Content is the secret sauce to success with account-based marketing

Let’s be honest: You’d never heard of account-based marketing (ABM) before. But now that you’ve learned about it, you can’t see your company going back to inbound, outbound or whatever’s in between.

And you’re right. In certain markets, using ABM to spearhead lead generation just makes too much sense.

Success in B2B falls squarely on winning the select accounts that drive a large portion of the enterprise’s yearly revenue. Why waste significant resources on contacts who more than likely won’t turn into sales-qualified leads?

You already know exactly what your target market is, who’s in it and the people you need to get in front of.

Now you need to show them why your company is better than its competitors, and there’s no escaping how valuable content is in doing that.

Why ABM has found a home in B2B marketing

ABM has been around since the mid-2000s but has only recently picked up steam as the Hansel of buzzwords in the marketing community.

It’s the enterprise-level evolution of inbound marketing, which pins the focus of a business’ outreach efforts on targeting personas within an industry. ABM takes it one step further by narrowing down those prospects to key accounts and ensuring that the majority of their marketing and sales departments’ efforts are geared towards converting those specific clients.

At the end of the day, inbound marketing and ABM aren’t all that different, they just serve different agendas. Both rely on the idea of aligning marketing and sales departments and using carefully crafted content to guide potential customers through the buyer’s journey.

Content written for an inbound marketing strategy is catered to the problems of one persona. That works well in B2C and even for many B2B companies where one decision maker is in charge of the process.

But anyone who has ever been a part of a multi-million euro tender knows that purchasing power never falls to only one individual.

Each person at the table – from the team lead using the product to the head of IT tasked with integrating it – has his or her own personal agenda that will dictate their decision. Buying power is split among various individuals and the final result will be influenced by how the solution collectively impacts them and by the company’s quarterly and annual objectives. ABM reflects those requirements with highly contextualised content delivered directly to the individual, often via one-to-one or one-to-few channels.

We live in the age of information. Buyers don’t want to be sold, they want to be taught. As soon as the problem exists, research shows that they want to be able to have meaningful conversations with salespeople about it immediately, according to Engagio. With sales and marketing working closely together to create supporting content using their shared expertise of the account, they can educate the potential client about their particular problem and earn a place in the discussion about its solution.

Why great content wins deals

ABM isn’t some radically new approach and it’s often used in tandem with an inbound strategy. Where you may create content for an inbound marketing campaign that’s focused on educating particular personas in an industry, ABM takes it one step further by adjusting it to reflect the specific queries that an individual has within his or her company.

Account-based marketing relies on great content to drive performance.

Effectively accomplishing this relies on coordination between sales and marketing to understand what type of questions the potential client has. Getting all the high- and low-level collateral together allows the marketing team to design a strategy that reaches out to each stakeholder with information they’ll find valuable – and lets salespeople know that the content is available because there’s a chance they don’t know they have it.

When done right it allows you to pair content with channels that move the needle, including:

  • Social media: Proactively reach out to individuals with select roles at certain companies through platforms like LinkedIn to guide them into the conversation.
  • Online advertising: Retarget past website visitors with case studies, datasheets or any other type of in-depth content that supports their decision and guide them through individualised workflows that are built with smart content and change based on each unique action.
  • Webinars: Build topics, discussions and follow-up content aimed at either one company and all of its stakeholders or individuals in the same role at a handful of companies that have the same questions.
  • Email: Personalise your emails to direct buyers to articles on their specific pain points, send along new ideas as to how they can solve old problems and make them aware of original research that your company has conducted like a state of the industry report, among other strategies.
  • Pay-per-click advertising: Curate the PPC parameters to be specific to your targets’ locations and serve up highly relevant content to visitors on those pages based on where they’re connecting from.

Those aren’t the be-all and end-all of ABM marketing channels – new ones are constantly emerging – but they show the bare minimum amount of ground a marketing team should cover in its ABM strategy. Each channel is time sensitive, making the content that’s being delivered that much more critical in being able to serve prospects the right information at the exact moment they need it.

ABM is seeing innovations by the bucketful and the ways in which marketing can put sales-relevant collateral in front of decision-makers’ eyes is only expanding. But the most important part of that is the content behind it. Content is the common denominator behind all marketing campaigns and the fuel for engagement that makes strategies like ABM and inbound possible in the first place.

Why bad content can sink the ship

Content is always at the core of any marketing campaign. Decades ago in outbound, it was a simple yet powerful message that sold the customer on a product. Nowadays it takes the form of informative copy that sells a customer on a solution, but the need for a compelling narrative is still there.

Bad content can sink the performance of even the best account-based marketing strategies.

ABM is a highly targeted strategy, and because of that the content needs to be:

  • Fresh and timely.
  • Relevant to the topic and the level of technical expertise needed for it.
  • Written in context with the problem the buyer faces.
  • Able to meet the decision maker’s needs.

Not all content does the job it’s supposed to. Relying on subpar copy in a marketing strategy where success hinges on educating the highest levels of leadership on their problem to sell them a solution is a high-risk, low-reward approach.

Failing to deliver the right message through the best channel at the exact time it’s needed in the buyer’s journey is what leads to a collapse in momentum. In methodology like ABM where just a few clients are targeted, this could potentially mean hundreds of thousands of Euro in lost revenue.

Customers have a better grasp of their needs now more than ever before. It’s a company’s role to educate them about the solution, not sell them a product. It’s the type of professional relationship that makes methodologies like ABM possible because a successful content strategy will always put the customer first – and the same goes for ABM.

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About Bryan

Bryan is a senior writer at 256. The Boston transplant has a knack for writing about all things tech for B2B audiences. When he's not tapping away at the keyboard you can find him roaming the streets of Dublin for the best buffalo wings the city has to offer.