How Marketers can Leverage Marketing Automation for Account-Based Marketing

By Tara Petre » 7 min read

If you’re a B2B marketer, chances are you’ve already been engaging in discussions about Account-Based Marketing (ABM) within your organization. According to HubSpot, 67% of brands are already leveraging some form of ABM today. Other marketers argue that while ABM has certainly been trending in recent years, it’s really just about getting back to the core concepts of focused and personalized marketing.

Whether you think it’s buzzworthy or a nice rebrand for a tried-and-true approach, we’ve got some tips for you and how you can use your core Marketing Automation functionality to support your ABM efforts.

First things first…

Before we talk tech, it’s important to note that the number one prerequisite to deploying an ABM strategy is organizational alignment. A successful ABM strategy may require buy-in from your Marketing teams, Sales teams, Product teams, and even your Finance team. You should work with department leadership to identify your stakeholders and influencers across these departments and consider a collaborative workshop series to align on goals, pain points, timelines, and priorities.

Define your ICP and reinforce it throughout your global processes

Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) may be something best identified between your Marketing automation and CRM system, especially in the case where a major strategic shift isn’t taking place. Looking for more prospects like your best customers? Luckily for marketers, most marketing automation systems have the ability to identify commonalities in top customer accounts.

Once you’ve identified your ICP, you can begin structuring your accounts into tiers. Although it may be tempting to pursue thousands of accounts that meet most of your ICP criteria, the more target accounts you have, the fewer resources you’ll be able to dedicate to each account. With that in mind, consider how you’ll categorize your tiers. Some businesses have a simple tier 1-3, others create sub-segments by vertical or to distinguish up-sell/cross-sell vs net new accounts. Each approach has its benefits, but if you’re new to ABM, consider keeping it simple until you’ve proven the value of your ABM approach.

According to Terminus, a simple 3-tiered approach is suitable for most B2B companies. In this system:

  • Tier 1 accounts are perfect ICP fits, similar to your highest value customers. Tier 1 also includes logos with strategic value.
  • Tier 2 accounts are strong ICP fits but have a lower lifetime value.
  • Tier 3 accounts fit most, but not all, ICP criteria. They’re worth pursuing but typically not worth investing significant resources to win their business.

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Calibrate your marketing and sales process to targeted accounts

Once you’ve defined your ICP and account tiers, consider revisiting your global processes to ensure they support and align with your new vision for targeted accounts. Examples of processes you’ll want to revisit include:

  • Demographic scoring &Lifecycle – Consider fast-tracking members of your targeted accounts or increasing demographic scores to allow them to naturally progress at a higher velocity.
  • Lead Assignment – Many sales teams first route leads to an inside sales representative to validate a prospect’s budget, authority, need, and timing before passing to a member of your outside sales team. This process often referred to as establishing BANT, may need to allow for exceptions in the case of targeted accounts.
  • Global lists – Now that you’re increasing focus on targeted accounts, you may want to consider revisiting any global or templated lists that would overwhelm your top prospects with content directed toward your more general audience.

Activate your personalization strategy within your platform

Now that you’re using your marketing automation platform to determine who to target and you’ve primed your instance for your new ABM strategy, you’re ready to start thinking about creating a channel and personalization mix around each tier of accounts.

At this phase, you’ll start to use your marketing automation and analytics platforms to evaluate channel performance and attribution to understand how to successfully engage your best customers. To determine the channels best suited for your new target account tiers, consider mixing in some new approaches with your tried and true channel mix. These new channels may be more difficult to scale and have a higher cost per lead but may be perfectly suited for your top tier accounts. High touch direct mail and interactive virtual events both are great examples of strategies that will help you stand out with target accounts.

Create reports, dashboards, and subscriptions

Using your Marketing Automation platform, you may have capabilities that allow you to build powerful analytics that give insight into target account activity, penetration, and propensity to buy. Use this information to understand how target accounts may interact differently regarding your content, outbound sales tactics, and lifecycle process. Target account trends you may include:

  • Longer sales cycle
  • More influencers and buyers involved in the sales cycle
  • Less likely to interact with mass marketing tactics

As you learn more about your targeted accounts, it’s time to prove the value of your ABM program. Consider using these reports to tell that story:

  • Engaged target accounts
  • Target accounts with opportunities
  • Pipeline and revenue attribution by target account
  • Lifecycle conversions by target account
  • Web traffic by target account
  • Goal & form completions by target account
  • Account penetration by target account

Wrapping up

Now you know how to use your marketing automation platform to identify and tier accounts, customize your sales process, activate your personalization strategy, and report on the results. Interested in learning where you stand when it comes to marketing technology maturity? Take our assessment to get your free maturity evaluation!

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