Next-generation account-based marketing strategy: Beyond the account to the individual stakeholder

To address the challenges posed by the pandemic and thriving in the new era of business, B2B companies need to move beyond the account-level focus of most account-based marketing (ABM) and take a hyper-personalized approach of business prospects treated as human.

Today's marketers need to understand the unique journeys of individual customers and who they are, both at and outside of work.

Enter account-based marketing for the person (ABM-i). As an account-based marketing strategy, ABM-i enables deeper connections and increases sales through true personalization.

"Marketers agree that personalized content (56 percent) and advanced data management (43 percent) are keys to ABM's success," a recent Forrester survey found. However, the biggest challenge identified by respondents in a recent ITSMA survey was "personalizing and tailoring our marketing to the most important contacts in each account." Another top 5 challenge was to "develop campaign assets that are mass-customizable to enable scalability".

The four levels of an account-based marketing strategy

Data and insights are the foundation for personalization, and a tiered approach can help organizations prioritize their efforts. Let's look at a framework for how companies can structure their ABM-i programs for maximum success.

Levels 4 and 3: one to most and one to many

Let's start with Tier 4 (vertical targeting and slight personalization by name and company) and Tier 3 (incorporating key sub-verticals) to move our framework from lower priority accounts to higher priority accounts.

At these levels, we can develop a scalable approach to ABM-i that enables companies to cost-effectively expand their strategies to a variety of accounts, with individual personalization increasing depending on account potential and opportunity.

To improve scalability when changing from T4 to T3 …

  • Research each of your target and key accounts and find the overlap. Stakeholders on these accounts may have common interests (golf, sports teams, preferred charities), may be trying to meet similar business needs, or they may have similar roles in the buying process.
  • Use your insights to create messages that you can reuse for different accounts based on similarities between the needs of the business and the personal interests of the stakeholders in those accounts.

B2B brands can use dynamic content on their websites, emails, and programmatic advertising to share images and automatically copy them based on a contact's attributes and interests. By combining the power of data and design, you can create personalized campaigns on a large scale to reach lots of contacts with relevant content.

Example: Vodafone

In the early stages of the pandemic, Vodafone analyzed its customer accounts to identify the companies that would be most vulnerable to COVID disruptions (e.g. companies without critical digital resources such as a website or e-commerce functionality). The company has set up its V-Hub (digital advisory service) to provide personalized support and advice to its vulnerable customers in times of crisis.

Vodafone advertisement for V-Hub

Tier 2: One too few

For Tier 2, which is aimed at key accounts for your company, you can define one to a few personalization levels and thus create tailor-made campaigns to reach companies with relevant content.

Take the work that began in Tier 3 with identifying common traits across prospects and try to tailor it even more personally to the person's interests and job roles.

Example: Masternaut

Fleet telematics and tracking provider Masternaut created a personalized ABM-i campaign that helped the brand achieve an ROI of 2,567% and increase engagement on each of their target accounts.

Masternaut integrated data from more than 10,000 telematics customers and 250,000 connected vehicles to create an innovative campaign that reaches potential customers of the world's largest automakers, including critical data on the use of their vehicles. The campaign included a personalized report for each manufacturer with insights such as average fuel consumption, mileage and average stops per day.

Masternaut automobile marketing campaign

Tier 1: Beyond one-to-one

Tier 1 Outreach is hyper-personalized messaging for people in top tier target accounts. This level of personalization is best achieved through creative thinking. It can be time consuming, but paying off a one-on-one initiative that is done right is well worth the effort.

Example: GumGum

Content analysis and image recognition platform provider GumGum capitalized on the knowledge that John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, is a huge Batman fanatic.

To grab his attention and illustrate the value GumGum could bring to the brand, the company worked with a team to create a custom comic book. The printed copies were distributed not only to Legere, but also to 100 other decision-makers at T-Mobile and its registered agencies.

Within a week, GumGum had a meeting with T-Mobile that resulted in a closed deal.

GumGum custom comic for T-Mobile

* * *

In the past, the account-based marketing strategy has been a manual and time-consuming connection game. Today, thanks to advances in data analytics, predictive analytics, and automation, sales and marketing teams are moving towards ABM-i, a truly personalized approach to banking.

With the help of ABM-i, marketing organizations can create the personalized one-to-one relationships that salespeople achieve in face-to-face meetings with a customer – on a large scale.

More resources on account-based marketing strategy

How to ensure ABM success through the organizational structure

The Seven Worst ABM Errors (And How To Fix Them)

Seven Ways To Increase Your ABM Success: Advice From Seven Experts

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