There’s been a lot of buzz about account-based marketing lately, but it can be difficult to find information on how exactly to get started with it. For instance, what goes into a successful ABM campaign?
We’ve spoken with several thought leaders about ABM, including Julia Stead, Director of Demand Generation at Invoca.
She gave us the details on two ABM campaigns with proven success as well as a third campaign that is currently in the works.
Before we dive into the details, it’s a good idea to have a grasp on the difference between account-based and lead-based marketing. We’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating.
With a traditional lead-based model, marketers find a large group of leads to present to the sales team. This is more of a scattershot approach.
The lead-based model has worked for a long time, but now many companies are finding that it isn’t all that efficient for their needs. It can also bring up a disconnect between sales and marketing when the leads the marketers provide don’t match up with what the type of qualified lead salespeople want.
Account-based marketing relies on a more interactive approach between the departments. They work together to create ideal accounts that sales and marketing target in tandem.
Basically, ABM offers a more focused approach and more opportunity to personalize marketing for targeted accounts.
Now that the basics are out of the way, here are the concrete details on three ABM campaigns to get you started on making account-based marketing work for you.
1) High Profile Public Event
At large conferences, it can be difficult to break through the noise of so many vendors trying to get and keep the attention of prospects. The events can also be expensive with little ROI to show for it after the flashy booth has been packed up and everyone goes home.
In a beta-test for their ABM strategies, the team at Invoca decided to focus on one of these large events.
It was expensive to attend and was at a huge venue. Invoca struggled to see munch return there in the past.
The goal of this campaign was to get as many face-to-face meetings as possible to avoid the muting effect of such a large event.
The ABM Campaign
From their list of target accounts, the team picked out the top-tier candidates (with a high propensity to buy) who were also most likely to attend the event.
The individual people to target within those accounts had to be handpicked, too. Only a few targets from each account were used in the process. They tried to focus on exact buyer titles like VP of Digital Marketing or CMO.
Once the targets were set, marketing launched into a multichannel pre-show outreach strategy involving display ads, direct mail packages, web experience, and emails. All of these avenues were highly personalized for the individual targets.
Also, while some of the emails were automated messages from marketing, the sales team worked on personalized follow up by phone and email.
As an extra incentive to book a meeting, Invoca offered a free Apple Watch to the prospects who came to a 45-minute meeting during the event.
The campaign was a huge success. They conducted over 25 in-person meetings that led to pipeline dollars.
Most opportunities within the target accounts were created within a week of the event.
To measure the cost and ROI, the marketing team focused on a pipe-to-spend ratio. In other words, for every marketing dollar spent, they looked at how many pipeline dollars were created.
In the instance of the Dreamforce campaign, they more than doubled their goal, which completely surpassed the original expectations.
The most important thing to remember for your own high-profile event campaigns is the multichannel approach Invoca used for their pre-show outreach.
The direct mail campaign was particularly effective because it wasn’t just a generic postcard or flyer. Instead, they sent a well-designed package via FedEx. It was something memorable that SDRs could refer to in follow up calls and emails.
Those personalized follow-ups were an important part of the multichannel approach. For many of the targets, the box was an interesting piece of mail but not enough to get them to reach out. However, once an SDR called and brought it up, the chances of booking a meeting increased.
For many, the personal touch provided the tipping point to actually take action.
Finally, the compelling offer of an Apple Watch definitely gained the targets’ attention and helped to book meetings. Sure, it’s a rather expensive option, but based on the ROI, it was well worth it.
2) The On-Going Campaign
This route isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.
You don’t just send, wait, evaluate results, and move on to the next campaign. It becomes a routine element of your marketing strategy.
Prior to launching this ABM campaign, Invoca had a more traditional email nurture track involving weekly drip emails with content links and case studies. It wasn’t a bad approach, but it wasn’t hyperfocused or personal, either.
The ABM Campaign
Realizing they needed to focus more on personalization, the marketing team once again targeted the top-tier accounts to launch their new personalized omnichannel nurture track.
It can be an expensive option due to the direct mail marketing that comes into play, so they only targeted the top 2-4 individuals with the right job titles within the target organizations.
Again, they wanted to focus on organizations with a high propensity to buy and the people within those organizations who had the power to actually make buying decisions.
The nurture track spans 12 weeks and is a combination of email, display ads, direct mail, social, and SDR follow up.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the 12-week track:
Week 1: Send a light touch direct mail piece. This isn’t an offer; it’s a personalized piece that talks about the problems your company solves and draws attention to an app or website that drives the point home.
Specifically, in the case of Invoca, the first direct mail piece directed targets to a digital calculator to track revenue lost from lack of call attribution. This spoke directly to one specific solution that Invoca provides—using call attribution to create a more customized experience for a client’s customers—without immediately trying to sell something.
Week 2: Launch display ads with the same message from the direct mail piece. Also, send some nurturing emails with relevant content links.
Week 3: Follow up with assets like case studies and webinars. These should be customized to the prospect’s pain points. You’ll also want to launch more display ads that correspond to the new messages.
For instance, if your target is a paid search marketer, you might target the story in the case studies and webinars around digital marketing. All of the messages should be personalized and hit on the same theme.
Week 4: Send a second direct mail piece with a more overt offer. For instance, the offer could be a virtual or in-person meeting or a product demo. It might be worthwhile to include a small incentive like a free giveaway.
The more relevant the giveaway is to the target, the more likely they are to respond favorably, so this is a great area to bring the marketing team’s creativity into play.
Week 5-6: The display ads should reflect the current offer from the direct mail piece in week 4. These two weeks are for follow-ups – both from automated marketing emails and personalized follow up from SDRs.
Automated emails help to alleviate some of the workloads, but they still need to be somewhat personalized.
Week 7: This is the time for a “last chance” direct mail piece. For instance, you might give the target 30 days to meet in person or see a demo in order to get the giveaway item.
Week 8-12: Start launching the bottom of funnel content. This could be webinars or videos targeted to the buyer persona profile, as well as case studies and testimonials.
The content for this week is to help the prospect make a final buying decision.
The 12-Week omnichannel nurture track is geared towards only a handful of individuals within the top-tier target organizations because it can be an expensive path.
However, the results have proven quite worthwhile for Invoca. In fact, ABM accounts that go through this nurture track are 3 times more likely to create pipeline opportunities than non-ABM accounts.
The details are up to the creativity of your marketing team and the limits of your budget, but ultimately the path is: start with a light touch, progress to asking for a meeting or product demo, and finally providing bottom of funnel content to help with a final buying decision.
3) Private or Self-Hosted Event
Invoca holds an annual fall summit in Santa Barbara for current customers and prospects. In previous years, they haven’t really worried about which prospects show up for the event.
As with the switch from a traditional email nurture track to an omnichannel nurture track, the marketing team at Invoca has realized that personalization and focus are a lot more effective than just seeing who decides to come to the summit.
That’s why this year they plan to focus on getting the top-tier target accounts to their event.
The ABM Campaign
Although Santa Barbara is beautiful, it isn’t the most convenient location for everyone to attend an event.
That’s why they’ve created a VIP ABM track for this summit. Hopefully, the extra perks for the VIPs will convince the most desirable targets to attend despite any inconvenience from the locale.
The VIP guests will be the top 2 or 3 end-users and influencers, such as CMOs and VPs of Marketing, from the target accounts.
It’s a chance for prospects to mingle with happy existing customers and sales reps, and it’s also a chance for all attendees to network.
The VIP track offers some extra networking and educational opportunities too.
For instance, a VIP dinner is planned with a guest speaker from Google. It’s a networking opportunity specifically for CMOs and VPs, as well as a chance to talk about thought leadership.
The second day follows a similar idea with content geared towards CMOs that provides value and knowledge without trying to hard sell or product pitch.
There is no selling or pitching in the VIP track at all. The event is about establishing a deeper connection within the target organizations.
The real point of this ABM campaign is to create a personal experience that leaves a lasting impression.
This campaign is still in the works, but the team at Invoca has high hopes for positive results.
After all, this level of focus and personalization has worked well in their previous campaigns.
Personalization is the key to great results.
People want to feel special, and they want to feel that you understand their issues rather than the general issues at large.
Pre-event outreach and targeted event content will demonstrate that you understand your prospects, and they will be more open to doing business with you.
Account-based marketing is more than just a buzzword.
It’s a marketing approach that focuses on targeted leads and creates more opportunities to personalize messaging to their needs.
These three specific ABM campaigns give you a starting point to dive into the many ways that ABM can improve your marketing strategy and get results.