re targeting businesses or consumers – they’re still people.
No matter what tactics you use, technologies you employ, or data you harness, the principles of good marketing remain the same. Essentially, an effective approach boils down to understanding your customers and knowing how to make their lives easier.
It’s no longer B2B or B2C; it’s P2P: People-to-People marketing.
Creating a more human, personal buyer experience for your target accounts is the key to a future-proofed ABM program.
No matter what new technologies are introduced to the market, or which new tactics emerge, humanized buyer experiences will always be on-trend – because everyone wants to feel understood (professionally as well as personally).
A brand that can deliver this empathy and understanding will not only be more likely to capture the highest value accounts, but will also stand the test of time in an increasingly competitive market.
“It's really P2P, like it's people-to-people and the technology and all of the intent, it'll evolve and change and expand. But the basic principles are still the same, and you have to get that right.” – Lisa Sharapata, previously CMO at BoostUp
4. Look for new, innovative ways to connect
Plunged into a remote-first world, marketers and salespeople alike have been forced to find new ways to connect and engage.
Cold, and even warm outreach methods are being swapped out for more personal, targeted and meaningful interactions that allow organizations to connect with their target accounts in a more intimate way.
So, what does this new way of connecting look like?
ABMers are driving the shift towards educating target audiences in a customized, personalized way.
Think ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions, community-building via channels such as LinkedIn, free master classes etc.
Providing your target accounts with opportunities – to network with like-minded professionals, to deep-dive into their challenges, to find out how they can be fixed – is far more likely to drive results than sending generic, templated emails.
In a world of constant digital communication, you need to be able to present your accounts with something that stands out. You need to offer them true value to catch their attention.
And with genuine, face-to-face interactions growing increasingly scarce, finding ways to humanize your approach is what will help your organization to thrive.
“It's hard to track people down, and if they don't want to answer their phone, they're not going to. So, we're really looking to find some newer, more modern or innovative ways to connect with people through the programs.” – Lisa Sharapata, previously CMO at BoostUp
5. Keep the account front-of-mind
With Account-based Marketing, it’s easy to get caught up in shiny technology, creative strategies, and trending tactics. Do so, however, and you can easily lose sight of what matters most.
At every stage of a program, from the accounts you choose to target to the tactics you run, to the insights you harness and the creative strategies you employ – the account should always be front-of-mind.
As an account moves through the buyer stages, you should always adapt and refresh your approach to suit their changing needs. Aim to educate where they lack information, and to inform based on their evolving pain points.
Naturally, the deeper you get into the funnel, the larger the buying committee will become. As you progress, more decision-makers will be involved – and your messaging needs to allow for that. Different stakeholders will have different concerns, pain points and goals – so dive into them, and adapt your approach accordingly.
“People want to feel valued and important, and like you're going to be able to help them, and so you need to understand who is and isn’t involved in making these decisions.” – Lisa Sharapata, previously CMO at BoostUp
6. Don't overcomplicate it
Account-based Marketing is transforming the way we see B2B. But by no means is it a magic pill, and it shouldn’t be treated as such.
ABM doesn’t have the power to magically solve all your marketing challenges. And you can’t just press a button to see results flood in. It’s an investment and a long-term commitment – the results will speak for themselves, but you shouldn’t overcomplicate it.
The power of ABM lies in its principles and foundations. Put the customer at the center, build your program around them, and use insights to fuel a personalized and engaging strategy. Put simply, this is what makes ABM so successful!
Some would argue it’s just good marketing. Others firmly believe it’s a strategy in its own right. But regardless, you need the right foundations to launch.
“If you don't have all the other cores – product market fit, a clear message, understanding your target audience, your buyers, and what they need and what they want – you can run whatever ABM program you want, but that's probably not going to work.” – Lisa Sharapata, CMO at BoostUp
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