Best practices for ABM Success (ABM Series 2)

In part two, we look into best practices to get started with and succeed in ABM.

We've created a four-part ABM guide to share some ideas and tips we have with you to help you get started. We started the series by defining ABM, establishing its popularity and benefits, and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In this second part, we look into ABM best practices so you get a better idea of the process and the steps you should take to achieve ABM success.

The series:

  • Part 1: How to deliver personalized experiences for ABM success (read here)
  • Part 2: Best practices for ABM success
  • Part 3: Examples of personalized ABM experiences (read here)
  • Part 4: Personalize ABM content for each stage of the funnel (read here)

Let's pick up where we left off!

Define objectives explicitly

Identify the high-value accounts you’re going after and set KPIs to track. Popular metrics include coverage, awareness, engagement, reach, and influence. However, these are still very broad terms and it is important to get more granular.

You can set different KPIs to match the stage of the funnel a contact is at. For example, at the top of the funnel, your first goal is to get any engagement which could be a response to your email or clicking a link you sent and checking out your website. A mid-funnel goal can be getting on a discovery goal or scheduling a demo while a bottom of the funnel goal can be requesting a quote or a proposal, or deals closed.

You can go even deeper and aim for a specific person or role at each company. The ability to find the right person or people at your target accounts can make or break your ABM campaigns.

One final tip about success metrics: Do not focus on the number of leads. We are aiming for quality over quantity here. You don’t want to blast a generic message to 200 accounts. Instead, be selective and finetune and personalize your message for the 20 key accounts. (These numbers are examples and the actuals will depend on the size of your market, team, and time dedicated.)

Define sales and marketing roles

Traditionally marketing and sales have been two separate departments without much contact and at times a bit of a rivalry in between. This lack of communication can lead to a lot of missed opportunities for your business. But fret not, ABM might be the solution you've been looking for.

ABM is often credited with driving sales and marketing alignment. And companies, where sales and marketing are aligned, see annual revenue growth of 32% according to Forrester while less aligned companies report an average 7% decline in revenue.

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But make sure you agree on how both functions will collaborate from the start. Define roles to determine who will select the accounts, how to develop messaging for each persona, when leads will be handed over to sales, and so forth.

Establish your ABM toolbox

Decide how you will deliver the campaigns, map your data sources, and set up integrations to facilitate execution and tracking. Will you be calling up potential leads? Sending email sequences or reaching out via Linkedin? What will your account targeting and selection be based on? Do you have sales intelligence data to rely on, whether demographic or firmographic? Will you create personalized landing pages and website experiences for your target accounts and leads? (More about this in Part 3 and 4.) Will you supplement your outreach with retargeting campaigns on different platforms? And so on.

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There are many ABM tools out there that offer one, some, or most of the above-mentioned features. You will most likely need a combination of a few tools and it’s important to plan your set up well in the beginning. That way you can go in and adjust your targeting or messaging but you won’t have to switch tools halfway through which might lead to lost time as well as lost data. One key thing to look for in any solution you are considering is the insights. How much data will they provide about the success of your campaigns?

Research and understand behavior and pain points

Once you have defined your target accounts and started gathering preliminary data, you can start to fine-tune your targeting and messaging. For instance, you can use segmentation to identify who has a higher propensity to buy. Perhaps a segment of your target audience has already downloaded an asset or visited a page on your site.

With a tool like Unless, you can segment your visitors using predictions and create audiences for “hot leads” or, conversely, segment those with a “low attention span” to keep them engaged longer with content that’s better suited for them. With Unless, you can even poll your target accounts when they visit a page, so they can quickly “self-segment” based on their interests and the like. This enables you to show them content that is highly tailored to their needs.

Personalize, personalize, personalize

In a sense, Account Based Marketing (at least when done right) has always been personalized. For example, personalized email campaigns have 5 to 6 times higher open rates compared to mass eblasts. As we will explain in Parts 3 and 4, you can rely on a platform like Unless to easily build and scale experiences that are personalized for each account.

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Track performance continuously

Remember the KPIs we discussed at the beginning of this article? And we asked that you consider insights when selecting tools? Well now is the time to check up on those results. One question to ask is whether you are reaching your targets and whether those targets were realistic? But a second and more important question is what you can do to optimize and improve your campaigns?

Do you see that calls in the afternoon are answered more often? Which emails are getting read? Which links are being clicked? Does your message seem to work better with one industry than another? Are CMOs responding to you more than growth hackers? Are you being redirected to other decision-makers in the companies you approach? Etc.

Closely monitor your progress and make sure to consider qualitative as well as quantitative results. Optimize for conversions as you go and refine your metrics when necessary. Yes, ABM is for getting leads and getting sales but it can also help in finetuning your audience and messaging.

Now that you know what you need to get started (and succeed) with ABM, it's time for some examples. Make sure to check out Part 3!