2021 was the year ABM went from an optional marketing approach to the dominant form being practiced by marketers around the world: 70% of marketers report using an accounts-based approach. And with 87% of marketers stating that ABM outperforms other marketing approaches, it’s not likely to be going anywhere soon.
It’s easy to see why. Personalization has been a major goal for marketers for decades, and ABM is a practice that allows us to get as close to the dream of truly bespoke marketing as is possible with current technology.
But delivering these kinds of personalized customer experiences has been cited as the biggest challenge for marketers in achieving success, followed by identifying the right accounts and targets and knowing what content to use.
As ABM-focused, AI-driven technology evolves, it’s likely the majority of marketers utilizing ABM will have data-driven responses to these challenges thanks to their techstacks.
But while that technology is developing, or if you’re in an organization without the resources to invest in it, there needs to be ways to tackle these issues now.
And one major way to do this is to take a step back and look at how your entire organization is approaching ABM. Most chiefly is the idea of accounts-based marketing.
By including the term “marketing” in this approach, many organizations fall into the trap of siloing accounts-based approaches within the marketing department, when, in reality, to get the most out of it, there should be input from many other departments.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at how you can tackle the major challenges of accounts-based marketing by making sure your marketing department is coordinating properly with other departments, and which ones are the most important.
Find out how other departments can help with:
- Identifying the right accounts and targets
- Knowing what content to use
- Creating personalized customer experiences
Identifying the right accounts and targets
While it wasn’t the top of the list of challenges, we’re going to tackle this first as it’s one of the earliest steps when it comes to ABM approaches.
Requiring marketers to be in charge of choosing the accounts to target comes with many challenges that they might not be equipped to handle. They’ll have to identify businesses that are right for their organization’s products and service, then work out how likely they are to need them, what’s their potential CLV (customer lifetime value) and more. All of this will need to be cross-referenced with the organization’s business goals and revenue targets, to make sure you’re focusing on the right accounts, with the right amount of resources.
Sounds like a lot for marketing to tackle, on top of everything else they need to do, right?
Well, funnily enough, most B2B organizations already have a department that thinks about all of those things constantly: sales.
Many organizations still have funnels set up similar to traditional and inbound marketing systems, with marketing’s job to increase demand gen and acquire and nurture leads to then pass them over to the sales department, hopefully as SQLs (sales-qualified leads).
But this system is inefficient when it comes to ABM. Crafting an effective ABM campaign takes a lot of investment from both time and resources, and for all that to end up going to waste by passing the wrong leads over to your sales team. The personalized nature of ABM means that most of the assets you produce can’t be reused easily.
That means you need to make sure you’re going in the right direction from the outset. And by having sales point you in the right direction through working closely with them to identify the right accounts, you should produce more effective results when it’s time for sales to interact directly with the accounts.
Knowing what content to use
Yeah, yeah, we know we’re still not at the number one challenge, but there’s a method to our madness. Because you can’t really create personalized experiences without knowing what content to use for your ABM.
The right content is important, as putting the wrong content in front of your accounts can, at best, be a setback or, at worst, lose your chance with them completely.
Knowing which content is right requires an in-depth understanding of your accounts’ needs. And while marketers can (and should) do plenty of research on this, there are resources within your organization that can form the basis of this research. Namely, other departments who get to know your accounts’ needs on a daily basis.
Both your sales and customer success/service departments will have deep understandings of what your accounts need, whether they’re prospective or current customers. They’ll know what challenges your accounts are regularly facing, and you’ll be able to work together to develop content that shows how your organization’s products and services can help them overcome those challenges.
Creating personalized customer experiences
Personalization is one of the core aspects of ABM, so it’s no wonder it’s the chief challenge cited by marketers. And yet this is going to be a pretty short and sweet section.
Until you have access to the types of insanely efficient and in-depth content recommendation systems that something like Netflix uses when it comes to how they present their content, you’re going to need to create these personalized content experiences yourself.
This doesn’t mean you have to create a whole raft of unique content for each account. It means tweaking and altering existing content to suit your accounts’ needs. And just like when it comes to developing the right content, personalizing them in the right way requires you to get to know your accounts, and your sales and customer service/success departments are a goldmine of insights you can utilize for this.
Have we been doing ourselves a disservice by calling it accounts-based marketing? Possibly. If you stop thinking about it as being purely the responsibility of one department, you open up resources and shared insights that will enhance every facet of your business.
How're you opening up connections between departments to enhance your ABM? Let us know on the B2B Marketing Community!