In the evolution of advertising, dollars have always followed the buzz. From display to mobile and now Native, we’ve dropped what didn’t work, kept what did, and continued in the evolution. For the past few years, one of the bigger ones has been viewability and how to buy on it. In 2017, especially as targeting methodologies continue to grow more sophisticated, we expect (and have already noticed) account-based marketing (ABM) to be yet another one that we keep in the continued evolution of advertising and B2B marketing.¹ More so, layering these initiatives on top of Native advertising, which, on its own, has shown to have an 18% higher lift in purchase intent when compared to banner ads, may further amplify your results.²
Account-based marketing, put most simply, is targeting your ad dollars specifically to companies you may consider as a lead. CRM data is put to good use in ABM strategies in order to identify target accounts and the decision makers behind them. The current problem with account-based marketing, though, is that effective as it is, it’s only as good as the initial due diligence done at the onset of building an ABM campaign. With 2017 posed to be the year of account-based marketing, we’d like to set the record straight on how to tackle these initiatives and what’s required for a successful campaign.
Building Your Target Accounts
Depending on what’s at stake, different companies compile their target accounts a various number of ways. Some merely port their CRM data into a company list and build audiences off that. Others, depending on the strategy they’re looking to employ, will break up their lists based on opportunity and build out initiatives based on this. This could be simply focusing efforts on building out conquesting strategies for competitors. Another approach may entail larger, more drawn out initiatives, targeting larger companies, comprising a larger win and a bigger overall step in the company strategy. This isn’t to take away from the small victories. While they may not be the big step or strategic vision for your efforts overall, they are still worth consideration, given the quicker decisioning process that comes with the smaller companies.
Once you’ve built out your target accounts, it’s important to also understand the hierarchies within the organizations. We’ve all heard the term “decision makers” though this may manifest itself as a different position, job or title across various industries. Layering on the appropriate decision makers within your ABM strategy is about as critical as the account list itself, so it is good to have a solid understanding of the intra-company relationships and how they may impact final decision-making and sign-off.
By understanding your decision makers and their relationships to each other, you can begin to build your message accordingly, plotting out the message to the appropriate person and building out a loop of exposure. Integrate additional advertising tactics like sequential messaging, retargeting or even cross-device to drive your message home.
Expectations and Analytics
The account lists, the audience profiles, the decision makers and the messaging aren’t meaningful if you can’t define what constitutes a successful campaign. Whether it’s simply exposure for a new product, bringing in new leads, or generating new opportunities and wins, these goals need to be identified beforehand. An initiative that was intended to drive decision making and close accounts will have missed the mark if all that was brought in was leads. This is where the previous pieces we discussed all matter. Having a solid understanding of your baseline, where you are, and where you want to be with each facet of your accounts will allow you to define what success looks like.
Tying it All Together
With the right kind of research, targeting, analysis and measurement, expectations can be met and exceeded, particularly with regards to ABM initiatives. As mentioned earlier, activating these initiatives in addition to Native advertising strategies will deliver even more impactful results. Touching upon solely the branding aspects, Native advertising has been shown to be more trusted and less intrusive. Keeping in mind the long-term strategic vision behind why ABM is a must for B2B needs, Native advertising may be the best approach, providing a higher quality, more professional mechanism for delivering ads in a trusted setting, outside the realm of banner blindness.